From Europe, all major airlines provide flights to Beijing, Shanghai, Guanzhou and Hong Kong and then transit to other cities. Domestic flights can be booked when you arrive in China through local airline offices or the hotels.
There is increased security at all UK airports and travellers should allow extra time for checking in. There is the possibility that some flights might be delayed. Travellers are advised to contact their airline for latest information. All UK carriers have been advised to avoid Afghanistan airspace until further notice.
It is advised to have insurance to cover sickness and other possible travelling accidence. For hospitalisation in China, you may have to pay first and then claim it back from your insurance company.
Chinese border crossings are generally very easy. All visitors entering China must fill out customs declaration forms upon arrival. The departure copy will be stapled in your passport and must be submitted as you exit China. Reasonable amounts of money (currently up to $5,000 US), alcohol and cigarettes, cameras, and tape-recorders can be brought into China. Certain valuable items, such as amateur video and camera equipment, computers, and gold, must be declared on the form.
Luxury hotels are available in major cities. Reservation can be made through travel agents. These hotels have everything you need, In remote areas or small cities, hotels are clean but not luxury. Foreign visitors have to bear with the condition in those small hotels.
Over the past few years, China has become a traveller-friendly country, wide open to anyone with a curious mind and the spirit of adventure. Today, a full-scale modern travel industry has developed throughout China. First-class hotels are available in all major cites. Most major Western and European hotel chains now have luxury hotels in China-all with familiar Western amenities. There is no need for you to worry about communicating anymore. English is widely spoken in all tourist hotels, shops and restaurants.
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Book your tour through your own agent or the hotel. It may be more expensive but the quality is guarantied. You may prefer to go on your own if you know how to get around.
Museum, temples, historical sites and scenery are the major attractions to foreign visitors. First study the background and it will help you to appreciate the difference in culture and historical events.
Try booking golf and tennis through your hotels. Swimming pool and gyms are available in major hotels. Pool table and bowling are in most of the cities. For horse riding, sailing and other sports, they are available in major centres only.
British nationals require visas to enter Mainland China, but not Hong Kong. Visas cannot be obtained on arrival. Carefully check your visa validity as fines can be levied for overstaying. Visitors on a return trip to Hong Kong from the mainland should ensure they have a double or multiple entry visa to gain re-entry to the mainland. Visitors who are transiting China en route to a third country (even if in direct transit, ie not leaving the aircraft during a stopover) should ensure that they have a transit visa which is valid for each time they transit.
The weather in China can range from bitterly cold to unbearably hot. Temperatures in the north can drop to -40°C in winter (December-March) and rise to 38°C in summer (May-August). In the far south, the hot and humid summer lasts from April to September. The north-west experiences dry, hot summers. Typhoons can hit the south-east coast between July and September.
China has very low crime rate, comparing with a lot of other countries. It is still wise to be cautious with your personal possession in public place. There are pickpockets active in crowded areas such as stations, markets, shopping areas, etc. Do not show off your money in public. Use your safe in the hotel room and don't bring too much cash with you when you don't need it. If there is any problem, report to the hotel or police immediately.
Book your taxi or limousine from the hotel and fix the price before you go. From or to Airport, better use hotel shuttle bus.
Credit cards are accepted in the major shops in the tourist areas but small shops may only accept cash. The Chinese currency is RMB.
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Things to remember before you travel:
- Get comprehensive travel insurance.
- Check the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Travel Advice before you go.
- Take medical advice on inoculations.
- Ensure that you have enough money for the duration of your trip.
- Respect local laws and customs, in particular those pertaining to engaging in religious activities.
- Keep belongings in a safe place.
- Beware of petty thieves, especially on buses and trains and at major tourist attractions.
- Ensure that you have a valid visa, even if you are only in transit.
- Beware of the dangers of altitude sickness in Tibet.
- Leave a photocopy of your passport and your itinerary with a contact in the UK.
- Enter next of kin details into the back of your passport.
- Do not become involved with drugs, penalties can be severe, including the death penalty.
- Do not get involved with demonstrations.
- Do not over stay your visa. Heavy fines are normally imposed on those who do.
- Do not resist attempted robbery, this can lead to serious violence.
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