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Practical information about China

Practical information about China

Practical information about China

1. The climate in China

China is one of the world’s largest countries, so there are significant differences in the climate depending on where you are in the country. Northern China lies in the temperate zone, while further south, the country lies in both the subtropical and tropical zone.

China generally has four seasons just as here the UK:

  • Spring: March to May
  • Summer: June to August
  • Autumn: September to October
  • Winter: November to February

The different season can shift a little depending on the area.

Beijing:
Beijing is located in the temperate zone.

Winter is cold and dry, while summer is wet and warm. In the spring and autumn, there is very little rain and mild temperatures. The coldest month is January, while the rainiest months are July and August.

Weather statistics for Beijing: JAN FEB MAR APR MAY JUN JUL AUG SEP OCT NOV DEC
Average maximum temperature  2 4 11 20 26 30 31 30 26 19 10 3
Average minimum temperature  -9 -7 -1 7 13 18 22 20 14 7 0 -7
Rainfall mm  3 6 9 26 29 71 176 182 49 19 6 2

Xi’an:
Xi’an is located in the temperate zone.

As in Beijing, the winter is cold, dry and sometimes foggy, while the summer brings really hot, wet weather. Spring and Autumn are relatively dry, and the rainiest months are in late summer/early autumn.

Weather statistics for Xi’an: JAN FEB MAR APR MAY JUN JUL AUG SEP OCT NOV DEC
Average maximum temperature 5 8 13 21 26 30 31 30 25 20 12 6
Average minimum temperature -4 -2 3 9 14 19 21 20 16 10 3 -3
Rainfall mm 10 10 40 40 70 60 100 70 110 60 20 10

Shanghai:
Shanghai is located in the subtropical zone.

The winter here is dry and cold, but a little milder than in Beijing, for example. While night-time temperatures often drop below zero, it rarely snows. The summer offers very hot temperatures, which sometimes hit 40 degrees. The summer months are also characterised by heavy showers. On the other hand, spring and autumn generally offer dry weather and pleasant temperatures. However, you should be aware that temperatures can change quickly in the autumn.

Weather statistics for Shanghai: JAN FEB MAR APR MAY JUN JUL AUG SEP OCT NOV DEC
Average maximum temperature 8 9 13 19 24 27 32 32 27 22 17 11
Average minimum temperature 0 2 5 11 16 20 25 25 20 15 9 2
Rainfall mm 39 59 81 102 115 152 128 133 156 61 51 35

Chengdu:
Chengdu (Sichuan Province in south-west China) is located in the subtropical zone.

The climate here is mild, with relatively pleasant temperatures even in the coldest months.

The weather is hottest and wettest during the summer months, especially in July and August, and it can be quite muggy. The winter, on the other hand, is not quite as cold as in other places, but it may be foggy and humid, making it feel colder. The spring starts out mild, getting warmer as the season progresses, and autumn starts out hot but becomes milder. The weather is changeable in both spring and autumn, with hot days rapidly replaced by cooler days – and vice versa.

Weather statistics for Chengdu: JAN FEB MAR APR MAY JUN JUL AUG SEP OCT NOV DEC
Average maximum temperature 10 11 15 21 26 28 29 29 25 21 16 11
Average minimum temperature 3 5 8 12 17 21 22 22 18 15 10 4
Rainfall mm 10 20 20 50 100 110 200 190 130 40 20 10

Yangshuo:
Yangshuo (Guangxi Province – one of China’s southernmost provinces) lies in the subtropical zone.

Yangshuo is generally a little warmer than Shanghai, but gets a lot more rain. The winter months are the driest of the year with mild temperatures, while in the summer and for much of the spring, a lot of rain falls. Autumn is relatively warm and gets a little more rain than in the winter.

Weather statistics for Yangshuo: JAN FEB MAR APR MAY JUN JUL AUG SEP OCT NOV DEC
Average maximum temperature 11 14 17 23 28 30 33 33 31 27 21 15
Average minimum temperature 4 8 11 16 20 23 24 24 21 17 11 6
Rainfall mm 53 81 114 224 312 293 200 186 83 85 69 44

Sanya, Hainan Island:

Hainan Province is located in the most southerly part of China

This is where you will find the beach resort Sanya, which is located in the tropical zone, where it is hot all year round. There are not four seasons here, as on the mainland, but a dry season and a rainy season.

  • The dry season extends from around November to May, when it is dry, yet still hot
  • The rainy season is from around June to October, when it is hotter, but more rainy

Hainan Island can also be hit by typhoons – most often between July and September.

Weather statistics for Sanya: JAN FEB MAR APR MAY JUN JUL AUG SEP OCT NOV DEC
Average maximum temperature 26 26 28 30 32 32 31 31 31 30 29 27
Average minimum temperature 17 19 21 23 25 25 25 25 24 22 21 18
Rainfall mm 8 13 19 43 142 198 193 222 251 235 58 11
2. Form of travel

The tour takes place in international groups of up to 14 people and with Asiatours’ own guests. All excursions mentioned are with English speaking guides, whilst all transfers are with a Chinese speaking driver.

3. When is it best to travel to China?

China can be visited all year round.

However, the spring or autumn are popular times to visit China, when the weather is typically milder and offers more comfortable temperatures and less rain than in the other months of the year. However, sandstorms may occur, especially in the spring.

Hainan Island’s beach resort Sanya offers hot weather all year round, but if you want to avoid rain, it’s best to visit in the dry season, when there is less rain and milder temperatures.

4. Terms & Conditions

Please read our booking terms and conditions carefully. These terms and conditions constitute the basis of your package purchased from Asiatours.co.uk. Click here to read our terms and conditions of travel.

All the flights and flight-inclusive holidays on this website are financially protected by the ATOL scheme. When you pay you will be supplied with an ATOL Certificate. Please ask for it and check to ensure that everything you booked (flights, hotels and other services) is listed on it. Please see our booking conditions for further information or for more information about financial protection and the ATOL Certificate go to: www.atol.org.uk/ATOLCertificate

5. Travel insurance

We are an ATOL protected agency giving you complete peace of mind. It is a condition of booking that the sole responsibility lies with the guest to ensure that they carry the correct comprehensive travel and medical insurance to cover themselves, as well as any dependants/traveling companions for the duration of their tour.

In cooperation with our partner we can offer advantageous travel insurances. Learn more here.

6. Language

China has many recognised languages, the most widely used of which is Mandarin, which is spoken by 70% of Chinese people. The written language is a sign language and is the same for all the different recognised languages, so the Chinese can read the same newspaper, whether they live in Beijing, Yangshuo or Shanghai.

The Chinese are proud of their language and think it’s great when tourists try out a few individual words and phrases. Being able to say simple words such as hello (nĭ hăo), thank you (xiè xie) and goodbye (zài jiàn) will almost always bring a smile to the faces of the Chinese.

7. Vaccinations

We always advise that you contact a specialist, your GP or an authorized vaccination clinic. You can also read more about the rules for travel & vaccinations at the central NHS Fit for Travel website: here

Please be aware of the rules about yellow fever – especially if you are entering via another country where yellow fever is present.

Some countries require proof of yellow fever vaccination upon entry. So be sure to bring your vaccination certificate with you in these cases.

8. Passport/visa

Passport:

As a British citizen, you must be in possession of a valid British passport. Your passport must be valid for 6 months following your return home.

Please note that a passport which has been reported missing and which has been found again may cause problems and, in the worst case, you may be refused entry into China. We therefore recommend that you apply for a new passport before departure if this is the case.

Visa:

As a British citizen, you will need to obtain a visa for China. Visas are issued by the Chinese Visa Application Service Centre in London, Manchester and Edinburgh/Belfast and is valid for 3 months from the date of issue.

To check the prices, click here.

You can apply for a visa 3 months before departure at the earliest, and no later than 1 month before departure.

Before you proceed with the visa application itself, we recommend that you read the step-by-step application guide carefully. By clicking the following link, you will find the guide for London, Manchester and for Edinburgh/Belfast.

When you start your visa application, you should have the following to hand:

  • Your passport
  • A digital passport photo that meets the specific requirements. Read more here
  • The invitation letter you receive from us together with your confirmation of the tour

The visa application for London should be completed online via the following link: China visa

The visa application for Manchester should be completed online via the following link: China visa

The visa application for Edinburgh/Belfast should be completed online via the following link: China visa

The application consists of 10 parts. You should upload a digital passport photo, fill in your personal details, educational and work-related information and previous travel activity, and provide our partner’s licence number and address of your accommodation as indicated in your invitation letter.

Once you have completed the application, you should book an appointment online to appear in person at the visa centre. By clicking the following link, you will find the online appointment application for London, Manchester and Edinburgh/Belfast.

  • The address in London is: 12 Old Jewry, London, EC2R 8DU.
  • The address in Manchester is: Ground Floor, 71 Mosley Street, Manchester, M2 3HR
  • The address in Edinburgh is: 2nd Floor, Exchange Tower, 19 Canning Street, Edinburgh, EH3 8EG
  • The address in Belfast is: 1 Stranmillis Embankment, Belfast, BT7 1GB

The centres are open on weekdays from 9.00 am to 3.00 pm. Please note that the visa centre is closed on British and Chinese public holidays. By clicking the following link, you can read more about the visa centre’s opening hours and Chinese public holidays for London, Manchester and Edinburgh/Belfast.

Remember to print out your visa application before visiting the visa centre. This must be brought to the visa centre together with the meeting confirmation, a copy of the data and photo page of your passport, a physical passport photo in colour, a copy of your invitation letter and a copy of your airline ticket.

Before the meeting, you should also decide whether you will pick up your visa when it is ready or whether you would like it to be posted to you. If you choose to receive it by post, please remember to bring a stamped, addressed envelope showing the tracking number.

When you arrive at the visa centre, you should proceed to the check-in desk, where you will be given a queue number. When your number is called, you should proceed to the desk indicated. It is important that you inform the clerk immediately if you if you wish to have your visa posted to you and hand in the stamped, addressed envelope showing the tracking number. After submitting all your documents and answering any questions, your fingerprints will be taken if you are aged between 14 and 70 and have not applied for a Chinese visa within the past 5 years. You will then be given a queue number for the payment desk. Payment must be made on the same day that you submit your visa application. Payment can be made by cash or card. After payment, you will receive a receipt – a so-called pick-up form – which you should bring with you when you collect your visa if you have not chosen to have it posted to you.

You can keep track of how far your visa is in the process and when it is ready for pick-up or posting here.

If you are unable to pick up your visa yourself, a friend or family member can do it on your behalf. Be sure to write a power of Attorney letter of authorisation and also ensure that the person has a copy of the receipt to be used for pick-up. The person who picks up your visa must be able to provide photo ID.

When you receive your visa, please check that all information is correct.

You can also read more about the visa rules on the Foreign Ministry’s website.

You are, of course, always welcome to ask us if you have any questions.

9. Currency

The Chinese currency is called yuan renminbi (CNY). At  www.xe.com/currencyconverter you can check the exact rate from US dollars, Euro and British pounds. You can choose to change your money from home or on your arrival. In this case, we recommend that you bring US dollars with you in cash, which you can exchange at an official bureau de change upon arrival. Credit cards such as Visa, MasterCard and American Express can generally only be used in hotels, so make sure you have some cash on you. There are cash machines that accept international cards in all cities, but there is a risk that these will be few and far between, as many cash machines only accept Chinese credit cards. Banks whose cash machines accept international cards are: Bank of China, China Merchant’s Bank and ICBC.

10. Tipping

Tipping is common practice; it is actually expected to a certain extent. It is generally accepted that the tip you leave corresponds to the service you have received.
The following suggestions are indicative only:

  • Bellboy: USD 1–2 per room
  • Maid: USD 2 per day
  • Guides: USD 5–10 per person, per day; depending on the service supplied
  • Drivers: USD 2–5 per person, per day; depending on the service supplied
  • Restaurants: tipping is not expected at small local restaurants and street kitchens, but in restaurants of international calibre, you can leave USD 1–5 on the table when you depart.

Our tipping guideline is in USD, but tips should be calculated in the local currency at the destination.

11. Time difference

Despite its enormous size, China has only one time zone. The difference between Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) and the time in China varies, depending on UK summer and winter time.
Summer time: +5 hours. This means that when it is noon GMT, it is 17.00 in China.
Winter time: +6 hours. This means that when it is noon GMT, it is 18.00 in China.

12. Electricity

Chinese voltage is 220 V and there are countless different sockets. So be sure to bring an adapter for charging your mobile phone, camera, etc.

13. Telephone and Internet

The international country code for China is +86. It can be expensive to call home from or receive calls in China. Check with your own mobile phone company regarding coverage and call rates.

There are internet cafés in the cities, and Wi-Fi is available at most hotels. Please note, however, that the internet in China is highly censored and blocks access to a number of Western media, including Google, Dropbox, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Vimeo, HBO and Netflix. We recommend downloading a VPN connection in Appstore or Google Play on your mobile if you want to be able to access your favourite media.

WeChat is used instead in China, which for the Chinese has become as natural a way to access the internet as Facebook, Instagram and YouTube are in Western countries. WeChat is used to communicate with friends and colleagues alike, and the concept of emails is slowly losing ground in China. Where WeChat differs from Facebook, for example, is that users also have their bank account linked to the app so they can pay by simply using a QR code, which is a kind of barcode.

14. Safety

China is generally a safe country to travel in. Crime against tourists is largely confined to pickpocketing. This can often be avoided by using common sense. Avoid displaying expensive jewellery and large amounts of cash. Always follow the guide’s advice and guidance on safety.

15. Food and drink

Chinese cuisine is regionally diverse. In Beijing to the north, you will find the robust cuisine, where Peking duck is a speciality. To the south, you find Guangzhou cuisine, a colourful mix of vegetables and various kinds of meat, fish and poultry. To the east, there is Shanghai cuisine, which is famous for its delicious seafood. And finally, there is the western Sichuan cuisine, which is very spicy and tasty.

Of course, some of the most popular dishes are Peking duck, dumplings, which are a speciality in Xi’an, and kung pao chicken, a popular Sichuan dish. China is also known for its delicious soups and fried noodles with eggs, vegetables and meat, etc.

The most popular drink in China is tea. You’ll soon discover that the Chinese won’t set foot outside the door without their bottle of tea, which they fill up many times a day.

Working out the menus in China can be a real problem, as not all restaurants have menus in English. Today, thankfully, there are a lot of smart translation apps that can be a great help during your trip. We recommend Waygo, which can read Chinese menus and translate them directly into English using the camera on your mobile without you being online.

The price of food is low in China, and you can enjoy a good meal at a local restaurant from around £2. A soft drink costs around 25p, and tea, juice and beer cost between 60p and £1.25.

16. Toilet facilities

The toilet facilities in China can be an experience in themselves. Hotels and larger/international restaurants have Western-style toilet facilities, but you should be prepared for traditional Chinese toilets in most public toilets (also on trains), which can best be described as “squat toilets”. In some places, there are closed toilet cubicles, while elsewhere you may find that there is no door! Please note that toilet paper and soap are not always available, so we recommend that you bring your own toilet paper or a pack of wet wipes and hand sanitizer.

17. Public holidays

It is always special to experience the traditions and celebrations of other countries. Below is a list of public holidays, important festivals and other special occasions.

Please note that some museums and attractions may be closed on these days.

18. Flight reservations and airline tickets

We will send you your flight reservation as soon as you book your trip. You can see times and routes on the itinerary. It is important to check your name for spelling mistakes. The name on the reservation must be exactly as in your passport. If you find any mistakes in the names, please contact us immediately.

Today, there are only electronic airline tickets (e-tickets), so you do not receive a physical ticket for use at the airport check-in. When you check in at the airport, you use your passport and a booking reference. The booking reference is on your itinerary.

19. Service letter

Once you have purchased a tour through us, you will receive our service letter before your departure. The service letter contains important information about online check-in, what to do in the event of a delay, our agreed guidelines for tips, etc. In addition, you will find important telephone numbers for our local agents as well as our emergency telephone number.

So it is important that you print out the service letter and bring it with you.

20. Seat reservation, upgrades and extra legroom

The airline will assign you a seat on board the aircraft upon check-in. If you have specific wishes, you can make a seat reservation via the airline’s website. Most airlines have an area on their website named “manage my booking” or similar. Please note that most airlines require payment for a seat reservation, so it’s a good idea to have your payment card ready when starting a seat reservation. Airline seat reservations vary from company to company, but as a general rule, you can book seats from around 48 hours before departure.

Many airlines also offer upgrades with extra legroom or comfort seating, such as Economy Comfort with KLM and Premium Voyageur with Air France. You can check these details through the airline’s own website, along with payment information.

Please kindly note that airlines have full access to all seats on the aircraft and therefore always reserve the right to alter a reservation.

If you do not make a seat reservation before departure, the airline will issues your seating upon check-in at the airport.

21. Your luggage

We use many different airlines for our flights to China, so there may be variations in the amount of luggage you are allowed to bring with you as both checked luggage and hand luggage. Check the information about this on your airline ticket, and contact us if you have any questions. If your tour involves a domestic flight in Indonesia, you cannot bring more than 20 kg of luggage with you.

You should also make sure you carry all your important and indispensable things in your hand luggage. This applies to items such as passports, visas, airline tickets, insurance documents, credit cards, money and cameras, as well as information about your health and vital medicines.

You may find yourself sitting in a draught from the air conditioning in the plane, so make sure to pack a warm jumper or jacket in your hand luggage.

22. Transfers to and from airports

On arrival at the different airports in China, you will be met by our local representative who will be waiting for you in the arrival hall with a sign bearing your name. You will naturally also be driven to the airport on departure. You will be informed of your pick-up time when you arrive in China.

23. Etiquette and cultural differences

Experiencing differences in culture and etiquette is one of the delights of travelling, and it is essential to respect these differences. ‘When in Rome, do as the Romans do’ is good advice, and the section below contains a number of useful hints and tips intended to help you make the very most of your visit to China.

  • Try not to show anger. Displaying frustration or anger by shouting or acting rudely is considered extremely impolite and disrespectful – and nothing good will come of it.
  • Shaking hands is not common practice. It is usual to bow your head respectfully in greeting.
  • Always use your right hand or both hands when passing something to – or receiving something from – other people. Never use your left hand alone.
24. Travellers with reduced mobillity

Please note, our tours are generally not suitable for persons with reduced mobility. Please contact us for information about the possibilities according any specific needs.

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Contact travel consultant Neil Smith

Write to:
info@asiatours.co.uk

Call:
01279 704 137

Hours of opening:
Mon, Wed & Fri: 8 - 16
Tue & Thu: 8-21
Sat: 9-17

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