Travel guide to China

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China is a land of contrasts. In the countryside you can still experience the traditional, authentic China, where free running water is often still considered a luxury. This sharply differs from the modern metropolises sprouting up throughout the country. A visit to China and a complementary insight into the country's history and culture is definately a life-changing experience.

Facts

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Local name
Zong Guo
Capital
Beijing
Size
9,571,300 sq km.
Principal Languages
Chinese and Mandarin
Principal Religion
Officially there are no religions represented in China, but most inhabitants are Taoists and Buddhists.
Inhabitants
1,261,832,482 (2000)
Government
Communistic republic
Geography
China is the world's third-largest country, exceeded only by Russia and Canada - it covers about seven per cent of the world's total land area. The country has several different climates - from cold Siberia in the north to the warm climate of the south. China has the highest mountains, the deepest valleys, and some of the longest rivers in the world.

Travel preparation

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Best time to visit

The best time to visit China is in the spring (March and April) and during autumn (September and October). The chances of sunny weather and mild temperatures are best in these periods - as the rest of the year is either very cold and humid or very warm and humid.

Literature

Fodors China Frommers China Rough Guide China Lonely Planet China

Local conditions

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Currency

Renminbi Yuan (RMBY). 1 RMBY=10 chiao/jiao or 100 fen.

Net cafes

There are internet cafés in Beijing, Yangshou and other major cities, but you have to search hard for them to find them.

In case of emergency

To call for help in China, dial the following numbers: Police (110) Fire department (119) Several of the big hospitals have special sections for foreigners, where the doctors speak English and have knowledge of western medicine.

Tipping

Officially tipping is illegal in China, but both taxi drivers and restaurants appreciate tips. It might also be a good idea to leave a couple of coins for the cleaning staff at the hotel, a job that is often very poorly paid.

Timezone

When it is 12.00 in Denmark, it is 19.00 in China.

Weight and Measures

The following units of measurement are used in China: The metric system is used in most of the country, but in some places the traditional Chinese system is also used: Length: metre/mu, chi, li Weigth: kilogram/jin, dan Temperature: centigrade Volume: litre/gongsheng

Photography

It is strictly prohibited to photograph military installations in China. In some temples and in Mao's Mausoleum it is also prohibited, but this will be marked with signs. Besides this, you can take photographs as you want to, and the Chinese gladly line up for photographing if you ask politely.

Drinking water

You shouldn't drink the tap water in China, but buy the bottled water.

Electricity

Following current is used in China: 220V AC/50Hz.

Behaviour

Common courtesy will get you far in China.

Business Hours

Banks are open 9.30-12.00 and 14.00-17.00 (Monday to Friday) and 9.00-17.00 (Saturday. Shops are open 8.00-19.00 (Monday to Saturday), some shops are open longer, and some shops are also open Sunday. Offices are open 8.00-11.30 and 13.00-17.00 (Monday to Friday).

Food and drink

Chinese cuisine is divided by geography. In the north it is dominated by hearty Beijing-cuisine, and in the south Guangzhou-cuisine is dominant - a colourful mixture of vegetables and different varieties of flesh. In the east you find Shanghai-cuisine, which is famous for seafood dishes. And finally there is western Sichuan-cuisine - highly spiced and very tasty. The most popular drink in China is tea, but many Chinese drink beer with their meals.

Disabled travellers

Being disabled in China is not easy - it is practically impossible to get around in a wheelchair in the cities as well as in the countryside. None of the major attractions are disability access-friendly either.

Holidays

New Year's holiday, 1 and 2 January. Women's Labor Day, 8 March. Labor Day, 1 and 2 May. Youth Day, 4 May. Children's Day, 1 June. The Anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party, 1 June. The Anniversary for the founding of Chinese PLA, 1 August. National Day, 1 and 2 October. Shifting holidays: The Chinese New Year, end of January or beginning of February.

Accommodation / Hotel

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Camping

It doesn't exist yet.

Hotels

Chinese hotels are classified in three categories: one, two and three stars. Three-star hotels are luxury hotels and the prices are correspondingly high. Two-star hotels are good hotels as well, but with more reasonable prices. One-star hotels are modest and very cheap.

Bed og breakfast or guesthouse

It doesn't exist yet.

Hostels

It doesn't exist yet.

Local transport

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Planes

China has a fine-meshed domestic network with several daily departures. It's wise to book your ticket in advance. CAAC is an airline and an umbrella organisation for local airlines flying domestically in China.

Bus

The long distance buses are cheap but not very punctual - and very uncomfortable. City buses are very cheap and thus very crowded, and it's difficult to find the right one as the destinations are written in Chinese.

Trains

More than 50,000 km of railway connects all the provinces except Tibet. The trains are cheap, fast and punctual. There are five different classes on the trains, and children under one travel for free.

Taxi

Most major cities have taxis, and even though they all have taxi-meters it is a good idea to agree on the price in advance as the meters rarely function. Taxis are extremely cheap in China.

Boat or Ferry

On the major rivers in China you can take the ferry as an alternative to trains and airplanes. There are also regular ferries between China and Hong Kong.

Other Transport

Bicycling is an excellent way of getting around.

Special conditions

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You eat with sticks instead of knife and fork in China. Outside of the major cities you should bring your own toilet paper.

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