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  All about China | Chinese Culture
   Learn from others all about China and it's culture, and share your own China experiences with everybody else
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HONG KONG, HongKong [HK]
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Traveling to China | Tips on how to travel to China

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So if you are thinking of coming to China either for business or pleasure, I guess you need to set up a checklist to see what do you need for the journey in the "Middle Kingdom". You don't really need a tour or a travel agent, things in China are pretty convenient not like many people think that they're going to go to a totally different world. It is different, but believe me it's not that bad.

Common questions about going to China:
- Do you need a visa?
- Yes, citizens of all countries need a visa for entering China, other rules apply for Hong Kong/Macau Residents or diplomatic passport holders.
- Where and how to get a China Visa?
- Before buying your plane ticket to go to China, you need to go to your nearest Chinese embassy and obtain a Visa. If you are living in another country than where your citizenship is, you need to call and make sure you can apply for a visa over there. Many times you need to have a residence permit in that country to be able to apply at that embassy.
-How to apply for a Chinese Visa?
You need to submit the following documents to the Chinese embassy:
1. Valid passport, at least for 1 more year, with at least 2 empty pages left;
2. A passport copy (remember this, they will not copy it for you and you will have to stand in line again)
3. A written invitation from your business partner or friends / acquaintances in China. Check if at the embassy you are applying at needs an original or if a faxed/e-mail copy is accepted.
4. Round trip plane ticket booking or plane ticket (return date has to be visible on the booking). It's advisable you make the booking first, and after you get the visa you can actually pay the ticket.
5. In case the person inviting you is not specifying that they will support for your expenses in China, you may need to provide proof of sufficient funds for your trip. Cash or a bank statement will be okay.
6. A hotel booking will be needed, if your acquaintance or partner does not specify to provide accommodation for you on the invitation;
7. Visa Appllication Form - available at the embassy or can be downloaded on the Chinese Embassy Website.
8. A normal passport photo

- Then there is also the possibility to get a travel agency to help you with the visa, but doing it yourself is not that hard, and you may end up saving money. You can pick up the visa after 1 week, or 3 days on emergency or in some countries same day (you need to check first). Depending on when you want the visa, and the country you are from, it the visa costs might be from 80 up to 180 USD or equivalent).

- What do you need to take with you, that you will not find in China?
- Cosmetics are not quite the same quality in China, and if you are using a certain brand and will not use anything else, be sure to take your favorite shampoo or lotion. There are little choices over here when buying deodorant so you better take some with you.
- Cigarettes - in case you enjoy smoking only a western brand of cigarettes bring a few packs with you. Usually you are allowed to bring only 10 packs, but be sure to check with your airline company because regulations constantly change. In case you are going to Hong Kong, beware. You can not take more than 19 cigarettes with you (it means 1 opened pack without 1 cigarette).
- Anything else, like things you know you enjoy in your country, and can not go without like snacks, cheese (it's really expensive here and hard to get), chewing tobacco, spices (unless not Chinese), wine can not be found or are totally different here.
- Gifts - in case you want to get a gift for your friends in China, do not buy them something that is made in China. :) Get something specific from your country. Usually tobacco and liquor is the best present for men, and creams, cosmetics or perfumes are good presents for women.
- Medicine - even though you are not on prescription medicine or something, you need to have at least the most basic stuff for a common cold or flu with you. They do have basic flu and cold medicine, but you find it under different names and it might be confusing, plus concentrations are different. Be sure to bring what you would need for any emergency.

- What not to take to China:
- Whatever you do, there are some items you simply can not take to China and if you do they might get you in trouble. Even though the economic environment in China is very capitalistic, it is still a communist country. Of all the things you want to take to China, be sure not to take any of the following:
a. CD's, DVD's or any other types of discs. They will show up on the X-ray and if you have many of them you will called in a room and they will check each and every one of them. They are not concerned about copyright, but they are worried about material of any kind with political tent that may endanger the security of the country, propaganda, porn, etc. If you have movies you want to see because you fear you might get bored, copy them in your laptop.
b. Books - same like the disks, books are also subject to the same regime because they might have content which might be banned.
c. Clothes - just bring the strictly necessary items, because you can buy clothes anywhere here. If you have more valued possessions you need to take, take as many of those, but not too much clothes. I've seen many people (women in special) that regretted for taking too much clothes and not taking something of more value to them.
d. Drugs - this is valid to everywhere you go, but remember that in China, Capital Punishment is still practiced;

- How much money to take to China? / What are the costs of living in China
- Depends on the period and place you are going. If you are going to Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Guangzhou or other majour cities please note that the average living prices are:
1. Renting an aprartment: 2500 - 3000 RMB (Chinese Yuan) per month / around 415 - 500 USD per month / around 313 - 375 EUR per month
2. Hotel Rates: (at motels or 3 star hotels): 120 - 500 RMB per night / around 25 - 84 USD per night / around 15 - 63 EUR per night
But the prices are depending on the location and hotel. These are only the average prices.
3. Cab fares: depending on the city, taxi fares are usually the following:
10 RMB(1.7 USD/ 1.25 EUR) in average for the first 3 km, and 2 RMB (0.4USD / 0.25 EUR) for each additional kilometer. Again it depends on the city you are going to. Big cities have bigger fares and smaller cities might be suprisingly low fees.
4. McDonalds: around 30 RMB for a Big Mac menu (5 USD / 3.75 EUR)
5. Chinese alley food: dirt cheap
6. Chinese restaurants: around 200 RMB per 2-3 people (34 USD / 25 EUR), but it depends on the restaurant and what you order. Usually this is in average the price you would pay for 2 or 3 people
7. Chinese eateries: 30 - 50 RMB per set dinner / lunch (around 5 - 8.3 USD / 3.75 - 6.25 EUR)
8. Bus fares are surprisingly cheap, but guess it will take you a while to accomodate
- In average if you are planning to come visit for one month it would be ideal to have at least 15,000 - 20,000 RMB (2500 - 3300 USD / 1875 - 2500 EUR)

- What currency to bring to China? How to exchange money in China?
- In general US Dollars and Euros can be changed at almost any bank (it is recommended you go to Bank of China). Bank of China is the one that controlls the foreign currency exchange regulations and any small branch will have an exchange counter. Some smaller branches of other banks may not have a one. Be sure to ask one of the bank employees if you can change money, to avoid waiting in line for nothing;
- The exchange procedure makes it look kind of difficult, because the lady at the counter will look at your notes 10 times and will fill out a lot of forms for you to sign. It's allright, once you get used to it. Many people coming for the first time complained it is too slow. Be sure to have your passport with you;
- The exchange offices at airports will always rip you off; they always offer bad exchange rates;
- You could change your money on the black market for a higher rate than the bank, but the risk is all yours.

- Can I use my Visa / Mastercard / American Express in China?
- Yes, you can withdraw money from any ATM in China that has a Visa / Mastercard / American Express logo. Be sure to check for the logo first, if you see no logo it means it might not accept foreign cards, just local. Usually all the major banks accept it, like Bank of China, ICBC, Agricultural Bank, etc. but if you find an older ATM those might probably not accept them.
- In supermarkets or restaurants you can not use a Visa / Mastercard / American Express. Only domestic cards can be used in most establishments, unless you are going to big malls and buy international brand companies, but this might not be the case when going to China;

All this being said, I guess you are all ready and prepaired for your trip to China... Don't hesitate to ask any questions on our community...

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