Things to know while travelling in China

  1. get your money exchange. In China you cannot pay with usd or euros, only RMB is acceptable and if you need to exchange money, you may have to do it either in your country or at the airport as inside the country it can be difficult (you have to go to bank of china, fill out form etc which will tale half an hour or so). Taking money from ATM is the option but still you can use your visa or master card just in selected banks like ICBC or HSBC.
  2. get translator. Trainchinese is my favourite application for translation Chinese into English and vice versa While in China you will find out that many things are written just in Chinese and people also speak little English or none so you may need some offline dictionary which can help you survive during your trip. Also it’s good if your phone supports handwriting as pinyin usually is not provided.
  3. If you need to extend your visa it’s possible to do so either inside China with local PSB office or in Hong Kong or Macau with some visa agents.
  4. Booking hotels in China is really easy. Use local booking website like: elong.com which allows you to book hotels without providing credit card and usually you can find great deals on the hotels.
  5. Foreigners cannot book train tickets online. You have to go directly to the train station or book thru Chinese agent.
  6. China is linked very good by long distance bus service. You can go practically everywhere by bus, in general is safe and easy.
  7. Never ever go to Sanya by bus or train, try to avoid it by any chance as the trip is very inconvenient and you will struggle. In general you need to switch from bus to ferry in the middle of the night and then again to your former bus, however it’s really inconvenient as waiting time for ferry can be long and bus ride not pleasant. You can find nice deals outside of National holidays thru many websites.
  8. I haven’t seen many scams in China like it happens to us in Vietnam. I consider China as a really safe country to live and travel. Taxi drivers in general use meter, however sometimes they won’t take you as the place you want to go they don’t know or they don’t want to go there.Taxi drives can be picky and not top of that they won’t speak any English so have address prepare in Chinese and map if possible.
  9. Hotels are quite cheap in China. You can stay in hotel for as less as 15usd for single room. We have recently rented service apartment in Sanya for less that 15 dollars and if you wish to stay longer it would be cheaper.
  10. Food is cheap in China but try to avoid cheap restaurants with oily fried food. These most probably use gutter oil. Yuck
  11. If you need driving licences and your visa is valid for less than 6 months the you may get one at the airport. I never tried this procedure as my visa usually are for longer period of time 😦
  12. the Facebook and blogs don’t work in China so you will need VPN for using google and posting new updates on your blog,
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Money, money, money

It supposed to be easy to exchange money anywhere you go. However China is different. Yes, you can exchange foreign currency to Chinese yuan but when you wish to exchange Chinese yuan to foreign currency then there is a problem. In big cities they know procedure and they have popular foreign currencies without appointment.  With small cities however is different. First of all you need to make an appointment to reserve the currency, then you can exchange only 500 USD a day/person and the most stuff in the bank of small town would not be sure about the procedure of dealing with foreigner. They are not sure if the foreigners can actually exchange the money and if they have checked it out after making you wait for more than couple of hours, then they would try to figure it out which one in your passport is your name and where actually are you come from. So whole procedure of exchanging 500 USD can take up to 3-4h. And I don’t recommend to simply stay calm. Shout, complain leave and they will call you saying sorry many time, begging you to come back and things will go faster. Welcome to China.