CHINA

Fun Facts From Globus Tours

      • Ice cream was invented in China around 2000 BC.
      • The Chinese year is based on the cycle of the moon called the lunar schedule. A complete cycle takes 60 years.
      • The Chinese calendar, the oldest known calendar, dates back to 2600 BC
      • Despite its size, all of China is in one time zone.

Boasting one of the world’s earliest civilizations, China’s empire grew around its powerful dynasties. It was during imperial rule that some of the country’s greatest achievements occurred, including construction of the inimitable Great Wall, the Forbidden City, and the impressive legion of Terracotta Warriors.

In the early 20th century, communism gained a foothold as revolution led to abdication of China’s last emperor after two millennia of sovereign rule. From the late 1920s to the end of the 1940s, the country was embroiled first in civil war and then World War II. A new party, led by Mao Zedong, gained power in 1949 and is still in power to this day. Under Mao’s rule, China was closed to all but selected foreign visitors. Forty years after his death, it is one of the most visited destinations in the world, where ancient traditions blend with the modern world, and skyscrapers rise above ancient temples. It is a place of profound culture and graceful beauty— from Peking Opera and traditional tea ceremonies to colorful festivals and unique cities trying to preserve ancient treasures.

VISAS, PASSPORTS, AND OTHER ENTRY REQUIREMENTS

You are responsible for obtaining and paying for all entry documents (visas, etc.) and for meeting all health requirements (inoculations, etc.) as required by the laws, regulations, or orders of the countries you will visit. We cannot accept liability if you are refused entry onto any transport or into any country for failure to carry correct documentation.

A visa for your visit to China is necessary for US citizens. If you hold a passport from another country, check with your local consulate about requirements for travel to China.

A visa is not required if you are only visiting Hong Kong or Macau.

You must travel on Tourist passports and visas in China. Diplomatic or official passports will be denied travel, even when holding a Tourist visa. Tourist visas must be obtained before departing the US through an embassy or a visa service. The embassy or visa service will be able to advise the latest requirements for obtaining a visa.

In general, going through a visa service is more expensive but it offers convenience and peace of mind. If you choose to go this route, we recommend contacting Generations Visa Services (GenVisa), our preferred partner for visa and passport services, at least 90 days prior to departure. GenVisa has a special website and toll-free number. Call 800.845.8968, email info@genvisa.com, or visit their below websites for additional information. Our travelers receive discounted prices and other special services:

All passengers traveling internationally are required to have a passport. Most countries require that the passport be valid for at least six (6) months beyond the conclusion of your trip, so please check the expiration date carefully. It is also recommended you have a minimum of three blank pages in your passport when traveling, as many countries require blank pages. Please carry proper identification (your passport) on you and do not leave it in your suitcase or hotel room. Most countries have laws that require you to carry your passport with you at all times.

COUNTRY CODES

The country code for China is 86. When calling to China from overseas, dial your international access code (011 from the US/Canada), followed by the country code, area code, and phone number. Phone numbers in China are 12-15 digits in length. Dialing from the US/Canada: 011 86 ### ##### ######.

CURRENCY

In China the local currency is the Renminbi but commonly referred to as Yuan ¥

      • Banknote denominations: ¥1, ¥2, ¥5, ¥10, ¥20, ¥50, ¥100
      • Coin denominations: 1, 2, 5 Fen; 1, 5 Jiao; ¥1 (Yuan)

As a general guideline, bring a variety of payment means, particularly in the event that you have difficulties with your preferred method of payment.

Cash
For initial convenience we recommend you bring some Yuan with you from home in case you are not able to immediately access a money exchange or ATM. Keep a supply of smaller denomination notes or coins for water or tips.

ATMs are the most convenient way to obtain money in China as they are readily available throughout the country.

For the most current exchange rates, please go to our website at Globusjourneys.com/Currency.

Credit Cards
Major credit cards are widely accepted (Visa and MasterCard are most common) but some shops and restaurants require a minimum purchase amount when using them (so they are not appropriate for incidentals such as ice creams, snacks, etc.). You might consider bringing more than one card, as some outlets may not accept all types. Due to increasing credit card fraud worldwide, be prepared to show identification (i.e. your passport or driver’s license) when making a transaction with your credit card. If you use a credit card for your purchase, you will be debited in the local currency, and your bank will establish the rate of exchange on the debit.

Traveler’s checks
Although a secure means of carrying money, traveler’s checks unfortunately are becoming very hard to use. Due to this we recommend you plan on using cash and credit cards only.

Bank Hours:
China (Mainland):
Mon. – Sun. 9 am – 5:30 pm

Hong Kong:
Mon. – Fri. 9 am – 4:30 pm
Saturday 9 am -12:30 pm
Sunday Closed

BUDGETING AND SHOPPING

The following budget guidelines are just approximate values or starting values for meals and are per person. Actual prices will vary widely by restaurant and city within a country but below are some averages as provided by our experienced personnel.The approximate cost of a soft drink/mineral water/coffee is ¥5-10.

  • An average lunch consisting of a salad or sandwich and a soda or water starts at approximately ¥25-35.
  • Dinner at a mid-range restaurant with dessert and a non-alcoholic beverage starts at approximately ¥150-200.

Shopping
Prices are as marked in department stores, though in markets it is customary to barter. Start negotiating with an offer at one-third or half the vendor’s initial price.

Please be warned that if you buy items on tour to be shipped to your home, customs import charges are hardly ever included in the price. Sales tax or GST (Goods & Services Tax) is normally already included on price tags; GST refunds, if applicable, are processed at the departing airport from the relevant country.

TIPPING

Tipping has become commonplace in China over the last few years. We recommend adding a 10% tip for good service in western restaurants. In local Chinese restaurants tipping is not customary but we still suggest recognizing good service with a tip of some sort. In some restaurants they may add a 5% to 15% surcharge on your bill so review carefully.

Tipping for taxi drivers is not necessary but in some cases they may round up the fare for a tip.

If you choose to tip hotel staff for services, ¥5 is appropriate (not including porterage which is included).

ELECTRICITY AND ELECTRICAL OUTLETS

Outlets

Voltage for outlets is 230V. North American voltage is generally 110V. Some, but not all, hotels feature multi-region outlets that accept different types of plugs. Due to this, for dual voltage electronics, we still recommend you bring an adapter. If you have single voltage electronics (110V) a converter is also required. Bathroom outlets are usually for razors only. Outlets vary and look like this:

TEMPERATURES

China is a big country, with a range of climates both seasonally and regionally. There are actually many similarities with the US so, if you are from the States that offers a great baseline for comparison. Otherwise, the below average low and high temperatures will help you plan.

To convert to Celsius, subtract 30, then divide by 2. While not exact, this simple formula will give a close estimation.

FOOD SPECIALTIES

Chinese cuisine is influenced by many different regions throughout the country. Some important elements include rice, noodles, herbs, fresh vegetables, mushrooms, and soybean. Peking Duck is famous worldwide and a major tradition, and dim sum, a traditional Cantonese cuisine of small dishes served with tea, should not be missed. Another popular style of cuisine is called “Shabu-shabu” (actually a Japanese term, also referred to as “hot pot”) – it is an assortment of fresh vegetables and uncooked meat varieties that you cook to your own liking in a spicy broth. It’s delicious and fun – you get to cook it yourself.

Drinking Water
Tap water is generally not safe to drink throughout China. For sightseeing and excursions, we recommend you purchase bottled water to bring with you or bring some from your hotel room. Bottled water is also common in restaurants.

CUSTOMS AND CULTURE

  • Never place your chopsticks upright or vertical in your bowl, as it looks too similar to burning incense in honor of deceased family members. Instead, place them on the chopsticks holder or across your bowl if a holder is not available. Do not use your chopsticks to stab food like a spear.
  • Smoking is common in Asia so locals tend to be less sensitive to issues regarding smoking around others and often ignore “non-smoking” signs.

FEW WORDS OF THE LOCAL LANGUAGE

Mandarin is the most widely spoken language in China. A few words are below. Along the way, you may learn some helpful Cantonese words spoken in various parts of mainland China and Hong Kong.

Mandarin:

Good morning/day: Zao shang hao, Good evening: Wan shang hao, Hi: Ni hao, Please: Qing, Thank you: Xie xie, You’re welcome: Bu keqi, Yes: Dui, No: Bu Dui, Do you speak English? Nin shuo ying yu ma?, I don’t understand: Bu ming bai, How much? Duo Shao Qian?, 1: Yi, 2: Er, 3: San, 4: Si, 5:Wu, 6:Liu, 7: Qi, 8: Ba, 9: Kiu, 10: Shi, Where is…? Zai na il…?, Telephone: Dian hua, Bathroom: Xi shoujian, Tea: Cha, Coffee: Ka fei, Bottled water: Chun Save jing shui, Cheers! Gan bei!, Have a nice day! Zhu ni zouyun!

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE COUNTRY INFORMATION

Additional country-specific information for US citizens can be found on the US Government’s website www.travel.state.gov. Here, you can find the most up-to-date information about destination descriptions, passports/visas, safety and security, transportation, travel local laws, alerts/warnings, vaccinations, and more. For citizens of other nations, we recommend you consult your local consulate for travel information, regulations, and requirements.