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This article only covers mainland China. For [[Hong Kong]], [[Macau]] and [[Taiwan]], please see their respective articles.
 
This article only covers mainland China. For [[Hong Kong]], [[Macau]] and [[Taiwan]], please see their respective articles.
  
==Understand==
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=Understand=
 
:''"I am not one who was born in the possession of knowledge. I am one who is fond of antiquity, and earnest in seeking it there."'' <small>&mdash; Confucius</small>
 
:''"I am not one who was born in the possession of knowledge. I am one who is fond of antiquity, and earnest in seeking it there."'' <small>&mdash; Confucius</small>
  
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Mao Zedong died in 1976, and in 1978, Deng Xiaoping became China's paramount leader. Deng and his lieutenants introduced market-oriented reforms and decentralized economic decision-making. Economic output quadrupled by 2000 and continues to grow by 8-10% per year, but bouts of inflation, regional income inequality, human rights abuses, ethnic unrest, massive pollution, rural poverty and corruption remain. While the larger cities near the coast like [[Beijing]], [[Shanghai]] and [[Guangzhou]] have become rich and modern, much of the inland and and rural areas remain poor and underdeveloped. The former General Secretary of the Communist Party, Hu Jintao, has proclaimed a policy for a "Harmonious Society" (和谐社会 héxié shèhuì) which promises to restore balanced economic growth and channel investment and prosperity into China's central and western provinces, which have been largely left behind in the post-1978 economic boom. The current General Secretary of the Communist Party, Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang, have pursued an ambitious policy of social reform, particularly income redistribution, poverty relief, and environmental improvements. Furthermore, an ambitious crackdown on corruption started by the previous administration has been expanded. Growth in China has finally slowed in recent years and seems to be leveling off.
 
Mao Zedong died in 1976, and in 1978, Deng Xiaoping became China's paramount leader. Deng and his lieutenants introduced market-oriented reforms and decentralized economic decision-making. Economic output quadrupled by 2000 and continues to grow by 8-10% per year, but bouts of inflation, regional income inequality, human rights abuses, ethnic unrest, massive pollution, rural poverty and corruption remain. While the larger cities near the coast like [[Beijing]], [[Shanghai]] and [[Guangzhou]] have become rich and modern, much of the inland and and rural areas remain poor and underdeveloped. The former General Secretary of the Communist Party, Hu Jintao, has proclaimed a policy for a "Harmonious Society" (和谐社会 héxié shèhuì) which promises to restore balanced economic growth and channel investment and prosperity into China's central and western provinces, which have been largely left behind in the post-1978 economic boom. The current General Secretary of the Communist Party, Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang, have pursued an ambitious policy of social reform, particularly income redistribution, poverty relief, and environmental improvements. Furthermore, an ambitious crackdown on corruption started by the previous administration has been expanded. Growth in China has finally slowed in recent years and seems to be leveling off.
  
===Politics===
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==Politics==
 
China is a single-party socialist state ruled by the Communist Party of China. China has only experienced one open nation-wide election, in 1912. The government consists of an executive branch known as the State Council (国务院 Guó Wù Yuàn), as well as a unicameral legislature known as the National People's Congress (全国人民代表大会 Quánguó Rénmín Dàibiǎo Dàhuì). The nominal Head of State is the President (主席 zhǔxí, ''lit chairman''), a largely ceremonial office with limited powers and the Head of Government is the Premier (总理 zǒnglǐ). In practice, while neither holds absolute power, the General Secretary of the Communist Party of China holds the most power, while the Premier of the State Council is the second-most-powerful person in the country.
 
China is a single-party socialist state ruled by the Communist Party of China. China has only experienced one open nation-wide election, in 1912. The government consists of an executive branch known as the State Council (国务院 Guó Wù Yuàn), as well as a unicameral legislature known as the National People's Congress (全国人民代表大会 Quánguó Rénmín Dàibiǎo Dàhuì). The nominal Head of State is the President (主席 zhǔxí, ''lit chairman''), a largely ceremonial office with limited powers and the Head of Government is the Premier (总理 zǒnglǐ). In practice, while neither holds absolute power, the General Secretary of the Communist Party of China holds the most power, while the Premier of the State Council is the second-most-powerful person in the country.
  
 
For administration, China is divided into 22 provinces, 5 autonomous regions and 4 directly-controlled municipalities. Each of the provincial governments is given power over the internal, often economic, affairs of their provinces. Autonomous regions are given more freedom than regular provinces, one example of which is the right to declare additional official languages in the region besides Mandarin. In addition, there are the Special Administrative Regions (SAR) of Hong Kong and Macau. Both Hong Kong and Macau have separate legal systems and immigration departments from the mainland, and are given the freedom to enact laws separately from the mainland. Their political systems are more open and directly electoral in nature. Taiwan is also claimed by the PRC as a province, though no part of Taiwan is currently under the control of the PRC. Both governments support re-unification in principle and recently signed a trade pact to more closely link their economies, essentially removing the danger of war.
 
For administration, China is divided into 22 provinces, 5 autonomous regions and 4 directly-controlled municipalities. Each of the provincial governments is given power over the internal, often economic, affairs of their provinces. Autonomous regions are given more freedom than regular provinces, one example of which is the right to declare additional official languages in the region besides Mandarin. In addition, there are the Special Administrative Regions (SAR) of Hong Kong and Macau. Both Hong Kong and Macau have separate legal systems and immigration departments from the mainland, and are given the freedom to enact laws separately from the mainland. Their political systems are more open and directly electoral in nature. Taiwan is also claimed by the PRC as a province, though no part of Taiwan is currently under the control of the PRC. Both governments support re-unification in principle and recently signed a trade pact to more closely link their economies, essentially removing the danger of war.
  
===People and Habits===
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==People and Habits==
 
China has wide variations in culture, language, customs and economic levels. The economic landscape is particularly diverse. The major cities such as Beijing, Guangzhou and Shanghai are modern and comparatively wealthy. However, about 50% of Chinese still live in rural areas even though only 10% of China's land is arable. Hundreds of millions of rural residents still farm with manual labour or draft animals. Some 200 to 300 million former peasants have migrated to townships and cities in search of work. Government estimates for 2005 reported that 90 million people lived on less than ¥924 a year and 26 million were under the official poverty line of ¥668 a year. Generally, the coastal regions are more wealthy, while inland areas are less developed.
 
China has wide variations in culture, language, customs and economic levels. The economic landscape is particularly diverse. The major cities such as Beijing, Guangzhou and Shanghai are modern and comparatively wealthy. However, about 50% of Chinese still live in rural areas even though only 10% of China's land is arable. Hundreds of millions of rural residents still farm with manual labour or draft animals. Some 200 to 300 million former peasants have migrated to townships and cities in search of work. Government estimates for 2005 reported that 90 million people lived on less than ¥924 a year and 26 million were under the official poverty line of ¥668 a year. Generally, the coastal regions are more wealthy, while inland areas are less developed.
  
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“Four” is a taboo for most Chinese because the pronunciation in Mandarin is close to “death”. Some hotels' "fifth" floors are immediately above their third floors, much as some American hotels' floor numbers skip from twelve to fourteen, omitting the "unlucky" number 13.
 
“Four” is a taboo for most Chinese because the pronunciation in Mandarin is close to “death”. Some hotels' "fifth" floors are immediately above their third floors, much as some American hotels' floor numbers skip from twelve to fourteen, omitting the "unlucky" number 13.
  
===Climate and Terrain===
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==Climate and Terrain==
 
China's climate varies from tropical in the south to subarctic in the north. [[Hainan]] Island is roughly at the same latitude as Jamaica, while [[Harbin]], a large northern city, is at roughly the latitude of Montréal and has the climate to match. Northern China has four distinct seasons with intensely hot summers and bitterly cold winters. Southern China tends to be milder and wetter. The climate is more arid in the north and west. In the Tibetan highlands and the vast steppes and deserts of Gansu and Xinjiang, distances are great and the land is often barren.
 
China's climate varies from tropical in the south to subarctic in the north. [[Hainan]] Island is roughly at the same latitude as Jamaica, while [[Harbin]], a large northern city, is at roughly the latitude of Montréal and has the climate to match. Northern China has four distinct seasons with intensely hot summers and bitterly cold winters. Southern China tends to be milder and wetter. The climate is more arid in the north and west. In the Tibetan highlands and the vast steppes and deserts of Gansu and Xinjiang, distances are great and the land is often barren.
  
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China's landscape ranges from mountain ranges, high plateaus, and deserts in the center and the far west to plains, deltas and hills in the east. The [[Pearl River Delta]] region around Guangzhou and Hong Kong and the [[Along the Yangtze river|Yangtze delta]] around Shanghai have thriving industry and commerce, as does the North China plain around Beijing and the Yellow River. On the border between Tibet and Nepal lies Mount [[Everest]], at 8,850 m, the highest point on earth. The [[Turpan]] depression, in Xinjiang is the lowest point in the country, at 154 m below sea level. This is also the world's second-lowest point on land, after the [[Dead Sea]].
 
China's landscape ranges from mountain ranges, high plateaus, and deserts in the center and the far west to plains, deltas and hills in the east. The [[Pearl River Delta]] region around Guangzhou and Hong Kong and the [[Along the Yangtze river|Yangtze delta]] around Shanghai have thriving industry and commerce, as does the North China plain around Beijing and the Yellow River. On the border between Tibet and Nepal lies Mount [[Everest]], at 8,850 m, the highest point on earth. The [[Turpan]] depression, in Xinjiang is the lowest point in the country, at 154 m below sea level. This is also the world's second-lowest point on land, after the [[Dead Sea]].
  
===Holidays===
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==Holidays==
 
During holidays, hundreds of millions of migrant workers return home and millions of other Chinese travel within the country (but many in the service sector stay behind, enjoying extra pay). Travelers may want to consider scheduling to avoid being on the road, on the rails, or in the air during the major holidays. At the very least, travel should be planned well in advance. Every mode of transport is extremely crowded; tickets of any kind are hard to come by, and will cost a lot more, so book well in advance (especially to travel between remote western China and the coast). Train and bus tickets are easily purchased at other times, but are scarce during the holidays. Air tickets tend to sell out more slowly because of their higher prices and are still available to stranded tourists and air travel remains a comfortable mode of transportation. The new bullet-train network is nice, but the holidays bring overcrowded, smoke-filled, cold, loud and disorganized train depots making boarding hectic. The spring festival (Chinese New Year) is '''the largest annual migration of people on earth'''.
 
During holidays, hundreds of millions of migrant workers return home and millions of other Chinese travel within the country (but many in the service sector stay behind, enjoying extra pay). Travelers may want to consider scheduling to avoid being on the road, on the rails, or in the air during the major holidays. At the very least, travel should be planned well in advance. Every mode of transport is extremely crowded; tickets of any kind are hard to come by, and will cost a lot more, so book well in advance (especially to travel between remote western China and the coast). Train and bus tickets are easily purchased at other times, but are scarce during the holidays. Air tickets tend to sell out more slowly because of their higher prices and are still available to stranded tourists and air travel remains a comfortable mode of transportation. The new bullet-train network is nice, but the holidays bring overcrowded, smoke-filled, cold, loud and disorganized train depots making boarding hectic. The spring festival (Chinese New Year) is '''the largest annual migration of people on earth'''.
  
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In addition to these, some Western festivals are celebrated, at least in cities. Around Christmas, one hears carols &mdash; mostly English, a few in Latin, plus Chinese versions of "Jingle Bells", "Amazing Grace", and for some reason "Oh Susana". Some stores are decorated and one sees many shop assistants in red and white elf hats. For Valentine's Day, many restaurants offer special meals. Chinese Christians celebrate services and masses at officially sanctioned Protestant and Catholic churches as well.
 
In addition to these, some Western festivals are celebrated, at least in cities. Around Christmas, one hears carols &mdash; mostly English, a few in Latin, plus Chinese versions of "Jingle Bells", "Amazing Grace", and for some reason "Oh Susana". Some stores are decorated and one sees many shop assistants in red and white elf hats. For Valentine's Day, many restaurants offer special meals. Chinese Christians celebrate services and masses at officially sanctioned Protestant and Catholic churches as well.
  
===Books===
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==Books==
 
Non-guidebooks, either about China, or by Chinese writers.
 
Non-guidebooks, either about China, or by Chinese writers.
  
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* '''Red China Blues: My Long March from Mao to Now''' by Jan Wong, a reporter for the Globe and Mail of Toronto, Canada. The book describes her experiences as one of the first foreign-exchange students to study in China after the Cultural Revolution and her life and experiences as a reporter in China until the mid-1990s.
 
* '''Red China Blues: My Long March from Mao to Now''' by Jan Wong, a reporter for the Globe and Mail of Toronto, Canada. The book describes her experiences as one of the first foreign-exchange students to study in China after the Cultural Revolution and her life and experiences as a reporter in China until the mid-1990s.
  
===Cinema===
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==Cinema==
 
*Bernardo Bertolucci - '''The Last Emperor''' (1987)
 
*Bernardo Bertolucci - '''The Last Emperor''' (1987)
 
*Zhang Yimou - '''Raise the Red Lantern''' (1991)
 
*Zhang Yimou - '''Raise the Red Lantern''' (1991)
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*Wu Tianming - '''The King of Masks''' (1996)
 
*Wu Tianming - '''The King of Masks''' (1996)
  
==Regions==
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=Regions=
 
For a complete list of provinces and an explanation of China's political geography, see: [[List of Chinese provinces and regions]].
 
For a complete list of provinces and an explanation of China's political geography, see: [[List of Chinese provinces and regions]].
  
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[[Taiwan]] is a special case. At the end of the civil war in 1949, the Communists held mainland China and the defeated Nationalists held only Taiwan and a few islands off the Fujian coast. That situation continues to this day; Taiwan has had a separate government for more than 60 years and as such, is governed "de-facto" independently. However, most world bodies do not recognize it as a sovereign state - amongst other factors, this may be attributed to the strong influence of the PRC government in this matter. Both governments in theory support eventual reunification of these "two Chinas", but there is also a significant pro-independence movement within Taiwan.}}
 
[[Taiwan]] is a special case. At the end of the civil war in 1949, the Communists held mainland China and the defeated Nationalists held only Taiwan and a few islands off the Fujian coast. That situation continues to this day; Taiwan has had a separate government for more than 60 years and as such, is governed "de-facto" independently. However, most world bodies do not recognize it as a sovereign state - amongst other factors, this may be attributed to the strong influence of the PRC government in this matter. Both governments in theory support eventual reunification of these "two Chinas", but there is also a significant pro-independence movement within Taiwan.}}
  
==Cities==
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=Cities=
 
[[Image:Forbidden city.jpg|thumb|The entrance to the Forbidden City, [[Beijing]]]]
 
[[Image:Forbidden city.jpg|thumb|The entrance to the Forbidden City, [[Beijing]]]]
 
Below is a top ten list of some of those most important to travellers in mainland China. Other cities are listed under their specific regional section. See the [[#Dynasties and capitals|Dynasties and capitals]] section for a detailed list of China's many previous capitals.
 
Below is a top ten list of some of those most important to travellers in mainland China. Other cities are listed under their specific regional section. See the [[#Dynasties and capitals|Dynasties and capitals]] section for a detailed list of China's many previous capitals.
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You can travel to many of these cities using the new [[High-speed rail in China|fast trains]]. In particular, the Hangzhou - Shanghai - Suzhou - Nanjing line is a convenient way to see these historic areas.
 
You can travel to many of these cities using the new [[High-speed rail in China|fast trains]]. In particular, the Hangzhou - Shanghai - Suzhou - Nanjing line is a convenient way to see these historic areas.
  
==Other destinations==
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=Other destinations=
 
* [[Great Wall of China]] (万里长城) {{-}} longer than 8,000 km, this ancient wall is the most iconic landmark of China
 
* [[Great Wall of China]] (万里长城) {{-}} longer than 8,000 km, this ancient wall is the most iconic landmark of China
 
* [[Hainan]] (海南) {{-}} a tropical paradise island undergoing heavy tourist-oriented development
 
* [[Hainan]] (海南) {{-}} a tropical paradise island undergoing heavy tourist-oriented development
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* [[Yungang Grottoes]] {{-}} more than 50 mountain-side caves and recesses number are filled with 51,000 Buddhist statues
 
* [[Yungang Grottoes]] {{-}} more than 50 mountain-side caves and recesses number are filled with 51,000 Buddhist statues
  
==Get in==
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=Get in=
  
===Visa-free===
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==Visa-free==
 
Citizens of the following countries do not need a visa to travel to China:
 
Citizens of the following countries do not need a visa to travel to China:
  
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Residents of [[Armenia]], [[Azerbaijan]], [[Benin]], [[Bosnia and Herzegovina]], [[Bulgaria]], [[Cuba]], [[Georgia (country)|Georgia]], [[Guyana]], [[Laos]], [[Macedonia]], [[Moldova]], [[Mongolia]], [[North Korea]], [[Pakistan]], [[Tajikistan]], [[Turkey]], [[Turkmenistan]] and [[Vietnam]] must have their passports endorsed as "For public affairs" by the Chinese government in order to enter visa-free.
 
Residents of [[Armenia]], [[Azerbaijan]], [[Benin]], [[Bosnia and Herzegovina]], [[Bulgaria]], [[Cuba]], [[Georgia (country)|Georgia]], [[Guyana]], [[Laos]], [[Macedonia]], [[Moldova]], [[Mongolia]], [[North Korea]], [[Pakistan]], [[Tajikistan]], [[Turkey]], [[Turkmenistan]] and [[Vietnam]] must have their passports endorsed as "For public affairs" by the Chinese government in order to enter visa-free.
  
====Visa-free stopover via international airports====
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===Visa-free stopover via international airports===
  
 
Citizens of [[Albania]], [[Argentina]], [[Australia]], [[Austria]], [[Belgium]], [[Bosnia and Herzegovina]], [[Brazil]], [[Brunei]], [[Bulgaria]], [[Canada]], [[Chile]], [[Croatia]], [[Cyprus]], [[Czech Republic]], [[Denmark]], [[Estonia]], [[Finland]], [[France]], [[Germany]], [[Greece]], [[Hungary]], [[Iceland]], [[Ireland]], [[Italy]], [[Japan]], [[Latvia]], [[Lithuania]], [[Luxembourg]], [[Macedonia]], [[Malta]], [[Mexico]], [[Montenegro]], the [[Netherlands]], [[New Zealand]], [[Poland]], [[Portugal]], [[Qatar]], [[Romania]], [[Russia]], [[Serbia]], [[Singapore]], [[Slovakia]], [[Slovenia]], [[South Korea]], [[Spain]], [[Sweden]], [[Switzerland]], [[Ukraine]], [[United Arab Emirates]], the [[United Kingdom]] and the [[United States]]/[[American Samoa]] are allowed a '''144-hour visa-free stopover''' in [[Beijing]]/[[Tianjin]]/[[Shijiazhuang]] or [[Shanghai]]/[[Hangzhou]]/[[Nanjing]] or [[Dalian]]/[[Shenyang]], or a '''72-hour visa-free stopover''' in [[Changsha]], [[Chengdu]], [[Chongqing]], [[Guangzhou]], [[Guilin]], [[Harbin]], [[Kunming]], [[Qingdao]], [[Wuhan]], [[Xi'an]] or [[Xiamen]] provided these conditions are met:
 
Citizens of [[Albania]], [[Argentina]], [[Australia]], [[Austria]], [[Belgium]], [[Bosnia and Herzegovina]], [[Brazil]], [[Brunei]], [[Bulgaria]], [[Canada]], [[Chile]], [[Croatia]], [[Cyprus]], [[Czech Republic]], [[Denmark]], [[Estonia]], [[Finland]], [[France]], [[Germany]], [[Greece]], [[Hungary]], [[Iceland]], [[Ireland]], [[Italy]], [[Japan]], [[Latvia]], [[Lithuania]], [[Luxembourg]], [[Macedonia]], [[Malta]], [[Mexico]], [[Montenegro]], the [[Netherlands]], [[New Zealand]], [[Poland]], [[Portugal]], [[Qatar]], [[Romania]], [[Russia]], [[Serbia]], [[Singapore]], [[Slovakia]], [[Slovenia]], [[South Korea]], [[Spain]], [[Sweden]], [[Switzerland]], [[Ukraine]], [[United Arab Emirates]], the [[United Kingdom]] and the [[United States]]/[[American Samoa]] are allowed a '''144-hour visa-free stopover''' in [[Beijing]]/[[Tianjin]]/[[Shijiazhuang]] or [[Shanghai]]/[[Hangzhou]]/[[Nanjing]] or [[Dalian]]/[[Shenyang]], or a '''72-hour visa-free stopover''' in [[Changsha]], [[Chengdu]], [[Chongqing]], [[Guangzhou]], [[Guilin]], [[Harbin]], [[Kunming]], [[Qingdao]], [[Wuhan]], [[Xi'an]] or [[Xiamen]] provided these conditions are met:
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If you do not qualify for the 144 or 72 hour visa-free stopover (for example, if you are not flying into or out of one of the qualifying airports, or if you are not a citizen of one of the qualifying countries), you may be able to avail of the '''24 hour visa-free stopover''' instead. This is available at all airports in China served by international flights (except for [[Fuzhou]], [[Mudanjiang]], [[Shenzhen]] and [[Yanji]] airports, and available at [[Urumqi]] airport only if you spend no more than two hours in [[Urumqi]]). The 24-hour period begins from your scheduled flight arrival time, until your scheduled flight departure time. For the 24-hour visa-free stopover, there are no territorial restrictions on your movement within mainland China (except [[Tibet]]) during your stopover, and you are not required to fly out of the same airport as the one you flew into. For example, if you arrive in Beijing at 06:00, you can travel to another city and fly out of another airport as long as your scheduled departure time is before midnight of the next day.
 
If you do not qualify for the 144 or 72 hour visa-free stopover (for example, if you are not flying into or out of one of the qualifying airports, or if you are not a citizen of one of the qualifying countries), you may be able to avail of the '''24 hour visa-free stopover''' instead. This is available at all airports in China served by international flights (except for [[Fuzhou]], [[Mudanjiang]], [[Shenzhen]] and [[Yanji]] airports, and available at [[Urumqi]] airport only if you spend no more than two hours in [[Urumqi]]). The 24-hour period begins from your scheduled flight arrival time, until your scheduled flight departure time. For the 24-hour visa-free stopover, there are no territorial restrictions on your movement within mainland China (except [[Tibet]]) during your stopover, and you are not required to fly out of the same airport as the one you flew into. For example, if you arrive in Beijing at 06:00, you can travel to another city and fly out of another airport as long as your scheduled departure time is before midnight of the next day.
  
====Pearl River Delta====
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===Pearl River Delta===
 
Those visiting Hong Kong and Macau are able to visit the Pearl River Delta visa-free under certain conditions.
 
Those visiting Hong Kong and Macau are able to visit the Pearl River Delta visa-free under certain conditions.
  
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*The visitor stays only within the cities of [[Guangzhou]], [[Shenzhen]], [[Zhuhai]], [[Foshan]], [[Dongguan]], [[Zhongshan]], [[Jiangmen]], [[Zhaoqing]], [[Huizhou]] and [[Shantou]].
 
*The visitor stays only within the cities of [[Guangzhou]], [[Shenzhen]], [[Zhuhai]], [[Foshan]], [[Dongguan]], [[Zhongshan]], [[Jiangmen]], [[Zhaoqing]], [[Huizhou]] and [[Shantou]].
  
====Tour group====
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===Tour group===
 
Citizens of [[Azerbaijan]], [[Belarus]], [[Georgia (country)|Georgia]], [[Moldova]], [[Russia]] and [[Turkmenistan]] can visit visa-free for 30 days, if traveling with a tour group that is accompanied by a representative of a tour operator registered in both countries.
 
Citizens of [[Azerbaijan]], [[Belarus]], [[Georgia (country)|Georgia]], [[Moldova]], [[Russia]] and [[Turkmenistan]] can visit visa-free for 30 days, if traveling with a tour group that is accompanied by a representative of a tour operator registered in both countries.
  
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Residents of the [[East Kazakhstan Region]] in [[Kazakhstan]] can visit the city of [[Tacheng]] without a visa for 72 hours.
 
Residents of the [[East Kazakhstan Region]] in [[Kazakhstan]] can visit the city of [[Tacheng]] without a visa for 72 hours.
  
===Visa===
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==Visa==
 
Most travellers will need a visa (签证 qiānzhèng) to visit mainland China. In most cases, this should be obtained from a Chinese embassy or consulate before departure. Visas for Hong Kong and Macau can be obtained through a Chinese embassy or consulate, but must be applied for separately from the mainland Chinese visa. However, citizens from most western countries do not need visas to visit [[Hong Kong]] and [[Macau]]. Visitors from most western countries can stay in Hong Kong with a free visa for 7 to 90 days. The duration depends on the traveller's country of origin. However, people from Afghanistan, Albania, Armenia, Bangladesh, Belarus, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Cuba and Ethiopia need to apply for a visa for Hong Kong before they travel.
 
Most travellers will need a visa (签证 qiānzhèng) to visit mainland China. In most cases, this should be obtained from a Chinese embassy or consulate before departure. Visas for Hong Kong and Macau can be obtained through a Chinese embassy or consulate, but must be applied for separately from the mainland Chinese visa. However, citizens from most western countries do not need visas to visit [[Hong Kong]] and [[Macau]]. Visitors from most western countries can stay in Hong Kong with a free visa for 7 to 90 days. The duration depends on the traveller's country of origin. However, people from Afghanistan, Albania, Armenia, Bangladesh, Belarus, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Cuba and Ethiopia need to apply for a visa for Hong Kong before they travel.
  
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<listing url="http://mn.china-embassy.org/eng/lsfw/"></listing>. (Dec 2010) Reservations for travel and hotel are acceptable. During busy periods, they may refuse entry after 11:00. There can be long queues, so arrive early.  Also be aware of major Chinese holidays, the Consular Section may be closed for several days.
 
<listing url="http://mn.china-embassy.org/eng/lsfw/"></listing>. (Dec 2010) Reservations for travel and hotel are acceptable. During busy periods, they may refuse entry after 11:00. There can be long queues, so arrive early.  Also be aware of major Chinese holidays, the Consular Section may be closed for several days.
  
====Special Economic Zone Visa====
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===Special Economic Zone Visa===
 
Obtaining a Visa on Arrival is possible usually only for the [[Shenzhen]] or [[Zhuhai]] Special Economic Zones, and such visas are limited to those areas. When crossing from Hong Kong to Shenzhen at Lo Wu railway station, and notably not at Lok Ma Chau, a five-day Shenzhen-only visa can be obtained during extended office hours on the spot for ¥160 (Oct 2007 price) for passport holders of many nationalities, for example Irish or New Zealand or Canadian. Americans are not eligible, while the fee for UK nationals is ¥450. The office accepts only Chinese yuan.
 
Obtaining a Visa on Arrival is possible usually only for the [[Shenzhen]] or [[Zhuhai]] Special Economic Zones, and such visas are limited to those areas. When crossing from Hong Kong to Shenzhen at Lo Wu railway station, and notably not at Lok Ma Chau, a five-day Shenzhen-only visa can be obtained during extended office hours on the spot for ¥160 (Oct 2007 price) for passport holders of many nationalities, for example Irish or New Zealand or Canadian. Americans are not eligible, while the fee for UK nationals is ¥450. The office accepts only Chinese yuan.
  
====[[Tibet]]====
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===[[Tibet]]===
 
Any non-Chinese citizen must have a Tibet Travel Permit in order to enter Tibet. This permit is issued by the Tibet Tourism Bureau, and will be checked when boarding any bus, train or aircraft bound for the TAR. However, the only way to obtain a Tibet Travel Permit is to arrange a tour operated by a Tibet travel agent which at least includes hotels and transportation. Foreigners are also not permitted to travel by public buses across Tibet and are only allowed to travel by private transportation as organised in the tour. Moreover, if entering Tibet from Nepal, one must also have joined a group tour and be only allowed on a group visa. The Tibet Travel Permit has to be handed in to the tour guide upon arrival in the airport or train station, and to tour guide will keep the permit until the traveler leaves the TAR. The Tibet Travel Permit is also required by Taiwanese holding a Mainland Travel Permit for Taiwan Residents, but it is not required for Chinese citizens from Hong Kong or Macao holding a Mainland Travel Permit for Hong Kong and Macao residents.
 
Any non-Chinese citizen must have a Tibet Travel Permit in order to enter Tibet. This permit is issued by the Tibet Tourism Bureau, and will be checked when boarding any bus, train or aircraft bound for the TAR. However, the only way to obtain a Tibet Travel Permit is to arrange a tour operated by a Tibet travel agent which at least includes hotels and transportation. Foreigners are also not permitted to travel by public buses across Tibet and are only allowed to travel by private transportation as organised in the tour. Moreover, if entering Tibet from Nepal, one must also have joined a group tour and be only allowed on a group visa. The Tibet Travel Permit has to be handed in to the tour guide upon arrival in the airport or train station, and to tour guide will keep the permit until the traveler leaves the TAR. The Tibet Travel Permit is also required by Taiwanese holding a Mainland Travel Permit for Taiwan Residents, but it is not required for Chinese citizens from Hong Kong or Macao holding a Mainland Travel Permit for Hong Kong and Macao residents.
  
====Registering your abode====
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===Registering your abode===
 
If staying in a hotel, guest house or hostel, the staff will request to see, and often scan, your passport, visa, and entry stamps at check-in.
 
If staying in a hotel, guest house or hostel, the staff will request to see, and often scan, your passport, visa, and entry stamps at check-in.
  
Line 380: Line 380:
 
* The process lasts more than three hours and it is better to come with an interpreter. (In Shanghai this is not required of holders of residence permits of any kind, only for visa holders)
 
* The process lasts more than three hours and it is better to come with an interpreter. (In Shanghai this is not required of holders of residence permits of any kind, only for visa holders)
  
===By plane===
+
==By plane==
 
The main international gateways to mainland China are [[Beijing]], [[Shanghai]] and [[Guangzhou]]. Almost every sizable city will have an international airport, but options are usually limited to flights from [[Hong Kong]], neighbouring countries such as [[South Korea]] and [[Japan]], and sometimes [[Southeast Asia]].
 
The main international gateways to mainland China are [[Beijing]], [[Shanghai]] and [[Guangzhou]]. Almost every sizable city will have an international airport, but options are usually limited to flights from [[Hong Kong]], neighbouring countries such as [[South Korea]] and [[Japan]], and sometimes [[Southeast Asia]].
  
Line 412: Line 412:
 
* [[Southeast Asia]]: [[Singapore]] has arguably the best connections, with flights to all the major cities as well as some regional centers such as Xiamen, Kunming and Shenzhen. Besides Singapore, [[Kuala Lumpur]], [[Bangkok]] and [[Manila]] offer good connections. Tiger Airways [http://www.tigerairways.com], Jetstar [http://www.jetstar.com], Air Asia [http://www.airasia.com], and Cebu Pacific [http://www.cebupacificair.com] offer cheap flights from [[Southeast Asia]] (Bangkok, [[Chiang Mai]], Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and [[Manila]]) to various destinations in southern China, including Xiamen, [[Jinghong]], Guangzhou, [[Haikou]] and Macau.
 
* [[Southeast Asia]]: [[Singapore]] has arguably the best connections, with flights to all the major cities as well as some regional centers such as Xiamen, Kunming and Shenzhen. Besides Singapore, [[Kuala Lumpur]], [[Bangkok]] and [[Manila]] offer good connections. Tiger Airways [http://www.tigerairways.com], Jetstar [http://www.jetstar.com], Air Asia [http://www.airasia.com], and Cebu Pacific [http://www.cebupacificair.com] offer cheap flights from [[Southeast Asia]] (Bangkok, [[Chiang Mai]], Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and [[Manila]]) to various destinations in southern China, including Xiamen, [[Jinghong]], Guangzhou, [[Haikou]] and Macau.
  
* [[Europe]]: Most of the major European airlines, including Air France [http://www.airfrance.com/indexCOM.html], Turkish Airlines [http://www.turkishairlines.com], British Airways [http://www.britishairways.com/travel/globalgateway.jsp/global/public/en_], and Finnair [http://www.finnair.com/finnaircom/wps/portal/finnair/jump?locale=en_INT] have direct flights from their hubs to Hong Kong, Beijing and Shanghai; several fly to Guangzhou as well. A few have links to other Chinese cities. For example KLM [http://www.klm.com/travel/klm_splash/index.html]flies direct from [[Amsterdam]] to [[Chengdu]], [[Hangzhou]] and [[Xiamen]] and Lufthansa [http://www.lufthansa.com/online/portal/lh/de/homepage?l=en] flies a [[Frankfurt]] to [[Nanjing]] route.
+
* [[Europe]]: Most of the major European airlines, including Air France [http://www.airfrance.com/indexCOM.html], Turkish Airlines [http://www.turkishairlines.com], British Airways [http://www.britishairways.com/travel/globalgateway.jsp/global/public/en_], and Finnair [http://www.finnair.com/finnaircom/wps/portal/finnair/jump?locale=en_INT] have direct flights from their hubs to Hong Kong, Beijing and Shanghai; several fly to Guangzhou as well. A few have links to other Chinese cities. For example KLM [http://www.klm.com/travel/klm_splash/index.html]flies direct from [[Amsterdam]] to [[Chengdu]], [[Hangzhou]] and [[Xiamen]] and Lufthansa [http://www.lufthansa.com/online/portal/lh/de/homepage?l=en] flies a [[Frankfurt]] to [[Nanjing]] route.
  
 
* [[Taiwan]]: Regular direct flights between Taiwan and mainland China resumed in 2008, after a 59-year ban. There are now daily direct flights between Taipei and major cities in China.
 
* [[Taiwan]]: Regular direct flights between Taiwan and mainland China resumed in 2008, after a 59-year ban. There are now daily direct flights between Taipei and major cities in China.
  
===By train===
+
'''Flights between Europe and China'''
 +
 
 +
{| border="1" cellspacing="0" cellpadding="3" class="sortable"
 +
! Airline !! From !! To !! Flight time !! Departure Days !! Econ Seat P/W !! Notes
 +
|-
 +
| Finnair || Helsinki (HEL) || Beijing (PEK) || 7:50 || Daily || 32" / 18" ||
 +
|-
 +
| Finnair || Beijing (PEK) || Helsinki (HEL) || 8:30 || M-Sa || 32" / 18" ||
 +
|-
 +
| Finnair || Helsinki (HEL) || Chongqing (CKG) || 8:40 || M, W, F-Sa || 32" / 18" ||
 +
|-
 +
| Finnair || Chongqing (CKG) || Helsinki (HEL) || 9:25 || Tu, Th, Sa-Su || 32" / 18" ||
 +
|-
 +
| Finnair || Helsinki (HEL) || Shanghai (PVG) || 9:05 || Daily || 32" / 18" ||
 +
|-
 +
| Finnair || Shanghai (PVG) || Helsinki (HEL) || 10:15 || Daily || 32" / 18" ||
 +
|-
 +
| Hainan Airlines || Berlin (TXL) || Beijing (PEK) || 9:25 || W, F, Su || 32" / 19" ||
 +
|-
 +
| Hainan Airlines || Beijing (PEK) || Berlin (TXL) || 10:20 || W, Su || 32" / 19" ||
 +
|-
 +
| Hainan Airlines || Brussels (BRU) || Beijing (PEK) || 9:40 || Tu, Th, Sa-Su || 32" / 19" ||
 +
|-
 +
| Hainan Airlines || Beijing (PEK) || Brussels (BRU) || 10:35 || Tu, Th, Sa-Su || 32" / 19" ||
 +
|-
 +
| Hainan Airlines || Brussels (BRU) || Shanghai (PVG) || || || 32" / 19" ||
 +
|-
 +
| Hainan Airlines || Shanghai (PVG) || Brussels (BRU) || || || 32" / 19" ||
 +
|-
 +
| Hainan Airlines || Zürich (ZRH) || Beijing (PEK) || 10:00 || Tu, Th, Su || 32" / 19" ||
 +
|-
 +
| Hainan Airlines || Beijing (PEK) || Zürich (ZRH) || 10:45 || Tu, Th, Su || 32" / 19" ||
 +
|-
 +
| KLM || Amsterdam (AMS) || Chengdu (CTU) || 9:25 || || 31" / 17.5" ||
 +
|-
 +
| KLM || Chengdu (CTU) || Amsterdam (AMS) || 10:35 || || 31" / 17.5" ||
 +
|-
 +
| Lufthansa || Frankfurt (FRA) || Qingdao (TAO) || 13:10 || M, W, F || 32" / 17.5" || Stopover in Shenyang
 +
|-
 +
| Lufthansa || Qingdao (TAO) || Frankfurt (FRA) || 14:25 || Tu, Th, Sa || 32" / 17.5" || Stopover in Shenyang
 +
|-
 +
| Lufthansa || Frankfurt (FRA) || Shenyang (SHE) || 10:15 || M, W, F || 32" / 17.5" ||
 +
|-
 +
| Lufthansa || Shenyang (SHE) || Frankfurt (FRA) || 11:15 || W, F, Su || 32" / 17.5" ||
 +
|}
 +
 
 +
==By train==
  
 
China can be reached by train from some of its neighboring countries and even all the way from Europe.
 
China can be reached by train from some of its neighboring countries and even all the way from Europe.
Line 430: Line 476:
 
* '''North Korea''' - four weekly connections between the North Korean capital Pyongyang and Beijing.
 
* '''North Korea''' - four weekly connections between the North Korean capital Pyongyang and Beijing.
  
===By road===
+
==By road==
 
China has land borders with 14 countries; a number matched only by its northern neighbour, [[Russia]]. In addition, mainland China also has land borders with the Special Administrative Regions of [[Hong Kong]] and [[Macau]], which are for all practical purposes treated as international borders. Most of the border crossings in western China are located in remote mountain passes, which while difficult to reach and traverse, often reward travellers willing to make the effort with breathtaking, scenic views.
 
China has land borders with 14 countries; a number matched only by its northern neighbour, [[Russia]]. In addition, mainland China also has land borders with the Special Administrative Regions of [[Hong Kong]] and [[Macau]], which are for all practical purposes treated as international borders. Most of the border crossings in western China are located in remote mountain passes, which while difficult to reach and traverse, often reward travellers willing to make the effort with breathtaking, scenic views.
  
====India====
+
===India===
 
Relations between the two nations are frosty, but the Nathu La Pass between [[Sikkim]] in India and southern Tibet has recently reopened for cross-border trade. Currently the crossing is not open to tourists, and special permits are required to visit from either side.
 
Relations between the two nations are frosty, but the Nathu La Pass between [[Sikkim]] in India and southern Tibet has recently reopened for cross-border trade. Currently the crossing is not open to tourists, and special permits are required to visit from either side.
  
====Myanmar (Burma)====
+
===Myanmar (Burma)===
 
Entering China from Myanmar is possible at the [[Ruili]] (China)-[[Lashio]] (Myanmar) border crossing, but permits need to be obtained from the Burmese authorities in advance. Generally, this would require joining a guided tour.
 
Entering China from Myanmar is possible at the [[Ruili]] (China)-[[Lashio]] (Myanmar) border crossing, but permits need to be obtained from the Burmese authorities in advance. Generally, this would require joining a guided tour.
  
====Vietnam====
+
===Vietnam===
 
For most travelers Hanoi is the origin for any overland journey to China. There are currently three international crossings:
 
For most travelers Hanoi is the origin for any overland journey to China. There are currently three international crossings:
  
Line 458: Line 504:
 
At Dongxing, there is a bus to Nanning, a sleeper bus to Guangzhou and a sleeper bus to Shenzhen (12 hours).
 
At Dongxing, there is a bus to Nanning, a sleeper bus to Guangzhou and a sleeper bus to Shenzhen (12 hours).
  
====Laos====
+
===Laos===
 
From [[Luang Namtha]] a bus leaves at around 08:00 going to [[Boten]] (Chinese border) and [[Mengla]]. A Chinese visa must be obtained beforehand as there is no way to get one on arrival. The border is about one hour away. Customs procedures will take another hour. The trip costs about 45k Kip.
 
From [[Luang Namtha]] a bus leaves at around 08:00 going to [[Boten]] (Chinese border) and [[Mengla]]. A Chinese visa must be obtained beforehand as there is no way to get one on arrival. The border is about one hour away. Customs procedures will take another hour. The trip costs about 45k Kip.
  
 
Also, there is a direct Chinese sleeper-bus connection from [[Luang Prabang]] to Kunming (about 32 hours). This bus can be boarded at the border, when the minibus from [[Luang Namtha]] and the sleeper meet. Don't pay more than ¥200.
 
Also, there is a direct Chinese sleeper-bus connection from [[Luang Prabang]] to Kunming (about 32 hours). This bus can be boarded at the border, when the minibus from [[Luang Namtha]] and the sleeper meet. Don't pay more than ¥200.
  
====Pakistan====
+
===Pakistan===
 
The [[Karakoram Highway]] from northern [[Pakistan]] into western China is one of the most spectacular roads in the world. It's closed for tourists for a few months in winter. Crossing the border is relatively quick because of few overland travelers, and friendly relations between the two countries. A bus runs between Kashgar (China) and Sust (Pakistan) across the Khunjerab pass.
 
The [[Karakoram Highway]] from northern [[Pakistan]] into western China is one of the most spectacular roads in the world. It's closed for tourists for a few months in winter. Crossing the border is relatively quick because of few overland travelers, and friendly relations between the two countries. A bus runs between Kashgar (China) and Sust (Pakistan) across the Khunjerab pass.
  
====Nepal====
+
===Nepal===
 
The [[Nepal#Get in|road from Nepal]] to Tibet passes through amazing mountain scenery. Entering Tibet from Nepal is only possible for tourists on package tours, but it is possible to travel into Nepal from Tibet.
 
The [[Nepal#Get in|road from Nepal]] to Tibet passes through amazing mountain scenery. Entering Tibet from Nepal is only possible for tourists on package tours, but it is possible to travel into Nepal from Tibet.
  
====Mongolia====
+
===Mongolia===
 
There are two Mongolian border crossings, [[Erenhot]] ([[Inner Mongolia]])-[[Zamin Uud]] and [[Takashiken]] ([[Xinjiang]])-[[Bulgan]].
 
There are two Mongolian border crossings, [[Erenhot]] ([[Inner Mongolia]])-[[Zamin Uud]] and [[Takashiken]] ([[Xinjiang]])-[[Bulgan]].
  
 
From Zamiin Uud. Take a local train from Ulaanbaatar to Zamiin Uud. Then bus or jeep to Erlian in China. Local evening trains depart on most days and arrive in the morning. The border opens around 8:30. From Erlian there are buses and trains to elsewhere in China.
 
From Zamiin Uud. Take a local train from Ulaanbaatar to Zamiin Uud. Then bus or jeep to Erlian in China. Local evening trains depart on most days and arrive in the morning. The border opens around 8:30. From Erlian there are buses and trains to elsewhere in China.
  
====Kazakhstan====
+
===Kazakhstan===
  
 
[[Khorgos]] is the only border crossing. Buses run almost daily from Almaty to Urumqi and [[Yining]]. No visa-on-arrival is available, so ensure both your Chinese and Kazakh visas are in order before attempting this.
 
[[Khorgos]] is the only border crossing. Buses run almost daily from Almaty to Urumqi and [[Yining]]. No visa-on-arrival is available, so ensure both your Chinese and Kazakh visas are in order before attempting this.
  
====Kyrgyztan====
+
===Kyrgyztan===
  
 
It is possible to cross the [[Torugart pass]] to/from Kyrgyztan, but the road is rough and the pass is only open from June to September. It is possible to arrange crossings all the way from Kashgar, but ensure that visas are in order.
 
It is possible to cross the [[Torugart pass]] to/from Kyrgyztan, but the road is rough and the pass is only open from June to September. It is possible to arrange crossings all the way from Kashgar, but ensure that visas are in order.
Line 484: Line 530:
 
Alternatively, while less scenic, a smoother crossing is located at [[Irkeshtam]] to the south of Torugart. Public sleeper buses ply this 24-hour route between Kashgar and Osh a few times weekly.
 
Alternatively, while less scenic, a smoother crossing is located at [[Irkeshtam]] to the south of Torugart. Public sleeper buses ply this 24-hour route between Kashgar and Osh a few times weekly.
  
====Tajikistan====
+
===Tajikistan===
  
 
[[Kulma]] is the only border crossing and is open on weekdays from May-November. A bus operates across the border between [[Kashgar]] in Xinjiang and [[Khorog]] in Tajikistan. However, its use is currently limited to Chinese and Tajiks.
 
[[Kulma]] is the only border crossing and is open on weekdays from May-November. A bus operates across the border between [[Kashgar]] in Xinjiang and [[Khorog]] in Tajikistan. However, its use is currently limited to Chinese and Tajiks.
  
====Russia====
+
===Russia===
  
 
The most popular border crossing is at [[Manzhouli]] in [[Inner Mongolia]]. Buses run from Manzhouli to [[Zabaikalsk]] in Russia. There are also ferries across the Amur from [[Heihe]] to Blagoveshchensk, and Fuyuan to Khabarovsk. Farther east, there are land border crossings at [[Suifenhe]], Dongning and Hunchun. Ensure both your Russian and Chinese visas are in order before attempting.
 
The most popular border crossing is at [[Manzhouli]] in [[Inner Mongolia]]. Buses run from Manzhouli to [[Zabaikalsk]] in Russia. There are also ferries across the Amur from [[Heihe]] to Blagoveshchensk, and Fuyuan to Khabarovsk. Farther east, there are land border crossings at [[Suifenhe]], Dongning and Hunchun. Ensure both your Russian and Chinese visas are in order before attempting.
  
====North Korea====
+
===North Korea===
 
Crossing overland into North Korea is possible at the [[Dandong]]-[[Sinuiju]] border crossing, but must be pre-arranged as part of a guided tour from Beijing. In the reverse direction, the crossing is fairly straightforward if you have arranged it as part of your North Korean tour. Several other border crossings also exist along the Yalu and Tumen rivers, though these crossings may not be open to tourists. Tourists are currently able to use the Tumen-Namyang and Quanhe-Wonjong crossings across the Tumen River between China and North Korea. Ensure both your Chinese and North Korean visas are in order before attempting this.
 
Crossing overland into North Korea is possible at the [[Dandong]]-[[Sinuiju]] border crossing, but must be pre-arranged as part of a guided tour from Beijing. In the reverse direction, the crossing is fairly straightforward if you have arranged it as part of your North Korean tour. Several other border crossings also exist along the Yalu and Tumen rivers, though these crossings may not be open to tourists. Tourists are currently able to use the Tumen-Namyang and Quanhe-Wonjong crossings across the Tumen River between China and North Korea. Ensure both your Chinese and North Korean visas are in order before attempting this.
  
====Hong Kong====
+
===Hong Kong===
 
There are four road border crossings into the mainland from Hong Kong at '''Lok Ma Chau''', '''Sha Tau Kok''', '''Man Kam To''' and the '''Shenzhen Bay Bridge'''. A visa on arrival is available for some nationalities at Lok Ma Chau, but visas must be arranged in advance for all other crossings. Both sides on the above crossings offer good connections to many places.
 
There are four road border crossings into the mainland from Hong Kong at '''Lok Ma Chau''', '''Sha Tau Kok''', '''Man Kam To''' and the '''Shenzhen Bay Bridge'''. A visa on arrival is available for some nationalities at Lok Ma Chau, but visas must be arranged in advance for all other crossings. Both sides on the above crossings offer good connections to many places.
  
====Macau====
+
===Macau===
 
The two border crossings are at the '''Portas do Cerco''' and the '''Lotus Bridge'''. A visa-on-arrival can be obtained by certain nationalities at the Portas do Cerco.
 
The two border crossings are at the '''Portas do Cerco''' and the '''Lotus Bridge'''. A visa-on-arrival can be obtained by certain nationalities at the Portas do Cerco.
  
====Others====
+
===Others===
 
It is currently not feasible for travellers to cross the borders with [[Afghanistan]] and [[Bhutan]].
 
It is currently not feasible for travellers to cross the borders with [[Afghanistan]] and [[Bhutan]].
  
===By boat===
+
==By boat==
====Hong Kong and Macau====
+
===Hong Kong and Macau===
 
There is regular ferry and hovercraft service between Hong Kong and Macau and the rest of the Pearl River Delta, such as Guangzhou, Shenzhen and [[Zhuhai]]. Ferry service from Hong Kong International Airport allows arriving passengers to proceed directly to the mainland without having to clear Hong Kong immigration and customs.
 
There is regular ferry and hovercraft service between Hong Kong and Macau and the rest of the Pearl River Delta, such as Guangzhou, Shenzhen and [[Zhuhai]]. Ferry service from Hong Kong International Airport allows arriving passengers to proceed directly to the mainland without having to clear Hong Kong immigration and customs.
  
====Japan====
+
===Japan===
 
There is a two-day ferry service from Shanghai and Tianjin to [[Osaka]], Japan. Service is once or twice weekly, depending on season.
 
There is a two-day ferry service from Shanghai and Tianjin to [[Osaka]], Japan. Service is once or twice weekly, depending on season.
  
Line 518: Line 564:
 
There is a ferry service from Shanghai and Tianjin to [[Incheon]], a port city near [[Seoul]]. Other routes connect [[Qingdao]], [[Weihai]] and [[Dalian]] to Incheon.
 
There is a ferry service from Shanghai and Tianjin to [[Incheon]], a port city near [[Seoul]]. Other routes connect [[Qingdao]], [[Weihai]] and [[Dalian]] to Incheon.
  
====Taiwan====
+
===Taiwan===
 
Hourly ferries (18 departures per day) run between [[Kinmen]] and [[Xiamen]], with a journey time of either 30 minutes or an hour depending on the port. There are three daily ferries between Kinmen and [[Quanzhou]]. A twice-daily ferry links [[Matsu]] with [[Fuzhou]], with a journey time of two hours. From the Taiwanese main island, there are weekly departures from [[Taichung]] and [[Keelung]] aboard the Cosco Star to Xiamen.
 
Hourly ferries (18 departures per day) run between [[Kinmen]] and [[Xiamen]], with a journey time of either 30 minutes or an hour depending on the port. There are three daily ferries between Kinmen and [[Quanzhou]]. A twice-daily ferry links [[Matsu]] with [[Fuzhou]], with a journey time of two hours. From the Taiwanese main island, there are weekly departures from [[Taichung]] and [[Keelung]] aboard the Cosco Star to Xiamen.
  
====Thailand====
+
===Thailand===
 
Golden Peacock Shipping company operates a speedboat three times a week on the Mekong River between [[Jinghong]] in [[Yunnan]] and [[Chiang Saen]] (Thailand). Passengers are not required to have visas for Laos or Myanmar, although the greater part of the trip is on the river bordering these countries. The ticket costs 650 yuan.
 
Golden Peacock Shipping company operates a speedboat three times a week on the Mekong River between [[Jinghong]] in [[Yunnan]] and [[Chiang Saen]] (Thailand). Passengers are not required to have visas for Laos or Myanmar, although the greater part of the trip is on the river bordering these countries. The ticket costs 650 yuan.
  
Line 527: Line 573:
 
In the fall, several cruise lines move their ships from [[Alaska]] to [[Asia]] and good connections can generally be found leaving from [[Anchorage]], [[Vancouver]] or [[Seattle]]. Star Cruises operates between [[Keelung]] in Taiwan and Xiamen in mainland China, stopping at a Japanese island on the way.
 
In the fall, several cruise lines move their ships from [[Alaska]] to [[Asia]] and good connections can generally be found leaving from [[Anchorage]], [[Vancouver]] or [[Seattle]]. Star Cruises operates between [[Keelung]] in Taiwan and Xiamen in mainland China, stopping at a Japanese island on the way.
  
==Get around==
+
=Get around=
  
===By plane===
+
==By plane==
  
 
China is vast, so unless you enjoy spending a couple of days on the train or on the road getting from one place to another, consider domestic flights. Flights connect all the major cities and tourist destinations. Airlines include the three international carriers: Air China, China Southern and China Eastern, as well as regional ones including Hainan Airlines, Shenzhen Airlines, Sichuan Airlines and Shanghai Airlines. In recent years, it has been popular for large cities and provinces to open their own (dubiously funded) airline. These include Chongqing Airlines, Chengdu Airline and Hebei Airlines, amongst others. The parent company behind Hainan Airlines has spawned some 13 airlines in the region, including Grand China Air, Yangtse Express, Hong Kong Airlines and Deer Jet.
 
China is vast, so unless you enjoy spending a couple of days on the train or on the road getting from one place to another, consider domestic flights. Flights connect all the major cities and tourist destinations. Airlines include the three international carriers: Air China, China Southern and China Eastern, as well as regional ones including Hainan Airlines, Shenzhen Airlines, Sichuan Airlines and Shanghai Airlines. In recent years, it has been popular for large cities and provinces to open their own (dubiously funded) airline. These include Chongqing Airlines, Chengdu Airline and Hebei Airlines, amongst others. The parent company behind Hainan Airlines has spawned some 13 airlines in the region, including Grand China Air, Yangtse Express, Hong Kong Airlines and Deer Jet.
Line 543: Line 589:
 
As everywhere in the world, prices for food and drink at Chinese airports are high. Coffee that is ¥25 in a downtown shop is ¥78 at the same chain's airport branches. KFC seems to be the lone exception; their airport shops charge the same prices as other branches. Paying ¥20 or more for a KFC meal may or may not be worthwhile when there are ¥5 noodles across the street, but at the airports it is usually the best deal around.
 
As everywhere in the world, prices for food and drink at Chinese airports are high. Coffee that is ¥25 in a downtown shop is ¥78 at the same chain's airport branches. KFC seems to be the lone exception; their airport shops charge the same prices as other branches. Paying ¥20 or more for a KFC meal may or may not be worthwhile when there are ¥5 noodles across the street, but at the airports it is usually the best deal around.
  
===By train===
+
==By train==
  
 
[[Image:Shanghai_Maglev_Train.jpg|right|thumb|200px|Maglev train in [[Shanghai]]]]
 
[[Image:Shanghai_Maglev_Train.jpg|right|thumb|200px|Maglev train in [[Shanghai]]]]
Line 551: Line 597:
 
China is in the process of building a network of high-speed trains, similar to French TGV or Japanese Shinkansen bullet trains. These trains are already in service on several routes. They are called '''CRH''' and train numbers have a "G", "C" or "D" prefix. If your route and budget allow, these are the '''best way to get around'''. For more detail, see [[High-speed rail in China]].
 
China is in the process of building a network of high-speed trains, similar to French TGV or Japanese Shinkansen bullet trains. These trains are already in service on several routes. They are called '''CRH''' and train numbers have a "G", "C" or "D" prefix. If your route and budget allow, these are the '''best way to get around'''. For more detail, see [[High-speed rail in China]].
  
====Train types====
+
=== Train types ===
  
 
Chinese train categories are designated by letters and numbers indicated on the ticket. The hierarchy of Chinese trains from fastest to slowest is as follows:
 
Chinese train categories are designated by letters and numbers indicated on the ticket. The hierarchy of Chinese trains from fastest to slowest is as follows:
Line 568: Line 614:
 
* '''S-series''' (市郊 ''shìjiāo'') - currently only on the Beijing Suburban Railway between Beijing North and Yanqing County via Badaling (Great Wall).
 
* '''S-series''' (市郊 ''shìjiāo'') - currently only on the Beijing Suburban Railway between Beijing North and Yanqing County via Badaling (Great Wall).
  
====Classes====
+
=== Classes ===
 
On the regular non-CRH trains there are five classes of travel:
 
On the regular non-CRH trains there are five classes of travel:
  
Line 588: Line 634:
 
The CRH trains usually have five classes - '''second class''' (3+2 seat layout), '''first class''' (2+2 layout) and three '''VIP class'''es (2+1 layout just behind the driver's cabin). The three VIP classes are named "商务座" (business class), "观光座" (sightseeing class) and "特等座" (deluxe class). Unlike on airliners, 商务座 (business class) is in fact better than "一等座" (first class) on CRH trains. 商务座 (business class) and 观光座 (sightseeing class) are priced the same, while 特等座 (deluxe class) is usually more expensive than "一等座" (first class), but cheaper than 商务座 and 观光座. The second class is equivalent to economy class on airplanes but offers more comfortable seats and much legroom. On the other hand, the premium classes cost only a little more and offer luxurious rides.
 
The CRH trains usually have five classes - '''second class''' (3+2 seat layout), '''first class''' (2+2 layout) and three '''VIP class'''es (2+1 layout just behind the driver's cabin). The three VIP classes are named "商务座" (business class), "观光座" (sightseeing class) and "特等座" (deluxe class). Unlike on airliners, 商务座 (business class) is in fact better than "一等座" (first class) on CRH trains. 商务座 (business class) and 观光座 (sightseeing class) are priced the same, while 特等座 (deluxe class) is usually more expensive than "一等座" (first class), but cheaper than 商务座 and 观光座. The second class is equivalent to economy class on airplanes but offers more comfortable seats and much legroom. On the other hand, the premium classes cost only a little more and offer luxurious rides.
  
====Train tickets====
+
=== Train tickets ===
 
[[Image:Chinese_train_ticket.jpg|220px|thumb|Chinese train ticket with fields description]]
 
[[Image:Chinese_train_ticket.jpg|220px|thumb|Chinese train ticket with fields description]]
  
Line 599: Line 645:
 
During busy seasons (Chinese New Year, for example) tickets sell out rapidly at train stations. It may be better to get tickets in advance through an agent. In major cities there are also agents who sell tickets in the normal time frame with a nominal markup. The convenience of avoiding a trip to the train station and waiting in the queue is well worth the small increase in cost. Travel agencies will accept money and bookings for tickets in advance but the ticket is not guaranteed until the station releases them onto the market, at which point the agency will buy the ticket that had previously been "guaranteed". This is true anywhere in China.
 
During busy seasons (Chinese New Year, for example) tickets sell out rapidly at train stations. It may be better to get tickets in advance through an agent. In major cities there are also agents who sell tickets in the normal time frame with a nominal markup. The convenience of avoiding a trip to the train station and waiting in the queue is well worth the small increase in cost. Travel agencies will accept money and bookings for tickets in advance but the ticket is not guaranteed until the station releases them onto the market, at which point the agency will buy the ticket that had previously been "guaranteed". This is true anywhere in China.
  
====Travel tips====
+
=== Travel tips ===
 
The toilets on trains tend to be cleaner than on buses or in most public areas because they are simple devices that empty the contents directly onto the ground near the tracks and thus don't smell as bad. Soft-sleeper cars usually have European throne-style toilets at one end of the car and Chinese squat toilets at the other. Before a non-CRH train stops at the station, the conductor will normally lock the bathrooms so that people will not leave deposits on the ground at the station. CRH (G, C, D) trains are newly built and are equipped with modern vacuum toilets, therefore don't have the problem.
 
The toilets on trains tend to be cleaner than on buses or in most public areas because they are simple devices that empty the contents directly onto the ground near the tracks and thus don't smell as bad. Soft-sleeper cars usually have European throne-style toilets at one end of the car and Chinese squat toilets at the other. Before a non-CRH train stops at the station, the conductor will normally lock the bathrooms so that people will not leave deposits on the ground at the station. CRH (G, C, D) trains are newly built and are equipped with modern vacuum toilets, therefore don't have the problem.
  
 
Long-distance trains have buffet or dining cars, which serve hot, overpriced (at ¥25 or so), mediocre food. The menu will be entirely in Chinese, but by interpreting some of the Chinese characters or asking for common dishes by name, one can eat well. When the train stops at a station, there are normally vendors on the platform selling cheap noodles, snacks and fruit. Trains generally have boiled water available so bring tea, soup and instant noodles for instant food.
 
Long-distance trains have buffet or dining cars, which serve hot, overpriced (at ¥25 or so), mediocre food. The menu will be entirely in Chinese, but by interpreting some of the Chinese characters or asking for common dishes by name, one can eat well. When the train stops at a station, there are normally vendors on the platform selling cheap noodles, snacks and fruit. Trains generally have boiled water available so bring tea, soup and instant noodles for instant food.
  
Guard valuables while on the train; property theft on public transportation has increased in recent years.
+
Guard valuables while on the train; property theft on public transportation has gone up in recent years.
  
 
On most higher-level trains (T, K, Z and CRH trains) pre-recorded announcements are made in Chinese, English and occasionally Cantonese (if the train serves Guangdong province or Hong Kong), Mongolian (in Inner Mongolia), Tibetan (in Tibet) or Uighur (in Xinjiang). On local trains there are no English announcements, so knowing when to get off is harder.
 
On most higher-level trains (T, K, Z and CRH trains) pre-recorded announcements are made in Chinese, English and occasionally Cantonese (if the train serves Guangdong province or Hong Kong), Mongolian (in Inner Mongolia), Tibetan (in Tibet) or Uighur (in Xinjiang). On local trains there are no English announcements, so knowing when to get off is harder.
Line 616: Line 662:
 
Smoking is forbidden in seating and sleeping areas, but is allowed in the vestibules at the end of each car. On the new CRH trains, the Guangzhou-Kowloon shuttle train and the Beijing Suburban Railway, smoking is completely forbidden. Smoking is banned inside station buildings apart from in designated smoking rooms, although these places are often unpleasant and poorly ventilated.
 
Smoking is forbidden in seating and sleeping areas, but is allowed in the vestibules at the end of each car. On the new CRH trains, the Guangzhou-Kowloon shuttle train and the Beijing Suburban Railway, smoking is completely forbidden. Smoking is banned inside station buildings apart from in designated smoking rooms, although these places are often unpleasant and poorly ventilated.
  
====Useful websites====
+
=== Useful websites===
 
*CTrains [http://www.ctrains.com] is the first China train-ticket online booking website for English users. Travelers can book China train tickets online in real-time for 24/7. It does not charge booking fees.
 
*CTrains [http://www.ctrains.com] is the first China train-ticket online booking website for English users. Travelers can book China train tickets online in real-time for 24/7. It does not charge booking fees.
 
*The Man in Seat 61 [http://www.seat61.com/China.htm] has a good section on Chinese trains, and China Tibet Trains [http://www.chinatibettrain.com/] operates the trains to Lhasa from Beijing, Chengdu, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Chongqing.
 
*The Man in Seat 61 [http://www.seat61.com/China.htm] has a good section on Chinese trains, and China Tibet Trains [http://www.chinatibettrain.com/] operates the trains to Lhasa from Beijing, Chengdu, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Chongqing.
Line 623: Line 669:
 
*[http://www.shanghai-taxi.com/ Shanghai Eastern Taxi] is an expert in providing taxi/car services within major Chinese cities and also between cities for foreign travelers.
 
*[http://www.shanghai-taxi.com/ Shanghai Eastern Taxi] is an expert in providing taxi/car services within major Chinese cities and also between cities for foreign travelers.
  
===By bus===
+
== By bus ==
 
[[Image:Shanghai Guanguang Bashi.jpeg|thumb|220px|A sightseeing bus in Shanghai]]
 
[[Image:Shanghai Guanguang Bashi.jpeg|thumb|220px|A sightseeing bus in Shanghai]]
 
Travelling by public '''city buses''' (公共汽车 ''gōnggòngqìchē'') or long-distance buses (长途汽车 ''chángtúqìchē'') is inexpensive and ideal for in-city and short-distance transportation.
 
Travelling by public '''city buses''' (公共汽车 ''gōnggòngqìchē'') or long-distance buses (长途汽车 ''chángtúqìchē'') is inexpensive and ideal for in-city and short-distance transportation.
Line 645: Line 691:
 
Independent Travel Network is an alternative that was created by a western company. Dragon Bus China now operates an integrated nationwide transport and accommodation network. The network is a “Jump On & Off” style of travel, allowing stays in cities that they travel through and the future buses for onward travel from there. This alternative reduces the hassle of traveling by public buses and increases safety.
 
Independent Travel Network is an alternative that was created by a western company. Dragon Bus China now operates an integrated nationwide transport and accommodation network. The network is a “Jump On & Off” style of travel, allowing stays in cities that they travel through and the future buses for onward travel from there. This alternative reduces the hassle of traveling by public buses and increases safety.
  
===By subway===
+
==By subway==
 
Cities such as Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Wuhan, Shenyang, Xian, Chengdu and Nanjing have subway (地铁 ''dìtiě'') systems. Chongqing has monorail systems. Xiamen has a system of bus-only roads for bus rapid transit, mostly elevated. Generally these are modern, clean, cheap and efficient, and virtually all station signs, train signs, and ticket machines are bilingual in both English and Chinese. On both station platforms and in trains there is usually bilingual signage listing all stations on that particular line. Also, bi-lingual staff members are usually present near the ticket machine or on the platform. Therefore, the subway might be the easiest way to travel through the city for a non-Chinese speaker.
 
Cities such as Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Wuhan, Shenyang, Xian, Chengdu and Nanjing have subway (地铁 ''dìtiě'') systems. Chongqing has monorail systems. Xiamen has a system of bus-only roads for bus rapid transit, mostly elevated. Generally these are modern, clean, cheap and efficient, and virtually all station signs, train signs, and ticket machines are bilingual in both English and Chinese. On both station platforms and in trains there is usually bilingual signage listing all stations on that particular line. Also, bi-lingual staff members are usually present near the ticket machine or on the platform. Therefore, the subway might be the easiest way to travel through the city for a non-Chinese speaker.
  
Line 656: Line 702:
 
Most of these systems are being expanded, with multiple subway lines per city planned. By 2020 or so China seems likely to have some of the world's most extensive urban transport infrastructure. Subway systems which link into regional rail systems such as between Guangzhou and Shenzhen are planned elsewhere.
 
Most of these systems are being expanded, with multiple subway lines per city planned. By 2020 or so China seems likely to have some of the world's most extensive urban transport infrastructure. Subway systems which link into regional rail systems such as between Guangzhou and Shenzhen are planned elsewhere.
  
===By taxi===
+
== By taxi ==
  
 
Taxis (出租车 ''chūzūchē'' or 的士 ''dishì'', pronounced "deg-see" in Cantonese-speaking areas) are generally common, and reasonably priced. Flagfalls range from ¥5 in some cities to ¥14 in others, with a per kilometer charge around ¥2. In most situations, an ordinary trip within the city costs between ¥10 and ¥50 There is no extra charge for luggage, night fares are higher. Tips are not expected.
 
Taxis (出租车 ''chūzūchē'' or 的士 ''dishì'', pronounced "deg-see" in Cantonese-speaking areas) are generally common, and reasonably priced. Flagfalls range from ¥5 in some cities to ¥14 in others, with a per kilometer charge around ¥2. In most situations, an ordinary trip within the city costs between ¥10 and ¥50 There is no extra charge for luggage, night fares are higher. Tips are not expected.
Line 676: Line 722:
 
Seat belts should always be worn at all times, even if the driver states otherwise.
 
Seat belts should always be worn at all times, even if the driver states otherwise.
  
===By tram (trolley)===
+
==By tram (trolley)==
  
 
Above ground, Dalian or Changchun offer trams. These stop more frequently than light-rail. Single-cart trolleys may also be in use. Both modes are susceptible to traffic jams.
 
Above ground, Dalian or Changchun offer trams. These stop more frequently than light-rail. Single-cart trolleys may also be in use. Both modes are susceptible to traffic jams.
  
===By bicycle===
+
== By bicycle ==
  
 
Bicycles (zìxíngchē, 自行车), along with electric bikes and motorcycles, are the most common form of transportation in China; at rush hour there will be thousands of them. Many are traditional heavy single-speed roadsters, but basic multi-geared mountain bikes are also common. For travelers, bicycles are cheap, convenient and better than being squeezed into a public bus.  
 
Bicycles (zìxíngchē, 自行车), along with electric bikes and motorcycles, are the most common form of transportation in China; at rush hour there will be thousands of them. Many are traditional heavy single-speed roadsters, but basic multi-geared mountain bikes are also common. For travelers, bicycles are cheap, convenient and better than being squeezed into a public bus.  
Line 698: Line 744:
 
See [[Karakoram Highway]] for one spectacular but difficult route. Companies such as Bike China and Intrepid Travel organize such tours for small groups.
 
See [[Karakoram Highway]] for one spectacular but difficult route. Companies such as Bike China and Intrepid Travel organize such tours for small groups.
  
===By car===
+
== By car ==
  
 
''See also:'' [[Driving in China]]
 
''See also:'' [[Driving in China]]
Line 714: Line 760:
 
Pedestrians should ALWAYS look both ways before crossing any street. Not only do bicycles go in the wrong direction, so do increasingly popular electric motorbikes -- and they are silent.
 
Pedestrians should ALWAYS look both ways before crossing any street. Not only do bicycles go in the wrong direction, so do increasingly popular electric motorbikes -- and they are silent.
  
===By motorcycle===
+
== By motorcycle ==
  
 
''See also:'' [[Driving in China#Motorcycles]]
 
''See also:'' [[Driving in China#Motorcycles]]
Line 724: Line 770:
 
Most cities will have a motorcycle market selling cheap motorcycles, often with fake or illegal license plates - although a foreigner on a motorbike is a rare sight and will grab the police's attention. Helmets are essential on 'proper' bikes but optional on scooters. License plates are mandatory - they are yellow or blue on a motorcycle or green on a scooter and can cost several thousand RMB to register the bike, although fake plates are easily available at a lower price, but risky.
 
Most cities will have a motorcycle market selling cheap motorcycles, often with fake or illegal license plates - although a foreigner on a motorbike is a rare sight and will grab the police's attention. Helmets are essential on 'proper' bikes but optional on scooters. License plates are mandatory - they are yellow or blue on a motorcycle or green on a scooter and can cost several thousand RMB to register the bike, although fake plates are easily available at a lower price, but risky.
  
===By pedicab (rickshaw)===
+
== By pedicab (rickshaw) ==
  
 
{{infobox|What's in a name?|The terms pedicab and rickshaw are often used interchangeably by foreigners in China, but refer to two different modes of transportation - one of which no longer exists. The (in)famous rickshaw was a two-wheeled contraption with two poles at the front, which the operator held while walking or running passengers to their destinations. These proliferated in the late 19th century but were phased out by the 1950s. Videos of Western élites playing polo on rickshaws propelled by Chinese workers showcased the exploitative nature of rickshaws. A distant relative of the rickshaw can still be seen when day-laborers in smaller or less developed cities gather with their rickshaw-like carts each morning waiting for work delivering construction materials, coal, or other odds and ends. The rickshaw has been replaced by the pedicab - a three-wheeled conveyance ridden much like a bicycle.}}
 
{{infobox|What's in a name?|The terms pedicab and rickshaw are often used interchangeably by foreigners in China, but refer to two different modes of transportation - one of which no longer exists. The (in)famous rickshaw was a two-wheeled contraption with two poles at the front, which the operator held while walking or running passengers to their destinations. These proliferated in the late 19th century but were phased out by the 1950s. Videos of Western élites playing polo on rickshaws propelled by Chinese workers showcased the exploitative nature of rickshaws. A distant relative of the rickshaw can still be seen when day-laborers in smaller or less developed cities gather with their rickshaw-like carts each morning waiting for work delivering construction materials, coal, or other odds and ends. The rickshaw has been replaced by the pedicab - a three-wheeled conveyance ridden much like a bicycle.}}
Line 736: Line 782:
 
Where possible, choose pedicabs over motorized transport to help the poor stay in business and preserve a Chinese tradition. Electrified three-wheeled sanluns developed or converted from the pedicabs seem to be in the majority in Shanghai.
 
Where possible, choose pedicabs over motorized transport to help the poor stay in business and preserve a Chinese tradition. Electrified three-wheeled sanluns developed or converted from the pedicabs seem to be in the majority in Shanghai.
  
==Talk==
+
=Talk=
  
 
[[Image:Sinitic Languages0.gif|thumb|240px|Map of Chinese dialects]]
 
[[Image:Sinitic Languages0.gif|thumb|240px|Map of Chinese dialects]]
Line 752: Line 798:
 
''See also'': [[Chinese phrasebook]], [[Cantonese phrasebook]], [[Minnan phrasebook]]
 
''See also'': [[Chinese phrasebook]], [[Cantonese phrasebook]], [[Minnan phrasebook]]
  
===English and other foreign language speakers===
+
==English and other foreign language speakers==
  
 
Chinese students learn English as a compulsory subject starting from late elementary or middle school. Passing an English exam is a requirement to earn a four-year university degree, regardless of major. However, the focus of the instruction at all levels is formal grammar and, to a lesser degree, writing rather than speaking or listening. As a result, most young people in the country can read some English, but might not be able to have a conversation in the language.
 
Chinese students learn English as a compulsory subject starting from late elementary or middle school. Passing an English exam is a requirement to earn a four-year university degree, regardless of major. However, the focus of the instruction at all levels is formal grammar and, to a lesser degree, writing rather than speaking or listening. As a result, most young people in the country can read some English, but might not be able to have a conversation in the language.
Line 766: Line 812:
 
Have all places you want to visit written down in Chinese characters, also bunch frequent words like "hotel", "taxi" or "airport". To explain your needs to locals, have Baidu Fanyi (zh-cn: 百度翻译) app installed. It will translate English and some other languages from and to Chinese. Look for 英语 (English) and click on and set your destination language to 中文 (Chinese).
 
Have all places you want to visit written down in Chinese characters, also bunch frequent words like "hotel", "taxi" or "airport". To explain your needs to locals, have Baidu Fanyi (zh-cn: 百度翻译) app installed. It will translate English and some other languages from and to Chinese. Look for 英语 (English) and click on and set your destination language to 中文 (Chinese).
  
===Learning Chinese===
+
==Learning Chinese==
  
 
''See also:'' [[#Learn|Learn]]
 
''See also:'' [[#Learn|Learn]]
Line 780: Line 826:
 
To bridge the gap between recognizing and reading out loud, pinyin was developed, which uses the Roman alphabet as an aid to teaching Chinese. Pronouncing pinyin is not intuitive as certain letters and consonant clusters are used to represent sounds not present in European languages and are thus not pronounced as a westerner would expect. Chinese will not recognize place names or addresses in pinyin; it is always better to use characters for written information.
 
To bridge the gap between recognizing and reading out loud, pinyin was developed, which uses the Roman alphabet as an aid to teaching Chinese. Pronouncing pinyin is not intuitive as certain letters and consonant clusters are used to represent sounds not present in European languages and are thus not pronounced as a westerner would expect. Chinese will not recognize place names or addresses in pinyin; it is always better to use characters for written information.
  
===Translators and Interpreters===
+
==Translators and Interpreters==
 
Foreign travelers in China will benefit from having a translator or interpreter supporting them for either leisure or business activities. Taxi drivers do not speak English, and most business meetings with either domestic Chinese companies or government agencies will likely be more successful if an interpreter is present. Prices and quality vary substantially, but some Western-managed organizations and marketplaces exist that specialize in translation and interpretation:
 
Foreign travelers in China will benefit from having a translator or interpreter supporting them for either leisure or business activities. Taxi drivers do not speak English, and most business meetings with either domestic Chinese companies or government agencies will likely be more successful if an interpreter is present. Prices and quality vary substantially, but some Western-managed organizations and marketplaces exist that specialize in translation and interpretation:
  
Line 786: Line 832:
 
<listing name="Tripper" url="http://www.trip-per.com"></listing> Pricing is by the minute or daily / weekly, accessed via smartphone app. Specializes in interpretation on-demand via telephone.
 
<listing name="Tripper" url="http://www.trip-per.com"></listing> Pricing is by the minute or daily / weekly, accessed via smartphone app. Specializes in interpretation on-demand via telephone.
  
==See==
+
=See=
 
China's attractions are endless. Especially near the coast, if you run out of things to see in one city, the next is usually a short train ride away. History buffs, nature lovers and beach-goers are all catered to in China, where attractions range from the majestic Forbidden City in [[Beijing]] to the breathtaking scenery of [[Jiuzhaigou]]. Because of its sheer size and long history, China has the third-largest number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, after Italy and Spain.
 
China's attractions are endless. Especially near the coast, if you run out of things to see in one city, the next is usually a short train ride away. History buffs, nature lovers and beach-goers are all catered to in China, where attractions range from the majestic Forbidden City in [[Beijing]] to the breathtaking scenery of [[Jiuzhaigou]]. Because of its sheer size and long history, China has the third-largest number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, after Italy and Spain.
  
 
[[Image:Diecaishan.jpg|thumb|240px|Karst formations, Guilin]]
 
[[Image:Diecaishan.jpg|thumb|240px|Karst formations, Guilin]]
  
===Karst Scenery===
+
==Karst Scenery==
  
 
The gumdrop mountains and steeply sloping forested hills with bizarre rock formations favored by traditional Chinese artists are not creative fantasy. In fact, much of southern and southwestern China is covered in strangely eroded rock formations known as '''Karst'''. Karst is a type of limestone formation named after an area in [[Slovenia]]. As limestone layers erode, the denser rock or pockets of different stone resist erosion forming peaks. Caves hollow out beneath the mountains which can collapse forming sinkholes and channels leading to underground rivers. At its most unusual Karst erodes to form mazes of pinnacles, arches and passageways. The most famous example can be found in the Stone Forest (石林 ''Shílín'') near Kunming in Yunnan. Some of the most famous tourist areas in China feature spectacular karst landscapes &mdash; [[Guilin]] and [[Yangshuo]] in [[Guangxi]], and much of central and western Guizhou province.
 
The gumdrop mountains and steeply sloping forested hills with bizarre rock formations favored by traditional Chinese artists are not creative fantasy. In fact, much of southern and southwestern China is covered in strangely eroded rock formations known as '''Karst'''. Karst is a type of limestone formation named after an area in [[Slovenia]]. As limestone layers erode, the denser rock or pockets of different stone resist erosion forming peaks. Caves hollow out beneath the mountains which can collapse forming sinkholes and channels leading to underground rivers. At its most unusual Karst erodes to form mazes of pinnacles, arches and passageways. The most famous example can be found in the Stone Forest (石林 ''Shílín'') near Kunming in Yunnan. Some of the most famous tourist areas in China feature spectacular karst landscapes &mdash; [[Guilin]] and [[Yangshuo]] in [[Guangxi]], and much of central and western Guizhou province.
  
===Sacred sites===
+
==Sacred sites==
  
 
For sacred mountains, see the next section.
 
For sacred mountains, see the next section.
Line 806: Line 852:
 
* [[Longmen National Park|Longmen Grottoes]] - 5-10th century
 
* [[Longmen National Park|Longmen Grottoes]] - 5-10th century
  
===Mountains===
+
==Mountains==
  
 
China is home to many sacred mountains.
 
China is home to many sacred mountains.
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* [[Changbaishan National Nature Reserve|Changbaishan/Paektusan]] (Chinese:长白山 Korean:백두산), the most sacred mountain in the world to both ethnic Manchus and Koreans, located on the border with North Korea
 
* [[Changbaishan National Nature Reserve|Changbaishan/Paektusan]] (Chinese:长白山 Korean:백두산), the most sacred mountain in the world to both ethnic Manchus and Koreans, located on the border with North Korea
  
===Revolutionary Pilgrimage Sites===
+
==Revolutionary Pilgrimage Sites==
  
 
* [[Shaoshan]] (韶山) - First CCP Chairman and Chinese leader Mao Zedong's hometown
 
* [[Shaoshan]] (韶山) - First CCP Chairman and Chinese leader Mao Zedong's hometown
Line 849: Line 895:
 
* [[Guangzhou]] - Site of the Whampoa Military Academy where both KMT and Communist leaders (Chiang Kai Shek, Zhou Enlai, Mao Zedong) trained and led troops and political study groups before the Northern Expedition of 1926-27.
 
* [[Guangzhou]] - Site of the Whampoa Military Academy where both KMT and Communist leaders (Chiang Kai Shek, Zhou Enlai, Mao Zedong) trained and led troops and political study groups before the Northern Expedition of 1926-27.
  
===Itineraries===
+
==Itineraries==
  
 
Some itineraries cover trips that are entirely within China:
 
Some itineraries cover trips that are entirely within China:
Line 867: Line 913:
 
* [[Overland Kunming to Hong Kong]]
 
* [[Overland Kunming to Hong Kong]]
  
==Do==
+
=Do=
  
===Massage===
+
==Massage==
 
High-quality, reasonably priced massages are easily found. Traditionally, massage is a trade for the blind in Asia. Expert work costs ¥15 to ¥30 an hour.
 
High-quality, reasonably priced massages are easily found. Traditionally, massage is a trade for the blind in Asia. Expert work costs ¥15 to ¥30 an hour.
  
Line 890: Line 936:
 
A masseur or masseuse might ask "does this hurt": ''tòng bú tòng?'' or ''tòng ma?''. Answer ''tòng'' or ''bú tòng''.
 
A masseur or masseuse might ask "does this hurt": ''tòng bú tòng?'' or ''tòng ma?''. Answer ''tòng'' or ''bú tòng''.
  
===Traditional arts===
+
== Traditional arts ==
  
 
If planning a long stay in China, consider learning some of the traditional arts. Traveling to China is a unique chance to learn the basics, or refine already acquired skills, directly from master practitioners in the arts' home country. Many cities have academies that accept beginners, and not knowing Chinese is usually not a problem as learning is by example and imitation. Calligraphy (书法 ''shūfǎ''), a term that covers both writing characters and painting scrolls (that is, classical landscapes and the like) remains a national hobby. Many calligraphers practice by writing with water on sidewalks in city parks. Classes are offered for learning to play traditional Chinese instruments (inquire in shops that sell these as many offer classes), to cook Chinese cuisine, or even to sing Beijing Opera (京剧 ''jīngjù''). Fees are usually modest, and the necessary materials will not exactly break the bank. The classes require being in the same place for a long enough time, and showing sufficient respect; it is better not to join these classes as a tourist attraction.
 
If planning a long stay in China, consider learning some of the traditional arts. Traveling to China is a unique chance to learn the basics, or refine already acquired skills, directly from master practitioners in the arts' home country. Many cities have academies that accept beginners, and not knowing Chinese is usually not a problem as learning is by example and imitation. Calligraphy (书法 ''shūfǎ''), a term that covers both writing characters and painting scrolls (that is, classical landscapes and the like) remains a national hobby. Many calligraphers practice by writing with water on sidewalks in city parks. Classes are offered for learning to play traditional Chinese instruments (inquire in shops that sell these as many offer classes), to cook Chinese cuisine, or even to sing Beijing Opera (京剧 ''jīngjù''). Fees are usually modest, and the necessary materials will not exactly break the bank. The classes require being in the same place for a long enough time, and showing sufficient respect; it is better not to join these classes as a tourist attraction.
  
===Martial Arts and Taichi===
+
==Martial Arts and Taichi==
  
 
Those with the time and inclination may study China's famed martial arts. Some, such as tai chi (太极拳 ''tàijíquán'') can be studied by simply visiting any city park in the early morning and following along (there will be eager, potential teachers, too). Other martial arts require in-depth study. Famous martial arts programs include those at the Shaolin Temple on [[Songshan National Park|Mount Song]] and Wu Wei Temple near [[Dali]].
 
Those with the time and inclination may study China's famed martial arts. Some, such as tai chi (太极拳 ''tàijíquán'') can be studied by simply visiting any city park in the early morning and following along (there will be eager, potential teachers, too). Other martial arts require in-depth study. Famous martial arts programs include those at the Shaolin Temple on [[Songshan National Park|Mount Song]] and Wu Wei Temple near [[Dali]].
  
===Traditional pastimes===
+
==Traditional pastimes==
  
 
China has several traditional games often played in tea gardens, public parks, or even on the street. Players often attract crowds of on-lookers. Two famous strategy-based board games that originated in China are Go (围棋 ''wéiqí'') and Chinese chess (象棋 ''xiàngqí''). Mahjong (麻将 ''májiàng''), a game played with tiles, is popular and often (well-nigh always) played for money, although its regional variations require learning new rules when visiting different areas. Among the most well known variants of this game are the Cantonese, Taiwanese and Japanese versions. Chinese checkers (跳棋 ''tiǎoqí'' ), despite its name, did not originate in China but can be found. Many Chinese are skilled card (扑克牌 ''pūkèpái'') players; Deng Xiaoping's love for bridge (桥牌 qiáopái) was particularly renowned.
 
China has several traditional games often played in tea gardens, public parks, or even on the street. Players often attract crowds of on-lookers. Two famous strategy-based board games that originated in China are Go (围棋 ''wéiqí'') and Chinese chess (象棋 ''xiàngqí''). Mahjong (麻将 ''májiàng''), a game played with tiles, is popular and often (well-nigh always) played for money, although its regional variations require learning new rules when visiting different areas. Among the most well known variants of this game are the Cantonese, Taiwanese and Japanese versions. Chinese checkers (跳棋 ''tiǎoqí'' ), despite its name, did not originate in China but can be found. Many Chinese are skilled card (扑克牌 ''pūkèpái'') players; Deng Xiaoping's love for bridge (桥牌 qiáopái) was particularly renowned.
  
===Volunteering===
+
==Volunteering==
  
 
China offers varied opportunities for volunteering and giving back, such as wildlife conservation with Panda bears, English, sports education and community aid. There are many ways to get in contact with the desired volunteer project, one of which is a comparison platform. On <listing name="Volunteer World" alt="" directions="" lat="" long="" address="a social startup from Germany" phone="" tollfree="" email="" fax="" url="https://www.volunteerworld.com/volunteer-in-china" hours="" price="">, all volunteering options in China are listed.</listing>
 
China offers varied opportunities for volunteering and giving back, such as wildlife conservation with Panda bears, English, sports education and community aid. There are many ways to get in contact with the desired volunteer project, one of which is a comparison platform. On <listing name="Volunteer World" alt="" directions="" lat="" long="" address="a social startup from Germany" phone="" tollfree="" email="" fax="" url="https://www.volunteerworld.com/volunteer-in-china" hours="" price="">, all volunteering options in China are listed.</listing>
  
==Buy==
+
=Buy=
 
The official currency of the People's Republic of China is the ''renminbi'' (&#20154;&#27665;&#24065; "People's Money"), often abbreviated as RMB. The base unit of this currency is the '''yuan''' (&#20803;), international currency code '''CNY'''. All prices in China are given in yuan, usually either as ¥ or &#20803;. The RMB is ''not'' legal tender in the Special Administrative Regions of [[Hong Kong]] and [[Macau]], both of which issue their own currencies although occasionally it will be accepted on an unfavourable (for those using yuan) one-to-one basis with Hong Kong Dollars.
 
The official currency of the People's Republic of China is the ''renminbi'' (&#20154;&#27665;&#24065; "People's Money"), often abbreviated as RMB. The base unit of this currency is the '''yuan''' (&#20803;), international currency code '''CNY'''. All prices in China are given in yuan, usually either as ¥ or &#20803;. The RMB is ''not'' legal tender in the Special Administrative Regions of [[Hong Kong]] and [[Macau]], both of which issue their own currencies although occasionally it will be accepted on an unfavourable (for those using yuan) one-to-one basis with Hong Kong Dollars.
  
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Much Chinese currency will be in the form of bills &mdash; even small change. Bills are more common in some areas, coins in others, but both are accepted anywhere. Even the jiao, at just one-tenth of a yuan, exists as both a bill (the smallest) and two different coins. Conversely, one yuan exists both as a coin and as two different bills. You should be prepared to recognize and handle either version.
 
Much Chinese currency will be in the form of bills &mdash; even small change. Bills are more common in some areas, coins in others, but both are accepted anywhere. Even the jiao, at just one-tenth of a yuan, exists as both a bill (the smallest) and two different coins. Conversely, one yuan exists both as a coin and as two different bills. You should be prepared to recognize and handle either version.
  
===Counterfeiting===
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==Counterfeiting==
 
Counterfeiting is a serious problem. Anyone staying in China for a few months would have certainly experienced it. From the ¥1 coin, to ¥10, ¥20, ¥50 and ¥100 bills, all currency is at risk. The main focus is on the texture of different parts, the metal line, and the change of colours under different lights. Ask anyone how, all of them have their own way. One such strategy for bills is to hold it up to the light: all real bills will have a watermark in the white blank space off to the side.
 
Counterfeiting is a serious problem. Anyone staying in China for a few months would have certainly experienced it. From the ¥1 coin, to ¥10, ¥20, ¥50 and ¥100 bills, all currency is at risk. The main focus is on the texture of different parts, the metal line, and the change of colours under different lights. Ask anyone how, all of them have their own way. One such strategy for bills is to hold it up to the light: all real bills will have a watermark in the white blank space off to the side.
  
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When paying with a ¥50 or ¥100 banknote in a shop or taxi, it's socially acceptable to memorise the last few digits of your currency number as you pass it. If the banknote is said to be fake, make sure to get the same bill back.
 
When paying with a ¥50 or ¥100 banknote in a shop or taxi, it's socially acceptable to memorise the last few digits of your currency number as you pass it. If the banknote is said to be fake, make sure to get the same bill back.
  
===Changing money===
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==Changing money==
 
Although still restricted, the yuan is readily convertible in many countries, especially in Asia. The Hong Kong dollar, US dollar, Canadian dollar, Euro, British pound sterling, Australian dollar, Japanese yen and South Korean won can all be easily changed in China. Southeast Asian currencies are generally not accepted, the exception being Singapore dollars (this is changing- certain branches of Bank of Communications, indicated by a sign at teller windows, will exchange Malaysian ringgit, and Travelex will accept almost anything - with a hefty commission). Currency should only be changed at major banks (Bank of China in particular) or with the licensed money changers usually found at airports or high-end hotels, although these use unfavourable exchange rates.
 
Although still restricted, the yuan is readily convertible in many countries, especially in Asia. The Hong Kong dollar, US dollar, Canadian dollar, Euro, British pound sterling, Australian dollar, Japanese yen and South Korean won can all be easily changed in China. Southeast Asian currencies are generally not accepted, the exception being Singapore dollars (this is changing- certain branches of Bank of Communications, indicated by a sign at teller windows, will exchange Malaysian ringgit, and Travelex will accept almost anything - with a hefty commission). Currency should only be changed at major banks (Bank of China in particular) or with the licensed money changers usually found at airports or high-end hotels, although these use unfavourable exchange rates.
  
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Exchanging US currency for RMB can be simple, but expect the bills to be scrutinized before the exchange is processed. Opportunities to buy RMB before entering China, for example when coming overland from Hong Kong or Vietnam, should be taken, as the rates are better. The same is true going the other way - selling just across the border will often net a more favourable rate. Also, most international banks allow cash advances via a debit- or credit card at a Chinese ATM, but the rates are often unfavourable and may include service charges. It's useful to carry an international currency such as British pounds, US dollars, or Japanese yen to fall back on in the absence of a cash machine.
 
Exchanging US currency for RMB can be simple, but expect the bills to be scrutinized before the exchange is processed. Opportunities to buy RMB before entering China, for example when coming overland from Hong Kong or Vietnam, should be taken, as the rates are better. The same is true going the other way - selling just across the border will often net a more favourable rate. Also, most international banks allow cash advances via a debit- or credit card at a Chinese ATM, but the rates are often unfavourable and may include service charges. It's useful to carry an international currency such as British pounds, US dollars, or Japanese yen to fall back on in the absence of a cash machine.
  
====ATM cards====
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===ATM cards===
 
ATMs are present nationwide. Most ATMs outside the large cities that accept Cirrus, PLUS, VISA and MasterCard-affiliated cards are owned by Bank of China or the Industrial and Commercial Bank. In big cities, most ATMs accept Visa, Plus, Mastercard, Maestro and Cirrus. However, cash advances from Diner's Club, American Express or JCB cards are more difficult. For visitors from Hong Kong or Macau, the only ATMs that natively take JETCO cards are Bank of East Asia ATMs. Most ATMs will charge a small, flat fee.
 
ATMs are present nationwide. Most ATMs outside the large cities that accept Cirrus, PLUS, VISA and MasterCard-affiliated cards are owned by Bank of China or the Industrial and Commercial Bank. In big cities, most ATMs accept Visa, Plus, Mastercard, Maestro and Cirrus. However, cash advances from Diner's Club, American Express or JCB cards are more difficult. For visitors from Hong Kong or Macau, the only ATMs that natively take JETCO cards are Bank of East Asia ATMs. Most ATMs will charge a small, flat fee.
  
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Some tourists' banks are part of the Global ATM Alliance, be aware that China Construction Bank is its local partner for fee-free withdrawals.
 
Some tourists' banks are part of the Global ATM Alliance, be aware that China Construction Bank is its local partner for fee-free withdrawals.
  
====Travellers cheques====
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===Travellers cheques===
 
Most major banks and upmarket hotels will exchange travellers' cheques and will require an ID and a signature on the cheques; your signature in front of the teller will be scrutinized. In second-tier cities, visit the head branch of Bank of China or Merchants' Bank. Exchanging travellers' cheques is usually slower than exchanging cash.
 
Most major banks and upmarket hotels will exchange travellers' cheques and will require an ID and a signature on the cheques; your signature in front of the teller will be scrutinized. In second-tier cities, visit the head branch of Bank of China or Merchants' Bank. Exchanging travellers' cheques is usually slower than exchanging cash.
  
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Credit- or debit cards can pose the same problem in reverse: a merchant may charge in the home currency instead of renminbi. This practice is referred to as "dynamic currency conversion" or DCC and a commission is applied atop the exchange rate, typically 3%, sometimes more. Ask the merchant to void the transaction and to process it again in local currency.
 
Credit- or debit cards can pose the same problem in reverse: a merchant may charge in the home currency instead of renminbi. This practice is referred to as "dynamic currency conversion" or DCC and a commission is applied atop the exchange rate, typically 3%, sometimes more. Ask the merchant to void the transaction and to process it again in local currency.
  
====Electronic transfers====
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===Electronic transfers===
 
Electronic money transfers to another country are easier than before. Most big-city banks offer this service nowadays. On the other hand, service charges vary (depending on the sending and receiving bank), the staff is sometimes ill-trained, and the process can take up to a week to clear. A Chinese branch of a foreign or Hong Kong-based bank may do transfers. This is easier in the big cities, though.  
 
Electronic money transfers to another country are easier than before. Most big-city banks offer this service nowadays. On the other hand, service charges vary (depending on the sending and receiving bank), the staff is sometimes ill-trained, and the process can take up to a week to clear. A Chinese branch of a foreign or Hong Kong-based bank may do transfers. This is easier in the big cities, though.  
  
 
It will be MUCH easier to do transfers with a dual-currency account with the Bank of China - opened at the branch from which the money will be received. Electronic transfers to dual currency accounts incur no or low fees although it will usually require a week. Transfers to Chinese accounts from overseas also take from three to ten business days. Usually, providers such as TransferWise are a cheaper and faster alternative to transfer ¥ or $ to China. [https://www.comparetransfer.com/country/china/] Only a passport, visa and a small initial deposit (can be RMB) plus the new-account fee (¥10-20) are required to open an account in China. When opening a foreign-currency account or a dual-currency account, ask whether it can be accessed in another province or overseas. Alternatively, Wells Fargo offers American visitors ExpressSend, a service that allows money sent from the US to arrive in a China Agricultural Bank account on the same day.
 
It will be MUCH easier to do transfers with a dual-currency account with the Bank of China - opened at the branch from which the money will be received. Electronic transfers to dual currency accounts incur no or low fees although it will usually require a week. Transfers to Chinese accounts from overseas also take from three to ten business days. Usually, providers such as TransferWise are a cheaper and faster alternative to transfer ¥ or $ to China. [https://www.comparetransfer.com/country/china/] Only a passport, visa and a small initial deposit (can be RMB) plus the new-account fee (¥10-20) are required to open an account in China. When opening a foreign-currency account or a dual-currency account, ask whether it can be accessed in another province or overseas. Alternatively, Wells Fargo offers American visitors ExpressSend, a service that allows money sent from the US to arrive in a China Agricultural Bank account on the same day.
  
=====Western Union=====
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====Western Union====
 
Western Union has deals with China Agricultural Bank and with China Post, so there are many Western Union signs around. China Construction Bank (ICBC) has also been known to accept Western Union. This method is what overseas Chinese sending money to relatives, or expats sending money out of China, generally use; it is generally easier and cheaper than the banks. A list of locations is available through Western Union's website. But problems with this include their system being down or, for an overseas transfer, the employee being dealt with with may insist upon the recipient's passport and visa numbers, or for a within-China transfer, cash in US dollars.
 
Western Union has deals with China Agricultural Bank and with China Post, so there are many Western Union signs around. China Construction Bank (ICBC) has also been known to accept Western Union. This method is what overseas Chinese sending money to relatives, or expats sending money out of China, generally use; it is generally easier and cheaper than the banks. A list of locations is available through Western Union's website. But problems with this include their system being down or, for an overseas transfer, the employee being dealt with with may insist upon the recipient's passport and visa numbers, or for a within-China transfer, cash in US dollars.
  
 
It is sometimes difficult to find the branch listed on the Western Union website, and the process of getting the transfer completed can take a long time. Expect to take your time finding the branch, and spending over an hour inside the bank completing the transaction. Foreigners will almost certainly need a passport. The process is shorter for those fluent in Chinese. Try another branch if faced with difficulties. The exchange rate through Western Union has historically been quite good, and this is a viable way to send money to yourself or to someone else in China. Make certain to have a safe place to hold cash transfers.
 
It is sometimes difficult to find the branch listed on the Western Union website, and the process of getting the transfer completed can take a long time. Expect to take your time finding the branch, and spending over an hour inside the bank completing the transaction. Foreigners will almost certainly need a passport. The process is shorter for those fluent in Chinese. Try another branch if faced with difficulties. The exchange rate through Western Union has historically been quite good, and this is a viable way to send money to yourself or to someone else in China. Make certain to have a safe place to hold cash transfers.
  
====Credit cards====
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===Credit cards===
 
Outside of star-rated or chain hotels, major supermarkets, and high-class restaurants, credit cards are generally not accepted and most transactions will require cash. The most popular credit card in China is UnionPay, and due to an alliance between Discover and UnionPay, those with Discover credit cards will find that their card is much more widely accepted (under the UnionPay system) than those with Visa, Mastercard, or American Express. Most convenience stores take UnionPay, as do most restaurant chains, stores selling high-value items, grocery-store chains, and most ATMs. Beware of [[pickpockets]].
 
Outside of star-rated or chain hotels, major supermarkets, and high-class restaurants, credit cards are generally not accepted and most transactions will require cash. The most popular credit card in China is UnionPay, and due to an alliance between Discover and UnionPay, those with Discover credit cards will find that their card is much more widely accepted (under the UnionPay system) than those with Visa, Mastercard, or American Express. Most convenience stores take UnionPay, as do most restaurant chains, stores selling high-value items, grocery-store chains, and most ATMs. Beware of [[pickpockets]].
  
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As with debit cards, Chinese retail clerks will usually present the POS credit card terminal to the cardholder for entry of a PIN for chip-and-pin cards. Visitors from sign-only or chip-and-sign countries like the United States should attempt to explain that fact to the clerk or simply hit the green button or Enter for no PIN. Chinese terminals have old-fashioned miniature dot-matrix printers which print receipts on carbon-copy duplicate paper. If no PIN was entered, the clerk will then present the receipt to the cardholder for a hard copy signature, then separate the layers and give the carbon copy to the cardholder.
 
As with debit cards, Chinese retail clerks will usually present the POS credit card terminal to the cardholder for entry of a PIN for chip-and-pin cards. Visitors from sign-only or chip-and-sign countries like the United States should attempt to explain that fact to the clerk or simply hit the green button or Enter for no PIN. Chinese terminals have old-fashioned miniature dot-matrix printers which print receipts on carbon-copy duplicate paper. If no PIN was entered, the clerk will then present the receipt to the cardholder for a hard copy signature, then separate the layers and give the carbon copy to the cardholder.
  
===Costs===
+
==Costs==
 
China is quite affordable. Unless you are heading to Hong Kong or Macau, the mainland is generally much less expensive - from a traveller's perspective - than industrialized countries. By eating local food, using public transportation and staying in budget hotels or hostels, ¥200-300 is a serviceable daily budget. As of 2014 street vendors still sell various products for ¥1 a piece. It's potentially risky to dine on street food, but there are alternatives. But dining on the best Chinese delicacies or upmarket Western food and staying in luxury hotels, will cost over ¥3,000 a day. Prices vary based on geography; the larger the city, the higher the price, rural tourism is cheap, and the coast is more expensive than the centre and the west.
 
China is quite affordable. Unless you are heading to Hong Kong or Macau, the mainland is generally much less expensive - from a traveller's perspective - than industrialized countries. By eating local food, using public transportation and staying in budget hotels or hostels, ¥200-300 is a serviceable daily budget. As of 2014 street vendors still sell various products for ¥1 a piece. It's potentially risky to dine on street food, but there are alternatives. But dining on the best Chinese delicacies or upmarket Western food and staying in luxury hotels, will cost over ¥3,000 a day. Prices vary based on geography; the larger the city, the higher the price, rural tourism is cheap, and the coast is more expensive than the centre and the west.
  
 
Although accommodation, food and travel remain cheap, the prices of tourist attractions (historical sites as well as national parks) are increasing rapidly. Entry fees range from &yen;30-300 with the norm of major scenic sites tending around &yen;100.
 
Although accommodation, food and travel remain cheap, the prices of tourist attractions (historical sites as well as national parks) are increasing rapidly. Entry fees range from &yen;30-300 with the norm of major scenic sites tending around &yen;100.
  
===Tipping===
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==Tipping==
 
As a general rule, tipping is not practised anywhere in China. When a tip is left on a table, often the waiter will chase after the customer who "forgot" the money. In a hotel, it is acceptable not to tip for room service, airport service, taxis or anything else -- exceptions can be made and, especially in hotels which cater to foreign clients, staff will not be offended if they receive a tip. Masseurs in some areas such as Shenzhen have been known to ask for a tip. Chinese see demanding tips as extortion and an immoral practice, so it is acceptable to decline. However, inappropriate tipping can lead to embarrassment and can sometimes be insulting, because it suggests that the relationship is based on money, not friendship.
 
As a general rule, tipping is not practised anywhere in China. When a tip is left on a table, often the waiter will chase after the customer who "forgot" the money. In a hotel, it is acceptable not to tip for room service, airport service, taxis or anything else -- exceptions can be made and, especially in hotels which cater to foreign clients, staff will not be offended if they receive a tip. Masseurs in some areas such as Shenzhen have been known to ask for a tip. Chinese see demanding tips as extortion and an immoral practice, so it is acceptable to decline. However, inappropriate tipping can lead to embarrassment and can sometimes be insulting, because it suggests that the relationship is based on money, not friendship.
  
 
Compliments over service are usually expressed implicitly. Smokers are expected to pass a cigarette to the service staff or manager. Offering a seat or drink would also be seen as a nice gesture.
 
Compliments over service are usually expressed implicitly. Smokers are expected to pass a cigarette to the service staff or manager. Offering a seat or drink would also be seen as a nice gesture.
  
===Banking===
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==Banking==
 
Opening a bank account in China is a straightforward process. The "big four" banks in China are the '''Bank of China''' (中国银行), '''China Construction Bank''' (中国建设银行), '''Agricultural Bank of China''' (中国农业银行) and '''Industrial and Commercial Bank of China''' (中国工商银行). For locally-owned banks you only need your passport with a valid visa (tourist visas are acceptable). Some banks such as Bank of East Asia will require proof of residence, but this restriction mostly applies to banks based in Hong Kong. For long-term travel or residence, a Chinese bank account is a good idea. Depending on the bank, the PIN and/or ID may be required for withdrawals at the counter (ask beforehand; some foreign banks only require a signature for withdrawal; if you're not comfortable with that, don't open an account there) although deposits can be made - no questions asked - upon presentation of the bank book or card issued with the account. Depending on the bank, the minimum initial deposit is ¥1-100 (some multinational banks like Citibank or DBS require five-digit minimum deposits; these banks are to be avoided for the average person). A bank book may be received, in which  all transactions and balances are recorded - including foreign-currency balances. However, most banks in big cities offer card-only accounts by default; if you want a bank book you'll have to ask unless they don't issue ATM cards at all (such as Shinhan Bank or Dah Sing Bank). Banks usually charge a fee (around 1%) on deposits and withdrawals in a city other than the one the account was opened in. ATMs are now present in almost all but the most remote towns and cities. Many ATMs accept Visa, Mastercard, AMEX, Maestro, and Plus debit and credit cards although some only accept UnionPay and Pulse, Interac, or Link ATM cards.
 
Opening a bank account in China is a straightforward process. The "big four" banks in China are the '''Bank of China''' (中国银行), '''China Construction Bank''' (中国建设银行), '''Agricultural Bank of China''' (中国农业银行) and '''Industrial and Commercial Bank of China''' (中国工商银行). For locally-owned banks you only need your passport with a valid visa (tourist visas are acceptable). Some banks such as Bank of East Asia will require proof of residence, but this restriction mostly applies to banks based in Hong Kong. For long-term travel or residence, a Chinese bank account is a good idea. Depending on the bank, the PIN and/or ID may be required for withdrawals at the counter (ask beforehand; some foreign banks only require a signature for withdrawal; if you're not comfortable with that, don't open an account there) although deposits can be made - no questions asked - upon presentation of the bank book or card issued with the account. Depending on the bank, the minimum initial deposit is ¥1-100 (some multinational banks like Citibank or DBS require five-digit minimum deposits; these banks are to be avoided for the average person). A bank book may be received, in which  all transactions and balances are recorded - including foreign-currency balances. However, most banks in big cities offer card-only accounts by default; if you want a bank book you'll have to ask unless they don't issue ATM cards at all (such as Shinhan Bank or Dah Sing Bank). Banks usually charge a fee (around 1%) on deposits and withdrawals in a city other than the one the account was opened in. ATMs are now present in almost all but the most remote towns and cities. Many ATMs accept Visa, Mastercard, AMEX, Maestro, and Plus debit and credit cards although some only accept UnionPay and Pulse, Interac, or Link ATM cards.
  
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Do note that those employed in China may not get a choice: many companies and schools deposit into only one bank, and therefore an account with that bank is necessary to get paid. Of course, the money may later be transferred to an account at another bank.
 
Do note that those employed in China may not get a choice: many companies and schools deposit into only one bank, and therefore an account with that bank is necessary to get paid. Of course, the money may later be transferred to an account at another bank.
  
===Shopping===
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==Shopping==
 
{{infobox|Antiquities Banned From Export|China's government passed a law in May 2007 banning the export of antiques from before 1911. It is thus illegal to take antiques out of China. Even antiques from before 1911 bought in proper auctions cannot be taken out of the country. As violation of this law could lead to heavy fines and a possible jail term, it would be wise to heed it. However if you let vendors know you are aware of this law they may lower their prices since they know you know their "antiques" really aren't Ming Dynasty originals.}}
 
{{infobox|Antiquities Banned From Export|China's government passed a law in May 2007 banning the export of antiques from before 1911. It is thus illegal to take antiques out of China. Even antiques from before 1911 bought in proper auctions cannot be taken out of the country. As violation of this law could lead to heavy fines and a possible jail term, it would be wise to heed it. However if you let vendors know you are aware of this law they may lower their prices since they know you know their "antiques" really aren't Ming Dynasty originals.}}
  
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So, either stick to the cheaper products, some of which are quite nice as keepsakes, or if spending a substantial amount, then deal with a large and reputable vendor; they don't offer the bargains an expert could find elsewhere, but they probably won't cheat the customer, either.
 
So, either stick to the cheaper products, some of which are quite nice as keepsakes, or if spending a substantial amount, then deal with a large and reputable vendor; they don't offer the bargains an expert could find elsewhere, but they probably won't cheat the customer, either.
  
====Clothing====
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===Clothing===
 
[[Image:Nanjing Lu Zai Baitian.jpeg|thumb|220px|Nanjing Road in Shanghai]]
 
[[Image:Nanjing Lu Zai Baitian.jpeg|thumb|220px|Nanjing Road in Shanghai]]
 
China is one of the world's leading manufacturers of clothing, shoes and accessories. Name-brand goods, whether Chinese or foreign, tend to be expensive when compared with the unbranded clothing sold in markets throughout the country. See the next section for additional comment. Chinese brands, similar in look, feel and style to their foreign counterparts, are often an excellent deal. Cheap unbranded clothing is also cheaply manufactured; check the seams and stitching before making a purchase.
 
China is one of the world's leading manufacturers of clothing, shoes and accessories. Name-brand goods, whether Chinese or foreign, tend to be expensive when compared with the unbranded clothing sold in markets throughout the country. See the next section for additional comment. Chinese brands, similar in look, feel and style to their foreign counterparts, are often an excellent deal. Cheap unbranded clothing is also cheaply manufactured; check the seams and stitching before making a purchase.
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There are affordable tailors throughout China. In the major cities, some of them can make a fine job of Western-style garments. Shirts, pants and suits can often be measured, fitted, assembled and delivered within three days. Some tailors have their own fabric selections while others require customers to purchase it in advance from fabric markets. The quality of the tailors does vary. More reputable tailors will often come to hotels to do measurements, fittings and final sales.
 
There are affordable tailors throughout China. In the major cities, some of them can make a fine job of Western-style garments. Shirts, pants and suits can often be measured, fitted, assembled and delivered within three days. Some tailors have their own fabric selections while others require customers to purchase it in advance from fabric markets. The quality of the tailors does vary. More reputable tailors will often come to hotels to do measurements, fittings and final sales.
  
====Brand-name goods====
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===Brand-name goods===
 
Items with famous brand labels sold in China may be bogus, especially expensive and exclusive popular brands, but not all are, virtually all major brands market in China. When buying genuine branded foreign goods, particularly ''haute couture'' brands such as Gucci, Louis Vuitton and Prada, or popular brands such as Nike or Adidas, be aware that they will not be cheaper than buying them in Western countries. Wealthy Chinese who can afford to travel often purchase luxury brand-name goods in Hong Kong or overseas, as it is significantly cheaper than buying them in mainland China.
 
Items with famous brand labels sold in China may be bogus, especially expensive and exclusive popular brands, but not all are, virtually all major brands market in China. When buying genuine branded foreign goods, particularly ''haute couture'' brands such as Gucci, Louis Vuitton and Prada, or popular brands such as Nike or Adidas, be aware that they will not be cheaper than buying them in Western countries. Wealthy Chinese who can afford to travel often purchase luxury brand-name goods in Hong Kong or overseas, as it is significantly cheaper than buying them in mainland China.
  
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Counterfeit and swing production markets in Shanghai, Hong Kong and Beijing are nonetheless fantastically amusing and a great place to get a completely new "designer" wardrobe for a fraction of the cost in a Western country. Feel free to purchase these items but '''remove the tags''' prior to taking them home. A suitcase full of brand-new tagged designer knock-offs or swing-produced clothes may result in confiscation and being fined. Simply remove the tags and they will almost certainly pass unnoticed.
 
Counterfeit and swing production markets in Shanghai, Hong Kong and Beijing are nonetheless fantastically amusing and a great place to get a completely new "designer" wardrobe for a fraction of the cost in a Western country. Feel free to purchase these items but '''remove the tags''' prior to taking them home. A suitcase full of brand-new tagged designer knock-offs or swing-produced clothes may result in confiscation and being fined. Simply remove the tags and they will almost certainly pass unnoticed.
  
====Software, Music and Movies ====
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===Software, Music and Movies ===
 
Most CDs (music or software) and DVDs in China are unauthorized copies. Those selling for ¥6-10 and enclosed in cheap flat paper envelopes are bogus. Some with higher prices and better packaging might be legal copies, but it can be hard to tell. Bogus discs can be avoided by shopping at the larger bookstores or department stores; most of these have a CD/DVD section. The prices are ¥15-40.
 
Most CDs (music or software) and DVDs in China are unauthorized copies. Those selling for ¥6-10 and enclosed in cheap flat paper envelopes are bogus. Some with higher prices and better packaging might be legal copies, but it can be hard to tell. Bogus discs can be avoided by shopping at the larger bookstores or department stores; most of these have a CD/DVD section. The prices are ¥15-40.
  
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Obtain and keep the receipt when purchasing DVDs or CDs to prove your good faith to Western customs officers.
 
Obtain and keep the receipt when purchasing DVDs or CDs to prove your good faith to Western customs officers.
  
====Endangered species====
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===Endangered species===
 
There are products that are fairly common in China which you should avoid purchasing &mdash; coral, ivory and parts from endangered animal species. China's economic miracle has been a disaster for the world's wildlife and has left such species as the elephant, tiger, rhinoceros, Tibetan antelope and Snow Lotus decimated or on the verge of extinction. The city of Pingyao and several markets on the outskirts of Beijing are notorious for selling rare animal skins, furs, claws, horns, skulls, bones and other parts from endangered (even extinct) species. Anyone purchasing such items is encouraging the further destruction of the species in question.
 
There are products that are fairly common in China which you should avoid purchasing &mdash; coral, ivory and parts from endangered animal species. China's economic miracle has been a disaster for the world's wildlife and has left such species as the elephant, tiger, rhinoceros, Tibetan antelope and Snow Lotus decimated or on the verge of extinction. The city of Pingyao and several markets on the outskirts of Beijing are notorious for selling rare animal skins, furs, claws, horns, skulls, bones and other parts from endangered (even extinct) species. Anyone purchasing such items is encouraging the further destruction of the species in question.
  
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Ivory is an odd special case. Trade in modern ivory is illegal worldwide, but some antique ivory items are legal. If you want to take any ivory items home, there will be paperwork &mdash; at an absolute minimum. You will need a letter from a reputable dealer stating the date of origin. Check with your own country's customs department for other requirements. Also remember that China restricts export of anything older than 1911 (see infobox), and that many of the "ivory" items in China are fakes made from various synthetics or ground bone.
 
Ivory is an odd special case. Trade in modern ivory is illegal worldwide, but some antique ivory items are legal. If you want to take any ivory items home, there will be paperwork &mdash; at an absolute minimum. You will need a letter from a reputable dealer stating the date of origin. Check with your own country's customs department for other requirements. Also remember that China restricts export of anything older than 1911 (see infobox), and that many of the "ivory" items in China are fakes made from various synthetics or ground bone.
  
===Bargaining===
+
==Bargaining==
 
''See also'': [[How to haggle]]
 
''See also'': [[How to haggle]]
  
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Many group tours include mandatory visits to Chinese medicine hospitals such as the National Academy of Traditional Chinese Medicine, silk, tea or jade factories or similar shops. The goods are often expensive and include a commission for the tour guide or group. Consider this before purchasing. However, the shops visited on tours can also offer competitive prices and safe, reliable international shipping for silk, jade, etc.
 
Many group tours include mandatory visits to Chinese medicine hospitals such as the National Academy of Traditional Chinese Medicine, silk, tea or jade factories or similar shops. The goods are often expensive and include a commission for the tour guide or group. Consider this before purchasing. However, the shops visited on tours can also offer competitive prices and safe, reliable international shipping for silk, jade, etc.
  
===Basics===
+
==Basics==
  
 
Unless there is a supermarket or expat-focused grocery store within walking distance of the hotel (see the section below), the most convenient option for basic supplies and groceries is a convenience store. Major chains in China include Kedi, Alldays, FamilyMart and 7-Eleven. Many convenience stores sell individual toilet-paper rolls, which are a necessity for touring China as many public restrooms do not have toilet paper. Although supermarkets also sell toilet paper, they tend to sell it in six- or ten-packs, which are too much for tourists.
 
Unless there is a supermarket or expat-focused grocery store within walking distance of the hotel (see the section below), the most convenient option for basic supplies and groceries is a convenience store. Major chains in China include Kedi, Alldays, FamilyMart and 7-Eleven. Many convenience stores sell individual toilet-paper rolls, which are a necessity for touring China as many public restrooms do not have toilet paper. Although supermarkets also sell toilet paper, they tend to sell it in six- or ten-packs, which are too much for tourists.
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Some discount and mid-market department stores in China also have grocery sections.
 
Some discount and mid-market department stores in China also have grocery sections.
  
===Western goods===
+
==Western goods==
 
Areas with large expatriate communities like [[Beijing]], [[Shanghai]], [[Guangzhou]] and [[Shenzhen]] have specialty grocery stores catering to those communities. Size and selection vary according to city and store brand. They usually stock expensive imported snacks, alcohol and specialty groceries such as meats and cheeses. See individual articles for details.
 
Areas with large expatriate communities like [[Beijing]], [[Shanghai]], [[Guangzhou]] and [[Shenzhen]] have specialty grocery stores catering to those communities. Size and selection vary according to city and store brand. They usually stock expensive imported snacks, alcohol and specialty groceries such as meats and cheeses. See individual articles for details.
  
 
Several Western-owned supermarket chains are widespread in China &mdash; Wal-mart (沃尔玛 Wòěrmǎ), Metro (麦德龙 Màidélóng), TESCO and Carrefour (家乐福 Jiālèfú). All have some Western groceries - at high prices. However, the availability of foreign products diminishes at their branches in smaller cities. Metro is probably the best of these; in particular, it usually has a fine selection of alcohol. Asian-owned chains include Jusco (佳世客 Jiāshìkè), RT-Mart (大潤發 Dàrùnfā), LOTTE Mart (乐天玛特 Letianmate), Lotus and SM; these also carry imported goods. Some larger Chinese chains such as Beijing Hualian (北京华联 Běijīng Huálián) also carry some foreign products. Furthermore, online services provide home delivery of food and drinks. Two most famous nationwide websites are M1NT Cellars, offering imported wines and a variety of alcoholic beverages, and Sherpa, which also delivers food and soft drinks.
 
Several Western-owned supermarket chains are widespread in China &mdash; Wal-mart (沃尔玛 Wòěrmǎ), Metro (麦德龙 Màidélóng), TESCO and Carrefour (家乐福 Jiālèfú). All have some Western groceries - at high prices. However, the availability of foreign products diminishes at their branches in smaller cities. Metro is probably the best of these; in particular, it usually has a fine selection of alcohol. Asian-owned chains include Jusco (佳世客 Jiāshìkè), RT-Mart (大潤發 Dàrùnfā), LOTTE Mart (乐天玛特 Letianmate), Lotus and SM; these also carry imported goods. Some larger Chinese chains such as Beijing Hualian (北京华联 Běijīng Huálián) also carry some foreign products. Furthermore, online services provide home delivery of food and drinks. Two most famous nationwide websites are M1NT Cellars, offering imported wines and a variety of alcoholic beverages, and Sherpa, which also delivers food and soft drinks.
  
===Tobacco products===
+
== Tobacco products==
 
While smoking has declined in China, it is still popular and cigarettes (香烟 xiāngyān) are generally cheap. Cigarettes can be purchased from small neighbourhood stores, convenience stores, counters located in supermarkets and in department stores.
 
While smoking has declined in China, it is still popular and cigarettes (香烟 xiāngyān) are generally cheap. Cigarettes can be purchased from small neighbourhood stores, convenience stores, counters located in supermarkets and in department stores.
  
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Duty-free stores in international airports, in international rail stations (e.g. Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou East) and at land borders sell a greater range of imported brands - expect to pay between &yen;80-150 for a 200-cigarette carton.
 
Duty-free stores in international airports, in international rail stations (e.g. Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou East) and at land borders sell a greater range of imported brands - expect to pay between &yen;80-150 for a 200-cigarette carton.
  
==Eat==
+
=Eat=
 
[[Image:Chifan De Malu.jpeg|thumb|240px|A food street in Jinan]]
 
[[Image:Chifan De Malu.jpeg|thumb|240px|A food street in Jinan]]
 
Food in China varies from region to region, so the term "Chinese food" is a blanket term, just like "Western food". While visiting, try a bit of everything. Be aware that some "Chinese" food, such as Beef and Broccoli or Chow Mein should be avoided (if you could even find them), as these are not real Chinese dishes.
 
Food in China varies from region to region, so the term "Chinese food" is a blanket term, just like "Western food". While visiting, try a bit of everything. Be aware that some "Chinese" food, such as Beef and Broccoli or Chow Mein should be avoided (if you could even find them), as these are not real Chinese dishes.
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Generally speaking, rice is the main staple in the south, while wheat, mostly in the form of noodles, is the main staple in the north.
 
Generally speaking, rice is the main staple in the south, while wheat, mostly in the form of noodles, is the main staple in the north.
  
===Regional Cuisines===
+
==Regional Cuisines==
  
====Four Great Traditions (四大菜系)====
+
===Four Great Traditions (四大菜系)===
 
* '''Jiangsu / Zhejiang / Shanghai''' (淮扬菜 "Huáiyáng cài", 苏菜,"Sū Cài", Huaiyang cuisine): Huaiyang cuisine has a sweet side to it and is almost never spicy. Pork, freshwater fish, and other aquatic creatures serve as the meat base in most dishes, which are usually more meticulous and light compared to the more "brash" eating styles of northern China. Huaiyang cuisine also includes several breakfast choices such as crab soup dumplings (蟹黄汤包 "xìehúang tāngbāo"), thousand-layered cake (千层糕 "qiāncéng gāo"), steamed dumplings (蒸饺 "zhēngjiǎo"), tofu noodles (大煮干丝 "dàzhǔ gānsī"), and wild vegetable steamed buns (菜包子 "cài bāozi").
 
* '''Jiangsu / Zhejiang / Shanghai''' (淮扬菜 "Huáiyáng cài", 苏菜,"Sū Cài", Huaiyang cuisine): Huaiyang cuisine has a sweet side to it and is almost never spicy. Pork, freshwater fish, and other aquatic creatures serve as the meat base in most dishes, which are usually more meticulous and light compared to the more "brash" eating styles of northern China. Huaiyang cuisine also includes several breakfast choices such as crab soup dumplings (蟹黄汤包 "xìehúang tāngbāo"), thousand-layered cake (千层糕 "qiāncéng gāo"), steamed dumplings (蒸饺 "zhēngjiǎo"), tofu noodles (大煮干丝 "dàzhǔ gānsī"), and wild vegetable steamed buns (菜包子 "cài bāozi").
  
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* '''Sichuan''' (川菜 ''Chuān Cài''): A popular saying is that it is so spicy your mouth will go numb. Although famously hot and spicy, not all dishes are made with live chilies; the numbing sensation actually comes from the Sichuan peppercorn (花椒). Sichuanese food is widely available outside Sichuan and also native to Chongqing. To find authentic Sichuanese food outside Sichuan or Chongqing, look for small eateries sporting the characters for Sichuan cuisine in neighborhoods with many migrant workers. These tend to be cheaper and better than the ubiquitous up-market Sichuan restaurants.
 
* '''Sichuan''' (川菜 ''Chuān Cài''): A popular saying is that it is so spicy your mouth will go numb. Although famously hot and spicy, not all dishes are made with live chilies; the numbing sensation actually comes from the Sichuan peppercorn (花椒). Sichuanese food is widely available outside Sichuan and also native to Chongqing. To find authentic Sichuanese food outside Sichuan or Chongqing, look for small eateries sporting the characters for Sichuan cuisine in neighborhoods with many migrant workers. These tend to be cheaper and better than the ubiquitous up-market Sichuan restaurants.
  
====Famous Traditions====
+
===Famous Traditions===
 
(The Other Four of the Eight Culinary Traditions of Chinese cuisine):
 
(The Other Four of the Eight Culinary Traditions of Chinese cuisine):
  
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* '''Anhui''' (安徽菜 ''Ānhuī cài)'', 徽菜 ''huī cài''): Anhui cuisine is known for its use of wild herbs, from both the land and the sea, and simple methods of preparation. Braising and stewing are common cooking techniques. Frying and stir-frying are used much less frequently in Anhui cuisine than in other Chinese culinary traditions. Anhui cuisine consists of three styles: the Yangtze River region, Huai River region, and southern Anhui region. Anhui has ample uncultivated fields and forests, so the wild herbs used in the region's cuisine are readily available.
 
* '''Anhui''' (安徽菜 ''Ānhuī cài)'', 徽菜 ''huī cài''): Anhui cuisine is known for its use of wild herbs, from both the land and the sea, and simple methods of preparation. Braising and stewing are common cooking techniques. Frying and stir-frying are used much less frequently in Anhui cuisine than in other Chinese culinary traditions. Anhui cuisine consists of three styles: the Yangtze River region, Huai River region, and southern Anhui region. Anhui has ample uncultivated fields and forests, so the wild herbs used in the region's cuisine are readily available.
  
====Other traditions====
+
===Other traditions===
 
* '''Shanghai''' (沪菜 ''Hù Cài''): because of its geographical location, Shanghai cuisine is considered to be a good mix of northern and southern Chinese cooking styles. The most famous dishes are ''xiaolongbao'' (小笼包 ''Xiǎolóngbāo'') and chives dumplings (韭菜饺子 ''Jiǔcài Jiǎozi ''). Another specialty is "pulled noodles" (拉面 ''lāmiàn''), from which Japanese ''ramen'' and Korean ''ramyeon'' are believed to be derived. Fried dishes are often somewhat sweet.
 
* '''Shanghai''' (沪菜 ''Hù Cài''): because of its geographical location, Shanghai cuisine is considered to be a good mix of northern and southern Chinese cooking styles. The most famous dishes are ''xiaolongbao'' (小笼包 ''Xiǎolóngbāo'') and chives dumplings (韭菜饺子 ''Jiǔcài Jiǎozi ''). Another specialty is "pulled noodles" (拉面 ''lāmiàn''), from which Japanese ''ramen'' and Korean ''ramyeon'' are believed to be derived. Fried dishes are often somewhat sweet.
  
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* '''Imperial''' (宫廷菜 ''Gōngtíng Cài''): the food of the late Qing court, made famous by the Empress Dowager Cixi, can be sampled at high-end specialized restaurants in Beijing. The cuisine combines elements of Manchu frontier food such as venison with exotica such as camel's paw, shark's fin and bird's nest.
 
* '''Imperial''' (宫廷菜 ''Gōngtíng Cài''): the food of the late Qing court, made famous by the Empress Dowager Cixi, can be sampled at high-end specialized restaurants in Beijing. The cuisine combines elements of Manchu frontier food such as venison with exotica such as camel's paw, shark's fin and bird's nest.
  
===Fast food===
+
==Fast food==
  
 
Various types of Chinese food provide quick, cheap, tasty, light meals. Street food and snacks sold from portable vendors can be found throughout China's cities. Wangfujing district's ''Snack Street'' in Beijing is a notable, if touristy, area for street food. In Cantonese-speaking areas, street-food vendors are called ''gai bin dong''; such ventures can grow into a substantial business with the stalls actually only barely 'mobile'. Nationwide quick eats include:
 
Various types of Chinese food provide quick, cheap, tasty, light meals. Street food and snacks sold from portable vendors can be found throughout China's cities. Wangfujing district's ''Snack Street'' in Beijing is a notable, if touristy, area for street food. In Cantonese-speaking areas, street-food vendors are called ''gai bin dong''; such ventures can grow into a substantial business with the stalls actually only barely 'mobile'. Nationwide quick eats include:
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Another Western brand that takes on a surprising incarnation in China is Häagen-Dazs. Note that it is in fact a formal dining experience, where an ice cream sundae costs about 100 RMB. Also note that some other Western brands that are considered casual in the West take on a more formal atmosphere in China. Pizza Hut is an example of this.
 
Another Western brand that takes on a surprising incarnation in China is Häagen-Dazs. Note that it is in fact a formal dining experience, where an ice cream sundae costs about 100 RMB. Also note that some other Western brands that are considered casual in the West take on a more formal atmosphere in China. Pizza Hut is an example of this.
  
===Etiquette===
+
==Etiquette==
 
China is the birthplace of chopsticks and unsurprisingly, much important etiquette relates to the use of chopsticks. While the Chinese are generally tolerant about table manners, the improper use of chopsticks will be seen as ill-mannered, annoying or offensive. Heed the following rules:  
 
China is the birthplace of chopsticks and unsurprisingly, much important etiquette relates to the use of chopsticks. While the Chinese are generally tolerant about table manners, the improper use of chopsticks will be seen as ill-mannered, annoying or offensive. Heed the following rules:  
  
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* Fish heads are considered a delicacy and may be offered to you as an honored guest. In truth, the cheek meat is particularly savory.
 
* Fish heads are considered a delicacy and may be offered to you as an honored guest. In truth, the cheek meat is particularly savory.
  
===Treating===
+
==Treating==
 
In China, restaurants and pubs are common entertainment places and treating plays an important part in socializing.
 
In China, restaurants and pubs are common entertainment places and treating plays an important part in socializing.
  
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That being said, the Chinese are tolerant towards foreigners. If you feel like going dutch, try it. They tend to believe that "all foreigners prefer to go dutch". If they try to argue, it usually means that they insist on paying for your bill as well, not the opposite.
 
That being said, the Chinese are tolerant towards foreigners. If you feel like going dutch, try it. They tend to believe that "all foreigners prefer to go dutch". If they try to argue, it usually means that they insist on paying for your bill as well, not the opposite.
  
==Drink==
+
=Drink=
  
 
The Chinese love a tipple and the all-purpose word ''jiǔ'' (酒) covers a range of alcoholic drinks.
 
The Chinese love a tipple and the all-purpose word ''jiǔ'' (酒) covers a range of alcoholic drinks.
  
===Toasting===
+
==Toasting==
  
 
Chinese toast with the word '''gānbēi''' (干杯, literally "dry glass"). Traditionally one is expected to drain the glass in one swig. During a meal, the visitor is generally expected to drink at least one glass with each person present; sometimes there may be considerable pressure to do this. And it can be considered rude, at least early during the meal, if you do not make a toast every time you take a drink.
 
Chinese toast with the word '''gānbēi''' (干杯, literally "dry glass"). Traditionally one is expected to drain the glass in one swig. During a meal, the visitor is generally expected to drink at least one glass with each person present; sometimes there may be considerable pressure to do this. And it can be considered rude, at least early during the meal, if you do not make a toast every time you take a drink.
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If you want to take it easy but still be sociable, say '''suíbiàn''' (随便) before you make the toast, then drink only part of the glass. It may also be possible to have three toasts (traditionally signifying friendship) with the entire company, rather than one separate toast for every individual present.
 
If you want to take it easy but still be sociable, say '''suíbiàn''' (随便) before you make the toast, then drink only part of the glass. It may also be possible to have three toasts (traditionally signifying friendship) with the entire company, rather than one separate toast for every individual present.
  
===Alcohol===
+
==Alcohol==
 
The legal drinking/purchasing age in China is '''18''', except in [[Macau]] where there is no legal drinking/purchasing age. '''Note''', alcohol regulations of [[Hong Kong]] and [[Macau]] are different from mainland China's.
 
The legal drinking/purchasing age in China is '''18''', except in [[Macau]] where there is no legal drinking/purchasing age. '''Note''', alcohol regulations of [[Hong Kong]] and [[Macau]] are different from mainland China's.
 
   
 
   
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Most places outside of major cities serve beer at room temperature, regardless of season, though places that cater to American and Canadian tourists have it cold.
 
Most places outside of major cities serve beer at room temperature, regardless of season, though places that cater to American and Canadian tourists have it cold.
  
Locally made '''grape wine''' (葡萄酒 ''pútaojiǔ'') is common and costs from ¥15 in a grocery store and ¥100-150 in a fancy bar. That said, most of the stuff bears only the faintest resemblance to Western wines. The Chinese like their wines red and sweet, and they're typically served over ice or mixed with Sprite. Great Wall and Dynasty are large brands with a number of wines at various prices; their cheaper (under ¥40) offerings are generally not impressive. Chang Yu is another large brand; some of their low-end wines are better. If you're looking for a Chinese-made, Western-style wine, search for these labels:
+
Locally made '''grape wine''' (葡萄酒 ''pútaojiǔ'') is common and costs from ¥15 in a grocery store and ¥100-150 in a fancy bar. That said, most of the stuff bears only the faintest resemblance to Western wines. The Chinese like their wines red and sweet, and they're typically served over ice or mixed with Sprite. Great Wall and Dynasty are large brands with a number of wines at various prices; their cheaper (under ¥40) offerings are generally not impressive. Chang Yu is another large brand; some of their low-end wines are better. If you're looking for a Chinese-made, Western-style wine, search for these labels:
 
* Suntime [http://www.suntime.com.cn], with a passable Cabernet Sauvignon
 
* Suntime [http://www.suntime.com.cn], with a passable Cabernet Sauvignon
 
* Yizhu, located in Yili and specializing in ice wine
 
* Yizhu, located in Yili and specializing in ice wine
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'''Máotái''' (茅台), made in Guizhou Province, is China's most famous brand of ''baijiu'' and China's national liquor. Made from sorghum, Maotai and its expensive cousins (such as Kaoliang in Taiwan) are well-known for their strong fragrance and are actually sweeter than western clear liquors as the sorghum taste is preserved - in a way.
 
'''Máotái''' (茅台), made in Guizhou Province, is China's most famous brand of ''baijiu'' and China's national liquor. Made from sorghum, Maotai and its expensive cousins (such as Kaoliang in Taiwan) are well-known for their strong fragrance and are actually sweeter than western clear liquors as the sorghum taste is preserved - in a way.
  
Chinese '''brandy''' (白兰地) is an excellent value, about the same price as grape wine or ''baijiu'', and generally far more palatable than either. A ¥16-20 local brandy is not a ¥200+ imported brand-name cognac, but it is close enough that you should only buy the cognac if money doesn't matter. Expats debate the relative merits of brandies from French-owned Louis Wann [http://www.louiswann.com/english/index_e.htm], Chinese brand Changyu [http://www.changyu.com.cn/english/homepage.asp], and several others. All are drinkable.
+
Chinese '''brandy''' (白兰地) is an excellent value, about the same price as grape wine or ''baijiu'', and generally far more palatable than either. A ¥16-20 local brandy is not a ¥200+ imported brand-name cognac, but it is close enough that you should only buy the cognac if money doesn't matter. Expats debate the relative merits of brandies from French-owned Louis Wann [http://www.louiswann.com/english/index_e.htm], Chinese brand Changyu [http://www.changyu.com.cn/english/homepage.asp], and several others. All are drinkable.  
  
 
The Chinese are also great fans of various supposedly '''medicinal liquors''', which usually contain exotic herbs and/or animal parts. Some of these have prices in the normal range and include ingredients like ginseng. These can be palatable enough, if tending toward sweetness. Others, with unusual ingredients (snakes, turtles, bees, etc.) and steep price tags, are probably best left to those who enjoy them.
 
The Chinese are also great fans of various supposedly '''medicinal liquors''', which usually contain exotic herbs and/or animal parts. Some of these have prices in the normal range and include ingredients like ginseng. These can be palatable enough, if tending toward sweetness. Others, with unusual ingredients (snakes, turtles, bees, etc.) and steep price tags, are probably best left to those who enjoy them.
  
===Bars, discos and karaoke===
+
==Bars, discos and karaoke==
  
 
Western-style pubs are popular across the country. Especially in the affluent urban centers such as Shenzhen, Shanghai, and Hangzhou one can find painstakingly recreated replicas of traditional Irish or English pubs. Like their Western counterparts most will have a selection of foreign beers on tap as well as provide pub food (of varying quality) and often feature live cover bands. Most of these pubs cater to and are frequented by the expatriate communities so you should not expect to find many Chinese in there. Be aware that imported beer costs more than local brew.
 
Western-style pubs are popular across the country. Especially in the affluent urban centers such as Shenzhen, Shanghai, and Hangzhou one can find painstakingly recreated replicas of traditional Irish or English pubs. Like their Western counterparts most will have a selection of foreign beers on tap as well as provide pub food (of varying quality) and often feature live cover bands. Most of these pubs cater to and are frequented by the expatriate communities so you should not expect to find many Chinese in there. Be aware that imported beer costs more than local brew.
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To just go out for a few drinks with friends, pick a local restaurant and drink beer at around ¥5 for a 600 ml bottle. It will be Chinese lager, around 3% alcohol, with a limited choice of brand and may be served warm. Most mid- to high- range restaurants will have small private suites for gatherings (usually offered free if there are more than around five people), and the staff will generally not try to hustle you out even if you decide to stay until closing time. Many residents frequent outdoor restaurants or roadside stalls and barbecues (shāokǎo - 烧烤) for a nice and inexpensive evening.
 
To just go out for a few drinks with friends, pick a local restaurant and drink beer at around ¥5 for a 600 ml bottle. It will be Chinese lager, around 3% alcohol, with a limited choice of brand and may be served warm. Most mid- to high- range restaurants will have small private suites for gatherings (usually offered free if there are more than around five people), and the staff will generally not try to hustle you out even if you decide to stay until closing time. Many residents frequent outdoor restaurants or roadside stalls and barbecues (shāokǎo - 烧烤) for a nice and inexpensive evening.
  
In '''discos''' and '''fancy bars''' with entertainment, beer is bought ¥100 at a time, buying anywhere from four import-brand beers (Heineken, Bud, Corona, Sol, etc.) to ten local beers. A few places offer cocktails; fewer have good ones.
+
In '''discos''' and '''fancy bars''' with entertainment, you normally buy beer ¥100 at a time; this gets you anywhere from four import-brand beers (Heineken, Bud, Corona, Sol, ..) to ten local beers. A few places offer cocktails; fewer have good ones.
  
 
Other drinks are sold only by the bottle, not by the glass. Red wine is in the ¥80-200 range (served with ice and Sprite) and mediocre imported whiskeys (Chivas, Johnny Walker, Jim Beam, Jack Daniels; rarely single malts) and cognacs, ¥300-800. Both are often mixed with sweet bottled green or red tea. Vodka, tequila and rum are less common, but sometimes available. Bogus "brand-name" products are fairly common and may ruin your next day.
 
Other drinks are sold only by the bottle, not by the glass. Red wine is in the ¥80-200 range (served with ice and Sprite) and mediocre imported whiskeys (Chivas, Johnny Walker, Jim Beam, Jack Daniels; rarely single malts) and cognacs, ¥300-800. Both are often mixed with sweet bottled green or red tea. Vodka, tequila and rum are less common, but sometimes available. Bogus "brand-name" products are fairly common and may ruin your next day.
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As elsewhere, '''never''' accept an invitation to a restaurant or bar from an available-looking woman who just picked you up in the street sometime after sundown. At best, suggest a different place. If she refuses, drop her on the spot. More than likely, she will steer you into a quiet little place with too many doormen and you will find yourself saddled with a modest meal and beer that will cost you ¥1,000 or worse. And the doormen won't let you leave till you pay up. This is somewhat rare. But it does happen.
 
As elsewhere, '''never''' accept an invitation to a restaurant or bar from an available-looking woman who just picked you up in the street sometime after sundown. At best, suggest a different place. If she refuses, drop her on the spot. More than likely, she will steer you into a quiet little place with too many doormen and you will find yourself saddled with a modest meal and beer that will cost you ¥1,000 or worse. And the doormen won't let you leave till you pay up. This is somewhat rare. But it does happen.
  
===Tea===
+
==Tea==
  
 
China is the birthplace of tea, and at the risk of stating the obvious, there's a lot of '''tea''' (茶 ''chá'') in China. Green tea (绿茶 ''lǜchá'') is served up for free in some restaurants (depending on region) or for a small fee. The most common types served are:
 
China is the birthplace of tea, and at the risk of stating the obvious, there's a lot of '''tea''' (茶 ''chá'') in China. Green tea (绿茶 ''lǜchá'') is served up for free in some restaurants (depending on region) or for a small fee. The most common types served are:
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Most tea shops allow customers to sit and sample various teas. "Ten Fu Tea" is a national chain and in Beijing "Wu Yu Tai" is favoured by the locals.
 
Most tea shops allow customers to sit and sample various teas. "Ten Fu Tea" is a national chain and in Beijing "Wu Yu Tai" is favoured by the locals.
  
Black tea, the type of tea most common in the West, is known in China as "red tea" (紅茶 ''hóngchá''). Many Chinese teas, including the famed Pǔ'ěr also fall into the "black tea" category.
+
Black tea, the type of tea most common in the West, is known in China as "red tea" (紅茶 ''hóngchá''). While almost all Western teas are black teas, the converse isn't true, with many Chinese teas, including the famed Pǔ'ěr also falling into the "black tea" category.
  
 
Normal Chinese teas are always drunk neat, with the use of sugar or milk unknown. However, in some areas you will find Hong Kong-style "milk tea" (奶茶 ''nǎichá'') or Tibetan "butter tea".  Taiwanese bubble tea (珍珠奶茶 ''Zhēnzhū Nǎichá'') is also popular and widely available.
 
Normal Chinese teas are always drunk neat, with the use of sugar or milk unknown. However, in some areas you will find Hong Kong-style "milk tea" (奶茶 ''nǎichá'') or Tibetan "butter tea".  Taiwanese bubble tea (珍珠奶茶 ''Zhēnzhū Nǎichá'') is also popular and widely available.
  
===Coffee===
+
==Coffee==
  
 
Coffee (咖啡 ''kāfēi'') is becoming quite popular in urban China, though it is nearly impossible to find in smaller towns.
 
Coffee (咖啡 ''kāfēi'') is becoming quite popular in urban China, though it is nearly impossible to find in smaller towns.
  
Several chains of coffee shops have branches in many cities, including Starbucks (星巴克), UBC Coffee (上岛咖啡), Ming Tien Coffee Language and SPR . All offer coffee, tea and both Chinese and Western food, generally with good air conditioning, wireless internet, and nice decor. ¥15-40 or so a cup.
+
Several chains of coffee shops have branches in many cities, including Starbucks (星巴克), UBC Coffee (上岛咖啡), Ming Tien Coffee Language and SPR . All offer coffee, tea, and both Chinese and Western food, generally with good air conditioning, wireless internet, and nice decor. ¥15-40 or so a cup.
  
 
There are also many independent coffee shops and local chains. These may also be high-priced, but often they are around ¥15 a cup. Quality varies from excellent to abysmal.
 
There are also many independent coffee shops and local chains. These may also be high-priced, but often they are around ¥15 a cup. Quality varies from excellent to abysmal.
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For cheap coffee just to stave off withdrawal symptoms, there are several options. Go to a Western fast-food chain (KFC, McDonalds, etc.) for some ¥8 coffee. Additionally, almost any supermarket or convenience store will have both canned cold coffee and instant Nescafé (black or pre-mixed with whitener and sugar) - just add hot water.
 
For cheap coffee just to stave off withdrawal symptoms, there are several options. Go to a Western fast-food chain (KFC, McDonalds, etc.) for some ¥8 coffee. Additionally, almost any supermarket or convenience store will have both canned cold coffee and instant Nescafé (black or pre-mixed with whitener and sugar) - just add hot water.
  
===Cold drinks===
+
==Cold drinks==
  
 
Many drinks that are usually served chilled or with ice in the West are served at room temperature in China. Ask for beer or soda in a restaurant, and it may arrive at room temperature, though beer is more commonly served cold, at least in the summer. Water will generally be served hot. That is actually good, because only boiled (or bottled) water is safe to drink, but it's not pleasant to drink hot water in the summer.
 
Many drinks that are usually served chilled or with ice in the West are served at room temperature in China. Ask for beer or soda in a restaurant, and it may arrive at room temperature, though beer is more commonly served cold, at least in the summer. Water will generally be served hot. That is actually good, because only boiled (or bottled) water is safe to drink, but it's not pleasant to drink hot water in the summer.
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Asking for ice is best avoided. Many, perhaps most, places just don't have it. The ice they do have may well be made from unfiltered tap water and arguably unsafe for travelers sweating bullets about diarrhea.
 
Asking for ice is best avoided. Many, perhaps most, places just don't have it. The ice they do have may well be made from unfiltered tap water and arguably unsafe for travelers sweating bullets about diarrhea.
  
==Sleep==
+
=Sleep=
{{warningbox|Foreigners MUST present an original passport with a valid visa to check into a legal hotel or hostel.  
+
{{warningbox|Foreigners MUST present an original passport with a valid visa for checking into a legal hotel or hostel.  
  
 
Many wikitravellers have reported troubles during check-in when their passports were held by other consulates or a Public Security Bureau (PSB) office for applying for or extending a visa. Without an original passport, check-in will be refused. Presenting a receipt from the police or consulates to prove the passport's whereabouts will NOT help. Therefore, before applying for a new visa, travellers should stay at the same hotels or hostels and not move until getting the passport(s) back.
 
Many wikitravellers have reported troubles during check-in when their passports were held by other consulates or a Public Security Bureau (PSB) office for applying for or extending a visa. Without an original passport, check-in will be refused. Presenting a receipt from the police or consulates to prove the passport's whereabouts will NOT help. Therefore, before applying for a new visa, travellers should stay at the same hotels or hostels and not move until getting the passport(s) back.
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}}
 
}}
  
Types of accommodation for tourists range from five-star luxury hotels to the cheapest options, such as '''[[hostels]]''', '''dorms''' and extra rooms called '''zhusu''' and finding these requires more information than many guide books provide. '''Sleeper trains''' and '''sleeper buses''' can also be a decent option if long-distance travel is scheduled overnight (see the [[#Get around|Get around]] section of this page for more information). Tourists who are absolutely at a loss for finding lodging should seek out the local police (警察) or Public Security Bureau (公安局). They can arrange a place to crash - at least for one night.
+
Types of accommodation for tourists range from shared dorm rooms to five-star luxury hotels. In certain areas, foreign tourists are only allowed to stay at several approved  hotels, although this is slowly changing. Some cheap establishments are still locally state-run affairs and have changed little since the Maoist era. Other ultra-cheap options are used as temporary housing by migrant workers and would not appeal to most travelers for security and cleanliness reasons. That said, there are many sleeping options in most Chinese towns, varying in price and comfort.
  
'''Negotiable prices''' are the rule and the price listed on the wall may be reduced, even in nicer hotels, by simply asking, "What's the lowest price?" (最低多少 ''zuìdī duōshǎo''). When staying for more than a few days it is also usually possible to negotiate a lower nightly rate. However, negotiating is ineffective during the busy Chinese holiday seasons when prices sky-rocket and rooms are hard to get.
+
Star ratings, especially for two and three-star hotels, generally cannot be trusted in China. Pricing is a much better guide. Those willing to pay ¥200 or more for a room will have little problem finding a room. Those wanting something cheaper yet still comfortable will need more information than many guide books provide. The cheapest options include '''[[hostels]]''', '''dorms''', and extra rooms called '''zhusu'''. Every city has plenty of hotels charging ¥150 and up. '''Sleeper trains''' and '''sleeper buses''' can also be a decent option if  long-distance travel is scheduled overnight (see the [[#Get around|Get around]] section of this page for more information). There is often lodging near the bus or train station, an area that typically has several cheap hotels. Hotels that are not licensed to accept foreigners can be heavily fined if caught housing foreign occupants, but enforcement of this law appears spotty and many unlicensed hotels accept foreigners anyway.
  
'''Booking a room over the Internet''' with a credit card is a convenient, quick method to reserve a room and is available via many websites. Some new online services [http://www.dajiudian.info] allow booking without a credit card and paying cash at the hotel. During Chinese holidays, when it is difficult to get a room anywhere, this may be an acceptable option, but in the off-season rooms are plentiful almost everywhere and it may be just as easy to find a room upon arrival as it is to book one over the Internet.
+
In the cheapest hotels water may not be available 24 hours-a-day (有没有二十四个小时的热水 ''yǒuméiyǒu èrshisì ge xiǎoshí de rèshuǐ''), and the shower, sink and toilet might not work. Rooms overlooking a busy street are subject to traffic noise. Either have reservations or arrive before 6-7PM, when the best options are full. Tourists who are absolutely at a loss for finding lodging should seek out the local police (警察) or Public Security Bureau (公安局). They can arrange a place to crash - at least for one night.
  
===Low-cost Housing===
+
'''Negotiable prices''' are the rule and the price listed on the wall may be reduced, even in nicer hotels, by simply asking, "What's the lowest price?" (最低多少 ''zuìdī duōshǎo''). When staying for more than a few days it is also usually possible to negotiate a lower nightly rate. However, negotiating is ineffective during the busy Chinese holiday seasons when prices sky-rocket and rooms are hard to get. Many hotels, both chains and individual establishments, have membership cards offering discounts to frequent guests.
 +
 
 +
In mid-range and better hotels, it is common for guests to receive phone calls offering "massage" services; this is actually a thinly-veiled front for prostitution.
 +
 
 +
'''Booking a room over the Internet''' with a credit card is a convenient, quick method to reserve a room and is available via many websites. Credit cards are not widely used in China, particularly in smaller and cheaper hotels. Such hotels usually ask to be paid in cash, with a security deposit, up front. Some new online services [http://www.dajiudian.info] allow booking without a credit card and paying cash at the hotel. During Chinese holidays, when it is difficult to get a room anywhere, this may be an acceptable option, but in the off-season rooms are plentiful almost everywhere and it may be just as easy to find a room upon arrival as it is to book one over the Internet.
 +
 
 +
==Low-cost Housing==
  
 
Affordable lodging is provided by the following:
 
Affordable lodging is provided by the following:
  
* '''Hostels (青年旅社)''' are the most comfortable low-cost options. They typically cater to foreigners, have English-speaking employees, and can provide cheap, convenient transport around town. Some of them are even cleaner and better furnished than more expensive places. Hostels also have a cozy, international atmosphere and are a good place to meet other travelers and get some half-decent Western food. In most cities of any size there is at least one hostel available, and in travel hot spots such as Beijing, [[Yangshuo]], Dali, and Chengdu there are plenty of hostels, although they are often full because of their popularity with backpackers. Hostels can often be booked on-line in advance. Bring a print-out of your confirmation as not all hostels are aware that their rooms (and a portion of the cost) are booked and paid on-line in advance. In Beijing, many hostels are located in '''Hutongs''' - traditional courtyard homes in the midst of a maze of traditional streets and architecture. While many of Beijing's Hutongs have been demolished, a movement to save those which remain has led to a boom in hostels and boutique hotels.
+
* '''Hostels (青年旅社)''' are, by far, the most comfortable low-cost options. They typically cater to foreigners, have English-speaking employees, and can provide cheap, convenient transport around town. Some of them are even cleaner and better furnished than more expensive places. Hostels also have a cozy, international atmosphere and are a good place to meet other travelers and get some half-decent Western food, which can be a godsend after days or weeks surviving off rice and noodles. In most cities of any size there is at least one hostel available, and in travel hot spots such as Beijing, [[Yangshuo]], Dali, and Chengdu there are plenty of hostel options, although they are often full because of their popularity with backpackers. Hostels can often be booked on-line in advance. Bring a print-out of your confirmation as not all hostels are aware that their rooms (and a portion of the cost) are booked and paid on-line in advance. In Beijing, many hostels are located in '''Hutongs''' - traditional courtyard homes in the midst of a maze of traditional streets and architecture. While many of Beijing's Hutongs have been demolished, a movement to save those which remain has led to a boom in youth hostels for backpackers and boutique hotels for the mid-range traveler.
  
* '''Dormitories (宿舍)''' are located on university campuses, near rural tourist attractions and within some hotels. Most travelers have spotty luck with dorms. There may be rowdy or intoxicated roommates, shared bathrooms, traditional squat toilets and cold showers. However in some areas, especially on top of some of China's holy mountains, dorm rooms might be the only budget option in a sea of luxury resorts.
+
* '''Dormitories (宿舍)''' are located on university campuses, near rural tourist attractions and within some hotels. Most travelers have spotty luck with dorms. There may be rowdy or intoxicated roommates, shared bathrooms, traditional squat toilets and cold showers. However in some areas, especially on top of some of China's holy mountains, dorm rooms might be the only budget option in a sea of luxury resorts.  
  
* '''Zhùsù (住宿)''', which simply translates as "accommodation", can refer to any kind of sleeping accommodation, but those places that have the Chinese characters for zhusu written on the wall outside are the cheapest. A zhusu is not an actual hotel, but simply rooms for rent located in homes, restaurants, and near train and bus stations. Zhusu rooms are universally spartan and bathrooms are almost always shared. The price can be as little as a few dozen renminbi. Officially a zhusu should not provide a room to a foreigner, but many times the caretaker is eager to get a client and will be willing to rent to anyone. There are never any English signs advertising a zhusu, so if you can't read Chinese, print out the characters before searching. Security in a zhusu is sketchy, so this option is not recommended for those with valuables.
+
* '''Zhùsù (住宿)''', which simply translates as "accommodation", can refer to any kind of sleeping accommodation, but those places that have the Chinese characters for zhusu written on the wall outside are the cheapest. A zhusu is not an actual hotel, but simply rooms for rent located in homes, restaurants, and near train and bus stations. Zhusu rooms are universally spartan and bathrooms are almost always shared. The price can be quite low, costing only a few dozen renminbi. Officially a zhusu should not provide a room to a foreigner, but many times the caretaker is eager to get a client and will be willing to rent to anyone. There are never any English signs advertising a zhusu, so if you can't read Chinese, print out the characters before searching. Security in zhusu's is sketchy, so this option is not recommended for those with valuables.
  
 
* '''Spas''': In the spa there are beds or reclining couches, but there is no privacy because usually everyone sleeps in one room. However, there is more security than in a dorm, since there are attendants who watch over the area, and belongings (including one's clothes) are stored away in the lockers. Costs can be as low as ¥25. Entering a spa very late at night (after 1AM) and leaving before noon may lead to a 50% discount. Admission to a spa is typically for 24 hours, and a small locker is provided for bags and personal possessions. This is ideal for tourists who travel light. Furthermore, spas often provide complimentary food. Some receptionists try to overcharge tourists and claim that the listed rates are only for members, locals, women, men, or include only one part of the spa (i.e. shower, but no bed/couch). To verify any claims, strike up a conversation with a local a good distance away from the spa and inquire about the prices without letting them know that this is to check the spa's claims. Pretend to be considering going there if the price is good. If they know that the spa is trying to overcharge you, they will typically support the spa's claim.
 
* '''Spas''': In the spa there are beds or reclining couches, but there is no privacy because usually everyone sleeps in one room. However, there is more security than in a dorm, since there are attendants who watch over the area, and belongings (including one's clothes) are stored away in the lockers. Costs can be as low as ¥25. Entering a spa very late at night (after 1AM) and leaving before noon may lead to a 50% discount. Admission to a spa is typically for 24 hours, and a small locker is provided for bags and personal possessions. This is ideal for tourists who travel light. Furthermore, spas often provide complimentary food. Some receptionists try to overcharge tourists and claim that the listed rates are only for members, locals, women, men, or include only one part of the spa (i.e. shower, but no bed/couch). To verify any claims, strike up a conversation with a local a good distance away from the spa and inquire about the prices without letting them know that this is to check the spa's claims. Pretend to be considering going there if the price is good. If they know that the spa is trying to overcharge you, they will typically support the spa's claim.
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* '''Massage shops''': It is possible to spend the night on a body-massage table or (much better) on the couch used for foot massage. This is probably the cheapest way to sleep in China. Note, however, that you will share the staff's toilet. There may not be any way to lock up luggage, so leave it at any railway station, which costs ¥5-10.
 
* '''Massage shops''': It is possible to spend the night on a body-massage table or (much better) on the couch used for foot massage. This is probably the cheapest way to sleep in China. Note, however, that you will share the staff's toilet. There may not be any way to lock up luggage, so leave it at any railway station, which costs ¥5-10.
  
===Hotels===
+
==Budget Hotels==
  
In certain areas, foreign tourists are only allowed to stay at several approved hotels, although this is changing. Star ratings, especially for two and three-star hotels, generally cannot be trusted in China. Pricing is a much better guide. Many hotels, both chains and individual establishments, have membership cards offering discounts to frequent guests.
+
The next level of hotels, which cater to Chinese clients, are usually officially off-limits to foreigners but may accept an international client, especially one who speaks some Chinese. The cheapest range of Chinese budget hotels (one step above the zhusu) are called '''zhāodàisuǒ''' (招待所). Unlike zhusu these are '''licensed''' accommodations but are similarly spartan and utilitarian, often with shared bathrooms. Slightly more luxurious budget hotels and Chinese business hotels may or may not have English signs and usually have the words '''lǚguǎn''' (旅馆, meaning "travel hotel"), '''bīnguǎn''' or '''jiǔdiàn''' (宾馆 and 酒店, respectively, meaning "hotel") in their name. Room options typically include singles and doubles with attached bathrooms, and dorms with shared baths. Some budget hotels include complementary toiletries and Internet. In rural towns a night's stay might be as cheap as ¥25; in bigger cities a room usually costs ¥80-120. These hotels can be quite noisy as patrons and staff yell to each other across the halls into the wee hours of the morning. Be aware that a room with a shared bath may be one of twenty or thirty rooms sharing that bathroom, requiring a wait to use the toilet and a half an hour or longer wait to take a shower. In small hotels, the innkeepers may simply lock up late at night when it appears no more customers are coming. So, announce a late arrival in advance or else you may have to call the front desk, bang on the door, or climb over the gate to get in.
  
The cheapest range of Chinese budget hotels (one step above the zhusu) are called '''zhāodàisuǒ''' (招待所). They are spartan and utilitarian, often with shared bathrooms. Be aware that a room with a shared bath may be one of twenty or thirty rooms sharing that bathroom, requiring a wait to use the toilet and a half an hour or longer wait to take a shower. In the cheapest hotels water may not be available 24 hours-a-day (有没有二十四个小时的热水 ''yǒuméiyǒu èrshisì ge xiǎoshí de rèshuǐ''), and the shower, sink and toilet might not work. These hotels can be quite noisy as patrons and staff yell to each other across the halls into the wee hours of the morning and rooms overlooking a busy street are subject to traffic noise. These cheap hotels are often near the bus or train station. Hotels that are not licensed to accept foreigners can be heavily fined if caught housing foreign occupants, but enforcement of this law appears spotty and many unlicensed hotels accept foreigners anyway. Some cheap establishments are still locally state-run affairs and have changed little since the Maoist era. Credit cards are not widely used in China, particularly in cheaper hotels. Such hotels usually ask to be paid in cash, with a security deposit, up front. In rural towns a night's stay might be as cheap as ¥25; in bigger cities a room usually costs ¥80-120. Either have reservations or arrive before 6-7PM, when the best options are full. In small hotels, the innkeepers may simply lock up late at night when it appears no more customers are coming. So, announce a late arrival in advance or end up having to call the front desk, bang on the door, or climb over the gate to enter.
+
==Mid-range hotels==
  
Slightly more luxurious budget hotels and Chinese business hotels may or may not have English signs and usually have the words '''lǚguǎn''' (旅馆, meaning "travel hotel"), '''bīnguǎn''' or '''jiǔdiàn''' (宾馆 and 酒店, respectively, meaning "hotel") in their name. Room options typically include singles and doubles with attached bathrooms, and dorms with shared baths. Some of these hotels include complementary toiletries and Internet. Western-quality budget hotels include the following chains, all of which have rooms in the ¥150-300 range and on-line advance booking in English:
+
These are usually larger hotels, clean and comfortable but not too expensive, with rooms ranging from ¥150 at the low end to over ¥300. Frequently the same hotels will also have more expensive and luxurious rooms. The doubles are usually quite nice and up to Western standards, with a clean private bathroom that has towels and free toiletries. A buffet breakfast may be included, or a breakfast ticket can be purchased for around ¥10.
 +
 
 +
Sprouting up around China are a number of Western-quality budget hotels that include the following chains, all of which have rooms in the ¥150-300 range and on-line advance booking in English:
 
* '''JJ Inn''' (锦江之星) [http://www.jj-inn.com/Default.aspx]
 
* '''JJ Inn''' (锦江之星) [http://www.jj-inn.com/Default.aspx]
 
* '''Rujia Home Inn''' (如家快捷酒店) [http://www.homeinns.com]
 
* '''Rujia Home Inn''' (如家快捷酒店) [http://www.homeinns.com]
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* '''7DaysInn''' ((7天连) [http://7daysinn.cn/]
 
* '''7DaysInn''' ((7天连) [http://7daysinn.cn/]
  
Mid-range hotels are usually large, clean and comfortable but not too expensive, with rooms ranging from ¥150 to over ¥300. Frequently these hotels will also have more expensive and luxurious rooms. The doubles are usually quite nice and up to Western standards, with a clean private bathroom with towels and free toiletries. A buffet breakfast may be included, or a breakfast ticket can be purchased for around ¥10. In mid-range and better hotels, it is common for guests to receive phone calls offering "massage" services; this is actually a thinly-veiled front for prostitution.
+
==Luxury hotels==
  
Luxury hotels include Marriott, Hyatt, Shangri-La and their Chinese competitors. They charge hundreds or thousands of yuan per night for luxurious accommodations with 24-hour room service, satellite TV, spas, and Western-style breakfast buffets. There are suites in Shanghai, for example, for over ¥10,000 a night. Many of these establishments cater to traveling business-types with expense accounts and charge accordingly for food and amenities (i.e. ¥20 for a bottle of water which costs ¥2 at a convenience store). Internet (wired or wireless) which is usually free in mid-range accommodations is often a pay service in high-end hotels. Some hotels in the ¥400-700 range, such as Ramada or Days Inn, lower their prices when business is slow. Chinese three and four-star hotels will often give block-pricing or better deals for stays of over five days. Tour companies may provide their clients rooms in a luxury hotel for a fraction of the listed price.
+
These are international hotel chains and resorts, such as the Marriott, Hyatt and Shangri-La and their Chinese competitors. They charge hundreds or thousands of yuan per night for luxurious accommodations with 24-hour room service, satellite TV, spas, and Western-style breakfast buffets. There are suites in Shanghai, for example, for over ¥10,000 a night. Many of these establishments cater to traveling business-types with expense accounts and charge accordingly for food and amenities (i.e. ¥20 for a bottle of water which costs ¥2 at a convenience store). Internet (wired or wireless) which is usually free in mid-range accommodations is often a pay service in high-end hotels. Some hotels in the ¥400-700 range, such as Ramada or Days Inn, lower their prices when business is slow. Chinese three and four-star hotels will often give block-pricing or better deals for stays of over five days. Tour companies may provide their clients rooms in a luxury hotel for a fraction of the listed price.
  
==Learn==
+
=Learn=
 
[[Image:Kongzixiang.jpeg|thumb|220px|A statue of Confucius in a Chinese high school]]
 
[[Image:Kongzixiang.jpeg|thumb|220px|A statue of Confucius in a Chinese high school]]
 
Foreign students have diverse educational needs. China's universities offer varied types of courses and teaching methods to cater to these needs as well as to the different educational levels of foreign students. '''Peking University''' (北京大学) and '''Tsinghua University''' (清华大学), both based in Beijing, are China's most prestigious universities, and are regularly ranked among the top universities in the world.
 
Foreign students have diverse educational needs. China's universities offer varied types of courses and teaching methods to cater to these needs as well as to the different educational levels of foreign students. '''Peking University''' (北京大学) and '''Tsinghua University''' (清华大学), both based in Beijing, are China's most prestigious universities, and are regularly ranked among the top universities in the world.
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'''Postgraduates'''
 
'''Postgraduates'''
Master's degrees are granted after two to three years of study. Oral and written examinations and a postgraduate thesis are part of the course.
+
Master's degrees are granted after two to three years of study. Oral and written examinations and a postgraduate thesis are part of the course.  
  
 
'''Doctoral students'''  
 
'''Doctoral students'''  
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Foreign students are encouraged to continue their studies and obtain Master's or doctoral degrees in China's universities, and those who have graduated in China are welcome to return for further education. Some universities offer courses taught in foreign languages, but most courses are in Chinese, and proficiency must be demonstrated prior to enrolment via the '''HSK test''' (汉语水平考试 ''hànyǔ shuǐpíng kǎoshì''), the official examination to certify a Basic, Intermediate or Advanced level of proficiency. The test involves reading, writing and listening, but no speaking. See the HSK homepage [http://www.hsk.org.cn/english/] for dates and locations.
 
Foreign students are encouraged to continue their studies and obtain Master's or doctoral degrees in China's universities, and those who have graduated in China are welcome to return for further education. Some universities offer courses taught in foreign languages, but most courses are in Chinese, and proficiency must be demonstrated prior to enrolment via the '''HSK test''' (汉语水平考试 ''hànyǔ shuǐpíng kǎoshì''), the official examination to certify a Basic, Intermediate or Advanced level of proficiency. The test involves reading, writing and listening, but no speaking. See the HSK homepage [http://www.hsk.org.cn/english/] for dates and locations.
  
===Scholarships===
+
==Scholarships==
  
 
To promote its culture and language, the Chinese government offers scholarships to foreigners who want to study in China. Partial scholarships will cover the tuition fees of the chosen academic course. Full scholarships also cover books, rent, some medical coverage, and a monthly allowance for food and expenses. Although studying bases the student in a single city and lessens time for travelling, a scholarship bypasses much red tape, provides a Residence Permit, and allows an inexpensive stay in China.
 
To promote its culture and language, the Chinese government offers scholarships to foreigners who want to study in China. Partial scholarships will cover the tuition fees of the chosen academic course. Full scholarships also cover books, rent, some medical coverage, and a monthly allowance for food and expenses. Although studying bases the student in a single city and lessens time for travelling, a scholarship bypasses much red tape, provides a Residence Permit, and allows an inexpensive stay in China.
  
 
To learn about scholarships, contact the nearest Chinese embassy, or inquire at universities and language schools with China-related courses. Scholarships are assigned by quota to every country, so if too many people want one, fellow citizens compete against each other, not against the entire world. The procedure varies from country to country, but normally requires the following paperwork:
 
To learn about scholarships, contact the nearest Chinese embassy, or inquire at universities and language schools with China-related courses. Scholarships are assigned by quota to every country, so if too many people want one, fellow citizens compete against each other, not against the entire world. The procedure varies from country to country, but normally requires the following paperwork:
* authorized copies of your highest (preferably university) degree, including the exam scores
+
* authorized copies of your highest (preferably university) degree, including the exam scores;
 
* two letters of recommendation
 
* two letters of recommendation
 
* proof of a full health check-up (blood-test, ECG, X-Ray, ...)
 
* proof of a full health check-up (blood-test, ECG, X-Ray, ...)
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For more information, visit the China Scholarship Council [http://www.csc.edu.cn/en/] and China Service Center for Scholarly Exchanges [http://www.cscse.edu.cn] websites.
 
For more information, visit the China Scholarship Council [http://www.csc.edu.cn/en/] and China Service Center for Scholarly Exchanges [http://www.cscse.edu.cn] websites.
  
==Work==
+
=Work=
  
 
Teaching a language, most commonly English, is a popular source of employment for foreigners. There are [[Teaching English|English-teaching]] jobs all over China. The market for teachers of other languages is more limited. However, most universities require all English majors to study another foreign language as well, and there are specialised universities for foreign languages in major cities such as Beijing [http://www.bfsu.edu.cn], Guangzhou [http://english.gwnews.net/], Xi'an [http://www.xisu.edu.cn/waiyuan/12.htm], Dalian and Shanghai [http://www.shisu.edu.cn/SISUenglish/] which teach the major languages. Guangzhou is earning a reputation as a hub for so-called ''rare'' languages.
 
Teaching a language, most commonly English, is a popular source of employment for foreigners. There are [[Teaching English|English-teaching]] jobs all over China. The market for teachers of other languages is more limited. However, most universities require all English majors to study another foreign language as well, and there are specialised universities for foreign languages in major cities such as Beijing [http://www.bfsu.edu.cn], Guangzhou [http://english.gwnews.net/], Xi'an [http://www.xisu.edu.cn/waiyuan/12.htm], Dalian and Shanghai [http://www.shisu.edu.cn/SISUenglish/] which teach the major languages. Guangzhou is earning a reputation as a hub for so-called ''rare'' languages.
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* teaching experience
 
* teaching experience
  
Those lacking other qualifications should get a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) certificate. Native English-speakers are preferred.
+
Those lacking other qualifications should get a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) certificate.
 +
 
 +
Native English-speakers and citizens of major English-speaking countries are preferred. Job ads routinely include a list of acceptable passports; UK, US, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand are on every list, Ireland and South Africa are on most. Some schools will not even read the rest of your resumé if you lack one of the aforementioned passports. Discrimination may also come into play; overseas Chinese (even with perfect English), Filipinos, Indians, Malaysians, American Blacks, and especially Africans all report difficulty finding jobs, or getting lower offers. Members of all those groups are happily employed in other schools, and many are well-paid, but getting a job is easier for Caucasians, especially Americans or British. Some schools want blue-eyed blondes, because they hope that will help their marketing. The Chinese prefer to acquire an American accent, so a Scots or Aussie accent will bother some employers, for example.
  
 
Pay and conditions vary depending on location, experience and qualifications. Free accommodation, provided by the institution, is common. Generally this means an apartment of your own, though some tightfisted schools want teachers to share. Most jobs pay for all or part of an annual trip home. Teachers usually earn enough to live well in China, though some have a problem in summer because many university or high-school jobs pay for only the ten months of the academic year. It is possible to teach private lessons on the side - in fact students or their parents may request this incessantly. Foreign teachers generally earn two or three times their Chinese colleagues' salaries, but the differences are narrowing. A public college or university will often pay less than a private school, but will also require fewer teaching hours.
 
Pay and conditions vary depending on location, experience and qualifications. Free accommodation, provided by the institution, is common. Generally this means an apartment of your own, though some tightfisted schools want teachers to share. Most jobs pay for all or part of an annual trip home. Teachers usually earn enough to live well in China, though some have a problem in summer because many university or high-school jobs pay for only the ten months of the academic year. It is possible to teach private lessons on the side - in fact students or their parents may request this incessantly. Foreign teachers generally earn two or three times their Chinese colleagues' salaries, but the differences are narrowing. A public college or university will often pay less than a private school, but will also require fewer teaching hours.
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See also [[Teaching English]].
 
See also [[Teaching English]].
  
===Work visas===
+
==Work visas==
  
To work as a teacher in China, either a Foreign Teacher's Certificate (FTC) or a Foreign Expert's Certificate (FEC) is required. Both are issued by the State Administration for Foreign Experts Affairs (SAFEA) [http://www.safea.gov.cn/english/]. In theory, the FTC is for elementary or high-school teachers and the FEC is for tertiary education. In practice, everyone seems to get the FEC. In theory, both require a degree; this is usually, but not always, enforced. Whether it is depends at least on the location, the school's clout, and their willingness to persist. Other certifications or diplomas can compensate for a lack of a degree.
+
To work as a teacher in China, either a Foreign Teacher's Certificate (FTC) or a Foreign Expert's Certificate (FEC) is required. Both are issued by the State Administration for Foreign Experts Affairs (SAFEA) [http://www.safea.gov.cn/english/]. In theory, the FTC is for elementary or high school teachers and the FEC is for tertiary education. In practice, everyone seems to get the FEC. In theory, both require a degree; this is usually, but not always, enforced. Whether it is depends at least on the location, the school's clout, and their willingness to persist. Other certifications or diplomas can compensate for a lack of a degree.
  
 
Once the FEC is acquired, getting a Residence Permit is routine. The Residence Permit is generally valid for a year and acts as a multiple-entry visa.
 
Once the FEC is acquired, getting a Residence Permit is routine. The Residence Permit is generally valid for a year and acts as a multiple-entry visa.
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The Foreign Expert's Certificate provides a teacher's discount on some products and services including domestic flights.
 
The Foreign Expert's Certificate provides a teacher's discount on some products and services including domestic flights.
  
Much the safest way to come to a job in China is to enter the country on a Z visa. There can be some confusion with the terms; a few years ago, the Z was a one-year working visa but now the Residence Permit is the long-term visa and the Z is just an entry visa valid for 30 days, long enough to get the FEC and Residence Permit. The Z visa can only be obtained outside of China, and it requires a letter from the employers to accompany the passport when applying. Generally the school will request a signed contract, a health certificate from a health professional, a copy of passport details, and a copy of a diploma. Those over 60 may be required to have their own health insurance when the entity is asking for the province's approval. Some people have been told they must return to their home countries to obtain a Z visa. Others have been able to get a Z in Hong Kong, provided the invitation paperwork clearly stipulates it.
+
Much the safest way to come to a job in China is to enter the country on a Z visa. There can be some confusion with the terms; a few years ago, the Z was a one-year working visa but now the Residence Permit is the long-term visa and the Z is just an entry visa valid for 30 days, long enough to get the FEC and Residence Permit. The Z visa can only be obtained outside of China, and it requires a letter from the employers to accompany the passport when applying. Generally the school will request a signed contract, a health certificate from a health professional, a copy of passport details, and a copy of a diploma. Those over 60 may be required to have their own health insurance when the entity is asking for the province's approval.
 +
 
 +
It used to be common for people already in China to go to Hong Kong or Macau for the Z visa. Around the time of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the rules became more restrictive; but they have relaxed somewhat since then. This is also true for getting Chinese visas in other nearby countries such as Vietnam, Korea, Japan or Singapore. Some people have been told they must return to their home countries to obtain a Z visa. Others have been able to get a Z in Hong Kong, provided the invitation paperwork clearly stipulates it.
  
 
Some employers ask teachers to come in with a tourist visa, and say they can get a residence permit from that. The official regulations require the Z visa, but proceeding from a tourist visa to Residence Permit is sometimes possible, depending on policies at the local PSB (Public Security Bureau) office and the employer's contacts there. On the other hand, working on a tourist visa is illegal and some of the employers who want applicants to come on one are stringing them along; they do not have SAFEA permission to hire foreigners legally and are trying to wriggle around that. Do not even consider taking a post anywhere that wants you to come on a tourist visa unless current foreign teachers already there assure that they came that way and had no problem getting FEC and Residence Permit.
 
Some employers ask teachers to come in with a tourist visa, and say they can get a residence permit from that. The official regulations require the Z visa, but proceeding from a tourist visa to Residence Permit is sometimes possible, depending on policies at the local PSB (Public Security Bureau) office and the employer's contacts there. On the other hand, working on a tourist visa is illegal and some of the employers who want applicants to come on one are stringing them along; they do not have SAFEA permission to hire foreigners legally and are trying to wriggle around that. Do not even consider taking a post anywhere that wants you to come on a tourist visa unless current foreign teachers already there assure that they came that way and had no problem getting FEC and Residence Permit.
  
After completing the health certificate in your home country, be sure to get copies of the x-ray, lab reports and other machine documents. Also have the form stamped with the official seal of the hospital. Despite doing all of this, another physical may be required in China. Before coming to China, request that if the physical is also required inside China after arrival, that the school pay for the service. The physical is usually quick: EKG, chest x-ray, sonogram of heart and stomach area, blood test, and urine check. However, the time of completion of various tests varies by province.
+
After completing the health certificate in your home country, be sure to get copies of the x-ray, lab reports and other machine documents. Also have the form stamped with the official seal of the hospital. Despite doing all of this, another physical may be required in China. Before coming to China, request that if the physical is also required inside China after arrival, that the school pay for the service. The physical is usually quick: EKG, chest x-ray, sonogram of heart and stomach area, blood test, and urine check. owever, the time of completion and various tests varies by province.
  
 
An appearance at the local PSB is required to receive residency permit. Again, negotiate with the school for them to pay for the permit prior to departing for China. accompanying children and spouses may require an even higher amount for their residency permit.
 
An appearance at the local PSB is required to receive residency permit. Again, negotiate with the school for them to pay for the permit prior to departing for China. accompanying children and spouses may require an even higher amount for their residency permit.
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Most of the major cities in China are safe. Violent crime remains rare and it is generally safe for even women at night. There is some scams, such as the teahouse scam, and petty crimes can happen especially at transportation hubs and in crowded areas.
 
Most of the major cities in China are safe. Violent crime remains rare and it is generally safe for even women at night. There is some scams, such as the teahouse scam, and petty crimes can happen especially at transportation hubs and in crowded areas.
  
Petty crimes such as bicycle theft and pickpocketing are common. For bicycle riders, follow what local people do. If bikes are parked anywhere, just tie yours to a pole. It is common to park a bike without securing it to any fixed object, instead only locking the wheel. Restaurants and Internet cafes with bikes inside are a warning sign. Bike parking is common outside supermarkets or shopping centers, and usually charges RMB 1-2 per day (usually until 8-10pm). Battery packs of electric bicycles and scooters may be targeted.
+
Petty crimes such as bicycle theft and pickpocketing are common. For bicycle riders, follow what local people do. If you see bikes are parked anywhere, just tie yours to a pole. It is common to park a bike without securing it to any fixed object, instead only locking the wheel. Restaurants internet cafes with bikes inside are a warning sign. Bike parking is common outside supermarkets or shopping centers, and usually charges RMB 1-2 per day (usually until 8-10pm). Battery packs of electric bicycles and scooters may be targeted.
  
 
On long-distance buses, especially those departing from Shenzhen, passengers are required to take a mug shot before boarding. Since this measure was introduced, reports of muggings on buses have decreased.
 
On long-distance buses, especially those departing from Shenzhen, passengers are required to take a mug shot before boarding. Since this measure was introduced, reports of muggings on buses have decreased.
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Remember the following tips:
 
Remember the following tips:
 
# If feeling suspicious about the place you are invited to go, choose somewhere else such as McDonald's, Starbucks, KFC. If they insist on going to their "place" and resist your suggestions, it is likely the beginning of a scam.
 
# If feeling suspicious about the place you are invited to go, choose somewhere else such as McDonald's, Starbucks, KFC. If they insist on going to their "place" and resist your suggestions, it is likely the beginning of a scam.
# In a genuine tea shop, tea sampling is always free. A tea shop wants visitors to taste tea and buy the leaves. Charges will be mentioned beforehand.
+
# In a genuine tea shop, tea sampling is alwaysfree. A tea shop wants visitors to taste tea and buy the leaves. Charges will be mentioned beforehand.
 
# Teahouses usually only serve premium tea with the customer's knowledge. As a Laowai, a foreigner, do not feel embarrassed to ask about the price.
 
# Teahouses usually only serve premium tea with the customer's knowledge. As a Laowai, a foreigner, do not feel embarrassed to ask about the price.
 
# Being asked to foot an unusually high bill (more than Y500) without prior knowledge indicates a scam. Don’t pay. Call 110 and report the scam.
 
# Being asked to foot an unusually high bill (more than Y500) without prior knowledge indicates a scam. Don’t pay. Call 110 and report the scam.
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Finally, although it is perfectly possible to pay more than RMB1000 in a high-end teahouse or bar, run-of-the-mill teahouses and bars should be much less expensive. Such delicate tea would only be offered to tea connoisseurs, not a casual tea taster. Furthermore, it is considered socially offensive to take a new friend to spend so much money and expect them to pay the bill. If this happens, it is most likely a scam.
 
Finally, although it is perfectly possible to pay more than RMB1000 in a high-end teahouse or bar, run-of-the-mill teahouses and bars should be much less expensive. Such delicate tea would only be offered to tea connoisseurs, not a casual tea taster. Furthermore, it is considered socially offensive to take a new friend to spend so much money and expect them to pay the bill. If this happens, it is most likely a scam.
  
Beware of the counterfeit &yen;100-note scam. In this case, a taxi (or other merchant) who has been paid one or more &yen;100 notes replaces the real &yen;100 notes with counterfeit ones. Next they inspect "the customers'" &yen;100 notes (the fake ones that have replaced those actually paid) and state that they are counterfeit. The cabbie or merchant will then try to return "the customers'" counterfeit &yen;100 notes and ask for others, and perhaps scrutinise the others. This is most easily performed by a taxi driver with a customer sitting in the back who is unable to observe the sleight of hand. It is unlikely to receive fake bank-notes from an ATM, so if someone questions money that came from an ATM, it is probably a scam.
+
Beware of the counterfeit &yen;100-note scam. In this case, a taxi (or other merchant) that has been paid one or more &yen;100 notes replaces the real &yen;100 notes with counterfeit ones. Next they inspect "the customers'" &yen;100 notes (the fake ones that have replaced those actually paid) and state that they are counterfeit. The cabbie or merchant will then try to return "the customers'" counterfeit &yen;100 notes and ask for others, and perhaps scrutinise the others. This is most easily performed by a taxi driver with a customer sitting in the back who is unable to observe the sleight of hand. It is unlikely to receive fake bank-notes from an ATM, so if someone questions money that came from an ATM, it is probably a scam.
  
 
===Traffic===
 
===Traffic===
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A rule of thumb regarding street food is to make certain it is cooked thoroughly while watching; also, visit stalls frequented by locals, and look for plastic-wrapped disposable chopsticks. Minor stomach discomfort may still be experienced from street food and restaurant food alike, but is said to pass as one becomes accustomed to the local food. Ginger is effective against nausea, though it does not kill bacteria.
 
A rule of thumb regarding street food is to make certain it is cooked thoroughly while watching; also, visit stalls frequented by locals, and look for plastic-wrapped disposable chopsticks. Minor stomach discomfort may still be experienced from street food and restaurant food alike, but is said to pass as one becomes accustomed to the local food. Ginger is effective against nausea, though it does not kill bacteria.
  
The Chinese do not drink water straight from the tap, and tourists should not either. All hotels (even boats) provide either a thermos flask of boiled water in guest rooms (refillable by the floor attendant) or - more commonly - a kettle the guest can use to boil water. Generally, tap water is safe to drink ''after'' boiling. Purified, bottled water is widely available and a small bottle usually costs ¥1. Check that the seal on the cap is not broken. Beer, wine and soft drinks are also cheap and safe.
+
The Chinese do not drink water straight from the tap, and tourists should not either. All hotels (even boats) provide either a thermos flask of boiled water in guest rooms (refillable by the floor attendant) or - more commonly - a kettle the guest can use to boil water. Generally, tap water is safe to drink ''after'' boiling. Cheap, purified, bottled water is available everywhere. ¥1 is normal for a small bottle. Check that the seal on the cap is not broken. Beer, wine and soft drinks are also cheap and safe.
  
 
===Health care===
 
===Health care===
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According to the United Nations "China is currently experiencing one of the most rapidly expanding HIV epidemics in the world. Since 1998, the number of reported cases has increased by about 30% yearly. By 2010, China could have as many as ten million infections and 260,000 orphans if without intervention"; Chinese President Hu Jintao has recently pledged to fight the spread of AIDS/HIV within China. Sex workers, clients of sex workers and injecting drug users are the most-infected groups.
 
According to the United Nations "China is currently experiencing one of the most rapidly expanding HIV epidemics in the world. Since 1998, the number of reported cases has increased by about 30% yearly. By 2010, China could have as many as ten million infections and 260,000 orphans if without intervention"; Chinese President Hu Jintao has recently pledged to fight the spread of AIDS/HIV within China. Sex workers, clients of sex workers and injecting drug users are the most-infected groups.
  
New diseases are sometimes a threat in China, particularly in its more densely populated parts. More recently, there have been cases of bird flu; avoid under-cooked poultry or eggs. Partly as a result of the SARS experience, China's government has taken the global threat of Swine Flu '''very seriously'''.
+
New diseases are sometimes a threat in China, particularly in its more densely populated parts. In 2003 China experienced a serious SARS outbreak; this is no longer considered a major threat. More recently, there have been cases of bird flu; avoid under-cooked poultry or eggs. Partly as a result of the SARS experience, China's government has taken the global threat of Swine Flu '''very seriously'''.
  
 
==Respect==
 
==Respect==
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*'''Religion''': Swastikas have been used in Buddhist temples since the 5th century to represent Dharma, universal harmony, and the balance of opposites. Similar to India, it does not represent Nazism. It is also worth noting that the local Jews have historically lived peacefully with their non-Jewish neighbours, and save for the Cultural Revolution, which persecuted people of all religions and not just the Jews. China does not have a significant history of anti-Semitism.
 
*'''Religion''': Swastikas have been used in Buddhist temples since the 5th century to represent Dharma, universal harmony, and the balance of opposites. Similar to India, it does not represent Nazism. It is also worth noting that the local Jews have historically lived peacefully with their non-Jewish neighbours, and save for the Cultural Revolution, which persecuted people of all religions and not just the Jews. China does not have a significant history of anti-Semitism.
  
===LGBT travelers===
+
===Gay and lesbian travelers===
Homosexuality was de-criminalized in 1997 and taken off the state list of mental disorders in 2001. Though there are no laws against homosexuality in China, films, websites and television shows involving themes of homosexuality tend to be self-censored or banned.
+
Homosexuality was de-criminalized in 1997 and taken off the state list of mental disorders in 2001. Chinese people have a range of opinions regarding sexuality. Though there are no laws against homosexuality in China, films, websites and television shows involving themes of homosexuality tend to be self-censored or banned.
  
Whilst there is no obvious gay scene or community in China, most Chinese cities have at least one gay bar, although it will be well hidden. Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou are more in the open, with a range of gay bars and clubs, albeit nowhere near as brash and outspoken as their counterparts in other international cities. Most Chinese are reluctant to discuss their sexuality in public, as it is generally considered to be a personal matter. But younger people in the cities openly discuss their sexual orientation.
+
Whilst there is no obvious gay scene or community in China, most Chinese cities have at least one gay bar, although it will be well hidden. Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou are more in the open, with a range of gay bars and clubs, albeit nowhere near as brash and outspoken as their counterparts in other international cities. Most Chinese are reluctant to discuss their sexuality in public, as it is generally considered to be a personal matter. But don't be surprised to find younger people in the cities openly discussing their sexual orientation.
  
 
Homosexual marriages and unions are not recognised in the country. Nevertheless, while openly displaying sexual orientation in public may draw stares and whispers, gay and lesbian visitors should generally not run into any major problems, and unprovoked violence against homosexual couples is almost unheard of.
 
Homosexual marriages and unions are not recognised in the country. Nevertheless, while openly displaying sexual orientation in public may draw stares and whispers, gay and lesbian visitors should generally not run into any major problems, and unprovoked violence against homosexual couples is almost unheard of.
  
===Things to Avoid===
+
=== Things to Avoid ===
  
 
The Chinese are generally hospitable and honourable to a fault. But, while visiting the country, bear the following in mind:
 
The Chinese are generally hospitable and honourable to a fault. But, while visiting the country, bear the following in mind:
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* '''Do not write in red ink'''. Red ink is a taboo symbol that's widely associated with bad news.
 
* '''Do not write in red ink'''. Red ink is a taboo symbol that's widely associated with bad news.
  
==Cope==
+
=Cope=
  
 
'''Electricity''' is 220 volts/50 hz. Two-pin European and North American, as well as three-pin Australia-style plugs are generally supported. Read the voltage information on electric-powered items to ensure they accept 220V (twice the 110V used in many countries) before plugging them in — it may cause burnout and permanent damage to some devices such as hairdryers and razors. Universal extension cords that can handle a variety of plug shapes (including British) are widely used.
 
'''Electricity''' is 220 volts/50 hz. Two-pin European and North American, as well as three-pin Australia-style plugs are generally supported. Read the voltage information on electric-powered items to ensure they accept 220V (twice the 110V used in many countries) before plugging them in — it may cause burnout and permanent damage to some devices such as hairdryers and razors. Universal extension cords that can handle a variety of plug shapes (including British) are widely used.
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'''Smoking''' is banned in public buildings and public transport except for restaurants and bars (including KTVs) - many of which are outright smoke dens, although many multinational restaurant chains do ban smoking. These bans are enforced across the country. Generally, smoking laws are most strict in Shanghai and Beijing, whilst they are more lightly enforced elsewhere. Many places (particularly train stations, hospitals, office buildings and airports) will have smoking rooms, and some long-distance trains may have smoking areas at the end of each car. Facilities for non-smokers are often poor; most restaurants, bars and hotels will not have non-smoking areas apart from top-end establishments although many modern buildings have a smoke-extraction systems which suck cigarette smoke out of the room through a ceiling vent - meaning that the smoke doesn't hang in the air. The Chinese phrase for 'May I smoke?' is 'kěyǐ chōuyān ma?' and 'No Smoking!' is 'bù kěyǐ chōuyān!'.
 
'''Smoking''' is banned in public buildings and public transport except for restaurants and bars (including KTVs) - many of which are outright smoke dens, although many multinational restaurant chains do ban smoking. These bans are enforced across the country. Generally, smoking laws are most strict in Shanghai and Beijing, whilst they are more lightly enforced elsewhere. Many places (particularly train stations, hospitals, office buildings and airports) will have smoking rooms, and some long-distance trains may have smoking areas at the end of each car. Facilities for non-smokers are often poor; most restaurants, bars and hotels will not have non-smoking areas apart from top-end establishments although many modern buildings have a smoke-extraction systems which suck cigarette smoke out of the room through a ceiling vent - meaning that the smoke doesn't hang in the air. The Chinese phrase for 'May I smoke?' is 'kěyǐ chōuyān ma?' and 'No Smoking!' is 'bù kěyǐ chōuyān!'.
  
==Contact==
+
=Contact=
  
===Internet===
+
==Internet==
  
====Internet Censorship====
+
===Internet Censorship===
  
 
{{warningbox| As of September, 2014, Google Search, Gmail, Google Map and Google Translate all cannot be accessed in China without a VPN. Before arriving in China, Gmail should be redirected to another email service such as Hotmail. Travellers may switch to Bing.com for a search engine and Bing Maps for map service. Before subscribing to a VPN service, please be aware that the websites of many major providers, including StrongVPN, Astrill or Ninja VPN are blocked although their services still function.(''26 May 2015)}}
 
{{warningbox| As of September, 2014, Google Search, Gmail, Google Map and Google Translate all cannot be accessed in China without a VPN. Before arriving in China, Gmail should be redirected to another email service such as Hotmail. Travellers may switch to Bing.com for a search engine and Bing Maps for map service. Before subscribing to a VPN service, please be aware that the websites of many major providers, including StrongVPN, Astrill or Ninja VPN are blocked although their services still function.(''26 May 2015)}}
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Certain companies, like Yahoo!, assist the government's suppression of political dissidents. In 2005, Shi Tao, a journalist in China, was imprisoned for ten years for releasing a document of the Communist Party to an overseas-Chinese democracy site after Yahoo! China provided his personal Yahoo! emails to the Chinese government.
 
Certain companies, like Yahoo!, assist the government's suppression of political dissidents. In 2005, Shi Tao, a journalist in China, was imprisoned for ten years for releasing a document of the Communist Party to an overseas-Chinese democracy site after Yahoo! China provided his personal Yahoo! emails to the Chinese government.
  
====Access====
+
===Access===
 
[[Image:Lijiang De Wangba.jpeg|thumb|200px|An Internet café in Lijiang]]
 
[[Image:Lijiang De Wangba.jpeg|thumb|200px|An Internet café in Lijiang]]
 
China has more Internet users than any other country in the world and Internet cafés (网吧 ''wǎngbā'') are abundant throughout China. Many of them are designed for gamers though and are not useful places to do business. It is cheap (¥1-6 an hour) to use a computer, albeit one with Chinese software. Internet cafés are supposed to require users to show identification (passport). Traffic may be monitored, and be aware that there maybe background malware recording keystrokes.
 
China has more Internet users than any other country in the world and Internet cafés (网吧 ''wǎngbā'') are abundant throughout China. Many of them are designed for gamers though and are not useful places to do business. It is cheap (¥1-6 an hour) to use a computer, albeit one with Chinese software. Internet cafés are supposed to require users to show identification (passport). Traffic may be monitored, and be aware that there maybe background malware recording keystrokes.
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Printing and CD-burning service is provided in many hotels and hostels. Look for the characters 复印 (fùyìn) meaning “photocopy”. Printing costs about ¥1-3 per page and photocopies are ¥0.5-1 per page. Printing/photocopy shops on university campuses are usually cheaper.
 
Printing and CD-burning service is provided in many hotels and hostels. Look for the characters 复印 (fùyìn) meaning “photocopy”. Printing costs about ¥1-3 per page and photocopies are ¥0.5-1 per page. Printing/photocopy shops on university campuses are usually cheaper.
  
===Getting news===
+
==Getting news==
 
{{infobox|Please fix it!|''China Daily'', the nationally distributed English newspaper, sometimes publishes constructive criticism of China from frustrated tourists. Suggestions sent to [email protected] could possibly be published.}}
 
{{infobox|Please fix it!|''China Daily'', the nationally distributed English newspaper, sometimes publishes constructive criticism of China from frustrated tourists. Suggestions sent to [email protected] could possibly be published.}}
  
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* Top hotels also sell major newspapers from around the world and business-oriented publications like ''The Economist'', albeit at high prices. Some provide international newspapers free for reading in their coffee shops.
 
* Top hotels also sell major newspapers from around the world and business-oriented publications like ''The Economist'', albeit at high prices. Some provide international newspapers free for reading in their coffee shops.
  
===Mail===
+
==Mail==
  
 
The Chinese Post Office is generally reliable and sometimes quick. However, be aware that:
 
The Chinese Post Office is generally reliable and sometimes quick. However, be aware that:
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* Most Post Offices and courier services will refuse to send CDs or DVDs. This can be circumvented by placing them in CD wallets along with several other things and finally packing the space in with clothes, giving the appearance of sending belongings home, also easier to send by sea as they care less.
 
* Most Post Offices and courier services will refuse to send CDs or DVDs. This can be circumvented by placing them in CD wallets along with several other things and finally packing the space in with clothes, giving the appearance of sending belongings home, also easier to send by sea as they care less.
  
===Fax===
+
==Fax==
  
 
International fax (传真 ''Chuánzhēn'') services are available in most large hotels for a fee of a dozen renminbi or more. Inexpensive faxes within China can be made in the ubiquitous photocopy outlets that have the Chinese characters for fax written on the front door.
 
International fax (传真 ''Chuánzhēn'') services are available in most large hotels for a fee of a dozen renminbi or more. Inexpensive faxes within China can be made in the ubiquitous photocopy outlets that have the Chinese characters for fax written on the front door.
  
===Telephone===
+
==Telephone==
  
 
Telephone service is more of a mixed bag. Calling outside the country is often difficult, and usually impossible without a calling card, which can often only be bought locally. The good news is these cards are cheap, and the connection is clear, uninterrupted and delay-free. Look for '''IP Telephone Cards''', which typically have a value of ¥100 but sometimes can be had for as little as ¥25. The cards have printed Chinese instructions, but after dialing the number listed on the card, English instructions are available. As a general indication of price, a call from China to Europe lasts around 22 minutes with a ¥100 card. Calls to the U.S. and Canada are advertised to be another 20% cheaper.
 
Telephone service is more of a mixed bag. Calling outside the country is often difficult, and usually impossible without a calling card, which can often only be bought locally. The good news is these cards are cheap, and the connection is clear, uninterrupted and delay-free. Look for '''IP Telephone Cards''', which typically have a value of ¥100 but sometimes can be had for as little as ¥25. The cards have printed Chinese instructions, but after dialing the number listed on the card, English instructions are available. As a general indication of price, a call from China to Europe lasts around 22 minutes with a ¥100 card. Calls to the U.S. and Canada are advertised to be another 20% cheaper.
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On lines allowing international direct dialling (IDD), the prefix for international calls in China is ''00''. To make an overseas call, dial ''00-(country code)-(area code)-(tel number)''. Note that calls from the mainland to Hong Kong and Macau require international dialling. '''IDDs could be expensive.''' Ask the rate before calling.
 
On lines allowing international direct dialling (IDD), the prefix for international calls in China is ''00''. To make an overseas call, dial ''00-(country code)-(area code)-(tel number)''. Note that calls from the mainland to Hong Kong and Macau require international dialling. '''IDDs could be expensive.''' Ask the rate before calling.
  
===Mobile/Cellular Phones===
+
==Mobile/Cellular Phones==
 
Cellular phones are popular and offer good service in China. They play an essential role in daily life for most Chinese and for nearly all expatriates in China. The typical expat spends a few hundred yuan buying a phone, then about ¥100 a month for the service; tourists might use it less.
 
Cellular phones are popular and offer good service in China. They play an essential role in daily life for most Chinese and for nearly all expatriates in China. The typical expat spends a few hundred yuan buying a phone, then about ¥100 a month for the service; tourists might use it less.
  
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When staying for more than a few days, it will usually be cheaper to buy a prepaid Chinese SIM card; this provides a Chinese phone number with a certain amount of preloaded money. The Chinese avoid phone numbers with the bad-luck digit '4', and vendors will happily offload these "unsellable" SIM-cards to foreigners at a discount. Along with a phone, prices start around ¥100/200 used/new. Chinese phones, unlike those sold in many Western countries, are never "locked" and will work with any SIM card inserted into them.
 
When staying for more than a few days, it will usually be cheaper to buy a prepaid Chinese SIM card; this provides a Chinese phone number with a certain amount of preloaded money. The Chinese avoid phone numbers with the bad-luck digit '4', and vendors will happily offload these "unsellable" SIM-cards to foreigners at a discount. Along with a phone, prices start around ¥100/200 used/new. Chinese phones, unlike those sold in many Western countries, are never "locked" and will work with any SIM card inserted into them.
 
+
China's two big operators are China Mobile [http://www.chinamobile.com/en/mainland/] and China Unicom [http://eng.chinaunicom.com/]. Most SIMs sold by the two work nationwide, with Unicom allowing Hong Kong/Macau/Taiwan usage as well. There is usually a surcharge of about 1RMB/min when roaming outside the province where the SIM was bought, and there are some cards that work only in a single province, so check when buying. National roaming may need to be activated manually, which may incur a small daily surcharge as long as it's active. For China mobile, credits balances can be obtained by calling 1008611 and get a sms with balance.
China's two big operators are China Mobile [http://www.chinamobile.com/en/mainland/] and China Unicom [http://eng.chinaunicom.com/]. Most SIMs sold by the two work nationwide, with Unicom allowing Hong Kong/Macau/Taiwan usage as well. There is usually a surcharge of about 1RMB/min when roaming outside the province where the SIM was bought, and there are some cards that work only in a single province, so check when buying. National roaming may need to be activated manually, which may incur a small daily surcharge as long as it's active. For China mobile, credits balances can be obtained by calling 1008611 and get a sms with balance.
 
  
 
International calls have to be enabled separately by applying for China Mobile's "12593" or China Unicom's "17911" service; both require a simple application with no deposit requirement. Usually there will be an English speaker to process orders. Ask for the "special" dialing code, and for 1RMB/month extra on China Mobile (free on China Unicom), this will be provided. Just enter the code, the country code, and then the local number. Don't be fooled by cellphone shops with the China Mobile signage, be sure to go a to a corporate-operated location. The employees will wear a blue uniform and there will be counter services. At time of writing, China Mobile is the cheaper of the two with calls to North America/Asia around ¥0.4/min. Prepaid cards can be used for international calling; just dial the number on the card as with a regular landline phone, and the charges will go to the prepaid calling card.
 
International calls have to be enabled separately by applying for China Mobile's "12593" or China Unicom's "17911" service; both require a simple application with no deposit requirement. Usually there will be an English speaker to process orders. Ask for the "special" dialing code, and for 1RMB/month extra on China Mobile (free on China Unicom), this will be provided. Just enter the code, the country code, and then the local number. Don't be fooled by cellphone shops with the China Mobile signage, be sure to go a to a corporate-operated location. The employees will wear a blue uniform and there will be counter services. At time of writing, China Mobile is the cheaper of the two with calls to North America/Asia around ¥0.4/min. Prepaid cards can be used for international calling; just dial the number on the card as with a regular landline phone, and the charges will go to the prepaid calling card.

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