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Practical information about China

1 The following are not included in our package tour prices

  • Local airport fees
  • Meals except those specifically mentioned
  • Cancellation and travel insurance
  • Gratuities
  • Visa
  • Vaccinations

2 The climate in China

China is an immense country, stretching over multiple climate zones. The division into areas presented below is very general, and should be viewed as indicative only.

Beijing
From April until October, temperatures are typically between 10 and 35 °C, and most of the rainfall is in July and August. This means that the periods April–June and September–October are pleasant months to travel in. The winter months, from November through March, are cold, with temperatures typically between -5 and +10 °C. On the other hand, little rain falls in this period; just a few mm.

Xian
From March until October, temperatures range from 10 to 25 °C. Xian enjoys a relatively dry climate, with rain falling regularly in the summer months, although with a small ‘peak season’ in July, August and September. The winter months – November through February – are cold, with temperatures of between 0 and +5 °C. Very little rain falls in winter.

Shanghai
The Shanghai climate is warm and humid. From April until November, temperatures are typically between 15 and 30 °C and the rain falls regularly and heavily, primarily in the period May–August. From December through March, the daytime temperature is usually between 6 and 8 °C, and with 40–70 mm of rain per month.

3 Form of travel

Excursions and transfers are conducted in small, international groups led by English-speaking guides.

4 When is it best to travel to China?

You can travel to China all year round, as long as you make sure to dress appropriately for the season – just like in Europe. From the perspective of tourism, April–May and July–August are the busiest months for international tourism, while September–October is the peak season for Chinese tourists. Generally speaking, you should be prepared to meet lots of people wherever you go, and most of the tourists you encounter will be Chinese.

It is best not to travel to China in connection with the Chinese New Year and the ‘Golden Week’ in September. The Chinese New Year follows the lunar calendar so its date changes from year to year, just like Easter. During the Chinese New Year, EVERYTHING closes, and during the Golden Week, Chinese city dwellers return to their home regions to take a holiday and visit their families. As a result, many businesses close during this week as well.

5 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

6 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.

7 Language

China has a variety of recognised languages. The most common is Mandarin, which is spoken by around 70 per cent of the population. The written characters used are the same for all the recognised languages, so all Chinese people can read the same newspapers or notices, regardless of whether they live in Beijing, Lijiang or Suzhou.

8 Vaccinations

We recommend that you contact a medical specialist, your GP or an authorised vaccination clinic.
Visit nhs.co.uk for more information about vaccinations and China.

9 Visa

UK citizens are required to apply for a visa before travelling to China.

This can either be done via post or in person at one of the 3 application centres found in the UK (London, Edinburgh and Manchester). Appointments need to be made in advance if visiting an application centre in person.

To accompany your visa application, we will supply you with the relevant documentation such as a letter of invitation to visit China, full flight details and confirmed hotel accommodation. Please note, this information will be sent to you via e-mail and can take up to two weeks for you to receive it.

It is advisable that you apply for a visa one month before your intended date of entry into China but not earlier than three months.

When applying, passports must have at least six months of remaining validity and with a blank visa page.

For regular service, the processing time is usually 4 working days.

For express service, the processing time is usually 3 working days.

For postal service, the processing time is usually 10 working days if all the accompanying documents meet the requirements.

To apply for your visa and further information, visit the Chinese Visa Application Centre here:http://www.visaforchina.org/

For visa price information, see here: http://www.visaforchina.org/LON_EN/yyxz/263928.shtml

Visit also gov.uk and study the information presented there.

10 Currency

The unit of currency in China is the yuan renminbi (CNY). 1 yuan (rmb) is composed of 10 jiao, which is equivalent to 100 fen. Visit www.xe.com/currencyconverter to see the current exchange rate in both US dollars and GBP. We recommend that you bring some US dollars or euros with you in cash, and then exchange these for local currency at an official bureau de change. US dollars are also widely accepted in shops and in many markets. Standard credit cards such as Visa and MasterCard are generally accepted, and there are cash machines (ATMs) in all cities. You can use credit cards at almost all hotels and in many restaurants and shops, but not in small local markets.

11 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.

12 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.

13 Electricity

Mains power is 220 V throughout China. Various types of plug are used in different regions, although the most common version features two round pins. The farther you travel from Beijing and Shanghai, however, the more ‘interesting’ the plug designs. Sockets that can accommodate plugs with three round pins (earthed computer plugs) are rare. Therefore, make sure to bring a travel adapter with you if you will need to recharge your laptop, for example.

14 Telephone and Internet

The international dialling code for China is +86. It can be expensive to place calls to – or receive them from – Europe while you are in China. Ask your own mobile service provider about coverage and call charges. If you need to make lots of calls or to send a lot of text messages, it may be a good idea to buy a local SIM card. There are internet cafés in the big cities, and Wi-Fi connections in most hotels.

15 Safety

China is generally a safe country to travel in. The biggest problem is often finding your way around when you are on your own, because very few places feature signs written in western letters. Ordinary crime directed at tourists is typically limited to pick-pocketing and occasional cases of credit card fraud. This is usually simple to avoid through the application of common sense. Avoid showing off expensive jewellery and large sums of cash, and never let your credit card out of your sight at typical tourist locations. Always follow the advice and information provided by the guides and you can be sure of staying out of danger.

16 Food and drink

China has eight distinct cuisines: Shandong, Guangdong, Sichuan, Hunan, Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Fujian and Anhui. The food prepared according to the different styles varies greatly. The most notable cuisines are probably Anhui (wok), Sichuan (very spicy) and Guangdong (mild, finely balanced taste).
The Chinese people eat with chopsticks, and tourists are expected to do the same. However, you can always ask for western cutlery.

Only ever drink water from bottles. Bottled water is cheap and readily available everywhere. DO NOT drink water from the taps.

17 Public holidays

  • The Chinese New Year follows the lunar calendar. In 2017, it runs from 28th January until 5th February.
  • The Golden Week in 2016 runs from 1st to 7th October.

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 have any comments on the itinerary or find 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

We recommend that you make a seat reservation on the plane. Many airlines also offer to upgrade reserved tickets for seats with extra space and comfort, e.g. Economy Comfort at KLM and Premium Voyageur at Air France. You can do this through the airline’s website. Most airlines have a point in the menu called “manage my booking”. Please note that many airlines require payment for seat reservation, so you should have your credit/debit card to hand when you get started.

Unfortunately, rules differ as to when seat reservation is opened. We recommend that you try to make a seat reservation as early as possible and you will then know when you can make a seat reservation if it cannot be done right away. It is very common for seat reservation to be opened between 72 and 24 hours before departure.

21 Checked luggage and hand 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 and your travel companion should pack your luggage so that you can both make do with one item of luggage if the other is lost or delayed. While it is unlikely to happen, the problem may arise. If it does, it may take a few days before your luggage is delivered to the hotel where you are staying.
So make sure to carry all your important, indispensable items in your hand luggage: passport, visa, plane tickets, insurance papers, credit card(s), cash, prescriptions and essential medicines. You should also carry items such as your camera, binoculars, computer, chargers and adapters with you.

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.