Traveling to China requires some preparations beforehand. It’s important to prepare on both the business and cultural fronts. We can help you get started by introducing some aspects that will make your travel preparations easier. What should you remember, what should you pay special attention to, and what should you avoid?
Travel to China – preparations
Vaccines in China
Depending on where you are traveling in China, you should think about getting vaccinated when planning your trip. Vaccines are not required, but are recommended in some cases. If you only travel to a big city often visited by tourists, you don’t need to bother. However, when you go to the southern or southwestern regions, it is worth considering. It would be helpful if you thought about this at least six weak before departure time.
Also, not all medicines are available in China, so you need to take them with you. We also recommend bringing the recipe, as it may be required at the airport.
Currency: change, cash, WeChat
Currently, the most popular payment method in China is by phone, or more specifically, WeChat. The application is used not only to contact friends, but also to buy or pay for services. You can find QR codes in most stores (even the smallest ones). All you need to do to pay is scan the code.
Credit cards are not used frequently. Also, not all banks allow its use abroad. If they do, you may be charged a fee. There should be no problems with withdrawals. Note that while using an ATM in China, take out the cash and then the card. Even so, it is always good to check in advance if hotels and restaurants accept international cards.
We also recommend that you bring cash. Changing some currencies can be difficult, but it is possible. It is worth contacting your chosen currency exchange office in advance and saying how much money you would like to exchange immediately. It is easier to do this in large cities or at the exchange offices at airports. You can also exchange a certain currency for euros or dollars and then exchange them for yuan after landing in China. You can also exchange money at a Bank of China branch, but it can be problematic due to long lines and a general lack of English-speaking employees.
If you plan to go to China for a longer period, consider opening a Chinese bank account.
Travel to China – Chinese Visa
Visa is required for citizens of most countries. Each country has its specifications and procedures for obtaining a visa, but it is usually done through a Chinese embassy or consulate.
All persons applying for a visa must complete an application form, in which you must answer why you want to enter the country and how long you plan to stay. You should also ensure that your passport is valid for at least six months from the date of entry into China and, if necessary, you will need to provide other necessary documents, depending on the type of stay. For specific rules in your country, visit this website.
Obtaining the visa generally takes about seven business days.
Types of Chinese visas you can apply for:
* Business – work visit after receiving an invitation (including business meetings, scientific-technical relations, cultural exchange), courses, training and internships.
* Student: requires a visa application and a certificate of enrollment.
* Work: requires an invitation from a company interested in hiring the applicant.
*Transit: requires a valid visa for the destination country and a valid ticket.
Visas can be extended within the borders of the People’s Republic of China.
SIM card, Internet, VPN in China
After arriving in China, it is recommended to buy a Chinese SIM card. You can do it already at the airport and it will facilitate the entire stay. To buy, you will need your passport as you must register the card. The cheapest cost 40 yuan.
When organizing the trip, it is good to do a little research on how the Internet works in China. Wi-Fi connection is available in almost all restaurants, shopping malls, and hotels (you will probably need to confirm your identity, which can be done with WeChat. Internet in China is very different than in all other countries. Using Google It is almost impossible. Login to Facebook or check email in Gmail is also quite troublesome.
what do in this situation? One known method of bypassing the Great Firewall is to use VPN (Virtual Private Network). We recommend downloading it before arriving in China. An example of a good VPN is Express VPN. It can be installed on three devices simultaneously and has servers around the world, including countries near China that you can quickly connect to. Also, Express VPN has a trial period of one month and guarantees a money back. The VPN must be downloaded before landing in China, as installation is impossible in the country.
Travel to China: get around China
How to travel in China? There are many options, so below is a list of available transportation methods.
Bicycles in China
In China, bicycles can be found almost everywhere. It is an increasingly popular method of getting around. Tourists can easily rent bicycles for a whole day. Rent usually costs around 1 yuan for half an hour. There are many bicycle lanes in Beijing, which are spread throughout the city, making it easy for tourists to get to many places.
Self-service bike rental places have become more popular in recent years. With some 30 companies competing in the bike-sharing market, it is easy to find bikes to rent in many places. Unlike stations in Europe, it is not necessary to return bicycles to a particular space. Thanks to an integrated GPS tracker and special applications, the bike can be left anywhere. All you need to do is block it.
To rent a bike, you will need a smartphone with an internet connection and a payment method. Getting the second used to be quite troublesome for foreigners; However, in 2019, China’s mobile payment companies began allowing people without a Chinese bank account to pay with WeChat or Alipay. Although the industry had some difficulties in the past, bicycle rental is among the best methods available for touring Chinese cities.
Buses in China
When it comes to getting around the city, buses are also a good option. If you plan to stay in China longer, consider getting a special bus pass. It must be used after entering the vehicle. If you are staying for a shorter time, all you need is cash. Every time you enter a bus, use the first door. Next to the driver, there is usually a transparent piggy bank, where you must deposit the amount owed. The bus fare is mostly relatively low. In smaller cities like Kaifeng (Henan province), the fee is 1 yuan, and in larger cities like Xi’an, 1.50 yuan. The rate remains the same regardless of the distance traveled.
Subway in Chinese cities
Subways can be found in larger Chinese cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin, Guangzhou, or Shenzhen. It is a good method for traveling through cities crowded with cars. Subway tickets cost from 1 to 5 yuan depending on the city and where you want to go.
The Beijing subway system is over 500 km long and is used by 10 million people every day. The government had plans to extend it to 999 km before 2021. As of December 2020, it was 727 km long.
Trains in China
Trains are the most popular means of transportation in China. Tickets can be purchased both at the box office and online. Foreigners must have a passport in order to buy them. Prices vary according to the type of train and route.
Tourists often choose G-class trains (also called gaotie, 高 铁) because of their high speed, reaching 300 km / h. The route from Beijing to Shanghai (1,320 km) takes less than 5 hours.
Procedures at train stations are similar to those at airports. You will need to show your passport and ticket already at the entrance. You will also need documents to get through the following doors, which lead to the platforms. They are rechecked when entering the train and during the journey, so it is good to always have them with you. In some cases, tickets are also checked when leaving the station.
Taxi in China
Taxis can be found everywhere in China; there are more than 60 thousand in Beijing alone. The rate depends on the city you are in and will be higher in Beijing or Shanghai. They even charge you to take one. In Beijing, it costs about 10 yuan and less in smaller cities. Then, you will be charged for each kilometer traveled (approximately 2 yuan).
Sometimes the taxi driver gives you the total fare before the trip. Still, in every taxi, there is a meter that must always be on.
To hail a taxi, all you often need to do is raise your hand. However, the language barrier can be problematic; it is rare that the driver speaks English. We recommend preparing the address in advance, written in Chinese characters.
Planes in China
There is a well-developed connection network between larger cities. Air China is one of the most popular airlines. Intercity flight prices vary, but are typically $ 260-1000.