Baggage

On Domestic flights, passengers are allowed 44 pounds of luggage per person. On International flights, passengers are allowed two pieces of checked luggage. Excess luggage fees will be charged if you check more than the stated allowances, and these charges are your responsibility.  At most major airports, baggage carts are available for your luggage, usually for a small additional fee.

Climate and Clothing

China's geographic area is slightly larger than the U.S.A; it covers similar latitudes, with the lion's share located in the temperate zone. This provides endless year-round variety for visitors to the country, from ice festivals in the north to tropical beach resorts in the south. Keep in mind the vast distances between destinations when planning your trip. Traveling, along the popular Golden Route (Beijing, Xi'an, Shanghai, Guilin) is the rough equivalent of visiting Chicago, Washington DC, Atlanta, and Miami, all in one trip. Weather wise, Shanghai and Guangzhou's climates resemble those of US southeastern coastal states, while Beijing's climate is more like Chicago's.

While China is a year-round destination, the months of May, September, and October are ideal months for travel anywhere in the country. In the north, the winters are cold, and summers are warm, with moist monsoon air streams making it hot (80% of China's rainfall occurs between late May and early October, mostly in the Southern regions). June through August is a good time to visit central and northern China. Spring and autumn are the best months for travel in Southern China. The months of March and April are the lower-priced shoulder season; while the lowest price, off-season travel, is from November through the winter months. This is when adventuresome travelers are rewarded with unbelievably low prices and far fewer fellow tourists.

Communications

In towns and cities, IDD service is provided at all hotels and post offices. Phone cards are available in post offices inside hotels or in the streets. Even more conveniently, most newsstands in major cities also carry phone cards. Telephone booths in the streets are mostly for local calls.

Tourist hotels provide postal services. If you want to send important items such as antiques and cultural relics that are under customs control, you will have to ask for the help of the local branch of the international post office, instead of the small post office in a hotel.

Currency

Renminbi, the Chinese currency, is issued by the state bank, the People's Bank of China.  The standard unit of the Renminbi is yuan, with jiao and fen as the subsidiary units. Thus one yuan equals ten jiao and one jiao equals ten fen. Yuan, jiao and fen are issued both in bills of exchange and coins. Renminbi features the following denominations: one, two, five, ten, fifty and a hundred yuan; one, two, and five jiao; and one, two and five fen. The abbreviation for Renminbi is RMB.

Conversion services are available in China for the following foreign currencies: US Dollar, British Pound Sterling, French Franc, Deutsche Mark, Japanese Yen, Australian Dollar, Austrian Schilling, Belgian Franc, Canadian Dollar, Hong Kong Dollar, Swiss Franc, Danish Krone, Guilder (or Florin) , Norwegian Krone, Swedish Krone, Singapore Dollar, Malaysian Ringgit, Italian Lira, Macao Pataca, and Finnish Markka.  The Chinese bank handles conversion of the above-mentioned foreign currencies into Renminbi or vice versa.

Different conversion rates are applied under different circumstances. Buying prices are applied for the conversion of traveler's cheques, credit cards and remittances; selling prices are applied for the conversion of Renminbi into foreign currencies (cash included); and buying prices are used for the conversion of foreign cash into Renminbi.

So far the following foreign credit cards are acceptable in China:

1) Master;

2) Visa;

3) American Express;

4) JCB;

5) Diners.

Customs Regulations

According to related laws and regulations, the luggage of inbound and outbound passengers must come under customs supervision and control. Passengers should make accurate declarations to customs officials regarding the luggage they carry into or out of the territory.

Electricity

Electrical appliances will require an adapter that can change the shape of the plug prongs, as well as an electrical voltage converter that will allow a normal 110-volt American appliance to take 220 Volt Chinese current. Most hotels have a hair-dryer in each room.

Food and Water

All breakfasts served in the hotel are Western and Chinese Buffets, with a large choice of items to choose from. All lunches will be Chinese-style served at local restaurants. Many dinners will also be Chinese-style at local restaurants, while others may be Western-style in the hotels where you stay. For Chinese lunches and dinners at local restaurants, beverages are included, but type of included beverage varies from restaurant to restaurant. We recommend that when you arrive at the restaurant you check which beverages are included, so you can avoid extra charges. Please keep in mind that beverages that you order, not included on the menu, are your own responsibility and are payable directly to the restaurant. In the case of Western-style hotel dinners, drinks are never included and must be purchased individually.

Not all the tap water in China is potable, but bottled mineral water is for sale everywhere and we recommend that you use bottled water for drinking.

Health Matters

No special vaccinations are required, but those who have traveled from an infected area before coming to China should have vaccination records available for a Health Declaration form upon arrival.   You can also contact the Center for Disease Control (C.D.C.) 404-639-3534 for updated information.

Holidays

New Year's Day - Jan 1st;

Chinese New Year/Spring Festival - late Jan or early/mid-Feb (7 - 10 days)

Ching Ming Festival - Apr

Labor Day - May 1st (7 - 10 days)

Tuen Ng (Dragon Boat) Festival - Jun

Mid-Autumn Festival - Mid Sep

National Day -Oct 1st (7-10 days)

Passports and Visas

A passport is required to enter China and it must be valid for more than six months after the return date of travel.  Visas are required by all foreigners entering mainland China although, at this stage, visas are not required by Western nationals visiting Hong Kong and Macau. Travelers in transit can stay in China visa-free for up to 24 hours as long as they have an onward air ticket for a flight from China to another destination departing within that time period. Visas are available from Chinese embassies and consulates in most countries. Explorient offers Visa application service to China.

Time Difference

Chinese standard Time is 8 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time and 13 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time, USA.

Tipping

Tipping is customary and expected by travel guides, tour bus drivers, porters and in hotels. On tours with private sightseeing, gratuities of $8-$10 for travel guides, $2-$3 for drivers per person per day is customary.

Transportation

Arrangements for domestic air and ground transportation are included and made by the ground operator. All ground transportation, airport transfers and sightseeing will be provided via private car and guide. Travel by motor coach will be by modern air-conditioned coaches for large groups.

China is generally safe for tourists. While on your own, you are free to explore on your own through a variety of transportation; however, we recommend the use of  taxis as they are both convenient and inexpensive. 

What to Pack?

Valid Passport. Travelers Checks. Copy of Your Airline Ticket. Your Medicines. Departure documents. Voltage converter. Travel alarm clock. Camera(s), batteries & films. Sunscreen/Tan lotion.  Pocket size Kleenex. Extra luggage locks/keys. First Aid kit. Soft, foldable slippers. Extra set of eyeglasses. Folding Umbrella.  Comfortable walking shoes.