Good preparation can make a China Tour more enjoyable and care free. The following information will help clarify what to expect on your China travel adventure, whether it be a Beijing or Shanghai tour, a Yangtze River Cruises, or a Custom China Tour.
Do before you go
Before leaving on your China Tour, check TSA (Transportation Security Administration) MUST READ for all air travelers. Follow instructions to reduce your wait time at the security checkpoint.
Make two copies of your passport identification page. This will facilitate replacement if your passport is lost or stolen. Leave one copy at home with friends or relatives. Carry the other one along with a passport size photo with you in a separate place from your passport.
Leave a copy of your China Tour itinerary and contact information with family or friends at home so that you can be contacted in case of an emergency.Air Flights
Contact the airline concerned prior to leaving for the airport to confirm the flight number and any possible schedule changes. Connecting passengers should verify, at the time of check-in, that luggage can be checked through to their China travel destination. For transpacific flights, you must check in at least three hours prior to the scheduled departure time.
If you choose to arrange your own add-on flights to the designated gateway city, you must take the following facts into consideration before booking any flights. Chinaspree.com is not responsible for any missed connections and penalties/loss as a result. Note: * For transpacific flight, you must check-in three (3) hours ahead of departure time. * It takes at least one (1) hour to clear customs and claim your checked baggage. * For domestic flight, you must check in at least two (2) hours prior to departure time. Most airline tickets are issued using a special fare which cannot be changed or canceled without incurring additional cost. Should you lose or misplace your tickets while traveling, you should immediately notify the airline. In most cases they will have you complete a Lost Ticket Indemnity Form, and for a fee, issue replacement tickets.
Passport & Visa
All foreign nationals traveling to the People’s Republic of China must travel on a valid passport with at least six(6) month remaining validity after the entry date into China. A tourist visa must be obtained prior to entering the PRC. Please read complete details about Passport & Visa.
Your China Delight Tour representative will greet you once you have cleared the Custom area at your China arrival airport. Please wear your name badge for easy identification, and look for a China Delight Tour sign.
Always remember, “He who would travel happily must travel light”. We strongly recommend you limit your baggage to one(1) piece of checked luggage and one(1) carry-on bag per person.
Baggage allowance differs for the transpacific and the China domestic sections of your China Tour. Baggage allowance for transpacific flight is two pieces of checked baggage per person. Total dimensions (Length + Width + Height) of the two pieces must not exceed 107 inches (273cm); maximum dimensions of single piece shall not exceed 62 inches (158cm). Maximum weight per piece is 50 lbs. Each passenger may carry one hand baggage, the combined dimensions of which shall not exceed 45 inches (115cm). China domestic flights have stringent luggage restrictions allowing one piece of checked baggage that must not exceed 44 lbs per person, plus a carry-on bag not to exceed 11 lbs. The carry-on must fit in the overhead bin or under the seat. Baggage in excess of allowances will incur excess baggage charges payable on site by the passenger.
Make sure you have luggage tags for each checked suitcase. A copy of your China Tour itinerary and contact information should also go in an outside pocket of your luggage to aid the airline personnel to locate you in case you and your luggage become separated. Never check luggage containing prohibited items (i.e. lighters), valuables (i.e. cash, jewelry, and cameras), fragile items (i.e. undeveloped film, bottles, eyeglasses) or critical items (i.e. medicines, travel vouchers). You should read more information about TSA Permitted and Prohibited Items.
Chinaspree.com will not be responsible for loss or damage to your luggage and personal belongings. You must report any loss or damage immediately at the time of the incident and obtain a written report from the local authority for submission to your insurance provider. If your luggage is lost or damaged by the airlines, a baggage claim form must be filled with the carrier before leaving the airport.
Your checked baggage must be locked during transportation while in China. This is a Chinese regulation. Due to increased security measures in U.S. airports, if you wish to lock your baggage, you MUST use a TSA recognized lock, which allows TSA screeners open and re-lock your bags for security screening. Ordinary locks are cut if physical inspection is required.
China Tour Guides
For a guaranteed departure with no less than 10 passengers, a professional China Tour Director will be assigned to escort the group throughout Mainland China. Local guides are assigned along the program to offer in-depth narrative about local attractions.
China Tour Group Size
Our China Tour group size is limited to no more than 20 passengers. A minimum 10 travelers is required to guarantee a group departure. In case we have to cancel a departure due to low participation, clients will have the options to either reschedule the trip or receive a complete refund of all payments they have made to us.
It is wise to carry your currency in different forms of cash, traveler’s check, and credit cards. Use credit card whenever you shop in tourist stores especially when making big purchases. Take advantage of traveler checks’ favorable exchange rate against Chinese currency. Use local currency wherever credit cards are not accepted. Tip with U.S. dollars. Pay in single dollar bills for bargains from street vendors.
* Chinese Currency
The Chinese currency is known as Renminbi (RMB), literally “People’s Money”. The basic unit of RMB is Yuan (dollar), which is divided into 10 Jiao (dime), which is divided again into 10 Fen (cent). Bank of China issues RMB bills in denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 Yuan and 1, 2, 5 Jiao. Bronze and nickel coin equivalents exist for the smaller units.
As of July 2005, USD$1=RMB 8.02 by cash /RMB 8.08 by traveler’s check. Exchange rate fluctuates daily. Check here for current rate.
Chinese RMB is not internationally convertible; you must wait until you arrive in China to change your money and spend it all or exchange back to U.S. dollar before you leave the country. Hong Kong’s currency is the Hong Kong Dollar. It is internationally convertible and worth about 5% more than RMB.
* Exchanging money
You can change money at hotels, China arrival and departure airports, and at Bank of China branches. The official exchange rate is adopted in most places so it’s unnecessary to shop around for a better deal. For the sake of convenience and safety we suggest that you change money in your hotel. All hotels you will stay in your China trip offer foreign currency exchange service supervised by Bank of China. Retain a few of your exchange receipts because you will need the receipt to convert RMB to your home currency at the end of the trip. Those traveling to Hong Kong can change RMB to Hong Kong Dollar there.
* Traveler’s Checks
The advantage of Traveler’s Checks is: a) It’s exchangeable at all your China hotels; b) The exchange rate of Traveler’s Checks is better than cash rate (approximately 2% higher); c) You can always cancel it if you loose it.Keep your exchange slip; you will need it when buying back your home currency. While Traveler’s Checks from most of the world’s leading banks and issuing agencies are now acceptable throughout China, we recommend you secure major company checks such as American Express, Thomas Cook and Visa.
* U.S. Currency
Cash advance service is not commonly available in China; you need to bring some cash with you. Bring a supply of single dollar bills. You will find it very convenient to use particularly when shopping with street vendors. Please note: foreign coins are not acceptable in China. All paper bills should be complete, not badly worn and free from graffiti. Partial, badly worn or defaced bills will not be accepted
* Credit Cards
Master Card, Visa, American Express are accepted in hotels, tourist shops, and upscale shopping centers, but may not be particularly welcome in smaller local stores or in remote areas.
* Personal Checks
Personal checks are generally not acceptable outside North America.
* ATMs (Automated Teller Machine)
Do not count on ATMs in mainland China, although they are commonly used in Hong Kong. ATMs can be found in a growing, but still limited number of large banks in mainland China. You can use Visa, Master card, American Express, Cirrus and Plus to withdraw cash. The network is only available in sizeable cities like Beijing and Shanghai. Most ATMs in China can only be used for withdrawing RMB. The exchange rate on ATM withdrawals is similar to credit cards but there is a maximum daily withdrawal amount. For credit-card cash advance, service fees apply.
* Carrying Money
You may feel more comfortable using a money belt for a large sums of cash and credit cards. Care and good judgment is a must in all travel.
Although P. R. China covers five time zones, only Beijing Standard Time is adopted for the entire country. It is 8 hours ahead of GMT, 16 hours ahead of Pacific Standard Time (15 hours ahead of PST in daylight saving time). People in China’s far western regions like Tibet follow a later work schedule to keep pace with the official centralized Beijing Time. Please check World Clock for current regional time.
When it’s 9am in Beijing, the time in other U.S. cities is:
San Francisco: 5pm (previous day) 6pm Daylight Saving Time
Denver: 6pm (previous day) 7pm D.S.T
Chicago: 7pm (previous day) 8pm D.S.T
New York: 8pm (previous day) 9pm D.S.T
China’s electrical current is 220V, 50 cycles AC. Plugs and Outlets come in a variety of shapes. You are advised to bring along adapters and converters for your U.S. purchased appliances. Clients can borrow adapters and converters from Housekeeping at most hotels. Hair dryer and iron are readily available also. Simply contact hotel housekeeping when you need them.
Tap water is not considered safe to drink in China except Hong Kong despite the fact that water in China is commonly chlorinated and processed. Drink only bottled water or boiled water. Bottled purified water and soft drinks can be easily obtained at reasonable prices. All hotels you stay offer boiled water to your room daily, with which you can safely make tea.
All meals are included in your China Tour itinerary. Breakfasts included on your China Tour are familiar American Breakfast to give you a good start to the day. Lunches and dinners are usually served in set menu family style and feature a variety of regional specialties.
A routine lunch/dinner is composed of 6-12 dishes shared by 6-10 people sitting at a round table (which symbolizes union and perfection-harmony). One beverage of your choice (beer, mineral water and soda) is included per person per meal at no additional charge; Chinese tea is usually complimentary.
Special meals such as an authentic Peking Duck dinner in Beijing and a Mongolian BBQ buffet lunch in Shanghai are included for all tour programs to enhance your culinary experiences.
China is a country with few dress taboos. Dress for comfort. Sandals, shorts, and jeans are widely accepted. Coordinate your outfits for multi-tasking. Dress in layers to suit various weather/temperature changes. No formal dress is required. For a Yangtze cruise, “casual smart” should be enough for various occasions such as the Captain’s Welcome Party.
China is a huge country with varied climates. In general, the north is cold and dry in winter. In the south, summer is hot and humid. The raining season is in July and August. Climate in Hong Kong is sub-tropical, similar to that of Hawaii. Read more on average temperature in China’s major tourist cities and their current weather conditions.
Both international and domestic calls can be made from your hotel room. Domestic long-distance rates in the PRC vary according to distance and are usually inexpensive. Local calls are either at a very low rate or free of charge depending on the hotel. International Direct Dial (IDD) calls made from hotel room could be expensive when hotel adds surcharge on top of China’s already high IDD rates. Some hotels may request that you pay a deposit before you can access international line from your hotel room. Use a phone card for international calls; it is becoming more widely available and the rate is reasonable. Simply consult your Tour Director regarding this matter, he (she) will be more than happy to assist you.
Calling North America from Mainland China
Dial 00(international access code) + 1(North America country code) + local number
Calling China from North America
Dial 011(international access code) + 86(China country code, or 852 for Hong Kong regional code) + China area code (minus initial zero) + local number
Essential Numbers in China
There are several telephone numbers that are the same throughout China. However, only International Assistance and Local Weather Forecast are likely to have English-speaking operator.
International Assistance: 115
Local Directory Enquiries: 114
Long Distance Enquiries: 113 or 173
Local Weather Forecast: 121
Police Hotline: 110
Fire Hotline: 119
Area Code list
CITY & CODE
Beijing – 10
Shanghai – 21
Suzhou – 512
Xian – 29
Nanjing – 25
Lhasa – 891
Chengdu – 28
Hong Kong – 852
Guilin – 773
Wuhan – 27
Chongqing – 23
Hangzhou – 571
Wuxi – 510
Canton – 20
Internet & Fax
Fax and internet access are commonly available at your hotels. Check the Business Centers for details.
Your China Tour hotels have postal service allowing you to send postcard and letter to overseas. It usually takes more than 10 days for a postcard to reach North-America. The postage is charged in Chinese RMB equivalent to about 50 cents U.S. for a postcard, and 80 cents U.S. for a letter up to 20 gram.
China publishes various newspapers and magazines in English. Among them, China Daily is a popular English newspaper, complimentary at most hotels. Imported publications like Time, Newsweek, and The Economist can be found at certain hotels. BBC, CNN or even HBO are becoming commonly available in most tourist hotels.
All hotels on your China Tour have same day laundry service. The price is fairly reasonable.
When flying U.S. domestic and transpacific flights, you should pack all undeveloped film in carry-on baggage. Repeat screening on checked baggage will damage undeveloped film. Most X-ray machines in China’s airports and railway stations are marked “film safe”. However, films with a higher ASA rating could be fogged by repeat exposures to X-rays. You should carry such film by hand.
Packing for a China Tour
Pack light and you’ll soon find you are better off with less! The best packing question a traveler can ask is “do people where I am headed live without this item”? Don’t pack the stuff which is readily available in the hotels you will be staying. Don’t cram your suitcase with unnecessary items so you’ll have room for the “treasures” you collect along the way. Remember that you will have access to:
* Convenient, same day laundry service in all your hotels, if you send clothes in the morning you should have them back in the evening. Price is reasonable. For any destination city you stay 2 nights or more you can do laundry.
* A hair dryer and iron are readily available at most hotels for your use; simply contact Housekeeping.
* Bath accessories in your private bathroom include disposable tooth brush and toothpaste, comb, soap, shampoo, body lotion, sewing kit, sanitary bag, shower cap etc.
* You can easily purchase a shoulder bag or small piece of luggage to carry your purchase back home.
* Virtually anything you require can be secured along the way. It is part of the adventure.
Travel in China involves a lot of walking. Comfortable walking shoes are essential. Make sure to check current weather before you decide what clothes to pack. Consult our Essentials to Pack list.
If you take prescription medication, be sure to bring enough to last the entire trip. Always carry medications in the original prescription container when traveling. Keep the medications with you and do not pack them in checked baggage.
Long-term travel overseas might cause tourists to develop stomach upset; a change in water, food, sleep habits and/or climate may all cause discomfort. Bring anti-diarrhea medications such as Imodium and Lomotil just in case.
Vaccinations are not mandatory to travel to China. However we remind you that traveling in China does require certain precautions. It is therefore highly recommended that you check with your personal physician to verify your particular needs. For the latest overseas travel health information, please contact the Center of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) by visiting www.cdc.gov/travel or by calling toll-free 1-888-232-3228.
Tipping is often confusing for the traveler. Your China Tour Director, local guides, drivers and porters are professional, conscientious, and are most thankful for your acknowledgment. We realize that tipping can be confusing on a group tour; the following gratuity guideline is introduced solely for the convenience of our group travelers:
Tour Director: $2.5 per person per day
Local guide: $2 per person per day
Coach driver: $1 per person per day
Porters : $0.5 per person per day
Included Meals: gratuities are not expected
Outside Dining: service charge is included
Detailed gratuity suggestions are also listed for specific programs and will be sent to you with you travel documents. Since your China Tour Director will accompany you throughout the trip, and is responsible directly to you, you may choose to give all gratuities to your China Tour Director entrusting him/her dispense them along the way on your behalf. With gratuities given this way you will enjoy the journey in a more relaxing way. Under any circumstances, gratuities are customary and totally depend on the satisfaction of the services.
Shopping is always a part of the travel experience. China is known as bargain shoppers’ paradise, offering a marvelous selection of arts and crafts such as jade, silk, rugs, cloisonné, ceramics, antique, painting, furniture and more. Purchasing an item in the area where it is “noted for” has proven to be the best value. Your China Tour Director and local guides will be glad to assist you with detailed shopping orientation.
When shopping it wise to use credit card for large purchases. Retain all receipts. Purchase insurance for items that you have shipped. A supply of one dollar bills is very handy when shopping with street vendors.
Always keep in mind that a purchase is between the buyer and the seller. Tour Beyond Inc. is not involved in and is not responsible for any purchases you make during your China Tour, whether that merchant is part of the scheduled itinerary or not.
We strongly recommend you buy travel insurance to protect yourself and your travel investment against the unexpected. Please read more details about Travel Insurance.
Seat assignment Seat assignment with Air China can only be arranged upon check-in. If you request specific seat because of a medical condition you should phone Air China office per departure gateway no sooner than 5 days prior to departure:
San Francisco Office: 1-800-986-1985
Los Angeles Office: 1-800-882-8122
Frequent Flyer Miles Currently, Air China is code sharing with United Airlines. Your transpacific flight air miles could be credited to your UA Mileage Plus account. China domestic flights don’t count. It is your responsibility to call Air China or present your UA Mileage account number at airport check-in.
Jet Lag Precautions Jet lag happens when your body’s inner clock falls out of sync with daily cycles of light, rest and meals as you cross time zones to reach your destination. Its symptoms are fatigue, irritability and vague disorientation. You cannot totally avoid jet lag, but you can minimize its effects. Here are suggestions:
1) Get several good nights of sleep before your trip departure.
2) Set your watch to your destination time when you board the plane, and adjust sleep and meals accordingly.
3) Try to sleep on the plane.
4) Walk around the plane occasionally, do isometric exercises at your seat.
5) Drink plenty of water and fruit juice while flying.
6) Avoid alcoholic and caffeinated drinks during and after the flight.
7) On arrival, throw yourself into your new schedule, avoid naps, and try to stay awake until your normal sleeping time at home.
U.S. Duty-free Exemption When shopping in China, keep receipts of all purchases. Upon reentering U.S, be ready to show customs officials what you’ve bought. Effective November 4, 2002, the standard personal duty-free exemption is $800 if you are a returning U.S. resident and the items you acquired abroad accompany you.
Duty on items you mail home to yourself will be waived if the value is $200 or less. Antiques that are at least 100 years old, and fine art may enter duty-free, but folk art and handicrafts are generally dutiable.
Only 1 liter of alcohol and 200 cigarettes or 100 cigars may be included in this exemption. Items purchased in “Duty Free” shops are subject to duty if the value of your total purchases exceeds $800.
Family members who live in the same household and are returning together to the United States may combine their standard personal exemptions. Children and infants are allowed the same exemption as adults, except for alcoholic beverages and tobacco products.