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Facts

Population

1,347,500,000

Capital City

Beijing

Another fact

Answer

Plug types

Voltage: 220V, Frequency: 50Hz

Religion

Buddhist, Taoist

Currency

Yuan (CNY) exchange rates

Timezone

UTC +8 hours

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  • What to expect

    China is a diverse, large country with extremes of poverty and wealth, ancient practices and rapid urbanization. There is an overwhelming array of fascinating sites and natural wonders to experience in China, from the bright lights of Shanghai to the mighty Yangtze River.

    The tourism industry in China is firmly established in many areas, however in certain regions international visitors are still viewed as a novelty. In large cities and well-patronized areas, service standards and facilities are on par with those in Western countries, although in rural areas these may be less refined.

    You can expect a degree of noise on train journeys, some potentially bumpy road travel, and simple yet clean accommodation. Customer service is sometimes approached in a different way to what you may be used to.

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Flight times

From Los Angeles

approximately 13 hours

From New York

approximately 14 hours

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Events

Banks, public offices and some tourist sites will be closed on the vacations listed here. As major vacations are set according to the lunar calendar, dates change every year. Please check with our USA-based Asia specialists for details.

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  • January/February (first day of the first Lunar month for 7 days) is a public vacation across the country to celebrate Chinese New Year and the Spring Festival.

    Banks, public offices and some businesses will be closed. Expect possible disruptions to travel plans, and significant crowds at popular tourist sites.

  • 1-3 May is a three day public vacation marking May Day, or International Labor Day.

    Banks, public offices and some businesses will be closed. Expect possible disruptions to travel plans, and significant crowds at popular tourist sites.

  • Mid-April sees the Formula 1/ Grand Prix held in Shanghai

    , with an increased number of visitors to the city, significant crowds at tourist sites and limited hotel availability. Expect possible disruptions to travel plans.

  • 1-7 October is a public vacation across the country to celebrate Chinese National Day.

    Banks, public offices and some businesses will be closed. Expect possible disruptions to travel plans, and significant crowds at popular tourist sites.

  • Health & Fitness

    You should take the same health and safety precautions in China as you would traveling elsewhere in the region. In large cities, an international level of medical facilities can be found, while elsewhere they are more basic. Diseases known to exist in the country include typhoid, dengue fever, hepatitis A and B, tuberculosis, Japanese encephalitis, tetanus, polio, rabies, diphtheria and HIV/AIDS.

    We advise that you take any measures available to lessen the risk of exposure to these or other diseases. It is highly recommended that you visit your doctor at least one month before departing for China for current health advice.

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  • Visa Information

    Citizens of the US, UK, EU Countries, Australia, New Zealand and Canada must have a visa to enter China, but can visit Hong Kong (a Special Administrative Region of China) without a visa for periods of 90 days to six months. All other nationalities should check with the Chinese embassy or consulate in their home country. For US residents we have partnered with CIBT visa service who can assist in obtaining a visa, click here for more information.

    A visa must be acquired before departing your country of residence. It is possible to arrange a visa up to 6 months before you are scheduled to arrive in China. A full passport is required, which is valid for a minimum of six months beyond the date you are to depart China. Both tourist and business visas can be obtained from your closest Chinese consulate or embassy.

    China visas will automatically state they are SINGLE ENTRY unless you have specifically asked for a MULTIPLE ENTRY visa when you applied and had this stamped in your passport. Please ensure you have a multiple entry visa if you are intending to enter China twice on other travel arrangements. Please note that this includes entering China from Hong Kong.

    It is difficult to alter the status of a tourist visa from SINGLE ENTRY to MULTIPLE ENTRY once you have entered China. Tourist visas are issued for 30 days unless a 60 day duration is requested when you apply and it is stamped in your passport. Tibet does not require a separate visa as it is part of China, although permits are required to visit each region of Tibet.

    Please note Chinese visa regulations and requirements are subject to change and it is your responsibility to organize your visa prior to travel. We strongly advise that you consult with the relevant embassies in your country of residence for current guidelines.

    There is a NEW 72-hour visa-FREE transit stay in China now available to 45 nationalities, including citizens of the US, UK, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland and Canada.

    From 1 January 2013, 45 nationalities do not require a visa for a transit stay of under 72 hours. Passengers require confirmed onward flights departing inside the 72-hour period along with any visas required for their onward destination. This is applicable for those entering international airports via Beijing and Shanghai only.

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  • Safety and security

    China is considered a safe place to visit in general, however there has been a rise in petty street crime, especially in larger cities popular with visitors, like Xian. It is important to take the usual precautions with your personal safety.

    Taxis are generally metered and a very affordable, but take care to ensure your driver understands where you are going and activates the meter. It is a good idea to show your driver a business card featuring your hotel's address, as many drivers do not understand English.

    It is advisable to keep photocopies of your passport, credit card details and airline tickets in a safe place separate to the originals. Personal valuables should be left in a hotel safety deposit box when possible, and minimal jewelry should be worn. It is recommended you keep cash secured close to your body, especially on train journeys where you may wish to use a money belt.

    Read our safety guidelines for further information.

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Reading

 

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  • Falling Leaves by Adeline Yen Mah

    is a memoir of a privileged upbringing in northern China during a period of great upheaval in the country, and the emotional abuse the author endured from her stepmother. It is a powerful and ultimately triumphant account of a girl's journey to adulthood in twentieth century China.

  • Life and Death in Shanghai by Nien Chang

    is an autobiography published in 1987. It is a graphic account of the author's six-year imprisonment during the Cultural Revolution.

  • Wild Swans by Jung Chang

    is an account of a family history spanning three generations of women in China, with much focus on the Cultural Revolution and the impact it had on the family's lives.

  • China Wakes by Nicholas D Kristof & Sheryl Wudunn

    is an analysis of daily life in China, and reveals its transformative journey to becoming an economic and political superpower.

  • Red China Blues by Jan Wong

    is a political-focused book written by a Chinese-Canadian journalist. It delves into the country's political climate in the 1970s and 80s, including the author's eyewitness account of the Tiananmen Square massacre.

  • Heartlands: Travels in the Tibetan Land by Michael Buckley

    is a darkly humorous account of a Lonely Planet writer's travels in the remote regions of Ladakh, Bhutan, Mongolia and Tibet.

Useful words & phrases

  • Hello (or hi)

    Ni Hao

  • How are you?

    Ni Hao Ma

  • I'm fine

    Wo Hen Hao

  • Thank you

    Xie Xie

  • What is your name?

    Ni Jiao Shenme Mingzi

  • My name is…

    Wo De Mingzi Sh.i..

  • How old are you?

    Ni Duo Da Le

  • I am …years old

    Wo Jinnian...Sui

  • How much is ...?

    Duo Shao Qian

  • It's too expensive!

    Tai Gui La

  • No

    Bu

  • Yes

    Dui

  • Excuse me /I'm sony

    Dui Bu Qi

  • Goodbye

    Zai Jian

  • Thank you, but I don’t need a plastic bag

    Xie Xie, Dan Wo Bu Xuyao Suo Liao Dai

  • Getting around

    Arrival and departure transfers

    As China is such a vast country with varied landscapes, various modes of transport are used to get around. When traveling by road, modern sedan cars or minibuses are used for small groups, while groups of six or more use 25-40 seat air-conditioned Toyota Coaster or Hyundai. In remote parts of the country such as Tibet and some parts of Sichuan province, vehicles may be of a lesser standard.

    When traveling within urban areas, you may walk, catch a boat or even use a bicycle to explore. For domestic flights in China, modern Airbus or Boeing aircraft are used. If cruising the Yangtze River with Travel Indochina, you will travel on a deluxe cruise ship with private cabins. For train travel, four-berth soft sleeper cabins in first class compartments are used, which feature air-conditioning.

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  • Internet

    Internet facilities are found throughout China in most tourist regions. Using internet services at hotels is convenient, though can be more expensive than elsewhere. It is possible to make reverse charge phone calls from most major cities. International phone calls and fax services are available, although these can be costly. Most hotels feature international direct dial at an extra cost, although with inconsistent reliability. You can use a cell phone in China, however it is advisable to ensure you have roaming enabled before you arrive in the country.

    International post is generally cheaper to send than in Western countries and takes around 10-14 days to reach its destination. Before any parcels are sealed they will be inspected by a customs officer at the post office, and boxes can generally be purchased there.

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  • Food & drink

    China's cuisine varies widely between regions, and is a delight to explore. In Hong Kong, sample delicious dim sum, or experience the fiery flavors found in Sichuan province. Try the famed Beijing Duck in the capital, or the local dumplings found in Tibet. In large cities there is a vast array of international cuisine, and you can visit anything from sophisticated, world class restaurants to humble street food stalls.

    Meals in China are often served banquet style for communal eating, and rice and soup are often served after the main dishes. It is possible to find vegetarian food, however in smaller centers this can be more challenging. It is not advisable to consume the tap water in China, however bottled water is widely available.

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  • Tipping

    Tipping is not obligatory in China, though is an accepted practice. You can opt to tip to demonstrate your satisfaction with a meal or great service. At the start of each trip, your local guide or Western tour leader will request a small amount of money (usually 50 cents per day) to be used as group tips for service staff, so you don't need to carry small change or risk over-tipping.

    There is no compulsory tipping included in Travel Indochina trips, however if you are satisfied with the service levels provided the choice to tip is up to you.

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  • Swimming

    Swimming is not a key activity in China, although you may encounter opportunities to swim in hotel swimming pools, which are often found indoors. In Hong Kong, it is possible to swim at the beach in warmer weather. These may not be patrolled by lifeguards, so it is important to remain aware of your surroundings and to monitor the safety of any children you may be traveling with.

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  • Responsible travel

    On our journeys throughout China we aim to seek out some intimate experiences and avoid inauthentic mass tourism, like dining only at bland hotel or tourist restaurants, viewing sites only from a tour bus or in very large groups. Instead, we emphasize activities that offer cultural insight, have a positive environmental impact or support small, local tourism initiatives.

    In Beijing, we venture through the hutongs (historic neighborhoods) on eco-friendly rickshaws, and enjoy a delicious home-cooked meal with a local family, supporting their livelihood. We also dine with a local Uighur family along the Silk Road Journey, to learn more about their culture.

    In regions home to various ethnic groups such as Tibet and Xinjiang, we encourage the employment of guides from these backgrounds. Learn more about our focus on responsible travel.

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