China Travel Guide
People's Republic of China
Population: 1.4 billion
Capital City: Beijing (nearly 30 million)
People: 56 ethnic minorities
Currency: Chinese Yuan Renminbi (CNY)
Time Zone: UTC+8
International Dialing Code: +86
Passport and visa
Passports should be valid for six months from the date of entry into China.
Most nationalities require a visa to visit China obtained from their local Chinese embassy. Single, double and multiple entry visas are available. 3 months is the maximum duration of stay on a single entry visa, while multiple entries can be made for 2 months at a time.
There is a visa exemption rule for travellers visiting for less than 24 hours in transit and 51 nationalities are also visa exempt for up to 72 hours of transit time. There is also a special visa exemption for travellers visiting Hainan province. Please note that if you are travelling to China with a group you will usually be issued a group visa that has its own rules.
For a full list of visa exemptions and further information, please check here.
The official currency in China is the Yuan or Renminbi (CNY). It is divided into the units: yuan, jiao and fen.
1 yuan = 10 jiao and 1 jiao = 10 fen
Currency exchange is available at major banks, airports and some hotels. Be aware that you will need to show your passport when you exchange money. The easiest foreign currencies to exchange are USD and EUR. Cash withdrawals can be easily made with widespread ATMs. Most ATMs provide services in both Chinese and English for easy access. It may not be widely possible to exchange unused CNY back into foreign currency so we suggest you exchange it in the international airport exchange desks.
Phones & Internet service
Telephone connection is widely available. You may need to register with your mobile supplier for international roaming services and check all the associated cost. Also, sim cards are available to purchase. There are two service options including China Mobile and China Telecom. You will be required to show ID or passport in order to purchase sim cards.
Internet access are available in major hotels and airport, however, there may be a fee charged to be able to access the internet in your hotel room.
Traffic & Transportation
Taxis are inexpensive way to get around major cities. You should always bring your hotel card with name and address in Chinese as taxi drivers do not speak English.
The weather can vary in the extreme, from the heat of the deserts to the possibility of snow:
The northeast experiences hot and dry summers and cold winters with temperatures known to reach as low as -20°C (-4°F).
The North- Central China (Beijing, Xi’an)
The north and central region has almost continual rainfall with hot summers and cold winter. Temperate can reach 40°C (104°F) in the summer and -10°C (14°F) in the winter. Regular dust storms and haze can occur in late winter and early spring
The South-Central China
Rainfall is concentrated in the monsoon months from late spring through summer, causing autumn and winter relatively dry. Summer is hot and humid while winter is cool with regular drizzle.
The southeast region has substantial rainfall (between April and July) with semi-tropical summers and cool winter.
Due to its dramatic and mountainous climate, averages much lower temperatures year around
Health and Safety
Health and well-being
Medical care facilities of an international standard can be found in major cities including Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong, however rural areas may only provide you basic supplies and facilities. You are strongly recommended to consult your doctor or country’s travel clinic for up-to-date information and advice regarding appropriate inoculations.
Before travelling, please ensure you have adequate protection against disease. Some immunizations are highly recommended including polio, tetanus, typhoid, MMR, hepatitis A&B
Travel insurance (recommended)
Buffalo Tours does everything possible to ensure a safe and enjoyable trip. However, travel inevitably involves some unavoidable risk. Travel insurance is a cost effective way of protecting yourself and your equipment should any problems occur such as cancelled trips, delays, medical emergencies, baggage loss or damage. Please also make sure your travel insurance covers all activities planned on your trip so you can enjoy peace of mind during your journey.
Culture & Customs
Etiquette and cultural differences
Experiencing different cultures is one of the joys of travelling, and it is important that these differences are respected. Knowing a few important customs of Chinese people will help make your visit more enjoyable:
Point with a single finger
Use your left hand, and take off your sunglasses or hat before extending your hand to shake someone’s hand
Touch holy men
Stick your chopsticks vertically in a bowl of rice as it looks very similar to incense sticks that are burned for the dead.
Food and drink
You will be incredibly surprised by the diversity available. Cuisine varies throughout the country. Beijing is famous with delicious Beijing Duck. In larger cities, you will find various restaurants serving Western and other Asian cuisines, as well as vegetarian options.
It is not advisable to drink tap water in China. Bottled water is cheap and widely available.
Chinese New Year (1st day of the 1st lunar month)
Ching Ming festival (April 4 or 5)
Labour Day (May 1)
Dragon boat festival (5th of the 5th lunar month)
Mid Autumn festival (15th day of the 8th lunar month)
National Day (October 1)
Tipping is a personal matter and travelers are encouraged to tip any amount they feel is appropriate. For your convenience, we have included a suggested tipping guide below:
Guides: $5 per day, per person (depending on the length of your trip and your perception of service quality)
Drivers: $3 per day, per person
Restaurants: In luxurious restaurants, you may find that the tip is already included in the bill. In local restaurants, tips are not expected.
Bottled water (1.5l): 3CNY
Beer: 2.5 – 4 CNY (from a grocery store), 4 – 8 CNY (from a restaurant), 10-30 CNY (from a bar)
Soft drinks (0.33l): 3 -10 CNY
Coffee: 15 - 25 CNY
Street food: from 3 CNY
Restaurant: from 25 – 100 CNY/person
Sim card: 50 - 80 CNY
Travel documents: passport, visa (if required), travel insurance
Photocopy of main passport pages, visa (if required)
All relevant tickets
Foreign currency (US$) and/or ATM card
Money belt and small padlocks
First aid kit
Small daypack (for day and overnight trips)
Warm clothes - when travelling in cooler climates
Wind and waterproof jacket
Comfortable and sturdy walking shoes
Sunscreen, lip balm, sunhat and sunglasses
Electrical adapter plug
Refillable water bottle
Our very best wishes for your journey.