Travel and Tour Tips for Business

China is a large country with a size of 9,596,960 sq km. China was only partially open to the world from 1980 onwards and has been a communist country for many decades. Although there is much progress in China’s travel industry and infrastructure, there remain areas that need to be improved before they can match the level that most tourists would require.

However, much of the fun remains that it differs from the rest of the world. China will be the host nation for the Olympics in 2008. Travel facilities and infrastructure will be improving quickly as we approach 2008.

China is rich in culture and history. Visit the Great Wall of China in Beijing, sip Chinese tea in Xiamen, dance with ethnic tribes in Yunnan, and check out 19th-century European buildings in Qingdao – there is just so much to do and see in China!


Below are some travel tips to make your travel in China easier:

Entry Visa

China requires entry visas from most countries. Apply at the Chinese consulate or through your travel agent before traveling to China.


The climate is extremely diverse, ranging from tropical in the south to subarctic in the north. Be prepared with the right seasonal clothing.

Foreign Exchange

In China, foreign currency is exchanged for local cash at banks or hotels. The currency unit is known as the Renminbi(RMB) or Yuan. Get some Chinese Yuan in your local country before traveling. Banks tend to give slightly better rates than hotels. Note that some banks close for a noon siesta between 12-2 pm.


Payment facilities

Most better-class hotels and shopping centers take Credit cards or travelers’ cheques. Smaller hotels and shops accept cash only. Once out of the bigger cities, credit cards and ATM cards aree almost impossible to utilize. Cash is still king in Chinese business and trade.

Counterfeit notes are common in China. Check carefully before accepting change, especially if it consists mostly of 100RMB letters. You can feel a texture difference where counterfeit notes are concerned.

Understanding of English

Most civil servants, customs officials, police, hotel staff, and men in the street do not speak English or, at best, a smattering of English.

Most signboards and notices will be both English and Chinese. However, be aware that some translations can be so notorious that one can hardly understand their original Chinese intentions.

Do not expect hotels or shops to understand English. Only the huge hotels will have staff that will understand English.

Most young people can understand basic English if they speak slowly.

Social Security

China is generally a safe country. However, keep your wallet close, especially in crowded, popular tourist sites in cities such as Beijing and Xian.

These tourist cities also have many touts in the streets, touting tourists from currency exchange to jewelry to female companionships. Avoid at all costs!

Domestic Travel

Buses, trains, ferries, and domestic flights are quite well developed. Avoid the crowds at the stations and book your tickets through the hotel tour desk or the nearest tour agent. Prices will likely be competitive, and tickets will be delivered to your hotel room. Again, avoid ticket touts who approach you in the streets.

Local buses are cheap (US$0.10 or YS$0.20), and you may want to try them out. Taxis are convenient and are available at all hours. Starting fares differ from city to city and may be as cheap as US$0.70 in Weihai and US$1.50 in Shenzhen.

Avoid travel in China during peak holiday seasons or book tickets well ahead.

Local Hotels

There is a good choice of hotels in China ranging from one star to the most luxurious six stars. Most of the time, the rooms are safe and clean; in my opinion, cheap does not mean bad.

Many websites sell China hotel rooms on the internet. You can also check out the travel counters available in most train and bus stations and airports.

  • Book ahead if traveling in peak seasons.
  • Peak Tourist Seasons
  • Chinese New Year: The date varies, generally, it is late January or early February.
  • May Day: The first two weeks of May
  • China National Day: Middle two weeks of October

Avoid traveling during this period. Book rooms and travel modes way early if you need to travel. What do you expect when the entire Chinese nation of 8 billion people is also on holiday? Believe me, the crowds during this period will be scary.

Chinese Food

Local food is fabulous. Try as much Chinese food as your wallet or stomach can afford. Restaurants are available everywhere and open to late hours. Most restaurants will have a menu that includes photographs of the various dishes. Better yet, point at the food that your next-door table is having, especially if it looks delicious!

However, avoid street-side stalls and drinking directly from the taps if you have a delicate stomach.


Mobile phone coverage in China is good in most locations. Global auto-roaming within China is not a problem.


There are cybercafes everywhere in China, especially in tourist areas. Most are patronized by young people playing online games, but you can still check your Hotmail, Yahoo, or Gmail. Access may be a bit slow for international websites. You must show your passport as China has tight regulations for Internet cyber cafes.

Toilet facilities

One of the worst experiences many have had with China is the atrocious toilet facilities. Public toilets and toilets in small shops can be a nose hazard! Things have greatly improved, but it may still be a good idea to empty your stomach or bladder at every opportunity in a hotel, restaurant, or departmental store.

* Useful China travel tips *

Try to get an English-speaking tour guide at every opportunity you can. China has a rich and wonderful history and culture; without a guide, the flavor and significance of most tour sites can be lost.

*Sneaky tip: Hang around a group with an English-speaking guide if you cannot afford one! Always ask for a receipt from a taxi driver so that you can complain if you have been cheated or for tracing purposes if you leave your camera behind in the taxi.

Try to take the name card for each hotel you are staying at, as these cards will have a Chinese address and a map of your hotel location. This is useful if you need assistance finding your way back, as the English version or pronunciation of a hotel or street name may differ from the Chinese version.

After a tiring day, check out Chinese foot reflexology or Chinese TuiNa (Chinese massage). Wonderful for the body after a hard day and very cheap to boot. Look out for shop signs that show two feet! They are everywhere.

Make friends with the Chinese whenever you can. They love to meet foreigners and will make good tour guides. Just buy a small present as a small token of appreciation.


Alcohol scholar. Bacon fan. Internetaholic. Beer geek. Thinker. Coffee advocate. Reader. Have a strong interest in consulting about teddy bears in Nigeria. Spent 2001-2004 promoting glue in Pensacola, FL. My current pet project is testing the market for salsa in Las Vegas, NV. In 2008 I was getting to know birdhouses worldwide. Spent 2002-2008 buying and selling easy-bake-ovens in Bethesda, MD. Spent 2002-2009 marketing country music in the financial sector.