While Traveling

Public Holiday

January 1 New Year's Day.
February 5-8 Spring Festival, Chinese New Year.
May 1 Labor Day.
October 1-2 National Days

In addition to the above, certain groups have official public holidays on the following dates (other holidays may be observed locally):

Mar 8 International Women's Day (women only).
May 4 National Youth Day.
June 1 International Children's Day.
August 1 Army Day.

Money Matter
The RMB and Exchange of Foreign Currencies

The official currency in China is the Renminbi (RMB) or "People's Currency". The basic RMB unit is the Yuan (also known as "Kuai"), which equals 10 Jiao (or "Mao"), which is then divided into 10 Fen. RMB is available in both paper notes and coins. The denominations of paper notes are 100, 50, 10, 5, 2 and 1 Yuan; 5, 2 and 1 Jiao; and 5, 2 and 1 Fen. The denominations of coins are 1 Yuan; 5 and 1 Jiao; and 5, 2 and 1 fen. The symbol of China Yuan (CNY) is Y.

Foreign Currencies Converted into RMB
Foreign currencies may be converted into RMB at all banks, bank branches and hotels at the exchange rate quoted on the foreign exchange market on the day. There are 21 quoted exchange currencies: Australian dollar (A$), Austrian schilling (Sch), Belgian franc (BF), Canadian dollar (Can$), Danish krone (DKr), Deutsche mark (DM), European Monetary Unit (EMU), Finnish markka (Fmk), French franc (FF), Dutch guilder (FI), Hong Kong dollar (HK$), Italian lira (Lit), Japanese yen (?, Macao pataca (MOP), Malaysia ringgit (MYR), Norwegian krone (NKr), Swiss franc (SF), Singapore dollar (S$), Swedish krona (SKr), UK pound sterling (?, and US dollar (US$). Private or black market exchanges are illegal.

Credit Card
The Bank of China is the bank which specializes in handling credit cards issued in foreign countries, including Visa, MasterCard, Diner's Card, American Express, JCB, Million Card and Federal Card. These cards can be used at major hotels and shopping centers where the Bank of China has established branches. In the event you lose your card, you should report to one of the branches of the Bank of China and apply for a replacement. The Industrial and Commercial Bank of China issues Peony Card; and the Bank of China, Great Wall Card.

Drinking Water
  Potable water is available only at a few best hotels, so visitors should always ask to make sure. Thermos bottles of hot and cold boiled water in rooms are signs of non-potable tap water. Bottled mineral water is widely available in all stores and street kiosks and sometimes provided free by the hotel. Made-in-China mineral water is usually sold at around 3 Yuan per bottle.

Most luxury hotels have built-in converters in bathrooms for shavers, hair dryers, etc. Otherwise, come equipped, because an amazing variety of plug types are in use. The voltage is 220 volts; thus you may need a 220-110 adapter.


Taking photographs or videos of military installations is prohibited. As in other countries, some museums, palaces, or temples will not allow photographs to be taken, or will charge fee. At other times, photography is allowed, but without using flash lamp.

Cameras must be declared at the Customs when arriving in China. No special permit is necessary for video or movie cameras, as long as it is clearly not for professional use.

Post and Communications

Domestic mail delivery is exceedingly fast and cheap. Within some cities, there is often same-day delivery; between large cities, delivery is usually overnight. International mail, too, is efficient. Express Mail Service (EMS) is available to most international destinations, as are private international courier services. There are also comprehensive mail services for small parcels. Large parcels must be packed and sealed at the post office. For general delivery, visit the central post office in each city. Card members can also use American Express offices for receiving a mail.

International calls can be made directly form hotel rooms with IDD (international direct dial) phones. Just dial the international prefix 00, plus country code, area code and number. Some large post offices also provide this service. Otherwise, look for roadside kiosks with the IDD sign. IDD calls have a three-minute minimum charge, additional time thereafter is calculated by the minute. Four-star and five-star hotels charge a variable service fee from 10 to 20 percent.

Direct long-distance dials (DDD) can be made from most hotels to some 2,000 localities throughout China. Visitors should dial the domestic prefix 0 plus area code and the number. Hotel service charges are the same as for international calls. Most post offices provide this service. Alternatively look for roadside kiosks with the IDD and DDD sign. If your call is not urgent, phone between 21:00 and 07:00 the next morning. Not only is it easier to get through but calls are half the daytime price.

Most of the big hotels have telex and fax facilities to help business people. Alternatively, central telegraphy and post offices offer telex and fax services.

Sending telegrams abroad is relatively expensive. Express telegrams are double the price. There is usually a telegram counter at the hotel. Otherwise, go to the central telegraphy or post office.

Road Names

Street names are determined by the traditional checkerboard of Chinese urban design. The most important traffic arteries are divided into sectors and laid out in a grid typically based upon the compass points.

Suffixes are added to the primary name to indicate north, south, east or west, and additionally, to indicate the middle section. The middle section is called zhong; nan means south; bei, north; dong, east and xi, west. A main road is lu, smaller is jie. A small lane is named xiang.

Time Differences
  China uses Beijing time as the standard time for the entire nation. When it is 12 at noon in Beijing the standard time in other cities around the world are as follows:
City Time City Time City Time
Baghdad 06:00 Helsinki 06:00 Pyongyang 13:00
Bangkok 11:00 Ho Chi Minh City 11:00 Rangoon 10:00
Berlin 05:30 Honolulu 18:00 Rio de Janeiro 01:00
Berne 05:00 Irkutsk 12:00 Rome 05:30
Bombay 09:30 Jakarta 11:30 Rwanda 05:00
Brussels 04:00 Karachi 09:00 San Francisco 20:00
Bucharest 06:00 Khartoum 06:00 Santiago 24:00
Budapest 05:00 Kuala Lumpur 11:30 Seoul 13:00
Buenos Aires 01:00 Leningrad 07:00 Singapore 11:30
Cairo 06:00 Lisbon 04:00 Sofia 06:00
Calcutta 09:00 London 04:00 Stockholm 05:00
Cape Town 06:00 Manila 12:00 Surabaya 11:30
Casablanca 04:00 Melbourne 14:00 Sydney 14:00
Colombo 09:30 Mexico City 21:00 Teheran 06:00
Conakry 04:00 Montreal 23:00 Tirana 05:00
Copenhagen 05:00 Moscow 07:00 Tokyo 13:00
Damascus 06:00 New Delhi 09:30 Tunisia 05:00
Geneva 05:00 New York 23:00 Vancouver 20:00
Guatemala City 22:00 Osaka 13:00 Vienna 05:00
Haiphong 11:00 Panama City 23:00 Warsaw 05:00
Hanoi 11:00 Paris 04:00 Washington 23:00
Havana 23:00 Prague 05:00 Wellington 16:00


The Chinese railway network covers 66,000 kilometers, ranking first in Asia. The electrified lines total 11,999 kilometers, making China the ninth country in the world with more than 10,000 kilometers of electrified lines.

There are no first or second class on Chinese trains, but four categories or classes: soft-sleeper, soft-seat, hard-sleeper, and hard-seat. Usually the soft-seat class is only available for short journeys. Long-distance trains normally only have soft-sleeper or hard-sleeper facilities. The soft-sleeper class has 4-bed compartments with soft beds. It is recommended particularly for long journeys. The hard-sleeper class has open, 6-bed compartments. Boiled water is always available on the trains. There are washrooms in the soft -sleeper and hard-sleeper classes. The toilets, regardless of which class, are usually not very hygienic, and it is a good idea to bring your own toilet paper.

There are dining cars on long-distance trains.

Trains are usually fully booked and it is advisable to get a ticket well in advance. This is particularly so during the main travel season. There are special ticket counters for foreigners at railway stations.

The fare depends on both the class and the speed of the train; there are slow trains, fast trains, express trains and inter-city trains. Reservations can be made at ticket offices in the town center.

Long-distance Buses
Overland buses are the most important means of transport in many parts of China, especially where there is no railway line. In most towns and counties, there are bus stations for overland buses. They are the cheapest means of transport, but also correspondingly slow. There are regular breaks during bus journeys; on journeys lasting several days you will usually find small restaurants and overnight accommodation near the bus stations. Many overland buses have numbered seats and it is advisable to book a ticket and seat well in advance. Modern buses with air conditioning are frequently available in the tourist centers.

Town Transports
The visitor can choose between taxis and buses for transport in the cities. In Beijing, Hong Kong, and Shanghai there is also underground (subway).

Taxi is one of the most convenient means of transportation for travelers. It is available at airports and railway stations, and can be booked at hotels. You can also hail a taxi in the street. The fare is calculated according to the distance or time and distance for chartered services. Taxis may have a surcharge for waiting or low-speed driving during traffic jams. Taking a taxi after 23:00 incurs a 20 percent surcharge on initial fee.

Public buses in Chinese towns are overcrowded. The fare depends on distance, and should be paid to the conductor. Public buses are usually easy to find, and timetables or town maps are available everywhere.

Minibus is a compromise between the relatively expensive taxis and crowded public transport. Running regular services, the small vans guarantee beach rider a seat even in rush hour and stop on request anywhere along the route. The minibuses have their certain routes that match those of the large public buses. They carry a maximum of 16 people. They are a bit more expensive but it is very convenient.

Many hotels have shuttle buses that can take tourists to the airport and other places downtown. The tickets are sold in lobbies of the hotels.

Traffic Control
While travelling in China, you should pay attention to Chinese traffic regulations for safety's sake.

The Chinese traffic regulations stipulate that all motor vehicles must keep to the right of the road. Drivers must pay serious attention to any changes of traffic signals. The red light is the prohibiting signal. The yellow light signals motor vehicles to stop before the line to continue moving. When the green light is on, motor vehicles are allowed to move forward, or to turn to either the right or the left provided they do not obstruct the movement of motor vehicles in straight directions.

Road Safety
In large cities in China most roads are well-paved, traffic lights function, and drivers generally comply with basic traffic laws. However, the growing number of vehicles, many of which are driven by relatively inexperienced drivers, as well as the large numbers of pedestrians and cyclists lead to congestion and additional risks. In any accident involving an automobile and a pedestrian or cyclist, the driver of the automobile is presumed to be at fault. Foreigners often complain that they are automatically considered at fault in any accident, simply because they are foreign. Drivers on in-land and rural roads are less likely to comply with basic traffic safety procedures. Additionally, livestock are a common obstacle on roads outside larger, coastal cities.While travelling in China, you should pay attention to Chinese traffic regulations for safety's sake.

Inland River Transport
Navigable inland waterways in China total 111,000 kilometers and berths at major harbors amounted to some 5,000 in 1997. The Yangtze, the " golden waterway" of China's inland river transport, has 6,000 kilometers navigable throughout the year. The annual transport capacity, both freight and passenger transport, amounts to more than 70 percent of China's total capacity. Other major navigable rivers are the Heilong, the Pearl, and the Grand Canal between Beijing and Hangzhou.

Civil Aviation
China has opened 967 air routes totaling 1.42 million kilometers. International air routes numbers 116. Chinese civil airways fly Boeing 777s, 767s, 757s, 747s and 737s, and A340, and other types of airplanes. The domestic airlines radiate from Beijing to all the provinces, autonomous regions and centrally administered municipalities, major tourist and open cities and border areas. The international airlines reach 57 cities, including Amsterdam, Bangkok, Berlin, Brussels, Frankfurt, Jakarta, Karachi, London, Los Angeles, Milan, Moscow, Nagoya, New York, Paris, Seoul, Singapore, Tashkent, Tokyo and Vienna.

Travel to Tibet
  It is possible to make travel arrangements to Tibet from outside of China. Once in China, travelers wishing to visit Tibet must join a group, which can be arranged by almost any Chinese travel agency. The travel agency will arrange for the necessary permits and collect any fees. The Chinese government requires foreigners wishing to visit Tibet to apply in advance for approval from the Tourist Administration of the Tibetan Autonomous Region. More information is available through the Chinese Embassy or one of the Chinese consulates, or, while in China, at the foreign Embassy or nearest foreign consulate general. See "Entry Requirements." There have been some reports of robberies and assaults along remote highways near China's border with Nepal and in areas near Mt. Everest.
Weights and Measures
  Both the local and international standards for weights and measures are used in China:
Feet Chi Meter
3.28  03.00   1.00
1.09  01.00  0.33
1.00 00.91  0.31
Acre  Mu Hectare
0.62 15.00  1.00
0.31  01.00 0.51
1.00  03.22 1.61
Pound Jin Kilo
2.20 02.00 1.00
1.10 01.00 0.50
1.00 00.91 0.45
Gallon Sheng Litre
0.22 1.00 1.00
1.00 14.55 4.55


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