China Travel Guide
Prior to your departure
- Inform your credit card companies of your trip. If you normally don't use your cards very often, as a security feature,they might decline the charges out of suspicion from usage in a different country.
- Be sure to bring along your adoption agency's emergency contact number in case you need assistance. At the same time leave this number with your relatives and friends so they can call for you as well if you failed to reach the agency yourself.
- Contact airlines to reconfirm your flights after you've received your plane tickets. Most airlines required reconfirmation at least 72 hours prior to departure.
- For U.S. major airlines, seat assignments, baby bassinets, meals and other requests can be made when you reconfirm your flights.
- Bulkhead seats are usually allocated to those who have physical disabilities and special needs first.
- Chinese airlines do not pre-assign seats. Be sure to arrive at the airport airline counter early to have selection to better seat assignments.
Health care and immunization
- Visit your family doctor before and after your trip to ensure good health.
- Be sure to visit a travel clinic for information and to plan what vaccines your family needs.
- Visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) Web site (http://www.cdc.gov/travel/) for further details on vaccination and related health precaution.
- Make sure your children's immunizations are current and if you have children near 12 years of age, they are due for their next tetanus vaccine.
- A Tetanus vaccine is given every 10 years for your entire lifespan. Check to make sure you are not already overdue!
- Adult travelers need to have their antibody titers checked for measles, mumps, rubella and varicella. If titers are undetectable, you will need an MMR and/or varicella (chicken pox) vaccine.
- Kids are highly recommended to have a varicella booster vaccine.
- Bring benedryl for unexpected allergic reactions, ciprofloxacin for travelers' diarrhea and possibly Tamiflu.
- Remember to pack aspirin, ibuprofen and anti-diarrhea medication for emergencies.
- Bring bandages and topical antibiotic ointment for minor cuts to prevent infections.
- Create a list of your daily medications, allergies and any chronic conditions, such as hypertension and keep it along with your identification.
This section is written by Emergency Room Nurse Practitioner, Patricia Lyman.
Chinese VisaAll travelers visiting China are required to obtain an entry visa. Lotus Travel offers a reliable and convenient Chinese visa courier service for all travelers. Please visit its Web site at Visas for more information and pricing.
- A Chinese visa applied through Lotus Travel is good for six months from the date of issue and permits the stay of up to 60 days.
- Lotus Travel recommends applying for Chinese travel visas at least two months prior to your departure.
- Each applicant is required to submit the Original American passport that is valid for at least six months prior to the application date, a completed visa application form, a standard 2"x2" passport photo and the applicable visa fee payable to Lotus Travel.
- Children who are 12 and under are also required to submit a photocopy of their American birth certificate. If children are not travelling with both their parents, then a photocopy of both parent’s Passports must be submitted along with their application.
- Adopted Chinese children are also required to submit copies of both their American birth certificate and Chinese birth certificate,; Original Chinese passports along with their Original American passports if it is their first time applying for a Chinese visa. Every China Visa application thereafter, they only need to turn in their Original American Passport along with proof of prior China Visa in their current or expired American Passport.
Customs RegulationsChinese Customs
- Complete a health declaration form and an entry and customs declaration form distributed by the flight attendant prior to your arrival in China.
- Each traveler is permitted to bring two bottles of liquor and no more than 400 cigarettes into China.
- Complete an entry and customs declaration form distributed by the flight attendant prior to your arrival in Vietnam.
- Each traveler is permitted to bring either 400 cigarettes or 100 cigars into Vietnam.
- Each traveler is allowed to bring 1.5 liters of wine and 3 liters of beer into Vietnam.
Vaccinations are not required for travel to China, Cambodia, Korea and Vietnam unless you are traveling from or via an infected area. Lotus Travel recommends travelers check with their physicians before their departure.
- All U.S. airlines issue electronic tickets, whereas most Chinese airlines issue paper tickets.
Note that passports are required upon check in for both types of tickets.
- Be sure to retain all boarding passes to obtain frequent flyer miles. If lost, you will not qualify for air miles.
- Infant lap tickets are not required for air travel in the U.S.
- Most U.S. domestic and international flights allow two checked bags per person, up to 50 lbs per bag and one carry on item per person (no larger than 14"x 9"x 22").
- China and Vietnam domestic flights allow only one checked bag per person, up to 44 lbs and one carry on bag per person (no larger than 14"x 9"x 22").
- Business class passengers are allowed to have only one checked bag per person, up to 66 lbs and one carry on bag per person (no larger than 14"x 9"x 22").) on all intra-Vietnam flights.
- According to the latest Transportation Security Administration rules, travelers are only allowed to have containers that can carry no more than 3 ounces of liquids, gels and aerosols in their carry-on bags.
- All liquids, gels and aerosols must be placed in a quart size, zip top, clear plastic bag; each traveler is only allowed to have one bag.
- When passing through the airport security checkpoints, all travelers must take their clear plastic bag of liquids/gels out for x-ray screening.
- All airlines reserve the right to charge an additional fee for excessive luggage, in which varies from airline to airline. Make sure you check with your airline for specific charges.
- Noted that the aircraft may not have enough room for over-weight luggage if the flight is completely full. Avoid overpacking your luggage, or packing it to the maximum in case you have to repack it at the airport.
- Contact the airline counter immediately in the event your luggage is lost. Travelers may want to consider purchasing travel insurance to protect against baggage loss or delayfor additional protection.
Intra China Travel
- Chinese airlines typically does notpre-assign seats. Be sure to arrive at the airport airline counter early to have access to better seat assignments.
- When traveling within China by plane, be sure to reclaim and transfer your own baggage if you are making connections. For instance, if you are traveling from Beijing/Shanghai/Wuhan, you will need to reclaim your bags in Shanghai for them to get to Wuhan.
- Tipping is a matter of personal preference and should be given as a reward for good service. Lotus Travel recommends $6USD per person per day to guide and $4USD per person per day to driver. A hotel bellhop tip is $1USD per each piece of luggage.
- Most evening entertainment is not included in your tour package. If you are interested in attending shows and want to show appreciation for your tour guides, you can purchase show admission tickets (your guides receive incentive bonuses from the ticket sales.)
- Train rides can provide a good experience for first time China travelers. In China, trains can be classified into four categories: hard seat, soft seat, hard sleeper and soft sleeper.
- The compartments of the Hard Seat in a Slow Train may or may not have air-conditioning, and usually have five seats per row. It stops at each tiny station and farmers mostly utilize it to transport produce and livestock.
- The compartments of the Hard Seat in an Express Train may or may not have air-conditioning and usually have five seats per row. It normally has only one stop in big cities and does not pass by small counties. For example, the hard seat express train from Guilin to Nanning stops at Liuzhou.
- The compartments of the Soft Seat in an Express Train are equipped with air-conditioning and usually have four seats per row to provide passengers with more space. However, it only operates among cities with short distance (five hours ride at most).
- The compartments of the Hard Sleeper in an Express Train may or may not have air-conditioning. It contains no privacy and safety as everyone who passes by the aisle can have access to the three bunk beds on each row. Keep an eye on your valuables as pick-pocketing is very common in China.
- The compartments of the Soft Sleeper in an Express Train are equipped with air-conditioning and sliding doors. The doors lead to individual cabins with four bunk beds each. Lotus Travel recommends purchasing extra seats to guarantee privacy if there are less than four people in your party.
Hotels in China are rated between one through five- star.
- One-star hotels: there are minimal facilities to meet the needs of hotel guests.
- Two-star hotels: Have affordable room rates and are a lot cleaner compared to the one-star hotels.
- Three-star hotels: Contain basic amenities, such as furniture, television set, diners, meeting rooms, pubs, beauty parlors, etc.
- Four-star hotels: Contain upscale facilities and provide outstanding service.
- Five-star hotels: Offer various restaurants, big banquet halls, meeting rooms, entertainment centers, and provide the best service.
- Single Room (Economy Room): room with a single bed.
- Double Room: room with one double bed.
- Twin Room (Standard Room): room with two single beds.
- Triple Room: room with three beds.
- Superior Room: it can be classified into two types: with a double bed or two single beds. Generally speaking, it is nicer than the Twin Room (Standard Room).
- Deluxe Room: more spacious compared to the Superior room. Contains either a double bed or two single beds and decorations and facilities are also much more luxurious.
- Executive Standard Room: the room usually has one double bed, a business center and coffee bar. Most star-rated hotels allocate several floors as executive room floors.
- Business Standard Room: room with two single beds or one double bed. Computer, secretarial services and other work-related facilities are included.
- Suite: two or more rooms with bathroom and other attached amenities.
- Four and five-star hotels usually have swimming pools. Some even have both indoor and outdoor pools.
- Most indoor heated pools are closed during winter to reduce maintenance costs.
- Leave your valuables in the hotel safe. Don't leave them in your hotel room.
- Remember to lock the door before sleeping.
- There are usually no child care facilities in major hotels and restaurants; be prepared to watch over your children at all times.
- Avoid communicating with strangers.
- Do not hang around bars and nightclubs during closing time.
- Place all valueables, including but not limited to: passports, travel documents, credit cards, traveler's checks and money in your inner pockets when traveling in China.
- Respect local customs and stay away from disputes/confrontations.
- Do not travel to places that are not open to foreigners.
- Tour guides usually will take tourists to shop at government-run stores. You are not obligated to make any purchases, however if you think your guides provide outstanding service, you may consider buying some souvenirs, as your guides will receive commission.
- Note that souvenirs at the Great Wall might only be available there. If you are interested in a particular souvenir during your Great Wall tour, be sure to purchase it right away.
- Remember to bargain before purchasing anything. It is often customary and expected by vendors. The following bargaining techniques might be useful:
- Visit different vendors to check on prices for the goods you wanted to buy.
- If a seller refuses to honor your favorable price, walk off immediately and he/she might ask for further negotiation. Try not to let the seller sense that you are very eager to purchase the merchandise since that will make the negotiating process difficult and you will most likely be offered an extremely high price.
- If the price the vendor offered to you is way over your budget, try to praise his/her products and state that they are the best out of your other choices. The vendor might reduce the price further in response to your positive remarks.
- The bargaining power will be increased tremendously if you buy the merchandise in bulk or invite more friends to purchase the same product or from the same merchant.
- Pretend to be very familiar with the product price and you will probably obtain a satisfactory price.
- Never be shy when bargaining! First offer a price far below the one that you will finally agree upon to allow room for the vendor to increase the price. If he/she refuses to honor your selected price and you really want the item, just increase your offer little by little until the two of you reached an agreement.
- Always bring your own toilet paper.
- The usage fee ranges between 20 cents to $1 Yuan/RMB depending on the location.
- Be prepared to squat while using the toilet; western style toilets may not be fully installed in all areas of your tour as they are not commonly used everywhere.
- It is highly recommended to have at least $50 Yuan/RMB before your departure in case you need to make purchases at the China airport.
- Chinese currency can be exchanged at all Bank of China branches, ATMs, and foreign currency exchange counters at major airports and hotels. Do not exchange any currency with strangers as it is strictly prohibited by Chinese laws.
- Most hotels in China provide currency exchange service; please note that the service is only available to hotel guests in select hotels.
- Major vendors accept Master Card, Visa, American Express, JCB and Diners Card; you may also withdraw Chinese Yuan/ RMB with them at all branches of Bank of China.
- In Vietnam, most vendors accept Visa, MasterCard and American Express, but a three percent bank fee applies on each transaction.
- Be aware that credit cards are not acceptable in remote areas in Asia.
- Despite there is no limit on the amount of Chinese currency you bring into the country, you must declare the amount upon entry.
- Keep all foreign currency exchange receipts issued by the Bank of China at all times; they are necessary if you would like to convert the Chinese Yuan/RMB back to your country’s currency. Be aware that each foreigner is allowed to take no more than $6,000 RMB out of China.
- Tipping is a matter of personal preference and should be given as a reward for good service.
- In China, Lotus Travel recommends a total per diem of $6USD for a guide and $4USD for a driver. A hotel bellhop tip is $1USD per each piece of luggage.