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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 vast country with an almost overwhelming amount of diverse yet fascinating sites, landscapes and attractions to discover. The country's travel industry has been developing rapidly for quite some time, however in some areas the novelty of international tourists is still apparent.

    Major urban centres offer facilities and services at a Western standard, though in remote parts of China some differences should be anticipated. Journeying to outlying regions may involve bumpy road travel, noisy trains and clean yet basic accommodation. Attitudes towards customer service may be different to what you would expect to encounter in a Western country.

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Flight times

From London

approximately 10 hours

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Events

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

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  • January/February (first day of the first Lunar month for 7 days) is a public holiday 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 holiday marking May Day, or International Labour 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 holiday 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

    Travellers to China should take precautions as they would elsewhere in Asia. International standard medical care facilities are available in major cities, however in rural areas they are more basic. Some of the diseases known to exist in China include hepatitis A and B, typhoid, tuberculosis, dengue, Japanese encephalitis, diphtheria, tetanus, polio, rabies and HIV/AIDS.

    We recommend you take adequate preventative measures to minimise your risk of exposure to these health risks. We strongly recommend you consult your preferred doctor for the most up-to-date health advice at least one month prior to travel.

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  • Visa Information

    Citizens of Australia, UK, US, EU Countries, New Zealand and Canada require a visa to visit China, but can enter 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 country of residence.

    A visa must be obtained before departing your country of residence. It can be arranged up to 6 months before your scheduled arrival date into China. A full passport is required, valid for at least 6 months beyond the date of your departure from China. You can acquire your tourist or business visa from your nearest Chinese embassy or consulate.

    China visas are automatically SINGLE ENTRY unless you have specifically requested MULTIPLE ENTRY at the time of application and this is stamped into the passport. Please ensure you have a multiple entry visa if you are intending to enter China twice on other travel arrangements (Important: this includes entering China from Hong Kong).

    It is difficult to change the status of a tourist visa from SINGLE ENTRY to MULTIPLE ENTRY once you have arrived in China. Tourist visas are issued for 30 days unless a 60 day validity is specifically requested at the time of application. Tibet is a part of China and as such the normal China tourist visa applies for Tibet. In addition to the China tourist visa, permits are required for visits to each region of Tibet.

    Please note Chinese visa regulations and arrangements are subject to change and it is your responsibility to ensure your visa is in order before you travel. We strongly suggest that you check with the relevant embassies in your country of residence that these guidelines are applicable to you.

    NEW 72-hour visa-FREE transit stay in China now available to 45 Nationalities - Updated 21/12/2012

    Effective 1 January 2013, 45 nationalities do not require a visa for a transit stay of under 72 hours. Passengers must be in possession of confirmed onward flights departing inside the 72-hour period along with any visas required for their onward destination 
    Entry cities: Beijing and Shanghai only (entry via international airports only)

    Nationalities which qualify for the visa-free transit visits include: 
    Australian
    New Zealand
    British
    American
    Canadian
    Irish

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  • Safety and security

    China is generally a safe destination, but petty crime is on the rise, particularly in larger cities popular with tourists, such as Xian. The usual common sense precautions should apply. Taxis are mostly metered and inexpensive, but ensure the driver activates the meter and is clear on your destination.

    To assist in finding your way back to your hotel, make sure you obtain a hotel address card with details printed in Chinese characters to show taxi drivers. Many drivers cannot read or speak English. Throughout your stay, always keep a photocopy of your passport, airline tickets and credit card numbers.

    These documents should be kept in a safe place separate from the originals. You should leave valuables in hotel safety deposit boxes wherever possible. You should wear as little jewellery as possible and keep your spending money close to your body in a secure place when out on the street.

    When travelling on trains, you may wish to take extra precautions with your valuables by using a money belt. For more information or to read our full safety guidelines click here.

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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-focussed 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 humourous 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

    China's huge expanses and diverse landscapes are traversed by a wide variety of transport modes. For land travel, groups of six or more travellers use air-conditioned Toyota Coaster or Hyundai with 25-40 seats. Modern sedan cars and minibuses are used for smaller groups. Vehicles in remote parts of Sichuan province and Tibet may not be of the same standard encountered elsewhere in China.

    In cities and towns, expect to use a combination of boats, bicycles (optional) and your own to feet to explore. Domestic flights in China are on modern Boeing or Airbus aircraft. All Yangtze boat journeys booked with Travel Indochina are on deluxe cruise ships featuring private cabins, and rail journeys are in first class compartments in shared, four-berth soft sleeper cabins with air-conditioning.

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  • Internet

    Internet in China is inexpensive and available in almost all tourist areas. Hotels often have internet and email services which are convenient but a little more expensive. Reverse charge phone calls are available in many cities. International phone and fax facilities are widely available however they are expensive.

    International direct dial is available from most hotels for an additional cost, but it is not always reliable. Mobile phones work in China, although you should contact your service provider prior to departure to ensure you have roaming.

    International mail generally takes 10 to 14 days to reach its destination and costs a little less than in Western countries. Parcels are inspected by a customs official at the post office before being sealed and boxes are usually available at the post office.

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  • Food & drink

    The cuisine in China is surprisingly diverse, and may be a highlight of your visit. Each part of the country specialises in its own type of cuisine, from the spicy dishes of Sichuan province to dim sum in Hong Kong.

    In Tibet, try the local dumplings, and in Beijing, sampling the famous Beijing Duck is a must. In the larger, more cosmopolitan cities, there is a wide variety of cuisines and restaurant styles available from international fine dining to local street food.

    Traditionally, meals in China are served banquet style and usually involve rice and soup being served at the end of the meal. Vegetarian food is available, but may be harder to find outside the larger cities. Drinking local tap water in China is not recommended, however bottled water is cheap and readily available.

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  • Tipping

    We believe tipping is a great way to show your appreciation for receiving great service, and while it is accepted practice in Asia, it should never feel like an obligation. At the beginning of each trip, your Western tour leader or local guide will ask for a small sum (around 50 cents a day) to cover tips for hotel porters and boat crews throughout the trip.

    This helps prevent over tipping and having to always carry small change. We are confident that you will be extremely happy with the service you receive from our guides, drivers and tour leaders, and in many cases will choose to show this through a tip, so we do not include compulsory tipping for any Travel Indochina representatives on any of our trips. The choice to tip is always completely up to you.

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  • Swimming

    Swimming is not the first activity that springs to mind when considering travel to China, however there are several opportunities to swim. In larger cities, many high-end hotels feature swimming pools, usually indoors.

    There may be some opportunity for swimming at the beach in Hong Kong if travelling during warmer months. The usual safety precautions apply around swimming pools, particularly if travelling with children. Safety standards may not be the same as in Western countries, and beaches may not be patrolled by lifeguards.

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  • Responsible travel

    Our holidays in China seek to avoid the trappings of mass tourism that can often plague trips to this region, such as dining only at bland hotel or tourist restaurants, or sightseeing in very large groups or from a tour bus. Instead, we have scheduled a number of special experiences which offer engaging cultural insight, are environmentally friendly, and/or support small-scale tourism ventures.

    In Beijing, we take an environmentally-friendly rickshaw ride through Beijing's historic 'hutong' neighborhoods, concluding at the home of a local family where we enjoy a home-cooked traditional lunch and learn more about their lifestyle.

    We have a similar experience in Xingjiang province, on our Silk Road journey, where clients enjoy a traditional lunch in the home of a Uighur family, one of the minority ethnic groups in China who inhabit this region. In Xinjiang and other provinces such as Tibet, we encourage our suppliers to employ guides from the regional ethnic groups. Learn more about our focus on responsible travel.

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