Do Before You Go

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.

* 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.

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.

Arrival Procedures

The Local guide will greet you once you have cleared the Custom area at your China arrival airport. Please wear your tour badge for easy identification.

Baggage

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

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.

Baggage Precautions

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.

Lost/damaged Baggage

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.

Currency & Exchange Rate

You can bring cash and credit cards. Don't use traveler checks in China, since it is inconvinient to exchange them into Chinese currency. Use credit card whenever you shop in tourist stores especially when making big purchases. 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 2008, USD$1=RMB 6.8 by cash. Exchange rate fluctuates daily.

Chinese RMB is not internationally convertible, you don't have to have the money before you go. You can 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 most banks. 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 the banks. 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

We don't recommend China travelers to use travel checks in China. It is very inconvinient

* 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.

Time Difference

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 9pm in Beijing, the time in other U.S. cities is:

San Francisco: 6am (same day)

Chicago: 7am (same day)

New York: 9am (same day)

Electricity

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 in most hotel rooms, and you can always contact hotel housekeeping when you need them.

Water

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.

Meals

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 Dumpling Banquet in Xian are included for all tour programs to enhance your culinary experiences.

Dress

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.

Laundry

All hotels on your China Tour have same day laundry service. The price is fairly reasonable.

Climate

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.

Telephone

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 guide 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

Internet & Fax

Fax and internet access are commonly available at your hotels. Some hotel provide free wireless service in the guest rooms.

Mail

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 70 cents U.S. for a postcard, and about $1 for a letter up to 20 gram.

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.

Medication

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

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.

Gratuities

Tipping is often confusing for the traveler. Your China national guide, 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:

A. For group size of 14 or less: $4 per person per day for the local tour guide; $3 per person per day for driver. $3 per room per check-in and check-out for bellboys.

B. For group size of 15 or more: $2.5 per person per day for the national tour guide; $2.5 per person per day for the local tour guide; $2 per per- son per day for the driver. $3 per room per check-in and check-out for bellboys.

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 national guide will accompany you throughout the trip, and is responsible directly to you, you may choose to give all gratuities to your national guide 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

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 national guide 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. Holiday ChinaChina 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.

Travel Insurance

Accident insurance in China is covered in all China tour packages. You can buy cancellation insurance from Holiday ChinaChina. The cost is 5.5% of the total package price.

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.

 

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