ATMs can be found anywhere in major cities. But in some remote rural areas, it is better to bring cash.
International credit cards like Mastercard, Visa, American Express and JCB can be used in big shopping malls, high-end hotels and restaurants in major cities. But most of the restaurants or stores only accept Chinese credit cards or cash payment.
No! You have to change into Chinese currency. Currently the following currencies: US Dollar, Australian Dollar, Canadian Dollar, Euros, British Pound, Swiss Franc, Japanese Yen, Hong Kong Dollar, Singapore Dollar, Malaysian Ringgit and Macau Dollar can be changed into Chinese yuan or vice versa.
You can exchange at banks, most 4-star or 5-star hotels and some international airports such as Beijing Capital International Airport and Shanghai Pudong International Airport. The banks that provide money exchange service are Bank of China (top choice), Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, China Construction Bank and Agricultural Bank of China.
You may carry some 10 yuan bills with you in case the vendors could not give change for big notes. And notes that are too old or torn can be hard to spend. Do remember to check whether the note is counterfeit or not, before you accept a 50 yuan or 100 yuan note. If you have a problem with a note, you can exchange it for a new one or get small changes at the Bank of China outlets. But counterfeit notes will be confiscated.
Yes, you can change it back with your passport and the exchange memo given to you when you change your currency into Chinese yuan. So please keep those memos whenever you do money exchange.
Accommodations and Meals
220 volt/50 hz is widely used throughout China including Hong Kong. If your electric appliances operate at 110 volts, you will need a converter. Two-phase and three-phase sockets are commonly used in China. You may need an adapter plug as well. If you do not have a converter or an adapter plug, you may ask the front desk personnel to lend you one.
For all the 5-star hotels, the receptionists at the front desk speaking good English and most of the other staff including room service, restaurant waiters/waitresses speaking some English. For most of the 3-star and 4-star hotels selected by Sublime China, the receptionists speak some English.
No! Tap water is not drinkable throughout China. Most of the hotels provide complimentary bottled water in the room.
Many of the hotels in China are star rated, namely 3-star, 4-star or 5-star. Hotel star is accessed by China National Tourism Bureau with very strict criteria. Generally speaking, the services and facilities provided by star rated hotels are as below.
- WIFI in room and public area, air-conditioner in the room or central air-conditioning system, color TV set, telephone, refrigerator, kettle and double curtain.
- Private en-suite bathroom with 24 hours hot water, disinfected towels and glasses, tooth brushes and paste, soap, bath lotion, shampoo and toilet paper.
- One or two beds, wardrobe, dressing table, ceiling and bedside lamps
- Round the clock room service
- Concierge service, money exchange service (at some hotels), post card service and laundry service
- Business Center and Tour Department
- Chinese restaurant, Western restaurant (at some hotels), coffee house/bar, meeting room, massage room
- Souvenir shop and swimming pool (some hotels)
Sure. We can cater to special dietary needs such as vegetarian food, halal meal, etc. Please tell us your requirements so we can arrange accordingly.
Generally, all breakfasts included in star rate hotels are both Chinese and Western buffet breakfasts. But in the off season, some hotels may serve set menu breakfast because there are not many guests. And the lunches and dinners included are usually Chinese table meals, either set-menu or a la carte. If you would like to have western meals, kindly let us know.
The guide and driver will dine at the same restaurant with you but they won’t join you unless you invite them.
Yes, if you have a list of restaurants that you would like to eat at, we can include these restaurants into the tour package. If you prefer to have meals on your own, we will not include any meals.
Yes, our tour guides will always suggest good restaurants to you if needed.
Traveling in China
It is not compulsory to have a tour guide when you travel to most areas in China. But when you travel to Tibet, you have to hire a tour guide. For first time travelers, we suggest you have a tour guide because of language barrier. Although all Chinese are required to take English courses when they are in primary and middle schools, many Chinese still do not speak English or speak some but not well. So communication can be a problem, especially in remote regions. Having a guide speaking English makes sure that you will have a smooth and more worry-free trip.
No. You will have different local guides in each city. So when you do intercity travel via public bus, train or flight, you will be on your own. The local guide will escort you to the bus station, railway station or airport and help you with check-in. When you arrive in next city, the guide of that city will pick you up at the bus station, railway station or airport. Of course, if you think it is necessary to have such a guide who escort you from the beginning to the end of the trip, which we call it a national guide, we will include. But a national guide can be quite expensive because you have to pay for the guide’s accommodations and transportation out of his or her city. And a national guide is not quite familiar with all the cities other than the city he or she resides in. Local guides know their own cities better.
Sublime China will inform you the guides’ names and phone numbers a few days prior to your arrival. When you arrive, the guides will be waiting at the airport, railway station, bus station or other designated places, holding a sign with Sublime China and your name on it. If you fail to see the sign, you can always call the phone number of the tour guide.
You can always ask the tour guides for information on things to do in their cities. Before you leave your hotel, remember to have the hotel address and telephone number written down in Chinese on a piece of paper in case you get lost.
If you book a private tour package, private air-conditioned car/van/bus with cushioned seats will be provided based on the number of travelers in your party. We will make sure the vehicles are clean and in good condition. If you book group tours, you will share the vehicle with other travelers. These vehicles are also air-conditioned, clean and in good condition and have cushion seats.
It is not a common practice. But usually, tour guides, hotel bellboys, housekeepers and waiters and waitresses in western restaurants will expect to receive tips from travelers. But this is not mandatory.
Free baggage allowance for domestic flights
Economy class: 20kg (44 pounds), 1 piece, 40cm*60cm*100cm
Business class: 30kg (66 pounds), 1 piece, 40cm*60cm*100cm
First class: 40kg (88 pounds), 1 piece, 40cm*60cm*100cm
Economy class: 5kg (11 pounds), 1 piece, 20cm*40cm*50cm
Business class: 5kg (11 pounds), 1 piece, 20cm*40cm*50cm
First class: 5kg (11 pounds), 2 pieces, 20cm*40cm*50cm
Articles that cannot be baggage include flammable, explosive, corrosive, poisonous, radioactive, polymerizable and magnetized materials, arms, sharp or lethal weapons as well.
Articles that cannot be packed in the checked baggage include important documents, classified materials, diplomatic mail bags, negotiable securities, currencies, money orders, valuables, vulnerable perishables and articles needed in the special custody of somebody. The carrier will not be liable for the loss of or damage to the aforementioned.
Articles that should be put in checked baggage include knife, scissor and bottled or tinned alcohol wine.
The checked baggage should be packed perfectly with a lock, tied up firmly and can be piled on.
The carrier will be liable to compensate for the loss of or damage to the checked baggage due to the carrier’s fault. The norm of compensation shall not exceed RMB50 yuan per kg. The amount of compensation shall be paid as per the actual value of the loss.
A passenger may declare the value of his baggage if it is over RMB50 yuan per kg. The maximum value declared is RMB8000 yuan.
Passengers and their baggage including checked and carry-on baggage are subject to security inspection before boarding the flight.
Train travel in China is economical and convenient. But there are some factors which passengers should be aware of before traveling by train in China.
- Passengers have to handle their baggage by themselves when they travel by train in China. This means when they board the train, they have to carry their baggage from the waiting lounge to the train and when they get off, they should carry their baggage off the train as well. This may include a few minutes walking up/down on steps with the baggage.
- Railway stations can be more crowded and chaotic than airports.
- Currently China has high speed trains (train number starts with letter D, C or G) and normal speed trains (train number starts with letter K, Z or T or there is no letter but just digital numbers). We strongly suggest you travel by high speed trains because they are very modern, clean, fast and comfortable.
- Toilets on normal speed trains are squatting type and can be a bit smelly. Toilets on high speed trains are both western and squatting types and they are much cleaner. Usually no tissue is provided on the trains.
- Train ticket price doesn’t include food. Most of the trains offer simple Chinese box meals at extra cost and there is usually a restaurant car on a train which offers a la carte Chinese meals. And constantly, there will be attendants wheeling food trolley through carriages, selling fruit, snacks, drinks, etc.
Classes of seat & sleeper on normal speed trains
Comfortable 4-berth compartment with two upper & two lower berths. Bedding is provided and there is a lockable door.
Open-plan bunks in bays of 6 (upper, middle & lower on both sides). Bedding is provided. There is no door.
Soft seat & hard seat:
Similar to first & second class seat on a European train. Although it is named hard seat, it is padded and comfortable.
Deluxe soft sleeper
2-berth compartment with private toilet. It is the best option for overnight stay on the train. But it is only available in limited amount on some trains. Bedding is provided and there is a lockable door.
Classes of seat on high-speed trains
1st & 2nd class
Compared to 2nd class whose seats are usually arranged 2+3 across the car width, 1st class has larger seats arranged 2+2 across the car width.
It is more spacious and offers better views. Its seats are arranged 2+1 across the car width and can be reclined to flat beds. Usually complimentary tea, juice, or similar and snacks are served at the seat. But it is very expensive.
Traveling in Tibet
No! Foreign travelers and travelers from Taiwan are not allowed to travel independently within Tibet. They have to take a guided tour through a travel agency in China.
Yes! Foreign travelers and those from Taiwan are required to apply for a Tibet travel permit in order to visit Tibet. As a travel agency based in China, our tour packages to Tibet all include the Tibet travel permit.
Our suggestions are as below.
1. Take medications such as Acetazolamide
2. Drink a lot of water. The dry air and evaporation of sweat may cause dehydration.
3. Do not drink alcohol or smoke as it may increase the risk of dehydration.
4. Walk slowly and avoid strenuous physical exercise.
5. No sedatives, please.
6. Do not visit Tibet if you catch a cold.
7. Eat plenty of carbs, to aid ventilation and efficient use of oxygen
8. Do not take a bath on your first day in Tibet
In fact, the climate in Tibet is not as harsh as imagined. The comfortable travel season extends from April till the beginning of November. But sun radiation can be extremely strong in Tibet Plateau. Thin air can neither block off nor retain heat so the temperature extremes can be met in daytime and the same night respectively in Tibet. May, June and September are the highest season for tourism in eastern Tibet. Most annual rainfall comes in June, July, August and September.
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