Travel Guide

To ensure that you have an enjoyable trip to China, PTS has developed this Travel Guide, which will address your key questions and assist you in your preparations.

Customs Upon Arrival

When you arrive in China, you will be required to pass through Customs. You will be requested to complete a declaration form, where you will list all of your valuables, i.e., money (cash and travelers checks), camera, jewelry, etc. It is critically important to keep your customs declaration form in a safe place. You will be required to return your declaration when you depart from China. Customs officers may check whether you are taking all of the items you declared upon entry. The loss of your form will result in delayed departure and a stiff fine. At the time of arrival, you will also be requested to complete a health form, which will ask for the details of your health. You will also be requested to fill out an entry card, which will state the duration of your stay in China.

You may exchange currency at the airport, railway stations, and ports. When traveling with a group in a tour, your escort - tour guide, will assist you in your processing.

Entry Regulations

Valid visas are required. Without a proper visa, entry will be prohibited. Please consult with PTS for either individual or group visa information. PTS has the ability to obtain either individual or group visas for a nominal fee.

Exiting China

When departing from China, visitors must complete an Exit Registration Card. Your passport and visa will be checked. Everything, which you declared on your Customs Luggage Declaration Form upon entry, should be taken with you when you depart. If any item is missing, a certificate from the appropriate department is required. For instance, if you have lost an item and wish to claim the item was lost and stolen, you must be prepared to provide the right certificate from the Police Department. If the proper document cannot be produced, you will be required to pay the import duty for all missing items according to Customs regulations.

If you wish to convert your Chinese Yuan to US Dollars at the airport before departing China, you will be required to show the exchange receipt, which was provided to you at the time of your initial exchange from US Dollars to Chinese Yuan. It is important for you to retain such receipts in a safe place.

The inability to produce the right documents will result in unnecessary delays and fines.

Climate

Most of China has temperate weather with four distinct seasons. There can be distinctive climate changes resulting from monsoons. It is generally warm and humid in Southeastern and central China. The North and Northeastern parts of China are relatively dry.

The optimum time for traveling though out China is in May in the Spring, or in September or October during the fall. It is during this time that the weather is mild and you will see the seasonal changes in the blossoming of flowers or the changing of leaves, which create a spectacular view of China's extraordinary beauty.

For seasonal temperatures throughout China, please refer to the Yearly and Current Weather Info at the back of this guide.

Customary Tipping

It is customary to for each person to tip the tour guide and bus driver. Normally, the tour guide is tipped a minimum of $2.50US per person per day. The bus driver is usually tipped a minimum of $1.50US per person per day. However, if you wish to tip more, you may do so.

At the major hotels and more posh restaurants, it is acceptable to tip the waiter or waitress. However, if you eat at a local restaurant, it is not customary to tip the waiter or waitress. Tour groups often eat American breakfasts at the hotel. Meals, such as lunch and dinner, are often served at local restaurants, unless the tour includes a special dinner, i.e., Beijing Duck banquet. If you attend a special dinner, i.e., Beijing Duck banquet, it is customary to tip.

It is also acceptable to tip hotel porters, who will graciously assist you with your luggage and packages.

Drinking Water

Bottled mineral water, which is sold for around 3 Yuan, is widely available in all of the stores, street kiosks, and provided free-of-charge in some high-level hotels. Visitors should always make certain to drink bottled water. It is highly recommended to purchase frozen bottled water, which is sold everywhere. You will have a safe, cold drink.

Electricity

Electricity is 220 volts and 50 cycles AC. Plugs are usually two-pronged. It is highly advisable to pack an adapter.

Health

To maintain good health and enjoy your trip, it is strongly recommended that raw, uncooked, or partially cooked food, including salads not be eaten except for restaurants in the top hotels or those included in your tour.

If you plan to travel to places like Tibet, it is important to remember the altitude. The altitude can tax the body, and if you have any sort of heart or high-blood pressure problems, it would be wise to consult with your physician. If you plan to travel the Silk Road, it is important to keep in mind that the weather and some of the terrain is hot and dry, which may pose health problems to some people.

Luggage

China domestic flight regulations permits each passenger to have luggage weighing no more than 45lbs. Luggage, which weighs more than the permitted weight, will incur a charge. Two carry-on bags, each of which must not weigh more than 5.5 lbs, and must not exceed 20x40x55cm in dimension, are permitted. International airlines permit each person to have luggage, which is equivalent to 133lbs. total weight. If luggage is in excess of this weight, there will be a charge.

Medication

Prescribed medication is permitted when entering China. It is best to carry the medication in the prescription labeled containers. Also, it is wise to take over-the-counter medication for colds, stomach remedies, headaches, and allergies. Controlled substances are strictly prohibited by the government of China, therefore, such substances must not be taken to China.

Money Considerations

The China's currency is called Renminbi or people's currency. The basic unit of currency is the yuan. Ten jiaos equal one Yuan. Ten fens equal one jiao. 100 fens equal one yuan. Currency notes are issued for 1,2, 5, 10, 50, and 100 yuan. Coins include 1 yuan, 5 jiao, and 1, 2 and 5 fen.

The current rate of exchange is $1US is equivalent to 6.3 yuan.

US dollars are accepted in banks and hotels. Many places, which are frequented by foreigners accept credit cards, i.e., American Express, Visa, Diners Club, and MasterCard. These cards are widely accepted in major cities.

Photography

Photographs or video filming of military installations is prohibited. Photographs may be taken at most places, however, the Tomb of Qin Shihuang (terra cotta army) in Xian does not permit photographing or filming of the indoor exhibitions. Filters are advisable for outdoor filming because the atmosphere in China can get hazy. Color print film is readily available, however, black and white print film and slide film are not. Video film can be found, however, it is not abundant. The security x-ray machines in airports in China and Hong Kong are film safe. Cameras must be declared when arriving in China. If video or movie cameras are used for professional purposes, a special permit is required.

Post and Telecommunications

Domestic delivery of the mail is incredibly affordable and inexpensive. There is often same day delivery within some major cities. Between major cities, the delivery is usually over night. International delivery is processed in a very efficient manner. At all major hotels, postal services are provided. Major hotels also provide mailboxes, sell postage stamps for letters, post cards, and small parcels. Post offices can be found on main streets, railway stations, airports, and major scenic sights. The post offices are open seven days per week from 9:00AM to 5:00PM.

Express mail services are available via DHL, UPS, EMS, TNT, and Federal Express. Most of these firms have services offered in the major hotels and office buildings.

Local calls made from the hotels are usually free-of-charge. Direct long-distance dialing (DDD) can be made from the major hotels to approximately 2,000 locales throughout China. International calls, which are made from the major hotels, normally incur high surcharges (10% - 20%). There are kiosks with an identifiable IDD and DDD sign throughout China. Calls can be made from these kiosks for much less. If calls are made from 9:00PM to 7:00AM, the rate is one-half the daytime rates.

The country code for China is 86 in the event you would like to notify family, friends or business parties reach you while you are abroad. China's numbers can change at random without notification. Therefore, if the calling party hears a peculiar ringing sound on the line, and are not able to get through, it is very probable that the number has been changed. Number changes can be obtained from hotel personnel or directory assistance.

Special Considerations

Traveling with children in China presents no problems or difficulties. The Chinese people are very fond of children, and will be most helpful. It is important to note that disposable diapers and bottled baby food are not readily available. Therefore, it would be prudent to remember this in the packing process.

Childcare is available at the major hotels. A fee is charged for such services. Extra beds are available for a nominal charge, however, cribs are not available. If the infant or toddler stays with the parents in the same hotel room, there is no extra charge.

For the disabled, in major hotels there are facilities which take this matter into consideration. However, beyond the hotels, there may be some difficulty in getting around. Although wheel chairs are available, there are no lifts on the tour buses. Maneuvering around the sidewalks of many of the major cities can also pose problems due to the congestion attributable to numbers of people. Special trips can be arranged for the disable, where special arrangements can be made. Please consult PTS for such trips and arrangements.

Foreign students with student cards, who are studying in China may travel at a reduced cost. However, other foreign students, who are not studying in China, but have student cards will not benefit while traveling in China.

Time Difference: Beijing standard time is used throughout China.

Vaccinations: Vaccinations are not required for entry into China, however, it would be best and wise to check with your physician if you should have certain inoculations.

What to Bring

It is best to pack your necessary items, such as tooth brush, tooth paste, mouth wash, hair brush, comb, shampoo, deodorant, facial items, and hygienic products. Such items are available in major cities, however, it is wise to pack them because you don¡¦t want to spend time looking for such items during your trip.

You will want to make a preliminary list before packing what you will want to take with you.

You will want to bring an umbrella if traveling during the seasons in which rain may occur.

What to Wear

Simple and appropriate clothing is highly recommended. In the summer months, cotton apparel, which is wash and wear is advisable. You may want to bring clothing, which can be layered for comfort and warmth in the evening. Footwear should be comfortable and durable. Remember, you will be doing a great deal of walking at some sites. You may want to take a change of shoes in the event you are caught in the rain.

For evening, most Chinese wear ordinary clothes to performances, i.e., Beijing opera or acrobatic performance. It is wise to follow the custom of the local people.