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Chinese currency is called renminbi.   The standard unit is the yuan (dollar), which is divided into 10jiao or 100 fen.   Exchange rate are approximately

CAD$1.00 =CNY$5.00
USD$1.00 =CNY$8.00

Currency exchange is available at all major hotels, and both U.S. and Canadian currency or travelers cheques are accepted.   Purchases or cash withdrawals can also be made using major credit cards.


The Temple of Heaven in Beijing


Visitors to China must carry a passport valid for at least 6 months after tour conclusion.  tourist visas are also required for entry into China.   Entry and exit visas for individual travellers are stamped into passports.

Upon entering China, any jewellery, cameras, or electronic gadgets in your possession must be listed.  Keep your copy of the Customs Declaration safe with your passport.  It will be collected upon your departure from the country, and a customs officer may ask to see the articles listed.  Loss of this copy may result in fines being assessed.  Visitors may bring in video cameras for their own use only.  Antiques over 150 years old are not permitted out of the country.


Longhua Temple


The official language is the Beijing dialect, or Mandarin, but China also has many local dialects in different areas.  Apart from local guides and hotel staff, English is seldom spoken and it may often be difficult for travellers who wish to do sightseeing independently.


Sunset on the river side


Chinese cuisine is famous for its amazing variety of flavors and ingredients.
There are four major styles of cuisine:

Beijing & Shangdong

Western food is largely restricted to major hotels, although some "Fast food" outlets and restaurants can be found in larger cities.

Please be aware that local restaurants in China may not always be up to North American health standards, and English is seldom spoken.  Travellers may wish to ask local guides to recommend a good local restaurant, or restrict their dining to hotel establishments.  Hotel restaurants serve a wide variety of international and local cuisine, and usually have English menus.


Shanghai's night view


Tap water should not be consumed in China.   Hotel rooms usually provide a flask of boiled water, and bottled water is available for purchase in mini-bars and local shops. (It's a good idea to bring bottled water along on sightseeing tours.)


West Lake in the morning


Taxis are available at major cities, and can be found outside hotels, major stores, and Friendship Stores.  Restaurants and tourist stores should also be able to call for service.  Some taxis are metered - however, be sure to check and agree upon a fare before boarding.  (Few taxi drivers speak English so you should have address written in Chinese. )  Buses are very inexpensive but are crowded and drivers will not speak English.


Cruise on the Huangpu river


China is famous for its silk, artwork, carpets, handicrafts, and antiques.  A good selection of better quality merchandise can be found in state Friendship Stores or in a growing number of hotel arcade shops.

Visitors should exercise caution and be discriminating when making major source of income in China, and visitors may be subjected to undue sales pressure from vendors and shop owners.  Street vendors are now common at all major tourist sites.   Travellers who plan to ship larger items home should be aware that it may take 3-6 months for delivery and goods are sometimes lost or damaged en route.  Therefore, patronize only reputable companies and retain all receipts and documentation.


Nine Dragan wall


Many hotels are now adding a 10% service charge to restaurant bills, but tipping is usually not required for hotel staff.   Tipping to local guides and drivers is not required but is customarily expected.   Recommended guidelines are:

(PER PERSON PER DAY) Local guides National guide Drivers

Above is for information only.   Tipping is NOT mandatory and is at the discretion of each tour member.


Great wall


China has a great diversity in climate, and visitors will encounter different types of weather depending on the areas included on their tour.   Northern China is hot in summer and very cold in winter.  Shanghai is somewhat milder, though high humidity is expected in summer.  Southern China is much milder, but typhoons are occasionally experienced along the south China coast from April to September.

Average Temperature in Major cities('C)

Beijing Shanghai Xian
January -4 3 -2
February 2 7 4
March 8 9 8
April 14 15 15
May 21 19 17
June 25 25 25
July 26 27 26
August 25 27 24
September 21 24 21
October 13 18 14
November 4 13 6
December -1 6 1


A man is playing Erhu in a park

In general, lighter clothing and jackets are appropriate for the milder months of spring and fall (Mar-May, Sep-Nov).  For the hot summer months, bring loose, comfortable cotton clothing as most of the sightseeing spots will not be air-conditioned.  (It would also be wise to bring protection against the sun.)   Heavy clothing is necessary for the harsh winter weather in northern areas, especially headwear against the biting winds.  A good rule of thumb is to layer your clothing to adapt to variable weather conditions and to dress for comfort.  Good walking shoes are an absolute must.

The Chinese are relatively informal when it comes to dress - bring casual, practical clothing.  Men need nothing smarter than a sports jacket (unless on business), and women may wear slacks on any occasion if they wish.   Attitudes toward dress are becoming more relaxed in China; however it is wise to avoid overly flamboyant or scanty apparel.

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