Where to sleep?
Practical A to Z
Practical A to Z
- Eating out
- Embassies and consulates
- Getting around
- Public holidays
- Social etiquette
Breakfast: before 8am; lunch: 11am-1pm; dinner: around 6.30pm. Restaurants are open 10am-8pm, sometimes closing earlier in the countryside and later in large towns.
Tipping is not commonplace.
Meals are a sociable occasion and everyone dips their chopsticks into the various dishes placed in the centre of the table.
The voltage in China is 220V (50Hz) and a plug adaptor will probably be necessary.
Embassies and consulates
British Embassy – 11 Guang Hua Lu - Jian Guo Men Wai - Beijing 100600 - t 010 5192 4000 - http://ukinchina.fco.gov.uk/en/
Embassy of Ireland – 3 Ritan Dong Lu - Chaoyang District - Beijing 100600 - t 010 6532 2691/2914 - http://www.embassyofireland.cn/
Trains, one of the most popular forms of public transport, are cheap, frequent and punctual.
Buses are more suited to short and medium distances, particularly as most of the tourist sites are accessible by bus.
Only those with a Chinese driving license can drive in China, so rent a car with a chauffeur.
For inner city trips, taxis are generally individual and shared for longer outer city trips.
In towns, there are special bicycle paths with their own traffic lights.
Diarrhoea remains the main problem for many tourists.
Avian influenza: avoid live cattle and poultry markets, wash your hands frequently and don’t eat raw or undercooked food, particularly meat or eggs.
First aid medical centres are available pretty much all over the country. If you have a serious medical problem, go to Beijing, Shanghai or Canton, or arrange to be flown home.
Food and water
The tap water is not drinkable; buy bottled mineral water. Check that the bottles are properly sealed. Wash fruit and vegetables carefully.
The Renminbi (RMB) or Yuan (CNY), subdivided into 10 jiao.
Renminbis can only be bought in China, but small amounts of Yuans can be purchased abroad. Money can be changed in most banks and in all branches of the Bank of China.
Banks are generally open Monday-Friday from 8.30am-5.30pm, Saturday 8am-1pm.
Automatic Telling Machines can be found in major towns and county towns (compatible with most foreign cards). Commissions are often lower in ATMs than in banks. Many hotels and restaurants accept credit card payments.
Accepted in all exchange offices and outlets.
Allow between Yuans200-400 for a double room in a comfortable hotel, Yuans20-50 for a meal in a simple restaurant, Yuans15 to rent a bicycle for a day and between Yuans2-8 for a litre bottle of mineral water.
Post offices are generally open from 8.30am-6pm (sometimes until 8pm in towns). Allow around 1 week for mail to reach home when posted from a large town.
1 January – New Year
Chinese New Year (Spring festival) – Chinese New Year (between January 20 and February 20)
8 March – International Women’s Day
1 May – Labour Day
1 October – National holiday
Shops – Generally open from 9am-7pm (shopping malls until 10pm), including public holidays.
Markets – 7am-6pm.
Bartering is commonplace, except in supermarkets and state-owned shops. It is not however seemly to haggle over a few Yuans with peasants.
Anything over 100 years old cannot be exported from China.
China has a wealth of arts and crafts that make superb holiday souvenirs: calligraphy utensils, ceramics, silk, jade and ivory objects and jewellery, lacquered objects and furniture, etc.
Museums and monuments are generally open from 9am-4pm.
Temples and gardens generally open at 6-8.30am.
Shake hands when you meet someone, offer a gift of fruit if invited to someone’s house for dinner, show your enthusiastic appreciation of the food during the meal, take your shoes off before entering someone’s home.
Criticise the Chinese regime, point a teapot spout at someone, make a toast with tea, touch the rice at the end of a banquet, turn up late to an appointment, express your feelings in public, offer to share a restaurant bill.
To call China from abroad
Dial 00 + 86 + area code (without the 0) + number of the person.
To call home from China
Dial 00 + country code (UK 44, Ireland 353) + number of the person without the first 0.
In the same province – Dial the number of the person direct.
From province to province – Dial the area code with a 0 + number of the person.
Chinese mobile phone numbers generally start with 13 and have 11 digits.