Beijing FAQs

Counterfitting is a big problem in China in general and runs a lot deeper than you may first realize. It is possible to take fake money out of a banks ATM so make sure to check your money every time no matter who you are receiving it from.

Use your judgment when people offer you their services. Many scams take place where someone is posing as an official in some way e.g. a licensed tour guide or a monk collecting for charity. Ask questions and be cautious.

You will often find a China Unicom or China mobile stand at the airport – if not there are plenty of official stores around the city.

There are two famous theaters for acrobatic shows – first, Chaoyang Theater offering three daily shows starting at 15:50, 17:30, 19:15. The second is Tiandi Theater their performance is from 19:15 to 20:45 daily.

As one of the five Chinese operas, Peking Opera is regarded as the quintessence of Chinese culture. Liyuan theater is the first tea house theater in Beijing. The performance here begins at 19:30 ending at 21:00 everyday.

A Hutong is an ancient urban alley typical of Beijing. The ancient city has several thousand hutongs around the Forbidden city. Most of them were formed in the Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties. There used to be many more hutongs in Beijing. Most that still exist today are located in the area near Shichahai. The best way to get around them is on foot, or by rickshaw / bicycle.

The most popular museums are:

Beijing Capital Museum

http://en.capitalmuseum.org.cn/index.htm

Military Museum of the Chinese People’s Revolution

http://eng.jb.mil.cn/

National Art Museum of China

http://www.namoc.org/en/

The Palace Museum

http://www.dpm.org.cn/shtml/2/@/8797.html

Guan Fu Classic Art Museum

http://www.guanfumuseum.org.cn/

Open Daily: 9:00-17:00

Monday until 16:00

Shijia hutong Museum

Open: 9:30-12:00 14:00-16:30 through Tuesday to Sunday

Closed on Monday

Tickets: Free

Beijing is surrounded by beautiful mountains and stunning natural scenery.

The popular attractions in the areas surrounding Beijing are include the Ming Tombs, the Great Wall at Badaling and the Great Wall at Juyongguan Pass, Longqing Gorge, Black Dragon Pond Scenic Area and First Waterfall in Beijing. SiMATAI Great Wall and Beijing W town W stands for Water. It is located in Miyun area (http://www.wtown.com/).

These areas are good for tourists to see the magnificent mountains and have fun with waterfalls.

In Beijing, you will see various world famous attractions. Some of the attractions you should not miss are The Forbidden City, The Great wall, Tiananmen Square, The Temple of Heaven, The Summer Palace, Lama Temple, Price Gong ‘s Mansion, Yuanmingyuan, Jingshan Park, Nanluoguxiang and the 798 Arts District.

Beijing is a city of four seasons- no matter what time of year you come there are always plenty of activities to do and sights to see.

The period from late August to early November every year is the golden season to take a tour of Beijing, with a pleasant and fine autumn weather. The period from March to May is also a great season with nice weather and blooming flowers.

Some sellers will have enough of a grasp of English to bargain on price with you, although most will have learnt key phrases to try and entice you into buying. Mastering numbers and simple questions like Duōshǎo qián – How much ? will definitely help you to achieve a fare price.

You will find souvenirs all over Beijing! But there are some places where souvenier shopping is even more concentrated.

Wangfujing Street and Nanluoguxiang there are stores selling crafts like Chinese knots, chopsticks, jade jewelery, novelty T-shirts and more.

If your keen to do some bargaining head to places like the Silk market/hongqiao Market as well. You should aim to get 50% off the asking price.

The starting taxi fare is 13yuan in 3 km and additional cost is 2.3yuan per km in Beijing. You will also pay 1 Yuan for fuel each trip.

The starting price will change at night time to begin at 14.

Additional fuel price is changing according to the policy, sometimes we don’t need to pay. So it’s like dont be surprised if the driver ask 1 yuan more than the taximeter shows. )

This card is known in Beijing as the Yikatong, although you likely won’t reap the rewards of the discounts on the subway it does give you an immediate discount on the busses. You can purchase the cards at any Beijing subway station directly for a deposit of 20RMB.

NB: For Subway if you spend more than 100 yuan within one month, you will get 20% off any further trips. If more than 150 yuan, you will get 50% off any further trips.

The last train time varies for each line, most lines stop at around 23:00, each will be somewhere between 22:00 and 00:00.

For more information please visit the official Beijing Subway website http://www.bjsubway.com/e/action/ListInfo/?classid=39&ph=1

There are about 17 subway lines at present in Beijing, most of the lines can take you to all of the important sight-seeing areas. The subway system actually fairly simple to use and there are many apps and maps available to you so that you can plan your routes in advance. The smart subway card will make your journey smoother and don’t expect to pay very much for each journey as the prices are very low.

Online the official website is www.12306.cn  

Ask your hotel where the closet reputable ticket office is? Or buy directly from the train station at least a day in advance. Tickets sell out quickly and in high season can be near impossible to get unless you book well in advance. Please also be aware to leave ample time on the day of travel as the train stations are large and can be very difficult to navigate.

There are four main railway station in Beijing. Most of them are located in the center of the city. Beijing Railway Station (Subway Line 2), Beijing West Station ( Subway line 9 ), Beijing North Station (Subway line 2), Beijing South Station (Subway line 4).    

Airport Express/ Airport Shuttle Bus / Taxi / Private car with GuideWe

The Airport Express offers a direct link between Dongzhimen, Sanyuanqiao and Terminal 3 and Terminal 2 of Capital Airport . It is fast and simple to use.

If you are not sure how to get to your accommodation from those stations or if you are in a larger group we recommend you take taxi or book a private transfer in advance.

Beijing Capital International Airport is the main international airport serving Beijing. 32km North East of Beijing’s city center. The airport express will take you from the Airport to the city’s second ring road (the beginning of the city center) in 25minutes.

There are two airports in Beijing – Beijing Capital International Airport and Beijing Nanyuan Airport. Beijing Capital Airport is the largest and busiest of the two and is located much convenient to the city than Beijing Nanyuan.

Transport in Beijing is incredibly efficient once you understand it.

Subway- Beijing has 17 subway lines to run every day. Its very convenient.

It covers all the main sightseeing spots in Beijing. We advise purchasing a smart metro card to make your trips hassle free. These cost 20RMB and can be purchased from the ticket office at any subway station.

Taxi Similar to New York you wont go long before spotting a taxi. Make sure to always take the lisenced taxis that you can usually spot by their yellow and green colouring. Ask for a ‘fapiao’ (an invoice) at the end of your journey as this will identify the taxi should you leave anything behind.

Bus You can also use the smart metro card on the buses. Bus route can be a little more difficult to navigate however they can often be your best and cheapest way to get from A to B.

Train Beijing is a transport hub and there are many train routes that can transport you to other parts of the country in a matter of hours.

Plane Domestic flights can be in-expensive in China, before booking a long distance train we recommend checking flight prices as it may save you money as well as time.

Wed highly recommend booking accommodation in advance in Beijing as the cultural political center of China it also attracts many local visitors all year and you will be competing for room at the inn.

Here are some of our recommended hotels:

Duge Boutique Hotel is located at No.801 qianyuannensi hutong, Nanluoguxiang, Dongcheng District,  

Old Beijing Square is located at No.A 38, Baochao hutong, DongCheng District,

Chinese Box Courtyard Hostel is located at No.52 Xi Si Bei 2(er) Tiao, Xi Si, Xicheng District

The HuLu Hotel is located at No.91, YanYue hutong, DongSi South street, Dongcheng District.

Sitting on the City Walls Courtyard House is located at No. 57, Nianzi hutong, DongCheng District.

Xiao Yuan Alley Courtyard Hotel is located at No. 12 Lishi Hutong, Chaoyang men south street

Like most large cities there are many different nightlife areas in Beijing. One of the best known is SanLiTun. Including some of Beijing’s biggest and best clubs with many smaller bars and hundreds of restaurants there’s a reason it’s so famous.

The Houhai lake area is a little slower paced. There are a variety of bars around the lake with outdoor seating often with live music acts. 

Nanluoguxiang is not so much a bar street as a fashionable Hutong culture zone that offers a gathering of delicious food, bars, coffee and creative shops. However it is also connected to the Gu Luo area where some of Beijing’s trendiest hangouts can be found.

 

The most famous is Wangfujing snack street, in particular the Donghuamen night market of Wangfujing street.

If you are a night owl head to Gui Jie with hundreds of food options 24hrs a day. For the artisans Nanluoguxiang is bursting full of Beijing culture, relax in the bars after scouring the long street for cool trinkets and filling up on the plethora of snack foods.

Below we have listed some of the most famous restaurants in Beijing. For the best spots we recommend asking the locals!

Peking Duck-“DaDong” ”Quanjude” ”Little Wang Home””Sijimin fu”

Hot Pot-   Beijing Style: Nanmenshuangrou    

           Sichuan Style: Haidilao 

Noodles:   Hai Wan Ju  ( zhajiangmian )

 Gui Jie “Ghost Street” located between Dongzhimen and beixinqiao with a large number of restaurants open for 24 hours a day. 

Try Huajiayiyuan or Huas Gui Jie.  

Chuanr– BBQ Kebab skewers – unmissable in Beijing; you’ll find a Chaunr place on almost every street.

Q: What different styles of food can I expect to find in Beijing?

A: Beijing is truly a foodie’s paradise. You will find all of the eight famous cuisines of China as well as many different provincial restaurants. Western food is easy to come by and due to a diverse ex-pat community you’ll be hard pressed to find any world cuisine not available in Beijing.

Sichuan food is highly recommended.

Din Tai Fung (http://dintaifung.com.cn/) –Famous as a Steamed dumpling and noodle restaurant with classic taste of Taiwan.

Beijing cuisine has a long history and uses a wide variety of ingredients. You will also find food from all over China in the capital.

Of course you really must try the world famous Beijing Duck. As well as Beijing Chaunr barbecued skewers of meat, vegetables and bread spiced with chili and cumin. Hot pot is also a local favorite, often featuring lamb as the main ingredient. The are many different noodle styles and varieties to try, wed recommend ZhaJiangMian as a traditional Beijing dish, if youre feeling adventurous try some flash fried tripe with it.

In the morning youre spoilt for choice with many vendors serving Baozi steamed bread buns usually filled with meat or vegetables, Congee a savoury dish similar to porridge and our favorite Jian Bing Chinese style savoury breakfast pancakes

Once you arrive in Beijing you can exchange currency immediately in Beijing Capital International Airport. When in the city itself you can exchange in most banks and Currency Exchange Business or directly at withdrawal from ATM Machine.           

Please visit the Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau – located near The Lama temple subway station, reachable by Line 2 and Line 5. The Bureau is open from 9 am to 5pm Monday to Saturday.

The address is: No. 2 Anding men, Dongdajie, Dongcheng District, Beijing.

The address in Chinese is:北京市东城区安定门东大街2号出入境管理处(二环路北小街桥东南侧)

Chengdu FAQs

Counterfeiting is a big problem in China, so make sure to check your money every time no matter whom you are receiving it from, even a bank ATM.

Use your judgment when people offer you their services. Be wary of fake beggars or monks claiming to collect for charity. Ask questions and be cautious.

You will find China Unicom, China Telecom or China Mobile stands at plenty of official stores around the city.

Sichuan Opera is popular entertainment in Chengdu. Shufeng Yayun is one of the best teahouses in Chengdu. The performance here begins at 20:00 and ends at 21:30 every day.

The popular attractions in the areas surrounding Chengdu include: Mount Emei, Leshan Giant Buddha and Huanglongxi Ancient Town.

These areas are great for visitors to see the magnificent mountains and enjoy the peaceful and serene environment; as well as experience the local cultures.

In Chengdu, you will find many famous attractions, some of the attractions you should not miss are the Giant Pandas in Chengdu, Mount Qingcheng, Dujiangyan Irrigation Project and scenic area, Jinli Pedestrian Street, Kuanzhai Xiangzi and Luodai Ancient Town.

As with many cities in China, spring and autumn are the best seasons to visit Chengdu. All the flowers are blooming in spring and multi-colored leaves drop in autumn, the weather is warm and comfortable. Visit the snowy mountains in the winter to enjoy the crisp and fresh air. Places like Jiuzhaigou are delightful to visit all year round.

Less people speak English in Chengdu than some other Chinese cities. We highly recommend learning some basic phrases and numbers, or shopping with your local guide/friend.

You’ll not be short of gift ideas, especially when exploring the shopping streets.

Sichuan embroidery is a famous local item; you can buy such items at Kuanzhai Xiangzi, Jinsha Site, WenshuFang and the Dufu Thatched Cottage.

The price can be high and it is quite difficult to bargain to a low price, as they are expensive items.

You can buy some Sichuan foods at Hongqi Chain and Sichuan Techan Stores.

The starting taxi fare is 8/9 RMB for the first 2 km and additional cost is 1.9 RMB per km, an additional no – occupancy surcharge (50% of price per km) will be added if the distance is more than 10 km.

This card is known in Chengdu as the Tianfutong. You can purchase them at many subway stations, bus terminal stops, some supermarkets like the Hongqi Chain and Wudongfeng, as well as some drugstores, for a deposit of 20 RMB.

NB: For the subway you will receive a 90% discount off the original price for each trip. For the bus it is 50% off and you can transfer three times in 2 hours with just 1 RMB.

The two lines usually stop around 23:00, each will be somewhere between 22:00 and 00:00.

For more information please visit the official Chengdu Subway website:

http://www.cdmetro.cn/html/dttime/time_no1.html

There are two subway lines in Chengdu. The two lines are very easy to find and simple to use. The Tianfutong card will make your journey smoother. Don’t expect to pay much for each journey, as the prices are extremely low.

The official website is www.12306.cn

Ask your hotel where the closest reputable ticket office is or buy directly from the train station at least a day in advance. Tickets sell out quickly and in high season can be near impossible to get, unless you book well in advance. Please also be aware to leave ample time on the day of travel, as it may not be easy to navigate the train station.

There are two train stations in Chengdu. Chengdu North Station (subway line 1) located near the second ring road; Chengdu East Station (subway line 2) located near the third ring road.

The airport shuttle is convenient to the city center from here you can walk or take a taxi to your hotel. Make sure to check the distance from the drop off point. Taking a taxi to your hotel directly from the airport may be quite expensive.

The airport is 16km southwest of the city center; you can take the airport shuttle bus to Wuhou Dist in roughly 40 minutes.

Chengdu only has one airport – Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport. Taking an airport shuttle bus to and from the city proper is very easy and efficient.

There are two subway lines that will take you to the majority of Chengdu’s scenic spots. The bus routes are also very convenient with just 1 RMB you can transfer three times in 2 hours – when you purchase a Tianfutong card.

Taxi – taxis are easy to hail, make sure you have you destination address written in Chinese and ask for a fapiao (receipt) at the end of your journey as this will identify the taxi should you leave anything behind.

Train – Chengdu is a transport hub of southwest China and there are many train routes that can take you to other big cities in the country.

Plane – There are now 78 international flight routes to and from Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport. Domestic flights are not too expensive but make sure to book in advance in order to get a reasonable price.

The main tourist hangouts are Jiuyan Bridge and Yulin Life Square. Many bars are also open on Chunxi Road and Tongzilin.

The most famous is Jinli Pedestrian Street. Kuanzhai Xiangzi (Kuanzhai Lane), WenshuFang and Yipintianxia Food Street are also very popular places for late night snacks.

Jinli and Kuanzhai Xiangzi are also open during the daytime.

In Chengdu, you will find all kinds of famous Sichuan food such as Sichuan Pancakes, Cold Bean Jelly, Sichuan Roast Meat, Mapo Tofu, Double Cooked Pork Slices, Benben Chicken, Cold Pot Fish, Boiled Beef, Pork with Garlic Sauce, Kung Pao Chicken (spicy diced chicken with peanuts).

You will also find food from all over China and won’t be short of western options should you have a craving!

Vegetarian/vegan options:

Shangshan Shishu: The first vegan restaurant in Chengdu. Here you will find a wide selection of delicious vegan dishes.

Sunflower Daddy (Xiangrikui Baba): Located in the center of Chengdu this restaurant offers a selection of food fit for all tastes. The environment is cosy and relaxed.

Geng Yuan: A small restaurant decorated with bamboo and a stone pathway. All the vegetables are sourced locally and each dish pays mind to what is in season.

ZaoziShu: A chain vegan restaurant.

Below we have listed some of the most famous restaurants in Chengdu, grouped by the style of food they provide.

Sichuan Hot Pot:  

 Bashu Dazhaimen Huo Guo

                   Dalongyi Huo Guo

                   Shushan Huo Guo

                   Laomatou Huo Guo

                   Jinchengyinxiang Huo Guo

                   Shujiuxiang Huo Guo

                   Huangchenglaoma Huo Guo

Chuanr :   Yulin ChuanChuan, Yuanji ChuanChuan, Hua ChuanChuan.

Noodles:   Lulaodie Zhujiao, Yibin Ranmian, Shenxiaofu, Xiaomingtang -Dandantianshuimian, Huangchengba Xiaochi.

Chengdu really is foodie heaven; you must not miss these delicious foods:

Sliced Beef in Chili Sauce (Fuqi Feipian)

Hot and Sour Tofu Pudding (Suanla Douhua)

Long Wonton (Long Chaoshou)

Zhong Dumplings (Zhong Shuijiao)

Glutinous Rice Ball (Sandapao)

Dandan Noodles (Dan Dan Mien)

Small Hot Pot (Maocai)

Rice Noodles (Mi Xian)

Steamed Pork (Zheng Rou)

Bean Jelly (Chuanbei/Shangxin),

Deep Fried Pork (Surou)

Hot and Sour Rice Noodles(Suan La Mi Xian).

On arrival in Chengdu you can exchange currency immediately in the Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport. Use the foreign exchange counters and/or withdraw RMB directly from the ATM of The Bank of China.

In the city, you will be able to safely exchange currency in the majority of banks. 

Please visit the Exit & Entry Administration Department of the Chengdu Public Security Bureau – located close to Tianfu Square subway station on subway Line 1. The Bureau is open from 9 am to 5pm Monday to Friday, 9am to 4pm Saturday (except on public holidays).

The address is: No. 2, Renmin West Road, Chengdu

The address in Chinese is : 成都市人民西路2

Cuisine & Beverage

Chinese people love to drink tea very much. Some famous teas include Longjing Tea, Tie Guanyin,  Oolong Tea, Pu-erh, White Tea. These tea are very popular and suffusing an exquisite fragrance all around.

Most Chinese drink BáiJǐu – a white spirit and rice wine. Local beers are especially cheap and you will find lots of bars with imported beer available. Few people drink imported wine as it can be pricey. However there are more and more imported wine stores popping up in the big cities.

Please be aware that counterfeit alcohol is a problem in China. We advise sticking to wine or beer (anything with a closed lid). Try to keep track of how many drinks you’ve had and check the prices of everything before ordering.

Breakfast establishments usually open early around 6 or 7am. Lunch spots will open around 11am. Most restaurant will stay open till extremely late at night with places that are open for 24hrs. It should never be difficult to find food at any time of day.

You will be able to find many different breakfast foods from all over the world. You don’t have to eat a Chinese style breakfast but we recommend you try it!

Crullers and “Soy” milk, Dim Sum/Baozi (bread buns often filled with meat of vegetables)/Congee (a porridge like soup)/ are very popular at breakfast.  Our personal favorite is China’s fried pancake –  Jian Bing.

Chinese cuisine is developed based on climate, geography, history, products and dietary habits. The eight core cuisines have come into being through a long history and each has it’s own special cooking methods and flavor.

There are also eight commonly referenced flavors: Lŭ(salty and fresh), Chuān(spicy), Sū(sweet), Yuè(original taste and flavor, delicate and fresh), Mǐn(salty and spicy), Huī(oil and salty), Xīang(oil, salty, spicy and pickled and cured) and Zhè(sauce flavor).

It is common to eat family style in China where you will order a number of dishes and share.

If you are vegetarian it shouldn’t be too difficult to find good food, however please be aware that many vegetable dishes will be cooked with meat products. In the larger cities you will find more vegetarian and vegan restaurants – however vegetarianism is not common in China.

Currency

ATMs usually accept foreign debit cards (they will be marked with the accepted cards) and you can select to use them in English. If you are using traveller’s cheques head to the Bank of China.

You should have no problem using it in hotels and department stores. The international credit cards that are widely accepted in China include: Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Diner’s club, and the JCB card of Japan.

We advise having some cash on you at all times for smaller needs and taxi rides.

When in China you can exchange currency in most banks and the Post office. You may find a better exchange rate before you travel so it is best to shop around.

Finding a bank is easy, in Chinese cities you will find a bank every 5-10 minute walk. Many ATM’s will also allow you to take funds directly from your home account but they will likely charge you a fee.

Never exchange your money on the street or in small shops. Avoid the Chinese “black market” for exchanging foreign currency as you may get ripped off with counterfeit bills.

The Chinese currency is the rénmínbì (RMB). The basic unit of RMB is the yuán, which is divided into 10 jiǎo, which is again divided into 10 fēn.

Colloquially, the yuán is referred to as kuài and jiǎo as máo. The fēn is of such little value that it is rarely used.

Getting Around

Split into 21 categories, more than 324 items are listed in the tax refund policy, including clothing, shoes and hats, cosmetics, clocks and watches, jewelry and electric appliance etc..

The refund conditions are:

1) The same overseas consumer bought a given amount of tax refundable goods of more than 500 yuan in the same shop on the same day

2) The refunded goods haven’t been opened or used 

3) The goods for refund were bought no more than 90 days before departure;

4) The purchased goods should be carried out of the country by the consumer himself/herself or consigned for the journey.

The tax refund rate is 11%.

In China, top cities like Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen have a rich variety of accommodation options, either 5 star hotels or cosy courtyard style accommodation. While choices may be more limited in small towns, but you should always be able to find a place that suits your needs and your budget.

We’d strongly advise not packing too much as it’s highly likely you’ll want to take things home with you. Pack the essential items: Passport tickets and money – keep copies of your important documents and passport photographs. 

Pack clothes and other items according to season; for example in the summer you’ll likely need mosquito repellent and in the winter thick and warm clothing.

China is a huge country with an extremely diverse climate, as such there is no simple answer to this question.

Take time to research the weather in each place you plan to visit and pack accordingly. Even neighboring cities can experience different weather patterns at the same time of year.

Each scenic spot will offer a discount for Seniors the amount will. Please bring the relevant identification to ensure that you can get a discount. Most places will also offer a student discount however it is commonly only for people currently studying in China and many places will not accept an overseas student ID.

Here we’ve listed our top 21 sights not to miss in China, although we’re sure after making your trip you’ll have more to add:

The Great Wall,

The Forbidden City,

The Terracotta Warriors,

Yangzi River Cruise,

Boating in Victoria Harbor,

Lì jiang,

The Bund,

Huángshān&Hui Villages,

Lí river & yángshuò,

Mògāo Caves,

Píngyáo,

Fènghuáng,

Labrang Monastery,

Wùyuán,

Giant Panda  Breeding Research Base,

Běijīng’s Hútòngs,

Gŭlàng Yŭ

Canal  Towns,

Yúngāng Caves,

Wŭtái Shān,

Hángzhōu’s West Lake.

Health & Safety

Never take an unlicensed taxi, if people offer you free services be very cautious, counterfeit money is common and don’t trust ticket scalpers.

Like anywhere in the world the most important thing is to use your judgment, many people will be genuinely trying to help or make you feel welcome however some others will see you as a naive target.

Some scams to be aware of are fake monks asking for donations, massages offered on the street and anyone asking you to pay for a service before you’ve received it.

If it is minor ailment you can head straight to a drugstore and they will advise you. For anything worrying / serious head to your nearest hospital. There aren’t many local clinics available so most people use the hospital. Health care is usually very cheap however do hang on to your receipts and bills for you insurance.

Chinese hospitals tend to be cheaper but are much harder to navigate if you don’t have a good grasp of the language. There are many International hospitals that are equipped to take patients from all over the world.

These are the common numbers:

  • The Police: 110
  • Ambulance: 120
  • Fire department: 119
  • To report a traffic accident: 122

Do not hesitate to call the authorities if you need help.

Many people will wear masks, we’d recommend buying them at home as you will be able to easier distinguish the quality. There are apps and websites that will keep you updated about the air pollution each day.

The tap water in China is not safe to drink. Most places will have waster dispensers and bottled water is very cheap to buy.

 

Language & Culture

Bargaining is acceptable in most Chinese stores other than supermarkets or shopping malls. When visitng markets like the Silk Market in Beijing, aim to get 50% off of what their starting price. A decent grasp of Mandarin numbers will help you greatly.

In high quality establishments a service fee may be added to your bill. If you think the service you have received was good, (for example a guide that has gone above and beyond) it is acceptable and a nice gesture to tip, although not required. For most services (taxi, local restaurants) it is not common to tip.

Usually there is no toilet paper provided in public restrooms, it’s better to carry some tissue on your person. Don’t be shocked if you find public bathrooms with low partitions or no door.

In recent years China has been improving the related policy to prohibit smoking in public spaces. Smoking is currently allowed in most outdoor public spaces, however new policy has been introduced to ban smoking in indoor and protected public space.

The main religions in China are Buddhism (including Mahayana), Taoism and Confucianism. Buddhism in China is often mixed with Chinese philosophy, folklore and traditional mythology; as well as taking concepts of other philosophies-and religions such as Confucianism and Taoism. Taoist beliefs promote living a simple and balanced life; in harmony with nature.

Because most people follow a mixture of all of the aforementioned religions, the differences and boundaries between those religions are blurred.

When meeting someone for the first time Chinese people are usually prefer to shake hands, you should avoid hugs especially with the opposite gender. When you’re being introduced stand up and remain standing for a while.

If you are invited to dinner by Chinese friends you need not worry about the bill for there is no concept of “going Dutch”. It is OK to offer to pay the bill, but risk embarrassing your friends if you end up chipping in some cash.

When dining do not stick your chopsticks straight up in your rice or lick your chopsticks. Chinese people are extremely enthusiastic about food so don’t be surprised if your host keeps adding food to your plate.

You may make new friends during your stay in China, don’t be surprised if the conversation topic turns to your appearance, how much money you make or your marital status.

If you are invited to the home of a Chinese friend it’s customary to bring a small gift.

The biggest festivals/holidays in China include New Year’s Day, Spring Festival, Tomb-sweeping Day, Labor Day, Dragon Boat Festival, Mid-Autumn Festival, National Day.

The Spring Festival and the National Day are the most important festivals in the calendar for Chinese people. These can be a very crowded time to visit some of the main tourist attractions as many locals will be making the most of their time off work and sight-seeing also.

We highly recommend learning some basic Chinese phrases. For example, how to say please & thank you. (Qing & Xie Xie). Learning some survival phrases will greatly enhance your experiences in China.

In the larger cities you will find more people that speak English, including Hong Kong and Macau. However please do not expect everyone to speak English, most local people (especially of the older generations) will not.

The official language of China is Mandarin (standard Chinese). There are many localized dialects and languages but learning a few words in mandarin will help you make the most of your trip.

Phone & Internet

The voltage of plug sockets in China is 220V and the electric current is 6A. You can purchase a voltage transformer in order to use your electronics.

The plug socket shape differs from most other countries (other than Australia and New Zealand) so if you wish to use personal electronics please pack an adapter.

If you want to use your existing phone, please contact your provider to check that you are covered for international roaming services.

Some foreign websites and social media communities such as Google, Facebook and twitter are not available to use in China. Many people purchase a VPN to get gain access.

You need to contact your mobile provider to activate international calls,

Dialling:

00+country/region code+city code+land line number

or, 00+country/region code+cell phone number.

Online options like Skype are often easier and cheaper to use.

The SIM card of these three brands can be bought in many places such as cell phone shops, convenience stores, post offices, airport or independent re-sellers. A new card user is required to deposit a certain amount of money in the account say 50-100RMB.

You can buy a SIM card at any one of their stores (of which you will see many around the city) Please take your identification with you. You can also buy a prepaid 3G/4G SIM card online before arrived China.

The main three network providers are – China Telecom, China Unicom and China Mobile. Each offers good short term packages.

 

Shanghai FAQs

In Shanghai, you will see various world famous modern and historical architectures or attractions. Some of the attractions you should not miss are The Bund, Tianzifang, The Oriental Pearl Tower, Bund International Architecture Exhibition, Yu Garden, Shanghai Temple of the Town God, Jing’an Temple, Zhujiajiao Ancient Town, Lujiazui, Jin Mao Tower, Shanghai World Finance Center and Mount Putuo.

Transport in Shanghai is incredibly efficient once you understand it.

Subway and Bus- Shanghai has 17 subway lines and one maglev train to run every day. It covers all the main sightseeing spots in Shanghai. If you stay in Shanghai for 1 to 3 days, we advise you to buy a “One – Day Pass” which cost  18 RMB or “Three – Day Pass” cost  45 RMB, it can be used without limitation during your stay.

For the bus we advise you to purchase a smart metro card to make your trips hassle free. It needs to pay 20RMB deposit and can be purchased from the ticket office at any subway station.

Taxi – Make sure always take the licensed taxis that you can usually spot by their green coloring. Ask for a ‘fapiao’ (an invoice) at the end of your journey as this will identify the taxi should you leave anything behind.

Train – Shanghai has three railway stations that can help you travel to other main cities in a matter of hours. It takes 0.5 to 1 hour to Hangzhou or Suzhou, 5 or 6 hours to Beijing.

Hongqiao Station: It is not only a transport hub for plane but also for the train. The station is accessible by subway line 2 or line 10.

Shanghai Station: There is no subway around, we suggest taking taxi or bus.

Shanghai South Station: The station is accessible by subway line 1 or line 3.

Plane – Shanghai has two international airports, one is Pudong International Airport which is located at east of Shanghai, the other  is Hongqiao International Airport which is located at westof Shanghai. It takes 2 or 3 hours to transfer from one to another.

As a large city in China, Shanghai has gathered various articles of luxury from all over the world as well as other souvenirs in many stores. You can buy souvenirs at around City God Temple of Shanghai, Huaihai Road and Nanjing Road.

The food in Shanghai is quite different from that the spicy flavor of food in Sichuan and Chongqing. It tastes mild, delicate and luscious. The most famous snacks are fried pork tenderloin (Xiangzha Lijirou), Shanghai Steamed Buns, tofu strip (Baiye) and fried flour ball (Youmianjin). Other delicious snacks are Pan-Fried Steamed Bun, Three Fresh Ingredients Wonton (Sanxian Huntun) and more.

The local Shanghai cuisines you may taste are stir-fried medicago, steamed drumsticks (Wuwei Jitui), spiced pettitoes (Luzao Zhujiao), steamed chicken & cabbage (Sixian Baicaidun), fried crab (Chaomaoxie) and more.

Sheng Jian Bao is made with meat pie inside and has juice out when you bite it.

Xiaolongbao (Soup bun) is also very popular in Shanghai. It is famous for it’s skin and fresh flavor. Don’t let the juice burn your tongue or split out on your face.

Niangao, the shanghai style niangao is very delicious. It is sweet and soft.

Scallion pancake(Cong You Bing ): Local people usually wait for hours to buy it as their breakfast.

The famous restaurants in shanghai are Mystic South Yunan Ethnic Cuisine at Xintiandi, Yanyu near Jing’an Temple, the house of face at Xujiahui, Shanghai Min (Xiaonanguo) Restaurant and Lang Yi Fang Restaurant at Lujiazui Xilu, Shanghai No. 1 Restaurant at Nanjing Xilu. As Shanghai is a large city of China, it is easy to find all kinds of restaurants in the city. For the best restaurants, we suggest you ask locals for help.

As an economical, financial, commercial and shipping center of China, Shanghai welcomes huge number of foreigners all around the world. The majority of young people in Shanghai can speak English.

Transportation

Avoid any unlicensed taxis and make sure the driver uses is using the meter. Pay attention to the cost and ask for a fapiao/invoice when you get out of the taxi. If you forget any of your personal belongings this will help you to track down the driver.

The official website is www.12306.cn. They do not provide English version yet.

It is best to buy directly at the train station or ask the hotel you are staying for help. Please note that you will need to provide your ID information.

Here are some recommended sites to search for flights and compare prices:

http://english.ctrip.com/
http://www.qua.com/?from=flight_home
http://flight.elong.net/
Or you can download the APP Skyscanner to find the cheap flight.

 

When flying internationally into China, The most common entry points are: Beijing Capital International Airport, Shanghai Pudong International Airport, Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport and HongKong International Airport.

There are also international airports in – GuanZhou, Shenzen, Chengdu and Chongqing, with plans for more across the country.

All kinds of transportation is available to you in China, you can take domestic flights, trains, boats, taxis, subways, light rail, airport shuttles, buses, coach and even tuk tuks to get to each destination.

For domestic flights you can use airlines such as: Air China, China Southern airlines, Hainan Airlines, China Eastern and Sichuan Airlines.

Trains are a great way to get around in China.  Prices vary according to the level of comfort you require, the class and the type of train.  ‘G’ refers to the High Speed Rail, the top speeds can reach 350km/h. ‘D’ refers to bullet train, the top speed is 250km/h.

Visa & Passport

About 170 countries/regions don’t require a visa for entry to Hong Kong & Macau. Please note that visiting Hong Kong or Macau is considered leaving China. You must obtain a multiple entry visa if you leave Mainland China to visit Hong Kong and Macau with the intention to re-enter the mainland before finally departing from China.

Please refer to these two websites for more information:

  • http://www.immd.gov.hk/eng/services/visas/visit-transit/visit-visa-entry-permit.html
  • http://www.fsm.gov.mo/psp/eng/EDoN.html

Immediately report the loss/theft of passport for the nearest police station, who will issue a proof of loss for you, then take this to your hotel who will add stamped proof of your residency there. Second, go to the nearest embassy or consulate of your home country and apply for a new passport. Finally head to The Public Security Bureau or the local Exit and Entry Administration Bureau for your new Chinese travel visa.

We recommend taking several copies of your passport before your trip and traveling with recently taken passport photos. 

Please note that once your passport is reported lost, it is canceled and no longer valid.

Foreign tourists can extend their visa twice (30 days for each extension), and would therefore be able to stay in China for up to 90 days.

 

Visit any local Public Security Bureau seven days before the expiration date of your visa. Please be aware that you may not be granted an extension and plan accordingly.

You will need:

  • Valid passport and visa
  • A completed application form for visa extension
  • Evidence to support your extension (you can provide bank statements to show you have funds to continue your trip)
  • To make a payment for the Visa extension fee

We strongly advise not to overstay your visa or fail to apply for an extension before your visa expires as you risk being heavily fined.

The validity of the Chinese visa is 3 months from the issue date. The visa holder may enter China on any date during this allotted time.

You will need to prepare the required documents according to the purpose of your visit to China. For details please see the Chinese Embassy website in your country of residence.

You will need:

  • Passport- With at least six months of remaining validity and blank pages
  • A completed Visa Application Form
  • A recently taken color passport photo

We’d recommend that you submit your application at least one month in advance of your planned date of entry. Please be aware that if you submit an application too late, there may not be enough time for the application to be processed.

You can apply to your local Chinese embassy/consulate, or ask a visa/travel agent for help. Most embassies and consulates do not accept applications by post so you have to visit in person or use a visa/travel agent. Check the websites of Chinese Embassy/Consulate-General in your country of residence.

  • http://big5.fmprc.gov.cn/gate/big5/www.fmprc.gov.cn/mfa_eng/wjb_663304/zwjg_665342/2490_665344/
  • http://big5.fmprc.gov.cn/gate/big5/www.fmprc.gov.cn/mfa_eng/wjb_663304/zwjg_665342/2498_665360

Or find a visa/travel agency that can help you at http://www.visaforchina.org

If you’re in the U.S., try http://mychinavisa.com/

Visiting Tibet requires a special permit.

The costs and the length of time to process a visa vary from country to country. You can check website for the Chinese Embassy in your country of residence to find related information:

http://www.china.com.cn/search/gg/Government/slg.htm

Xi'an FAQs

Counterfeiting is a big problem in China in general and runs a lot deeper than you may initially realize. It is possible to take fake money out of a bank’s ATM so make sure to check your money every time no matter who you are receiving it from.
Use your judgment when people offer you their services. Many scams take place where someone is posing as an official in some way e.g. a licensed tour guide or a monk collecting for charity. Ask questions and be cautious.

You will often find a China Unicom, China Telecom or China Mobile stand at the airport – if not there are plenty of official stores around the city.

Spring and Autumn are the best seasons to visit Xi’an as it is not too cold nor too hot during these periods.

The popular attractions in the areas surrounding Xi’an include Mount Huashan, Famen Temple, and Mount Taibai.

As an important birthplace of the Chinese nation and Chinese civilization, and the origin of Silk Road, Xi’an is a cultural tourism city. Here you will find many popular attractions such as Mausoleum of the First Qin Emperor, The Terracotta Army, Big Wild Goose Pagoda, Shaanxi History Museum, Xi’an City Wall, Drum Tower, and Xi’an Great Mosque.

There are many drugstores on the streets that are easy to find. You can also go to a clinic directly and ask the doctors to diagnose you for a prescription.

You’d better go shopping with your Chinese friends and ask them for help when it comes to haggling, as most sellers cannot speak English in Xi’an.

The number of souvenir shops on Shuyuanjie is more concentrated than other streets of Xi’an. Here you will find many handcrafted items and cultural specialties. If you want to buy food specialties, you can go to the Huimin Street near the Drum Tower.

You can book plane tickets directly at Xi’an Xianyang International Airport in advance, or plane ticket outlets on some streets. You may also book your tickets at the following sites:
http://english.ctrip.com/flights/#ctm_ref=nb_fl_top
http://flight.elong.com/

You can buy train tickets at the train station in advance, or train ticket outlets on some streets.
You can also buy them online on these sites:
http://www.12306.cn/mormhweb/
http://english.ctrip.com/trains/#ctm_ref=nb_tn_top
http://train.elong.com/

The starting taxi fare is 10yuan for the initial 2 km, and additional cost is 2.4yuan per km in Xi’an. No additional fuel price.
From 23:00 to 06:00 the next day, the starting price will change (1rmb will be added) and 0.3rmb will be added per km.
(Additional fuel price is changing according to the policy(sometimes we don’t need to pay) – don’t be surprised if the driver asks for 1 yuan more than the taximeter shows. )

The departure time for the last train varies for each line, but most lines stop between 23:00 and midnight.
For more information please visit the official Xi’an Subway website
http://www.xametro.gov.cn/html/yunyingshikebiao/20150815/1016.html

There are two subway lines in Xi’an that can take you to all of the important sight-seeing areas. The subway system is fairly simple to use and there are many apps and maps available for you to use to plan your routes in advance. The Chang An Tong card will make your journey smoother! Don’t expect to pay very much for each journey as the prices are very low.

There are three train stations: Xi’an Railway Station, the main train station bound for the whole country; Xi’an South Railway Station, providing trains bound for Yunnan, Guizhou, Hubei and Chongqing; Xi’an North Railway Station, providing high speed rails and bullet trains bound for big cities like Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou.
There is only one airport – the Xi’an Xianyang International Airport located northwest of Xi’an and northeast of Xianyang City.

Airport Shuttle Bus / Taxi / Private Car are fast and simple to use.
If you are not sure how to get to your accommodation from those stations or if you are in a larger group we recommend you take taxis or book a private transfer in advance.

Xi’an Xianyang International Airport is located 50km northwest of Xi’an’s city center. The airport shuttle bus will take you from the Airport to the city’s center in 1 hour.

There are two subway lines in Xi’an covering the main scenic spots in downtown Xi’an; the two lines are displayed as a cross in the city center.
We advise purchasing a Yikatong (Chang An Tong) card to make your trips hassle-free. These cost 18RMB and can be purchased from bus company outlets, CCB outlets, bus company service centers, or designated metro stations. This Yikatong can be used to take buses, subways and taxis.
Taxi:Similar to New York you won’t need to wait long before spotting a taxi. Make sure to always take the licensed taxis that you can usually spot by their yellow and green coloring. Ask for a ‘fapiao’ (an invoice) at the end of your journey, as this will identify the taxi should you leave anything behind.
Train: There are three train stations: Xi’an Railway Station, the main train station bound for the whole country; Xi’an South Railway Station, providing trains bound for Yunnan, Guizhou, Hubei and Chongqing; Xi’an North Railway Station, providing high speed rails and bullet trains bound for big cities like Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou.

The most famous night market is the Muslim Snack Street at Xidajie Zhongduan, which appens to be the only Muslim food street in Xi’an This snack street is open to public the whole day. The other snack areas are Beiyuanmen Night Market at Xidajie Dongduan near the Drum and Bell Towers, Dongxinjie Night Market and Nanshaomen Night Market, Beixinjie Night Market, and Jianxinjie Night Market. These night markets are open from 6pm to midnight.

There are two famous bar streets in Xi’an, one of which is Defuxiang Bar Street starting from Nanmen (South Gate); the other bar street is Datang Tongyifang Bar Street near the Square of Big Wild Goose Pagoda. You’ll often find many foreigners having a drink or two around here.

Xi’an is famous for all kinds of steamed buns, such as Roujiamo, Yangrou Paomo, and Zenggao. Also, cold noodles, along with all kinds of noodles, are a specialty for appetizers in Xi’an.

Listed below are some of the most famous restaurants in Beijing. For the best spots we recommend asking the locals!
Shaanxi cuisines: Xi’an Fanzhuang, Chang An Dapaidang, Xibei Youmiancun, Lianhuacanyin, Sanyuan Laohuangjia, Hairong Guotieguan, Meihua Shifu;
Muslim cuisines: Laomijia Dayupaomo, Yiding Huo Guo, REDFORT (Hongbao), Jinxiang Qiangguocheng, Dingjia Xiaoshurou, Tongshengxiang;
Snacks:
Sticky rice pastry (Zenggao): Dongnanya Zenggao, Majia Chuantong Laozenggao;
Foamed mutton bun (Yangrou Paomo): Xiyangshi Laomijia Paomo, Laomijia Dayu Paomo;
Chinese hamburger stuffed with pork (Roujiamo): Ziwulu Zhangji Roujiamo, Qinyu Roujiamo, Liufeng Roujiamo, Wangkui Lazhi Roujiamo, Fanjia Lazhi Roujiamo, Zhaoji Lazhi Roudian;
Cold noodle (Liangpi): Xi’an Qingzhen Shengzhiwang Majiang Liangpi, Weijia Liangpi;
Noodle: Liuxiang Mianguan, Lanzhou Mazilu Niuroumian, Biangbiangmian, Yongming Qishanmian, Qiyue Qishanmian, Laoxi’an Hanji Sanxian Zhumo.

The famous local delicacies in Xi’an include: Chinese hamburger stuffed with pork (Roujiamo), steamed bun stuffed with soup (Guantangbao), cold noodles (Liangpi), spicy and pungent soup (Hulatang), parched rice (Suancaichaomi), bingfeng soda water (Bingfengqishui), sticky rice pastry (Zenggao), crusty pancake (Guokui) and foamed mutton bun (Yangrou Paomo).

You can use your credit card in Xi’an where corresponding credit card marks are shown. We suggest carrying cash with you at all times as credit cards might not be permitted for use at every place.

Once you’ve arrived in Xi’an you can exchange currency immediately in Xi’an Xianyang International Airport. When in the city you can exchange in most banks, the Currency Exchange Business, or directly from an ATM Machine.

If you lose your passport in Xi’an, you should immediately report the loss of your passport to the local Public Security Bureau of Exit and Entry Administration. Then, take the certificate of loss issued by the Bureau and apply for a new passport at the embassy of your country in Xi’an. Afterward apply for a new visa at the local Public Security Bureau of Exit and Entry Administration.

Please visit the Exit and Entry Administration of Xi’an – located near Xixie Qilu bus stop, reachable by bus No.6, 14, 34, 205, 210, 219, 220, 311 or 400. The Bureau is open from 9 am to 16:30 pm Monday to Friday.
Address: No. 2, Keji Road, Yanta Dist, Xi’an.
Address in Chinese: 西安市科技路2号