A Guide to Having a Safe, Memorable Trip to China

Tourism is a burgeoning industry in China making it not only a prime business destination but a must see travel stop. To ensure that you enjoy your trip, Chinese Translation Pro has compiled these handy travel tips as well as useful bits of information to take with you.

When to Go: If you looking for the lowest price on travel, plan your trip during the Low Season; December, January and February. The Peak Travel Season pertains to May, September and kowloon bay coworking space October. March, April, June, July, August and November are perhaps the best travel months with respect to price, weather and entertainment.

Getting There: The national airline is Air China. As is true of any flight, travelers should confirm their return flight reservations; airline overbooking has led to people being stranded in China. Also, be prepared for a lengthy flight. A nonstop from New York to Beijing lasts 14 hours while a charter to Shanghai lasts upwards of 18 hours.

There are four airport hubs within China; Beijing/Peking (BJS/PEK), Guangzhou Baiyun International, Shanghai Hongqiao (SHA) and Shanghai Pudong (PVG). Each airport includes taxis, public and shuttle buses, duty free shops, banks/currency conversions, post offices, business and internet facilities and bars and restaurants. Important to note is the departure tax, which is paid in Chinese currency only. Children under 12 and transit passengers, proceeding within 24 hours of travel, are exempt.

Once There: Once in China, there are several transportation options via rail, sea and automobile. Railways provide the principal means of transportation throughout China. The trains are affordable, safe and well maintained operating between major cities; services include Beijing to Guangzhou, Shanghai, Harbin, Chengdu and Urumqi. There are three types of trains, the Express option being the best of the three. There are four varieties of fare: hard seat, soft seat (only on short-distance trains such as the Hong Kong to Guangzhou (Canton) line), hard sleeper and soft sleeper. Children under 3 ft tall travel free and those under 4ft pay a quarter of the fare. Train travel is often a comfortable experience albeit, a time consuming one, due to the distance between destinations. Domestic plane travel is a time saving alternative. Flights from Shanghei to Beijing, Hong Kong to Shanghei and Guangzhou to Shanghei are approximately 2 hours; however, the roundtrip travel costs average $350 USD. Though express train travel between these cities ranges from 12 to 18 hours, the prices are decidedly more affordable, between $15 to $30 USD.

Visa- Don’t Leave Home Without It: Visas for leisure travel to China are easy to obtain, granting a one month’s stay. The Chinese embassy or consulate, your travel agent or an independent visa service will gladly assist you. In the United States, contact the Chinese Embassy in Washington DC or the Consulates in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston or New York. US citizens can stay in Hong Kong without a visa for up to 30 days.

Tips on Tipping: Tipping is widely accepted and encouraged by tour guides, hotel staff and car services. In restaurants, if the tip has not already been figured into the bill, a 10 to 15 percent tip is advisable.

Good Eats: A meal in China need not include won ton or dim sum to be considered delicious and authentic. China offers a vast array of dining options including Muslim, Korean, American and traditional Chinese. Americans should leave their preconceptions of Chinese food at the customs gate!