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| image=[[Image:China Great Wall Picture 144.jpg|noframe|250px]]
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| image=China Great Wall Picture 144.jpg
| location=[[Image:ChinaWorldMap.PNG|noframe|250px]]  
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| caption=Great Wall of China, Beijing
| flag=[[Image:Ch-flag.png]]
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| location=[[File:China2.png|thumb|china map]]
| capital=[[Beijing]]  
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| flag=Flag of the People's Republic of China.svg
| government=Socialist Republic
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| capital=[[Beijing]]
| currency=Renminbi (RMB, ¥)  
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| government=Single-party state
| area=9,596,960 km<sup>2</sup>
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| currency=yuan (¥, CNY)
| population=1,321,851,888 (July 2007 est.)  
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| area=9,596,960km²
| language=national: [[Chinese phrasebook|Mandarin (Putonghua)]]<br>regional: Wu (Shanghaiese), [[Cantonese phrasebook|Cantonese (Yue)]], Mindong (Fuzhou), [[Minnan phrasebook|Minnan (Hokkien-Taiwanese)]], Xiang, Gan, Hakka dialects, minority languages  
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| population=1,357,380,000 (2013 estimate)
| religion=Daoist (Taoist), Buddhist, Christian 3%-4%, Muslim 1%-2% (officially atheist)
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| language=[[Chinese phrasebook|Mandarin (Putonghua)]]<br>recognized regionally: Wu (Shanghaiese), [[Cantonese phrasebook|Cantonese (Yue)]], Mindong (Fuzhou), [[Minnan phrasebook|Minnan (Hokkien-Taiwanese)]], Xiang, Gan, Hakka dialects, minority languages
| electricity=220V/50Hz (US/European plug for 2-pin, Australian plug for 3-pin)  
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| religion= Buddhist c. 80%, Daoist (Taoist), Confucian, Christian 3%-4%, Muslim 1%-2%, Atheist c. 10%. Most Chinese are religious pluralists, observing a mixture of Buddhist, Confucian, and Taoist beliefs and philosophies, but not necessarily practising. The state is officially atheist.
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[[File:People's Republic of China (orthographic projection).svg|thumb|upright=1.7|Map of the People's Republic of China's territorial claims]]
  
'''China''' (&#20013;&#22269;; ''Zhōngguó'') [http://www.cnto.org/], officially known as the '''People's Republic of China''' (&#20013;&#21326;&#20154;&#27665;&#20849;&#21644;&#22269; ''Zhōnghuá Rénmín Gònghéguó'') is a vast country in [[East Asia|Eastern]] [[Asia]] (about the same size as the [[United States of America]]) with the world's largest population.
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[http://www.cnto.org/ '''China'''] (&#20013;&#22269;; ''Zhōngguó''), officially known as the '''People's Republic of China''' (&#20013;&#21326;&#20154;&#27665;&#20849;&#21644;&#22269; ''Zhōnghuá Rénmín Gònghéguó'') is a huge country in [[East Asia|Eastern]] [[Asia]] (about the same size as the [[United States of America]]) with the world's largest population.
  
With coasts on the East China Sea, Korea Bay, Yellow Sea, and South China Sea, in total it borders 14 nations. It borders [[Afghanistan]], [[Pakistan]], [[India]], [[Nepal]], [[Bhutan]], [[Myanmar]], [[Laos]] and [[Vietnam]] to the south; [[Tajikistan]], [[Kazakhstan]] and [[Kyrgyzstan]] to the west; [[Russia]] and [[Mongolia]] to the north and [[North Korea]] to the east. This number is equalled only by China's vast neighbour, Russia.
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With coasts on the East China Sea, Korea Bay, Yellow Sea, and South China Sea, it borders 14 nations ([[Afghanistan]], [[Pakistan]] (through the disputed territory of Kashmir), [[India]], [[Nepal]], [[Bhutan]], [[Myanmar]], [[Laos]] and [[Vietnam]] to the south; [[Tajikistan]], [[Kazakhstan]] and [[Kyrgyzstan]] to the west; [[Russia]] and [[Mongolia]] to the north and [[North Korea]] to the east). This number of neighbouring states is equalled only by China's vast neighbour to the north, [[Russia]].
  
For [[Hong Kong]], [[Macau]] and [[Taiwan]], please see separate articles.
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This article only covers mainland China. For [[Hong Kong]], [[Macau]] and [[Taiwan]], please see their respective articles.
  
 
==Understand==
 
==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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The roughly 5000-year-old Chinese civilization has endured through millennia of tumultuous upheaval and revolutions, periods of golden ages and anarchy alike. Through the recent economic boom initiated by the reforms of Deng Xiaoping, China is once again one of the leading nations in the world, buoyed by its large, industrious population and abundant natural resources. The depth and complexity of the Chinese civilization, with its rich heritage, has fascinated Westerners such as [[On the trail of Marco Polo|Marco Polo]] and Gottfried Leibniz through the [[Silk Road]] and more ways of culture exchange in centuries past, and will continue to excite - and bewilder - the traveler today.
  
 
===History===
 
===History===
The first civilizations in China arose in the Yangtze and Yellow River valleys at about the same time as Mesopotamia, Egypt and India developed their first civilizations.
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The recorded history of Chinese civilization can be traced to the Yellow River valley, said to be the 'cradle of Chinese civilization'. The Xia Dynasty was the first dynasty to be described in ancient historical chronicles, though to date, no concrete proof of its existence has been found. Nevertheless, archaeological evidence has shown that at the very least, an early-bronze-age Chinese civilization had developed by the period described.
  
For centuries China stood as a leading civilization, outpacing the rest of the world in the arts and sciences. Paper, gunpowder, the compass and printing (both block and movable type) for example, are Chinese inventions. Chinese developments in astronomy, medicine, and other fields were extensive. A Chinese tomb contains a heliocentric model of the solar system, about 1,700 years before Copernicus. In mathematics, the Pythagorean theorem and Pascal's triangle (known in China as ''Yang Hui'''s triangle) were known in China centuries before their Western discoverers lived. There were also grand feats of engineering not to be matched in Europe until centuries later, such as the Dujiangyan Irrigation System in [[Sichuan]] built during the Qin Dynasty, and the Grand Canal from [[Beijing]] to [[Hangzhou]] with its complex system of locks, built during the Sui Dynasty.
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The '''Shang Dynasty''', China's first historically confirmed dynasty, and the '''Zhou Dynasty''' ruled across the Yellow River basin. The Zhou adopted a decentralized system of government, in which the feudal lords ruled over their respective territories with a high degree of autonomy, even maintaining their own armies, while at the same time paying tribute to the king and recognizing him as the symbolic ruler of China. It was also the longest-ruling dynasty in Chinese history, lasting about 800 years. Despite this longevity, during the second half of the Zhou period, China descended into centuries of political turmoil, with the feudal lords of numerous small fiefdoms vying for power during the '''Spring and Autumn Period''', and later stabilized into seven large states in the '''Warring States period.''' This tumultuous period gave birth to China's greatest thinkers including Confucius, Mencius and Laozi, who made substantial contributions to Chinese thought and culture.
  
China was also the first civilization to implement a meritocracy. Unlike other ancient cultures, official posts were not hereditary but had to be earned through a series of examinations. Based on mastery of the Confucian Classics and the literary arts (calligraphy, essay writing, poetry, painting), a prototype the exams were first conducted during the Han Dynasty. The system was further refined into the formal Imperial Examination System and opened to all regardless of family background during the Tang Dynasty. The Imperial Examination proved very successful, and save for a brief period during the Yuan Dynasty, continued to be used by all subsequent Chinese dynasties until the beginning of the 20th century. To this day, education is still taken very seriously by Chinese parents.
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China was eventually unified in 221 BC by Qin Shi Huang, the 'First Emperor', and the '''Qin Dynasty''' instituted a centralized system of government for all of China, and standardized weights and measures, Chinese characters and currency in order to create unity. Up to today, the ideal of a unified and strong centralized system is still strong in Chinese thought. However, due to despotic and harsh rule, the Qin dynasty lasted for only 15 years as the '''Han Dynasty''' took over in 206 BC after a period of revolt. With the invention of paper and extensive trade with the West along the Silk Road, along with relatively benevolent imperial rule, the Han was the first golden age of Chinese civilization. Ethnic Chinese consider themselves to be part of the 'Han' race till this day.
  
Historically, East Asia existed in a China-centric order very different from the nation-state system which emerged in Europe.  China is the "Middle Kingdom" (中国 Zhōngguó). Foreigners of all nationalities are "outside land people" (外国人 wàiguórén). Rather than sovereign states, the Emperor was sovereign over all "under heaven" (天下 tiānxià) and thus rulers seeking to be "civilized" would need to enter the tributary system. As the Middle Kingdom, China was surrounded by states which paid tribute to the Emperor. The Emperor did not receive ambassadors from these outlanders, only tribute bearers.
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The collapse of the Han Dynasty in 220 CE led to a period of political turmoil and war known as the '''Three Kingdoms Period''', which saw China split into the three separate states of Wei, Shu and Wu. Despite lasting for only about 60 years, it is a highly romanticised period of Chinese history. China was then briefly reunified under the '''Jin Dynasty''', before descending into a period of division and anarchy once again. The era of division culminated with the '''Sui''', which reunified China in 581. The Sui were famous for major public works projects, such as the engineering feat of the Grand Canal, which linked Beijing in the north to Hangzhou in the south. Sections of the canal are still navigable today.
  
New kings in these surrounding countries were invested by the Emperor and granted seals of authority, thus giving them the "right" to rule. Many areas which are now considered part of China &mdash; [[Ningxia]], [[Qinghai]], [[Gansu]], [[Xinjiang]], [[Yunnan]], [[Tibet]], [[Inner Mongolia]] and [[Manchuria]] &mdash; were once tributary kingdoms and later formally incorporated as parts of China. Other places not considered part of China &mdash; [[Malacca]], [[Korea]], Vietnam, Burma, Mongolia, Nepal, [[Okinawa]], [[Japan]] &mdash; were also tributaries at various times in history (Okinawa's Shuri Castle has an interesting exhibit on the tributary system). Tributary missions from some countries continued right up until the 20th century. Of course at times "tributary" states were more militarily powerful than the Chinese dynasty at the time. However, the idealized image of a harmonious order with China and the Emperor at the center endured for centuries.
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Bankrupted by war and excessive government spending, the Sui were supplanted by the '''Tang Dynasty''', ushering in the second golden age of Chinese civilization, marked by a flowering of Chinese poetry, Buddhism and statecraft, and also saw the development of the Imperial Examination system which attempted to select court officials by ability rather than family background. Chinatowns overseas are often known as "Street of the Tang People" (唐人街 Tángrén jiē) in Chinese. The collapse of the Tang Dynasty once again saw China divided, until it was reunified by the '''Song Dynasty'''. This collapse was preceded by the secession and independence of '''Vietnam''' in 938 CE. The Song ruled over most of China for over 150 years before being driven south of the Huai river by the Jurchens, where they continued to rule as the Southern Song, and although militarily weak, attained a level of commercial and economic development unmatched until the West's Industrial Revolution. The '''Yuan (Mongol) dynasty''' first defeated the Jurchens, then proceeded to conquer the Song in 1279, and ruled their vast Eurasian empire from modern-day Beijing.
  
Tributary relations were complemented by academic, religious, political and cultural exchanges. Tributary rulers received protection, trade benefits, and advisers (academic, political, scientific, etc). In a sense, China really is the "middle country." Chinese influence is quite apparent in the traditional culture of many of its neighbors, most notably Vietnam, [[Korea]] and Japan. Each of these countries adopted the Chinese writing system at some point, and it is still in use, to varying degrees and with certain modifications, in the latter two today. Confucian philosophy and social theory deeply influenced their societies. Indeed, Japan's ancient capital of [[Nara]] was modeled after the Tang dynasty capital of Chang'An (now [[Xi'an]]).
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After defeating the Mongols, the '''Ming dynasty''' (1368-1644) re-instituted rule by ethnic Han. The Ming period was noted for trade and exploration, with Zheng He's numerous voyages to Southeast Asia, India and the Arab world. Initial contact with European traders meant China gradually reaped the fruits of the Colombian exchange, with silver pouring in by the galleon through trade with the Portuguese and Spanish. Famous buildings in Beijing, such as the Forbidden City and the Temple of Heaven, were built in this period. The last dynasty, the '''Qing (Manchu) dynasty''' (1644-1911), saw the Chinese empire grow to its current size, incorporating the western regions of Xinjiang and Tibet. The Qing dynasty fell into decay in its final years to become the 'sick man of Asia', where it was divided by Western powers. The Westerners established their own treaty ports in Guangzhou, Shanghai and Tianjin. China lost several territories to foreign powers; Hong Kong and Weihai were ceded to Britain, Taiwan and Liaodong, to Japan, parts of the Northeast including Dalian and parts of Outer Manchuria to Russia, while Qingdao was ceded to Germany. Shanghai was divided among China and eight other countries. In addition, China lost control of its tributaries, with Korea and the Ryukyu Islands ceded to Japan.
  
China also explored widely and traded extensively with distant lands. By the 5th and 6th centuries CE, voyages to India and the Arab countries were routine. In the 15th century, the Ming Dynasty fleets under Admiral Zheng He reached as far as East Africa. These ships were technologically very advanced, much larger than European ships of the day, and equipped with a system of watertight compartments that Europe was not to match for several centuries. These voyages were not for settlement or conquest, but for trade and tribute. Zheng He's voyages brought tribute and glory but were fabulously expensive. Facing renewed troubles on its northern border, after 1433, China turned inward with a vengeance. Records of the great trading voyages were destroyed in 1477 and the ships rotted away in dry dock.
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The two-thousand-year-old imperial system collapsed in 1911, when Sun Yat-Sen (孙中山, Sūn Zhōngshān) founded the '''Republic of China''' (中华民国 Zhōnghuá Mínguó). Central rule collapsed in 1916 after Yuan Shih-kai, the second president of the Republic and self-declared emperor, passed away; China descended into anarchy, with various self-serving warlords ruling over different regions of China. In 1919, student protests in Beijing gave birth to the "May Fourth Movement" (五四运动 Wǔ Sì Yùndòng), which espoused various reforms to Chinese society, such as the use of the vernacular in writing, as well as the development of science and democracy. The intellectual ferment of the May Fourth Movement gave birth to the reorganized '''Kuomintang''' (KMT) in 1919 and the '''Chinese Communist Party''' (CCP) in the French Concession in Shanghai, 1921.
  
==== Interaction with the West and the Decline of the Imperial System ====
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After uniting much of eastern China under KMT rule in 1928, the CCP and the KMT turned on each other, with the CCP fleeing to Yan'an in Shaanxi in the epic [[Long March]]. From 1922 to 1937, the eastern provinces of China grew economically under the leadership of Chiang Kai-shek and his KMT government, with marked economic expansion, industrialization and urbanization. Shanghai became a truly cosmopolitan city, as one of the world's busiest ports, and the most prosperous city in East Asia, home to millions of Chinese and 60,000 foreigners from all corners of the globe. However, civil unrest, famines and warlord conflict afflicted the countryside.
  
One of the first Westerners to visit China and write about it was [[On the trail of Marco Polo|Marco Polo]] in the late 13th century. He wrote of [[Hangzhou]], "The city is beyond dispute the finest and the noblest in the world." and rated [[Quanzhou]] as one of the two busiest ports on earth. (The other was [[Alexandria]].) Among the Chinese innovations that Europeans first heard of from Polo were paper money, window glass and coal.
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Japan established a puppet-state under the name Manchukuo in Manchuria in 1931, and invaded mainland China in 1937. After fleeing west to Chongqing, the KMT realized the urgency of the situation signed a tenuous agreement with the CCP to form a second united front against the Japanese. With the defeat of Japan in 1945, the KMT and CCP armies maneuvered for positions in north China, setting the stage for the civil war in the years to come. The civil war lasted from 1946 to 1949 and ended with the Kuomintang defeated and fleeing to Taiwan where they hoped to re-establish themselves and recapture the mainland some day.
  
When seaborne Western traders arrived in the 16th century, China was initially hostile to them. The first Western base was Portugal's colony of Macau, awarded by the Ming in the mid 16th century gratitude for clearing out a local pirate base - although Macau was not formally ceded to Portugal until 1887.
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Mao Zedong officially declared the establishment of the '''People's Republic of China''' on 1 Oct 1949. The new Communist government implemented strong measures to restore law and order and revive industrial, agricultural and commercial institutions reeling from more than a decade of war. By 1955, China's economy had returned to pre-war levels of output as factories, farms, labor unions, civil society and governance were brought under Party control. After initially hewing to the Soviet model of heavy industrialization and comprehensive central economic planning, China experimented with adapting Marxism to a largely agrarian society.
  
The Emperor imposed various restrictions on trade, allowing Westerners to trade only at Canton (today's [[Guangzhou]]), only with payment in silver, and only through a government-approved monopoly of traders called the Cohong (公行). Export of items that would break Chinese monopolies, such as tea seeds or silk worms, was strictly forbidden. Traders eventually smuggled both out, creating two of India's greatest industries. Western traders resented these restrictions and struggled to interest the Chinese in Western goods, without notable success.
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Massive social experiments such as the Hundred Flowers Campaign (百花运动 bǎihuā yùndòng), the Great Leap Forward (大跃进 dàyuèjìn), intended to collectivize and industrialize China quickly, and the Cultural Revolution (无产阶级文化大革命 wúchǎn jiējí wénhuà dà gémìng), aimed at changing everything by discipline, destruction of the "Four Olds," and total dedication to Mao Zedong Thought, rocked China from 1957 to 1976. The Great Leap Forward and Cultural Revolution are generally considered disastrous failures in China. During the Cultural Revolution in particular, China's cultural heritage, including monuments, temples, historical artifacts, and works of literature sustained catastrophic damage at the hands of Red Guard factions. It was only due to the intervention of Zhou Enlai and the PLA that major sites, such as the Potala Palace, the Mogao Caves, and the Forbidden City escaped destruction during the Cultural Revolution.  
  
By the end of the 19th century, the situation would be completely reversed. Assorted Western powers had taken various pieces of Chinese territory and relatively free trade was well established through an ever increasing number of treaty ports and spheres of influence. Throughout the century, the Sino-Western relationship continued to be fraught with difficulties. Westerners tended to see China as corrupt and decadent; Chinese often viewed the West as greedy and contemptible. Both were right, at least part of the time.
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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.
  
There was also an enormous difference in world view. To the Chinese court, Western envoys were just a group of new outsiders who should show appropriate respect for the emperor like any other visitors; of course the kowtow (knocking one's head on the floor) was a required part of the protocol. For that matter, the kowtow was required in dealing with any official. Some countries, like the Netherlands, were willing to participate. For others, most notably the United Kingdom, treating China's "decadent" regime with any respect at all was being generous. The envoy of Queen Victoria or another power might give some courtesies, even pretend the Emperor was the equal of their own ruler. However, they considered the notion that they should kowtow utterly ludicrous.
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===Politics===
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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.
  
The greatest contention was opium. For the West, the profitable commodities were "pigs and poison," indentured laborers and opium. Britain's balance of trade &mdash; paying for tea and silk in silver and being quite unable to interest Chinese in most British products &mdash; would have been disastrous without opium. However, by growing opium in India and exporting vast amounts to China, the British were able to enjoy a healthy trade surplus - selling opium for silver and using the silver (of which they now had a surplus) to buy tea, silk, and other trade goods. Millions of Chinese became addicted to opium; many merchants made fortunes from the trade. But every Chinese government from the Qing to the present has been unalterably opposed to the opium trade and all other forms of drug trafficking.
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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.
  
The 19th century was a period of wars, rebellions, territorial cession, and turmoil:
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===People and Habits===
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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.
  
* Two Opium Wars (鸦片战争 yāpiàn zhànzhēng), 1839-1842 and 1856-1860, pitted China against Western powers, notably Britain and France. China quickly lost both wars. After each defeat, the victors forced the Chinese government to make major concessions. After the first war, the treaty ceded Hong Kong island to Britain, and opened five "treaty ports" (Guangzhou, Xiamen, [[Fuzhou]], [[Shanghai]] and [[Ningbo]]) to Western trade. After the second, Britain acquired [[Hong Kong/Kowloon|Kowloon]], and inland cities such as [[Nanjing]] and [[Wuhan]] were opened to trade.
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China has 56 officially recognized ethnic groups; the largest by far is the Han which comprise over 90% of the population. The other 55 groups enjoy affirmative action for university admission and exemption from the one-child policy. The Han, however, exhibit diverse regional cultures (although there are common Confucian and Taoist influences) and speak a wide variety of mutually unintelligible local "dialects", which most linguists classify as different languages using more or less the same set of Chinese characters. Many of the minority ethnic groups have their own languages as well. Many customs and deities are specific to individual regions and even villages. Celebrations for the lunar new year and other national festivals as well as customs related to the celebration of important occasions such as weddings, funerals and births vary from region to region. In general, contemporary urban Chinese society is rather secular and traditional culture is more of an underlying current in everyday life. Among ethnic minorities, the Zhuang, Manchu, Hui and Miao are the most numerous. Other notable ethnic minorities include: Koreans, Tibetans, Mongols, Uighurs, Kirghiz and even Russians. In fact, China is home to the largest Korean population outside Korea and is also home to more ethnic Mongols than the Republic of Mongolia itself. Many minorities have been assimilated to various degrees with the loss of language and customs or a fusing with Han traditions. However, the Tibetans and Uighurs fiercely defend their cultures.  
  
* The Taiping Rebellion, 1851-1864, was led by a charismatic figure claiming to be Christ's younger brother. It was largely a peasant revolt. The Taiping program included land reform and eliminating slavery, concubinage, arranged marriage, opium, footbinding, judicial torture and idolatry. The Qing government, with some Western help, eventually defeated the Taiping rebels, but not before they had ruled much of southern China for over ten years. This was one of the bloodiest wars ever fought; only World War II killed more people. Nanjing, which was their capital, has an interesting Taiping museum.
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Some behaviors that are quite normal in China may be somewhat jarring and vulgar for foreigners:
 
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[[Image:China_no_spitting.jpg|thumb|120px|No spitting please]]
* The Panthay Rebellion (杜文秀起义 Dù Wénxiù qǐyì), 1856–1873, in Yunnan pitted the Hui ethnic group against central authority. Up to one million people died during the revolt.
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* Spitting: in the street, shops, supermarkets, hotel lobbies, hallways, restaurants, on buses and even in hospitals. Traditional Chinese medical thought believes it is unhealthy to swallow phlegm. Spitting has declined considerably in more developed urban areas like Beijing and Shanghai since the SARS epidemic of 2002. However, in rural areas the habit persists.
 
 
* In 1858 and 1860, the Qing signed the Treaty of Aigun and the Treaty of Peking which transferred sovereignty of Outer Manchuria (today's Primorsky Krais, Jewish Autonomous Oblast and parts of Amur Krais and Khabarovsk Krais) to Russia.
 
 
 
* The Dungan Rebellion, 1862-1877, in central China and Xinjiang saw Hui and other Muslim ethnic groups fighting against local authorities. Suppression of the rebellion brought what is now Xinjiang firmly under central rule.
 
 
 
* In 1879, Japan annexed the Ryukyu Kingdom, then a Chinese tributary state, and incorporated it as [[Okinawa]] prefecture. Despite pleas from a Ryukyuan envoy, China was powerless to send an army. The Chinese sought help from the British, who instead awarded the islands to Japan.
 
 
 
* In 1884-1885, China and France fought a war that resulted in the loss of China's modernized Fuzhou-based naval fleet and China's accepting French control over their former tributary states in what is now Vietnam. The Qing armies performed well in campaigns in Guangxi and Taiwan, however.
 
 
 
* In 1895, China lost the Sino-Japanese war and ceded Taiwan, the [[Penghu]] islands and the Liaodong peninsula to Japan. In addition, it had to relinquish control of Korea, which had been a tributary state of China for a long time.
 
 
 
*In 1898, Britain acquired a ninety-nine year lease on the New Territories of Hong Kong in the Second Convention of Peking.
 
 
 
The Chinese resented much during this period &mdash; notably missionaries, opium, annexation of Chinese land and the extraterritoriality that made foreigners immune to Chinese law. To the West, trade and missionaries were obviously good things, and extraterritoriality was necessary to protect their citizens from the corrupt Chinese system. To many Chinese, however, these were yet more examples of the West exploiting China.
 
 
 
Around 1898, these feelings exploded. The Boxers, also known as the "Society of Righteous and Harmonious Fists" (义和团 yì hé tuán) led a peasant religious/political movement whose main goal was to drive out evil foreign influences. Some believed their kung fu and prayer could stop bullets. While initially anti-Qing, once the revolt began they received some support from the Qing court and regional officials. The Boxers killed a few missionaries and many Chinese Christians, and eventually besieged the embassies in Beijing. An eight-nation alliance: Germany, France, Italy, Russia, the United Kingdom, the U.S., Austria-Hungary and Japan, sent a force up from [[Tianjin]] to rescue the legations. The Qing had to accept foreign troops permanently posted in Beijing and pay a large indemnity as a result. In addition, Shanghai was divided among China and the eight nations.
 
 
 
==== The Republican Era (First Republic) ====
 
 
 
The 20th century brought revolution. The empire was overthrown in 1911 and Sun Yat-sen (孙中山, Sūn Zhōngshān in Mandarin), a doctor, Christian, revolutionary, nationalist, socialist and democrat, became president of the newly formed Republic of China (中华民国 Zhōnghuá Mínguó). He stepped down shortly thereafter allowing the former Qing general Yuan Shih-kai to become president. After an abortive attempt at declaring himself emperor, Yuan died in 1916. Central rule collapsed and China broke into semi-autonomous warlord regions. Until 1949 the various warlords fought challenges to their local power from any outsider, regardless of nationality or ideology.
 
 
 
In 1919 frustrations with China's weakness at the hands of foreign powers, particularly Japan, led to student protests in Beijing. Today known as the "May Fourth Movement" (五四运动 wǔ sì yùndòng) the students called for radical reforms to Chinese society including the use of the vernacular language in writing as well as development of science and democracy. The intellectual ferment of this era gave strength to two rising movements: the Kuomintang (KMT, established in 1919) and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP, established in 1921).
 
 
 
In 1926-28 a united front between the KMT and the CCP united much of eastern China under KMT rule after the "Northern Expedition." However, the KMT under Chiang Kai-shek turned on the Communists killing thousands and driving the movement underground. During this time, Mao Zedong set up a base area in the mountains of Jiangxi Province called the Jiangxi Soviet. The Kuomintang launched a series of extermination campaigns against the Communists. Pressure on the Jiangxi Soviet forced the CCP to flee west in 1934. The epic [[Long March]] led the CCP and Red Army from Jiangxi across southern and western China before ending in 1935 in Yan'an in Shaanxi Province.
 
 
 
From 1927 to 1937, the KMT consolidated authoritarian one-party rule. Often called the Nanjing Decade after the Kuomintang capital in Nanjing, the period was one of economic expansion, industrialization and urbanization. Many of the great trading families of Hong Kong made their fortunes in Shanghai during this time. Shanghai became one of the world's busiest ports and the most cosmopolitan city in Asia, home to millions of Chinese as well as a polyglot community of around 60,000 foreigners which included British Taipans, American missionaries, Iraqi Jews and refugees from Nazi Germany, Indian police, White Russians and many other notables. Nonetheless, KMT rule remained fragmented and weak outside of urban centers in eastern China. Severe problems persisted in the countryside including civil unrest, warlord conflict, banditry and major famines.
 
 
 
After the 1895 war, Japan continued its imperial expansion in East Asia. It invaded Manchuria in 1931 and established the puppet kingdom of Manchukuo under the nominal leadership of the last Qing emperor, Pu Yi. Japan launched a full-scale invasion in 1937 and overran much of eastern China by the end of the decade. Japanese behavior was often brutal; the most extreme example was the 1937 Nanjing Massacre. Chinese resistance was spirited. The Japanese generals thought they could take all of China in three months; instead it took them three months just to drive the Chinese army out of Shanghai and they never did manage to take the entire country. After the expected quick victory in China, Japan's generals planned to move most of their army to other fronts, but in fact roughly half the Japanese army was tied up in China throughout the war. The Allies sent aid via the [[Burma Road]].
 
 
 
As a result of the Japanese invasion, the Kuomintang and Communists signed a tenuous agreement in 1937 to form a second united front. The agreement broke down in the early 1940s. The Kuomintang frequently held back troops from fighting the Japanese and used them against the Communists. The Communists used the power vacuum behind the Japanese lines to expand their guerrilla operations and set up rural networks. The stage was set for the Communists under Mao Zedong and the Kuomintang under Chiang Kai-shek to openly fight each other after Japan's defeat.
 
 
 
Outright civil war resumed in 1946. Corruption, hyperinflation, defections and desertions crippled the KMT government and army. In 1949, the Communists won; the Kuomintang took the national gold reserves and imperial treasure and fled to Taiwan. There the KMT reestablished themselves and promised to recapture the Mainland. Various Western countries refused to recognize "Red China" and continued to treat the Kuomintang as the only "legitimate" government of China, some until the early '70s.
 
 
 
==== The People's Republic (PRC) ====
 
 
 
=====The East is Red=====
 
 
 
The new Communist government implemented strong measures to restore law and order and revive industrial, agricultural and commercial institutions reeling from more than a decade of war. By 1955 China's economy had returned to pre-war levels of output as factories, farms, labor unions, civil society and governance were brought under Party control. After an initial period closely hewing to the Soviet model of heavy industrialization and comprehensive central economic planning, China began to experiment with adapting Marxism to a largely agrarian society.
 
 
 
Massive social experiments such as the Hundred Flowers Campaign (百花运动 bǎihuā yùndòng), the Great Leap Forward (大跃进 dàyuèjìn), intended to industrialize China quickly, and the Cultural Revolution (无产阶级文化大革命 wúchǎn jiējí wénhuà dà gémìng), aimed at changing everything by discipline, destruction of the "Four Olds," and attention to Mao Zedong Thought) rocked China from 1957 to 1976. The Great Leap Forward and Cultural Revolution are generally considered disastrous failures in China itself. The cultural and historical damage from the Cultural Revolution can still be seen evident today. Many traditional Chinese customs, such as the celebration of the Hungry Ghost Festival (中元节 zhōngyuán jié), are still thriving in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau and overseas Chinese communities, but have largely disappeared from mainland China.
 
 
 
=====30 Years of Reform=====
 
 
 
Mao Zedong died in 1976. One month later his widow was arrested as part of the "Gang of Four." The gang was blamed for the excesses of the Cultural Revolution. In 1978, Deng Xiaoping became China's paramount leader. Deng and his lieutenants gradually introduced market-oriented reforms and decentralized economic decision making. Economic output quadrupled by 2000 and continues to grow by about 8% a year, but huge problems remain &mdash; bouts of serious inflation, regional and income inequality, human rights abuses, massive pollution, rural poverty and corruption. China also remains firmly a one-party authoritarian state and political controls remain tight even though economic policy continues to be relaxed, enough for China to secure admission to the World Trade Organization, (WTO). In 2003, the CCP changed its statutes to accept a new category of members: "Red Capitalists." October 2007 saw the first official guarantees for private property, a clear step away from doctrinaire communist economics.
 
 
 
The current president and CCP General Secretary, Hu Jintao, has proclaimed a policy for a "Harmonious Society" (和谐社会 héxié shèhuì) which promises to restore balanced economic growth and to channel investment and prosperity into China's central and western provinces, which have been largely left behind in the economic boom since 1978. This policy involves additional tax breaks for farmers, a rural medical insurance scheme, reduction or elimination of school tuition fees and infrastructure development to encourage investment in underdeveloped areas, e.g. the Beijing/Lhasa railway - a dream first put down on paper by Sun Yat-sen in the early 1900's.
 
 
 
===Dynasties and capitals===
 
Many cites have served as the capital of China, or of various smaller states in periods when China was divided. Beijing and Nanjing mean northern capital and southern capital respectively; each has been the capital several times.
 
 
 
* Legend has it that the Three Sovereigns and Five Emperors (三皇五帝 sānhuáng wǔdì), who were mythical God-like kings, ruled China from about 2852 BCE to 2205 BCE.
 
 
 
* The Xia dynasty (夏朝 Xià cháo) seems to have ruled the [[Along the Yellow river|Yellow River]] valley area from about 2100 BCE to 1600 BCE, though some experts consider this period more legend than history. However, archaeological evidence at Erlitou has shown that at the very least, an early Bronze Age civilization had already developed by that period.
 
 
 
* The first historically confirmed dynasty, the Shang (商朝 Shāng cháo), 1700-1027 BCE, ruled only the Yellow River valley and had their capital near [[Anyang]] in [[Henan]]. Written Chinese characters began to develop during this time, as evidenced by court records carved on turtle and cattle bones.
 
 
 
* The Zhou Dynasty (周朝 Zhōu cháo), 1027-221 BCE, had their first capital at Hao near modern Xi'an. After a military defeat in 771 BCE, they continued as the Eastern Zhou with capital [[Luoyang]]. The Zhou is the longest dynasty in Chinese history, lasting about 800 years. However, the Eastern Zhou was a period of political turmoil with various feudal lords vying for power, culminating in the Spring and Autumn Period (春秋时代 chūnqiū shídài), during which prominent Chinese philosophers like Confucius and Laozi lived, but later stabilized into seven large states during the Warring States period (战国时代 zhànguó shídài).
 
 
 
* The Qin Dynasty (秦朝 Qín cháo), 221-206 BCE was established when King Ying Zheng of Qin defeated the Zhou and the six other feudal states, and became the first ruler to unite an area anything like all of China. The empire thus united, Ying Zheng took a new title: Qin Shi Huangdi - the First August Emperor of Qin. The Qin were the first introduce a centralized system of government for all of China. Their capital was at Xianyang, near modern Xi'an. Our word "China," and the word "Chin" in languages of India, probably comes from their name.
 
 
 
* The Han Dynasty (汉朝 Hàn cháo), 206-220 CE, had its capitals at Chang'an near modern Xi'an (Western Han) and Luoyang (Eastern Han). This was the period of the first [[Silk Road]] trade, was also the period when paper was invented. Chinese still use Han as the name of their largest ethnic group and Chinese characters are still called "hànzì" (汉字) in Chinese, with similar cognates in Korean and Japanese. The Han is considered by most Chinese to be the first golden age in Chinese civilization.
 
 
 
* The fall of the Han Dynasty saw China split into the three states of Wèi (魏), Shǔ (蜀) and Wú (吴), known collectively as the '''Three Kingdoms''' (三国 sān guó). Despite lasting for only about 60 years, it is a greatly romanticized period of Chinese history. The capitals of the three states were at Luoyang, [[Chengdu]] and Nanjing respectively.
 
 
 
* The Jin Dynasty (晋朝 Jìn cháo), briefly re-unified China from 280-317. Though they continued to exist until 420, they only controlled a small area for most of the period. During the unified period, the capital was at Luoyang and later Chang'an.
 
 
 
* From 317-581, China was divided. Capitals of various important states included Luoyang, Nanjing and [[Suzhou]].
 
 
 
* The short-lived Sui Dynasty (隋朝 Suí cháo), 581-618, managed to re-unify China. It had its capital at Chang'an. The dynasty embarked on major public works projects including the Grand Canal but bankrupted the through massive military campaigns in Korea.
 
 
 
* The Tang Dynasty (唐朝 Táng cháo), 618-907, had its capitals at Chang'an and Luoyang. This was the golden age of Chinese poetry, Buddhism and statecraft. It saw the development of the imperial examination system, which attempted to select officials by ability rather than family background. The Tang is considered by most Chinese to be the second golden age in Chinese civilization, and Chinatowns overseas are often known as "Street of the Tang People" (唐人街 Tángrén jiē) in Chinese.
 
 
 
* China was then divided once again for about fifty years, during which it was under then control of several small short-lived states. The capitals of the various states include Fuzhou, [[Guangzhou]], [[Yangzhou]], [[Changsha]] and many others.
 
 
 
* The Song dynasty (宋朝 Sòng cháo), 960-1279, again united most of China and had its capital at [[Kaifeng]] until it fell to the Jurchens. The Song moved the capital to Nanjing and later to [[Hangzhou]]. Eventually, the Mongols defeated the Jurchens and proceeded to conquer the Song empire. Although militarily weak, the Song reached a level of commercial and economic development unmatched until the West's Industrial Revolution. [[On the trail of Marco Polo|Marco Polo]], who was in Hangzhou a few years after the Mongol conquest, describes it as one of the richest and most beautiful cities on Earth. The Jurchen Jin Dynasty maintained a capital at modern-day Beijing.
 
 
 
* The Yuan (Mongol) dynasty (元朝 Yuán cháo), 1279-1368, used the area that is now [[Beijing]] as their capital. Polo mentions it under the name Canbulac, the Khan's camp.
 
 
 
* The Ming dynasty (明朝 Míng cháo), 1368-1644, initially had [[Nanjing]] as their capital then moved the capital to Beijing. They built many of Beijing's famous buildings including the Forbidden City and the Temple of Heaven. Several of the most famous Chinese novels including "Journey to The West" (西游记 Xīyóujì), "Water Margin" (水浒传 shuǐhǔzhuàn) and "Romance of The Three Kingdoms" (三国演义 Sānguóyǎnyì) were written during this period.
 
 
 
* The Qing (Manchu) dynasty (清朝 Qīng cháo), 1644-1911, used Beijing as the capital of China but they had their own Manchu capital at [[Shenyang]]. The famous Chinese novel, "Dream of the Red Chamber" (红楼梦 Hónglóumèng) was written during this period. The Chinese empire grew to its current geographical size largely during this period.
 
 
 
* The Republic of China (中华民国 Zhōnghuá Mínguó), which ruled from 1911 to 1949, moved the capital back to Nanjing. Since retreating from the mainland in 1949, they have controlled Taiwan and a few small islands off the coast of Fujian. [[Taipei]] is their "temporary capital". During the Second World War, [[Chongqing]] was also a temporary capital.
 
 
 
* Beijing has been the capital of the People's Republic of China (中华人民共和国 Zhōnghuá Rénmín Gònghéguó) since the Communist victory in the civil war in 1949.
 
 
 
===Politics===
 
 
 
China is a one-party authoritarian state ruled by the Communist Party of China. 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 Head of State is the President (主席 zhǔxí) while the Head of Government is the Premier (总理 zǒnglǐ). In practice the President holds the most power, while the Premier is the second most powerful person in the country.
 
 
 
China largely follows a centralised system of government, though the country is administratively divided into 22 provinces, 5 autonomous regions and 4 directly-controlled municipalities. Each of the provincial governments is given limited powers in the internal affairs of their provinces. Autonomous regions are suppossedly given more freedom than the usual provinces, one valid 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 of which have separate legal systems and immigration departments from the mainland, and are given the freedom to enact laws separately from the mainland and therefore much more open and democratic 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 closer link their economies, esstentially removing the danger of war.
 
  
===People and Habits===
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* Smoking: almost anywhere, including areas with "no smoking" signs including health clubs, football pitches and even hospitals. Few restaurants have no-smoking areas although Beijing now forbids smoking in most restaurants. Enforcement of smoking bans can vary, but with the exception of Hong Kong, they most likely will not be. Lower-class establishments often do not even have ashtrays. Western restaurants seem to be the only ones who consistently enforce the ban. On locals buses, trains, and subways, however, smoking is often prohibited and this is strictly enforced. Masks would be good idea for long-distance bus trips. It is perfectly common for someone to smoke in a lift, restroom, in a massage parlor, even in the hospital. This aspect of China may be shocking to foreigners.
  
China is a very diverse place with large 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. More than half the total population, some 800 million rural residents, still farm with manual labor or draft animals. Government estimates for 2005 reported that 90 million people lived on under ¥924 a year and 26 million were under the official poverty line of ¥668 a year. Generally the southern and eastern coastal regions are more wealthy while inland areas, the far west and north, and the southwest are much much less developed.
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* Anyone who does not look Chinese will often be greeted "hello" or "laowai": ''lǎowài'' (老外) literally means "old outsider", a colloquial term for "foreigner"; the more formal term is ''wàiguórén'' (外国人). Calls of "laowai" are ubiquitous outside of the big cities (and even there, occasionally). Young children might also come up to you and try to speak English, as they rarely get a chance to practice with a native speaker. Dark skin discrimination is common in China, and light skin is culturally favored. Many young people, especially girls, apply cosmetics to make their skin look lighter.
  
The cultural landscape is unsurprisingly very diverse given the sheer size of the country. China has 56 officially recognized ethnic groups; the largest by far is the Han which comprise over 90% of the population. The other 55 groups enjoy affirmative action for university admission, and exemption from the one-child policy. The Han, however, are far from homogeneous and speak a wide variety of mutually unintelligible local "dialects"; which most linguists actually classify as different languages using more or less the same set of Chinese characters. Many of the minority ethnic groups have their own languages as well. Contrary to popular belief, there is no single unified Han Chinese culture, and while they share certain common elements such as Confucian and Taoist beliefs as a basis, the regional variations in culture among the Han ethnic group is actually very diverse. Many customs and deities are specific to individual regions and even villages. Celebrations for the lunar new year and other national festivals vary drastically from region to region. Specific customs related to the celebration of important occasions such as weddings, funerals and births also vary widely. In general contemporary urban Chinese society is rather secular and traditional culture is more of an underlying current in every day life. Among ethnic minorities, the Zhuang, Manchu, Hui and Miao are the largest in size. Other notable ethnic minorities include: Koreans, Tibetans, Mongols, Uighurs, Kirghiz and even Russians. In fact, China is home to the largest Korean population outside Korea and is also home to more ethnic Mongols than the Republic of Mongolia itself.
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* Staring: This is common and originates from curiosity, almost never out of hostility. Don't be surprised if someone comes right up to you and just looks as if they are watching the TV, no harm done!
  
Some behaviours that are quite normal in China may be somewhat jarring and vulgar for foreigners:
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*Drinking: It is quite common for older members to toast younger members when eating. It is considered extremely disrespectful to turn down the toast, even in good faith.
  
[[Image:China_no_spitting.jpg|thumb|120px|No spitting please]]
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* Loud conversations, noise, discussions or public arguments: These are common. Many mainland Chinese speak loudly in public (including in the early mornings) and it may be one of the first things you notice upon arrival. Loud speech usually does not mean that the speaker is angry or engaged in an argument (although obviously it can). Fighting, however, is uncommon. If you witness such an event, leave the vicinity and do not get involved. Foreigners are almost never targets in China and you will either be treated with respect or just ignored provided you don't act recklessly. The majority of violence or disrespect directed towards foreigners comes in the form of passive-aggressive comments or in being grossly overcharged for pretty much everything. Noise means life, and Chinese culture is community-based, so you may want to bring earplugs for long bus or train rides!
  
* Spitting: in the street, shops, supermarkets, hotel lobbies, hallways, restaurants, on buses and even in hospitals. Traditional Chinese medical thought believes it is unhealthy to swallow phlegm. Spitting has declined considerably in more developed urban areas like Beijing and Shanghai since the SARS epidemic of 2002. However, in most other areas the habit persists to varying degrees, from moderate to ever-present.
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*Table manners: In China, table etiquettes are different than in western countries. The following behavior is acceptable: lifting the bowl.
* Smoking: almost anywhere, including areas with "no smoking signs". Few restaurants have no smoking areas although Beijing now forbids smoking in most restaurants; lower class establishments often do not have ashtrays. Western restaurants seem to be the only ones who actually enforce the ban so they are your best bet. Masks would be good idea for long distance bus trips.
 
  
* Anyone who does not look Chinese will find that calls of "hello" or "laowai" are common: ''lǎowài'' (老外) literally means "old (and thus respected) outsider", a colloquial term for "foreigner"; the more formal term is ''wàiguórén'' (外国人). Calls of "laowai" are ubiquitous outside of the big cities (and even there, occasionally); these calls will come from just about anyone, of any age, and are even more likely from the very young and can occur many times in any given day.
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* Pushing, shoving and/or jumping queues: This often occurs anywhere where there are queues and often there simply are no queues at all. Best bet is to pick a line that looks like it is moving or just wait for everyone to get on or off the bus or train first, but you may be left behind! Situations have improved in subway stations, where there are usually staff to keep people in line. The concept of personal space is much different in China. It is perfectly common and acceptable behaviour for someone to come in very close contact with you or to bump into you and say nothing, especially during rush hours when buses, trains, and subways are usually packed. Don't get mad as they will be surprised and most likely won't even understand why you are offended!
  
* Staring: This is common through most of the country. The staring usually originates out of sheer curiosity, almost never out of hostility. Don't be surprised if someone comes right up to you and just looks as if they are watching the TV, no harm done!
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* General disregard of city, provincial and/or national rules, regulations and laws. This includes reckless driving, (see [[Driving in China]]) such as speeding, not using head lights at night, lack of use of turn signals, and driving on the wrong side of the street, as well as jaywalking and smoking in non-smoking areas.
  
* Loud conversations, noise, discussions or public arguments: These are very common. Many mainland Chinese speak very loudly in public (including in the early mornings) and it may be one of the first things you notice upon arrival. Loud speech usually does not mean that the speaker is angry or engaged in an argument (although obviously it can). Full-blown fights involving physical violence are not very common, but they do occur. If you witness such an event, leave the vicinity and do not get involved. Foreigners are almost never targets in China and you will be treated with great respect provided you don't act recklessly. Noise means life, and China is rooted in a community based culture, so you may want to bring earplugs for the long bus or train ride!
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* Sanitation: Many Chinese do not cover their mouths when sneezing. Small children (2-4 years old) sometimes eliminate their waste in public (in bushes, on public sidewalks, even in train stations). Eliminating waste in public, however, is rare in major cities and frowned upon by the local population.
  
* Pushing, shoving and/or jumping queues: This often occurs anywhere where there are queues, (or lack thereof) particularly at train stations. Again, often there simply are no queues at all. Best bet is to pick a line that looks like its moving or just wait for everyone to get on or off the bus or train first but you may be left behind!
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Some long-time foreign residents say such behaviours are getting worse; others say the opposite. The cause is usually attributed to the influx of millions of migrants from the countryside who are unfamiliar with urban life. Some department stores place attendants at the foot of each escalator to keep folks from stopping to have a look-see as soon as they get off even though the escalator behind them is packed. The above-mentioned situations have nonetheless been improving in recent years, especially in the cities.
  
* General disregard of city, provincial and/or national rules, regulations and laws. This includes (among many other things) dangerous and negligent driving, (see [[Driving in China]]) that includes excessive speeding, not using head lights at night, lack of use of turn signals, and driving on the wrong side of the street, jaywalking, and smoking in non-smoking areas or defiance of smoking bans including hospitals, inside health clubs and even on football pitches!
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The Chinese love a good laugh and because there are so many ethnic groups and outsiders from other regions, they are used to different ways of doing things and are quite okay with that (in big cities at least). Indeed the Chinese often make conversation with strangers by discussing differences in accent or dialect. They are accustomed to sign language and quick to see a non-verbal joke or pun wherever they can spot one. Laughter usually shows amusement, not scorn. The Chinese like a "collective good laugh" in circumstances that westerners might consider rude. Finally, the Chinese love and adore children, allow them a great deal of freedom, and heap attention upon them. If you have children, bring them!
  
Some long-time foreign residents say such behaviors are getting worse; others say the opposite. The cause is usually attributed to the influx of millions of migrants from the countryside who are unfamiliar with big city life. Some department stores place attendants at the foot of each escalator to keep folks from stopping to have a look-see as soon as they get off - when the escalator behind them is fully packed. What the actual causes of such behavior is include suggestions that China has been largely an argiculuturaly based society for centuries thrust suddenly into the modern age and/or the ghosts of the Cultural Revolution still at play.
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===Lucky Numbers===
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In general, 3, 6, 8, and 9 are lucky numbers for most of the Chinese. “Three” means “high above shine the three stars”, the three stars being the gods of fortune, prosperity and longevity. “Six” represents smoothness or success. Therefore many young people choose the 6th, 16th and 26th dates of the month as wedding dates. The word “Eight” sounds similar to the word for wealth, so many believe it to be linked to prosperity. In fact, the opening ceremony for the Olympics started at 8:08:08 on 08/08/2008. “Nine” is also regarded as lucky and meaning "everlasting".  
  
On the whole, however, the Chinese love a good laugh and because there are so many ethnic groups and outsiders from other regions, they are used to different ways of doing things and are quite okay with that. Indeed the Chinese often make conversation with strangers by discussing differences in accent or dialect. They are often very used to sign language and quick to see a non-verbal joke or pun wherever they can spot one. (A laugh doesn't necessarily mean scorn, just amusement and the Chinese like a "collective good laugh" often at times or circumstances that westerners might consider rude.) The Chinese love and adore  children and allow them a great deal of freedom and heap attention upon them. If you have children, bring them!
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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.
  
 
===Climate and Terrain===
 
===Climate and Terrain===
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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.
  
The climate is extremely diverse, from tropical regions in the south to subarctic in the north. [[Hainan]] Island is roughly at the same latitude as Jamaica, while [[Harbin]], one of the largest cites in the north, is at roughly the latitude of Montreal. North China has four distinct seasons with intensely hot summers and bitterly cold winters. Southern China tends to be milder and wetter. The further north and west one travels, the drier the climate.
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Back in the days of the planned economy, the rules stated that buildings in areas north of the Yangtze River received heat in the winter, but anything south of it did not &mdash; this meant unheated buildings in places like Shanghai and Nanjing, which routinely see temperatures below freezing in winter. The rule has long since been relaxed, but the effects linger. In general, Chinese use less heating, less building insulation, and wear warmer clothing than Westerners in comparable climates. In schools, apartment buildings and office buildings, even if the rooms are heated, the corridors are not. Double-glazing is rare. Students and teachers wear winter jackets in class and long underwear is common. Air conditioning is increasingly common but is similarly not used in corridors and is often used with the windows and doors open.
  
There is also a wide range of terrain to be found in China with many inland mountain ranges, high plateaus, and deserts in center and far west. Plains, deltas, and hills dominate the east. The [[Pearl River Delta]] region around Guangzhou and Hong Kong and the [[Along the Yangtze river|Yangtze delta]] around Shanghai are major economic powerhouses, as is the North China plain around Beijing and the Yellow River. On the border between the Tibet Autonomous Region and the nation of Nepal lies Mount [[Everest]], at 8,850 m, the highest point on earth. The [[Turpan]] depression, in northwest China's Xinjiang is the lowest point in the country, at 154 m below sea level. This is also the second lowest point on land in the world after the [[Dead Sea]].
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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]].
  
 
===Holidays===
 
===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'''.
China is a huge country with endless travel opportunities. During holidays, however, millions of migrant workers return home and millions of other Chinese travel. Travelers may want to seriously consider scheduling to avoid the major holidays. At the very least, travel should be planned well in advance. Every mode of '''transportation is crowded'''; tickets of any kind are hard to come by, so it may be necessary to book well in advance (especially for those traveling from remote western China to the east coast or in the opposite direction). Train and bus tickets are usually quite easy to buy in China, but difficulties arising from crowded conditions at these times cannot be overstated. Travelers who are stranded at these times, unable to buy tickets, can sometimes manage to get airplane tickets, which tend to sell out more slowly.
 
 
 
{{infobox|Chinese New Year Dates|* 2010 - 14 February
 
* 2011 - 3 February
 
* 2012 - 23 January}}
 
  
 
China has five major annual holidays:
 
China has five major annual holidays:
  
* '''National Day''' (国庆节 guóqìngjié) - 1 October
 
 
* '''Chinese New Year''' or Spring Festival (春节 chūnjié) - late January/mid-February
 
* '''Chinese New Year''' or Spring Festival (春节 chūnjié) - late January/mid-February
 +
* '''Qingming Festival''' — usually 4–6 Apr, or the tomb sweeping day, cemeteries are crowded with people who go to sweep the tombs of their ancestors and offer sacrifices. Traffic on the way to cemeteries can be heavy.
 
* '''Labor Day''' or May Day (劳动节 láodòngjié) - 1 May
 
* '''Labor Day''' or May Day (劳动节 láodòngjié) - 1 May
* '''Dragon Boat Festival''' (端午节 duānwǔjié) - 5th day of the 5th lunar month, usually May-June (16 June in 2010). Boat races and eating zongzi (粽子, steamed pouches of sticky rice) are a traditional parts of the celebration.
+
* '''Dragon Boat Festival''' (端午节 duānwǔjié) - The fifth day of the fifth lunar month, usually May-Jun. Boat races and eating zongzi (粽子, steamed pouches of sticky rice) are a traditional parts of the celebration.
* '''Mid-Autumn Day''' (中秋节 zhōngqiūjié)- 15th day of the 8th lunar month, usually October (22 Sep in 2010). Also called the ''Moon Cake Festival'' after its signature treat, moon cakes (月饼 yuèbǐng). People meet outside, putting food on tables and looking up at the full harvest moon while talking about life.
+
* '''Mid-Autumn Day''' (中秋节 zhōngqiūjié)- The 15th day of the eighth lunar month, usually in October. Also called the ''Moon Cake Festival'' after its signature treat, moon cakes (月饼 yuèbǐng). People meet outside, putting food on tables and gazing at the full harvest moon while talking about life.
 
+
* '''National Day''' (国庆节 guóqìngjié) - 1 October
These are not one-day holidays; nearly all workers get at least a week for Chinese New Year, some get two or three, and students get four to six weeks. For Labor Day  and National Day, a week is typical.
 
  
'''The Spring Festival''' is especially busy. Not only is it the longest holiday, it is also a traditional time to visit family, much as Christmas is in the West. More or less all the university students (twenty-odd million of them!) go home, and more or less all the migrant workers who have left their farms and villages for better pay in the cities go home. This is often the only chance they have. Everyone wants to go home, and China has a lot of "everyone"! Around the Chinese New Year, many stores and other businesses will close for several days, a week, or even longer.
+
Nearly all workers get at least a week for Chinese New Year, some get two or three, and students get four to six weeks. For National Day, a week is typical.
  
Also, during early July millions of university students go home and in late August they return to school, jamming transportation options especially between the east coast and the western regions of Sichuan, Gansu, Tibet, and Xinjiang.
+
The '''Chinese New Year''' is especially busy. Not only is it the longest holiday, it is also a traditional time to visit family, so many stores and other businesses close for several days, a week, or even longer. Most migrant workers leave the cities and return to the countryside. This is often the only chance they have. Everyone wants to go home, and China has a lot of "everyone"! Unless you have friends or relatives in China, it is not ideal to visit during this period.
  
A complete list of Chinese festivals would be very long since many areas or ethnic groups have their own local ones. See listings for individual towns for details. Here is a list of some of the nationally important festivals not mentioned above:
+
Also, during early July over twenty million university students go home and in late August they return to school, jamming the transportation system especially between the east coast and the western regions of Sichuan, Gansu, Tibet and Xinjiang.
  
* '''Lantern Festival''' (元宵节 yuánxiāojié or 上元节 shàngyuánjié) - 15th day of the 1st lunar month, just after Chinese New Year, usually in February or March. In some cities, such as Quanzhou, this is a big festival with elaborate lanterns all over town.
+
A complete list of Chinese festivals would be long since many areas or ethnic groups have their own. See listings for individual towns for details. Nationally important festivals not mentioned above include:
  
* '''Tomb Sweeping Day''' or Qingming Festival (清明节 qīngmíngjié) - Around April 4-6, cemeteries are crowded with people who go to sweep the tombs of their ancestors and offer sacrifices. Traffic on the way to the cemeteries can be very heavy.
+
* '''Lantern Festival''' (元宵节 yuánxiāojié or 上元节 shàngyuánjié) - The 15th day of the first lunar month, just after Chinese New Year, usually in February or March. In some cities, such as Quanzhou, this is a big festival with elaborate lanterns all over town.
  
* '''Double Seventh Festival''' (七夕 qīxī) - 7th day of the 7th lunar month, usually August, is a festival of romance, sort of a Chinese Valentine's Day.
+
* '''Double Seventh Festival''' (七夕 qīxī) - The seventh day of the seventh lunar month, usually in August, is a festival of romance, sort of a Chinese Valentine's Day.
  
* '''Double Ninth Festival''' or Chongyang Festival (重阳节 chóngyángjié) - 9th day of the 9th lunar month, usually in October.
+
* '''Double Ninth Festival''' or Chongyang Festival (重阳节 chóngyángjié) - The ninth day of the ninth lunar month, usually in October. This holiday is to honor elders.
  
 
* '''Winter Solstice Festival''' (冬至 dōngzhì) - December 22 or 23.
 
* '''Winter Solstice Festival''' (冬至 dōngzhì) - December 22 or 23.
  
In addition to these, some Western festivals are noticeable, at least in major 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.
+
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===
 
===Books===
 
 
Non-guidebooks, either about China, or by Chinese writers.
 
Non-guidebooks, either about China, or by Chinese writers.
  
 
'''Travel:'''
 
'''Travel:'''
 
+
* '''The Travels of Marco Polo''' by Marco Polo - the Venetian traveler's stories in the Middle Kingdom (see also: [[On the trail of Marco Polo]])
* '''The Travels of Marco Polo''' by Marco Polo - the Venetian traveler's stories in the Middle Kingdom (''see also:'' [[On the trail of Marco Polo]])
 
 
* '''Dialogues Tibetan Dialogues Han''' by Hannü (''ISBN 9789889799939'') - Tibet through the Tibetans with a Han traveler
 
* '''Dialogues Tibetan Dialogues Han''' by Hannü (''ISBN 9789889799939'') - Tibet through the Tibetans with a Han traveler
 +
* '''Behind the Wall- A journey through China''' by Colin Thubron. Thubron recounts his 1987 travels through China, from Beijing to Jiayuguan.
  
 
'''Literature:'''
 
'''Literature:'''
  
 +
* '''The Good Earth''' by Pearl S. Buck  - The classic tale of Chinese peasant life at the turn of the twentieth century, by the author who kindled the American public's interest in China in the 1930's. Ms. Buck won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1938 for the body of her work about China.
 
* '''Winter Stars''' by Beatrice Lao (''ISBN 988979991X'') - a collection of poems born between the Alps and the Tyrrhenian
 
* '''Winter Stars''' by Beatrice Lao (''ISBN 988979991X'') - a collection of poems born between the Alps and the Tyrrhenian
 
+
* '''Romance of the Three Kingdoms''' (三国演义) - the classic Chinese novel of the heroic deeds of the generals and leaders of the three kingdoms following the collapse of the Han dynasty. Noted for its details of cunning military and political strategies. One of the Four Great Classics. It continues to inspire films, TV series, comics, and video games throughout East Asia.
* '''Romance of the Three Kingdoms''' (三国演义) - the classic Chinese novel of the heroic deeds of the generals and leaders of the three kingdoms following the collapse of the Han dynasty. Noted for its details of cunning military and political strategies. One of the Four Great Classics.
+
* '''Water Margin''' or '''Outlaws of the Marsh''' (水浒传) - a Song Dynasty tale of bandits living in the Huai River Valley who fight against the corrupt government. Noted for the rebellious nature of its main characters against an established order. It's the Chinese version of "sticking it to the man". One of the Four Great Classics.
 
+
* '''Journey to the West''' (西游记) - perhaps the most famous Chinese novel, a fantasy account of Xuan Zang's Tang Dynasty journey to retrieve sacred Buddhist texts with the aid of the monkey king Sun Wukong, the gluttonous Zhu Bajie and dependable Sha Wujing. Noted for its creative fantasies and adventures. One of the Four Great Classics.
* '''Water Margin''' or '''Outlaws of the Marsh''' (水浒传) - a Song Dynasty tale of bandits living in the Huai River Valley to fight against the corrupt government. Noted for the rebellious nature of its main characters against an established order. It's the Chinese version of "sticking it to the man". One of the Four Great Classics.
+
* '''Dream of the Red Chamber''' (红楼梦) also known as '''The Story of the Stone''' (Penguin Classics, five volumes)- a lively account of aristocratic life in the Qing dynasty told through the stories of three powerful families. Noted for its accurate portrayal of Chinese aristocrats and the work is often regarded as the zenith of Chinese literature. One of the Four Great Classics.
 
 
* '''Journey to the West''' (西游记) - perhaps the most famous Chinese novel, a fantasy account of Xuan Zang's Tang Dynasty journey to retrieve sacred Buddhist texts with the aid of the monkey king Sun Wukong, the gluttonous Zhu Bajie and dependable Sha Wujing. Noted for its extremely creative fantasies and adventures. One of the Four Great Classics.
 
 
 
* '''Dream of the Red Chamber''' (红楼梦) also known as '''The Story of the Stone''' (Penguin Classics, 5 volumes)- a lively account of aristocratic life in the Qing dynasty told through the stories of three powerful families. Noted for its extremely accurate portrayal of Chinese aristocrats and the work is often regarded as the zenith of Chinese literature. One of the Four Great Classics.
 
  
 
'''History:'''
 
'''History:'''
 
+
* '''Twilight in The Forbidden City''' by R.F. Johnston (''ISBN 0968045952''), also available in Kindle Edition. As the British-born Tutor to the Dragon Emperor, Johnston was the only foreigner in history to be allowed inside the inner court of the Qing Dynasty. Johnston carried high imperial titles and lived in both the Forbidden City and the New Summer Palace. Twilight in the Forbidden City reflects his eyewitness accounts of the memorable events of the time.
 
* '''The Search for Modern China''' by Jonathan Spence - a renowned book written by a Yale professor about Chinese history since 1644.
 
* '''The Search for Modern China''' by Jonathan Spence - a renowned book written by a Yale professor about Chinese history since 1644.
 
+
* '''1587, A Year of No Significance''' by Ray Huang - describes an uneventful year in the history of Ming Dynasty China. Its Chinese edition is one of the most well known history books on this period.
* '''1587, A Year of No Significance''' by Ray Huang - describes an uneventful year in the history of Ming Dynasty China. Its Chinese edition is one of the most well known history books on this period.  
+
*'''China: A New History''' by John K. Fairbank - the last book of a prominent American academic that helped shape modern Sinology.
 
+
*'''The Cambridge History of China''' - an ongoing series of books published by Cambridge University Press covering the early and modern history of China. This is the largest and most comprehensive history of China in the English language.
*'''China: A New History''' by John K. Fairbank - the last book of a prominent American academic that helped shape modern Sinology.  
+
*'''The Open Empire: A History of China to 1600''' by Valerie Hansen - presents in colorful detail the history, culture and socio-economic development of China from the Shang period to the Ming.
 
+
* '''1421, The Year China Discovered the World''' by Gavin Menzies (''ISBN 0553815229'') - well-known but well-contested account of China's alleged efforts to explore and map the entire world. Interestingly, this book which suggests that the Chinese first discovered the New World is largely denounced as fictional by Chinese academics.
*'''The Cambridge History of China''' - ongoing series of books published by Cambridge University Press covering the early and modern history of China. This is the largest and most comprehensive history of China in the English language.
 
 
 
*'''The Open Empire: A History of China to 1600''' by Valerie Hansen - presents in colorful detail the history, culture, and socio-economic development of China from the Shang period to the Ming.
 
 
 
* '''1421, The Year China Discovered the World''' by Gavin Menzies (''ISBN 0553815229'') - well known but well contested account of China's alleged efforts to explore and map the entire world. Interestingly, this book which suggests that Chinese first discovered the New World is largely denounced as fictional by Chinese academics.
 
 
 
 
* '''The Sextants of Beijing''' by Joanna Waley-Cohen - a book that summarizes recent thinking on how China was much more open and less xenophobic than often assumed.
 
* '''The Sextants of Beijing''' by Joanna Waley-Cohen - a book that summarizes recent thinking on how China was much more open and less xenophobic than often assumed.
 
+
* '''Red Star Over China''' by Edgar Snow - recounts the months that he spent with the Chinese Red Army in the summer and fall of 1936.
* '''Red Star Over China''' by Edgar Snow- recounts the months that he spent with the Chinese Red Army in the summer and fall of 1936.
 
 
 
 
* '''The Rape of Nanking''' by Iris Chang (''ISBN 0140277447'') - the forgotten Holocaust in WWII
 
* '''The Rape of Nanking''' by Iris Chang (''ISBN 0140277447'') - the forgotten Holocaust in WWII
 
 
* '''The Good Man of Nanking: The Diaries of John Rabe''' by John Rabe - firsthand description of the sadistic rapes, torture and slaughter perpetrated by Japanese soldiers in WWII and Rabe's ultimate success in saving perhaps a quarter of a million lives
 
* '''The Good Man of Nanking: The Diaries of John Rabe''' by John Rabe - firsthand description of the sadistic rapes, torture and slaughter perpetrated by Japanese soldiers in WWII and Rabe's ultimate success in saving perhaps a quarter of a million lives
 
 
* '''Wild Swans''' by Jung Chang (''ISBN 0007176155'') - a biography of three generations, from the warlord days to the end of Mao's era, illustrating life under China's version of nationalism and communism (banned in China)
 
* '''Wild Swans''' by Jung Chang (''ISBN 0007176155'') - a biography of three generations, from the warlord days to the end of Mao's era, illustrating life under China's version of nationalism and communism (banned in China)
 
+
* '''Mao-An unknown story''' by Jung Chang and Jon Halliday. A biography of Mao and an account of China under his rule.
* '''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===
 
===Cinema===
Line 276: Line 178:
 
*Zhang Yimou - '''To Live''' (1994)
 
*Zhang Yimou - '''To Live''' (1994)
 
*Wu Ziniu - '''Don't Cry, Nanking''' (1995)
 
*Wu Ziniu - '''Don't Cry, Nanking''' (1995)
*Zhang Yimou - '''Keep cool''' (1997)
+
*Zhang Yimou - '''Keep Cool''' (1997)
 
*Xie Jin - '''The Opium War''' (1997)
 
*Xie Jin - '''The Opium War''' (1997)
 
*Zhang Yang - '''Shower''' (1999)
 
*Zhang Yang - '''Shower''' (1999)
 
*Feng Xiao Gang - '''Sorry Baby''' (1999)
 
*Feng Xiao Gang - '''Sorry Baby''' (1999)
 
*Zhang Yimou - '''Not one less''' (1999)
 
*Zhang Yimou - '''Not one less''' (1999)
*Xiaoshuai Wang '''Beijing bicycle''' (2001)
+
*Xiaoshuai Wang - '''Beijing bicycle''' (2001)
 
*Zhang Yimou - '''Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles''' (2005)
 
*Zhang Yimou - '''Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles''' (2005)
 
*Gianni Amelio - '''La stella che non c’è''' or The Missing Star (2006)
 
*Gianni Amelio - '''La stella che non c’è''' or The Missing Star (2006)
Line 287: Line 189:
 
*Daniel Lee - '''Three Kingdoms: Resurrection of the Dragon''' (2008)
 
*Daniel Lee - '''Three Kingdoms: Resurrection of the Dragon''' (2008)
 
*Roger Spottiswoode - '''The Children of Huangshi''' (2008)
 
*Roger Spottiswoode - '''The Children of Huangshi''' (2008)
 +
*Wu Tianming - '''The King of Masks''' (1996)
  
 
==Regions==
 
==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]].
  
Line 298: Line 200:
 
| region1name=[[Northeast China]]
 
| region1name=[[Northeast China]]
 
| region1color=#d5dc76
 
| region1color=#d5dc76
| region1items=[[Liaoning]], [[Jilin]], [[Heilongjiang]]
+
| region1items=[[Liaoning]], [[Jilin]] and [[Heilongjiang]]
| region1description=dōngběi, "rust belt" cities, vast forests, Russian, Korean, and Japanese influence, and long, snowy winters
+
| region1description=dōngběi, "rust-belt" cities, vast forests, Russian, Korean, and Japanese influence, and long, snowy winters
 
| region2name=[[North China]]
 
| region2name=[[North China]]
 
| region2color=#b383b3
 
| region2color=#b383b3
 
| region2items=[[Shandong]], [[Shanxi]], [[Inner Mongolia]], [[Henan]], [[Hebei]], [[Beijing]], [[Tianjin]]
 
| region2items=[[Shandong]], [[Shanxi]], [[Inner Mongolia]], [[Henan]], [[Hebei]], [[Beijing]], [[Tianjin]]
| region2description=The Yellow River Basin area, cradle of China's civilization and historic heartland
+
| region2description=The Yellow River Basin, cradle of China's civilization and historic heartland
 
| region3name=[[Northwest China]]
 
| region3name=[[Northwest China]]
 
| region3color=#71b37b
 
| region3color=#71b37b
| region3items=[[Shaanxi]], [[Gansu]], [[Ningxia]], [[Qinghai]], [[Xinjiang]]
+
| region3items=[[Shaanxi]], [[Gansu]], [[Ningxia]], [[Qinghai]] and [[Xinjiang]]
| region3description=Site of China's capital for 1000 years, grasslands, deserts, mountains, nomadic people, and Islam
+
| region3description=Site of China's capital for 1000 years, grasslands, deserts, mountains, nomadic people and Islam
 
| region4name=[[Southwest China]]
 
| region4name=[[Southwest China]]
 
| region4color=#4da9c4
 
| region4color=#4da9c4
| region4items=[[Tibet]], [[Yunnan]], [[Guangxi]], [[Guizhou]]  
+
| region4items=[[Tibet]], [[Yunnan]], [[Guangxi]] and [[Guizhou]]
| region4description=The exotic part, minority peoples, spectacular scenery, and backpacker havens
+
| region4description=The exotic part, minority peoples, spectacular scenery and backpacker havens
 
| region5name=[[South-central China]]
 
| region5name=[[South-central China]]
 
| region5color=#a78379
 
| region5color=#a78379
| region5items=[[Anhui]], [[Sichuan]], [[Chongqing]], [[Hubei]], [[Hunan]], [[Jiangxi]]
+
| region5items=[[Anhui]], [[Sichuan]], [[Chongqing]], [[Hubei]], [[Hunan]] and [[Jiangxi]]
| region5description=Farming areas, semi-tropical or temperate mountains and forests
+
| region5description=Farming areas, mountains, river gorges, temperate and sub-tropical forests
 
| region6name=[[Southeast China]]
 
| region6name=[[Southeast China]]
 
| region6color=#ffd0d0
 
| region6color=#ffd0d0
| region6items=[[Guangdong]], [[Hainan]], [[Fujian]]
+
| region6items=[[Guangdong]], [[Hainan]] and [[Fujian]]
 
| region6description=Traditional trading center, manufacturing powerhouse, and ancestral homeland of most overseas Chinese
 
| region6description=Traditional trading center, manufacturing powerhouse, and ancestral homeland of most overseas Chinese
 
| region7name=[[East China]]
 
| region7name=[[East China]]
 
| region7color=#d56d76
 
| region7color=#d56d76
| region7items=[[Jiangsu]], [[Shanghai]], [[Zhejiang]]
+
| region7items=[[Jiangsu]], [[Shanghai]] and [[Zhejiang]]
| region7description=The "land of fish and rice" (Chinese equivalent to "land of milk and honey"), traditional water towns, and China's new cosmopolitan economic center
+
| region7description=The "land of fish and rice" (China's equivalent of the "land of milk and honey"), traditional water towns, and cosmopolitan, prosperous boomtowns
 
}}
 
}}
  
{{disclaimerbox|We cover [[Hong Kong]], [[Macau]] and [[Taiwan]] in separate articles. From the practical traveller's point of view, they are quite different; each has its own visas, currency and so on.
+
{{disclaimerbox|We cover [[Hong Kong]], [[Macau]] and [[Taiwan]] in separate articles. From the practical traveller's point of view, they are distinct as each issues its own visas, currency and so on.
  
 
Politically, Hong Kong and Macau are [[List of Chinese provinces and regions|Special Administrative Regions]], part of China but with capitalist economies and distinct political systems. The slogan is "One country, two systems".
 
Politically, Hong Kong and Macau are [[List of Chinese provinces and regions|Special Administrative Regions]], part of China but with capitalist economies and distinct political systems. The slogan is "One country, two systems".
  
[[Taiwan]] is a special case. At the end of the Chinese civil war in 1949, the Communists held most of China and the defeated Nationalists held only Taiwan and a few offshore islands of Fujian. That situation continues to this day; Taiwan has had a separate government for 60 years. Both governments in theory support eventual reunification, but there is also significant pro-independence support 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==
 
==Cities==
 
+
[[Image:Forbidden city.jpg|thumb|The entrance to the Forbidden City, [[Beijing]]]]
[[Image:Forbidden city.jpg|thumb|right|240px|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.
 
 
China has many large and famous cities. Below is a list of the '''nine''' most important to travelers 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.
 
 
 
 
<!-- Do not change or add to this list without discussion on the talk page -->
 
<!-- Do not change or add to this list without discussion on the talk page -->
 
+
* [[Beijing]] (北京) {{-}} the capital and cultural centre
* [[Beijing]] (北京) {{-}} the capital, cultural center, and host of the 2008 Olympics
 
 
* [[Guangzhou]] (广州) {{-}} one of the most prosperous and liberal cities in the south, near [[Hong Kong]]
 
* [[Guangzhou]] (广州) {{-}} one of the most prosperous and liberal cities in the south, near [[Hong Kong]]
 
* [[Guilin]] (桂林) {{-}} popular destination for both Chinese and foreign tourists with sensational mountain and river scenery
 
* [[Guilin]] (桂林) {{-}} popular destination for both Chinese and foreign tourists with sensational mountain and river scenery
* [[Hangzhou]] (杭州) {{-}} famously beautiful city and major center for the silk industry
+
* [[Hangzhou]] (杭州) {{-}} famously beautiful city and major centre for the silk industry
 
* [[Kunming]] (昆明) {{-}} capital of [[Yunnan]] and gateway to a rainbow of ethnic minority areas
 
* [[Kunming]] (昆明) {{-}} capital of [[Yunnan]] and gateway to a rainbow of ethnic minority areas
 
* [[Nanjing]] (南京) {{-}} a renowned historical and cultural city with many historic sites
 
* [[Nanjing]] (南京) {{-}} a renowned historical and cultural city with many historic sites
* [[Shanghai]] (上海) {{-}} famous for its riverside cityscape, China's largest city is a major commercial center with many shopping opportunities  
+
* [[Shanghai]] (上海) {{-}} famous for its riverside cityscape, China's largest city is a major commercial center with many shopping opportunities
 
* [[Suzhou]] (苏州) {{-}} "Venice of the East," an ancient city famous for canals and gardens just west of Shanghai
 
* [[Suzhou]] (苏州) {{-}} "Venice of the East," an ancient city famous for canals and gardens just west of Shanghai
 
* [[Xian|Xi'an]] (西安) {{-}} the oldest city and ancient capital of China, home to ten dynasties including the Han and the Tang, terminus of the ancient [[Silk Road]], and home of the terracotta warriors
 
* [[Xian|Xi'an]] (西安) {{-}} the oldest city and ancient capital of China, home to ten dynasties including the Han and the Tang, terminus of the ancient [[Silk Road]], and home of the terracotta warriors
 
+
* [[Yangzhou]] (扬州) {{-}} "Epitome of China" with a history of over 2,500 years, Marco Polo served as the city's governor for three years in the late 13th century.
 +
* [[Chengdu]] (成都) {{-}} "The home of giant pandas". It was established before Xi'an. It is the capital city of Sichuan Province and offers the best and the most spicy food.
 
<!-- Do not change or add to this list without discussion on the talk page -->
 
<!-- Do not change or add to this list without discussion on the talk page -->
  
Line 355: Line 254:
  
 
==Other destinations==
 
==Other destinations==
 
Some of the most famous tourist attractions in China are:
 
 
 
* [[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
* [[Jiuzhaigou Nature Reserve]] {{-}} known as the habitat of giant pandas and for its many multi-level waterfalls and colorful lakes
+
* [[Jiuzhaigou Nature Reserve]] (九寨沟) {{-}} known as the habitat of giant pandas and for its many multi-level waterfalls and colourful lakes
 
* [[Leshan]] {{-}} most famous for its huge riverside cliff-carving of Buddha and nearby Mount Emei
 
* [[Leshan]] {{-}} most famous for its huge riverside cliff-carving of Buddha and nearby Mount Emei
 
* [[Mount Everest]] {{-}} straddling the border between Nepal and Tibet, this is the world's highest mountain
 
* [[Mount Everest]] {{-}} straddling the border between Nepal and Tibet, this is the world's highest mountain
* [[Mount Tai]] (泰山 Tài Shān) {{-}} one of the five Daoist sacred mountains in China, and because of its history the most climbed mountain in China
+
* [[Mount Tai]] (泰山 Tài Shān) {{-}} one of the five Taoist sacred mountains in China, and because of its history, the most-climbed mountain in China
* [[Tibet]] (西藏) {{-}} with a majority of Tibetan Buddhists and traditional Tibetan culture, it feels like an entirely different world
+
* [[Tibet]] (西藏) {{-}} the Tibetan Buddhist majority and their traditional culture make it distinct
 
* [[Turpan]] {{-}} in the Islamic area of Xinjiang, this area is known for its grapes, harsh climate and Uighur culture
 
* [[Turpan]] {{-}} in the Islamic area of Xinjiang, this area is known for its grapes, harsh climate and Uighur culture
* [[Yungang Grottoes]] {{-}} these mountain-side caves and recesses number more than 50 in all and 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==
 
==Get in==
  
===Visas===
+
===Visa-free===
 +
Citizens of the following countries do not need a visa to travel to China:
 +
 
 +
'''For 15 days'''
 +
*[[Brunei]], [[Japan]] and [[Singapore]].
 +
'''For 30 days'''
 +
* [[Bahamas]], [[Barbados]], [[Belarus]], [[Ecuador]], [[Fiji]], [[Grenada]], [[Qatar]], [[Serbia]], [[Seychelles]], [[Tonga]] and the [[United Arab Emirates]] [http://ec.china-embassy.org/esp/lsfw/t1388153.htm]
 +
'''For 60 days'''
 +
*[[Mauritius]]
 +
'''For 90 days'''
 +
*[[Bosnia and Herzegovina]] and [[San Marino]]
 +
 
 +
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====
 +
 
 +
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:
 +
 
 +
*You must have a confirmed, onward ticket to a third country before you board your flight to China (your onward flight out of China does not need to be in the same booking/ticket as your flight to China). Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan are considered "international flights" so you may fly there on a non-stop flight after your time in mainland China.
 +
 
 +
*You cannot have a direct onward ticket to the same country from which you flew in, even if the cities are different (for example, New York-Beijing-Los Angeles would not qualify, but New York-Beijing-Hong Kong-Los Angeles would qualify).
 +
 
 +
*You can stop over visa-free on both the outbound and return journeys of your itinerary (for example, London-Shanghai-Hong Kong-Beijing-London). In fact, you can stop over visa-free as many times as you want on any number of itineraries as long as your direct flight into mainland China was from a country different to the destination country of your direct onward flight out of mainland China.
 +
 
 +
*You also must fly into and fly out of the same city and airport. Note: In Shanghai/Hangzhou/Nanjing, it is allowed to travel into and out of any airport (or land/sea border) in the three cities (for example, into Shanghai Pudong and out of Hangzhou, or into Shanghai Pudong and out of Shanghai by direct cross-border train to [[Hong Kong]]). Similarly, in Beijing/Tianjin/Shijiazhuang/Qinhuangdao, it is possible travel into and out of any airport (or land/sea border) in the four cities. Also, in Dalian/Shenyang, travel into and out of any airport (or land/sea border) in the two cities is permited.
 +
 
 +
*The 144- or 72-hour period begins at 00:01 the day ''after your arrive'' (except in [[Guilin]], [[Harbin]] and [[Kunming]], where the 72-hour period begins at the ''scheduled arrival time'' of your flight). For example, if arriving in [[Shanghai]] at 06:00 on 1 January, one can stay until 23:59 on 7 January, but if arriving in [[Kunming]] at 06:00 (scheduled flight arrival time) on 1 January, staying is only permited until 06:00 on 4 January.
 +
 
 +
*If you use the 72-hour visa-free stopover, you may not leave the metropolitan area of the city you arrive in (except for stopovers in [[Guangzhou]], where you are permitted to travel anywhere within [[Guangdong]] Province during the stopover period). For example: You cannot fly into Beijing, take another flight to Shanghai or Guangzhou and leave China from there under the 72-hour transit rule. However, if you use the 144-hour visa-free stopover in Shanghai/Hangzhou/Nanjing, you can move freely within the whole of [[Shanghai]] Municipality, [[Jiangsu]] Province and [[Zhejiang]] Province. Similarly, if you use the 144-hour visa-free stopover in Beijing/Tianjin/Shijiazhuang/Qinhuangdao, you can move freely within the whole of that area (including [[Hebei]] Province). If you use the 144-hour visa-free stopover in Dalian/Shenyang, both cities may be visited.
 +
 
 +
*There is no minimum required time you need to spend in the third country (for example, if your itinerary is London-Shanghai-Hong Kong-Beijing-London, as long as you were physically present in Hong Kong after flying from Shanghai and before flying into Beijing, you would qualify for visa-free stopovers in Shanghai and Beijing).
 +
 
 +
More details can be found here: [http://www.travelchinaguide.com/embassy/visa/free-72hour/]. There is also a dedicated discussion and wiki-style summary on China's visa-free stopover policies in the [http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/china/708095-china-24-72-144-hour-transit-without-visa-twov-rules-master-thread.html FlyerTalk forum].
 +
 
 +
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====
 +
Those visiting Hong Kong and Macau are able to visit the Pearl River Delta visa-free under certain conditions.
 +
 
 +
*The visitor is a national of a country which has diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China
 +
 
 +
*The visitor is visiting the Pearl River Delta as part of a tour group organised by a Hong Kong- or Macao-based travel agency.
 +
 
 +
*The stay is six days or less (21 days for citizens of [[Germany]], [[South Korea]] and [[Russia]])
 +
 
 +
*The visitor stays only within the cities of [[Guangzhou]], [[Shenzhen]], [[Zhuhai]], [[Foshan]], [[Dongguan]], [[Zhongshan]], [[Jiangmen]], [[Zhaoqing]], [[Huizhou]] and [[Shantou]].
 +
 
 +
====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.
 +
 
 +
====[[Hainan]]====
 +
Only the special economic zone province of Hainan allows visa-free access to mainland China for 15 days for nationals of the following countries: [[Australia]], [[Austria]], [[Canada]], [[Denmark]], [[France]], [[Finland]], [[Indonesia]], [[Italy]], [[Japan]], [[Kazakhstan]], the [[Netherlands]], [[New Zealand]], [[Norway]], the [[Philippines]], [[Singapore]], [[Spain]], [[Sweden]], [[Switzerland]], [[Thailand]], [[Ukraine]], the [[United Kingdom]], and the [[United States]]. As long as they are visiting as part of a Chinese-government-controlled agency in Hainan with five or more people. Nationals of [[Germany]], [[Russia]] and [[South Korea]] can enter visa-free for 21 days with a tourist group of two or more people.
  
{{disclaimerbox|Visa rules, which tightened up during the 2008 Olympics, are now easing again.}}
+
===Border Cities===
 +
Citizens of Russia can visit the city of [[Suifenhe]] visa-free for up to 15 days, if accompanied by someone. Residents of the [[Amur oblast]] can visit the city of [[Heihe]] visa-free for 24 hours.
  
Most travelers 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]].
+
Residents of the [[East Kazakhstan Region]] in [[Kazakhstan]] can visit the city of [[Tacheng]] without a visa for 72 hours.
  
The most notable exception to this rule is transit through certain airports. Most airports allow a 12-hour stay without a visa so long as you do not leave the airport, but Shanghai Pu Dong International and Shanghai Hongqiao International Airports permit a forty-eight hour stay without a visa.
+
===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.
  
Nationals of [[Singapore]], [[Brunei]] and Japan do not need a visa to visit China for a stay of up to 15 days, regardless of the reason of visit.  To visit mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau residents of Chinese nationality need to apply at the China Travel Service, the sole authorized issuing agent, to obtain a Home Return Permit, a credit card sized ID allowing multiple entries and unlimited stay for 10 years with no restrictions including on employment.
+
The most notable exception to this rule is transit through certain airports. Most airports allow a 12- to 24-hour stay without a visa so long as you do do not pass through immigration and customs (stay airside) and are en-route to a different country.  
  
Citizens of the Republic of China (Taiwan) may obtain an entry permit (valid for 3 months) at airports in Dalian, Fuhzou, Haikou, Qingdao, Sanya, Shanghai, Wuhan, Xiamen and China Travel Services in Hong Kong and Macau. Visitors must hold a Republic of China passport, Taiwanese Identity Card and Taiwan Compatriot Pass (台胞证 táibāozhèng). The Compatriot Pass may be obtained for single use at airports in Fuzhou, Haikou, Qingdao, Sanya, Wuhan and Xiamen. The entry permit fee is ¥100 plus ¥50 for issuing a single use Taiwan Compatriot Pass. Travelers should check the most up-to-date information before traveling.
+
To visit mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau residents of Chinese nationality need to apply at the China Travel Service, the sole authorized issuing agent, to obtain a Home Return Permit (回乡证), a credit-card-sized ID allowing multiple entries and unlimited stay for ten years with no restrictions including on employment. Taiwan residents may obtain an entry permit (valid for three months) at airports in Dalian, Fuhzou, Haikou, Qingdao, Sanya, Shanghai, Wuhan, Xiamen and China Travel Services in Hong Kong and Macau. Visitors must hold a Republic of China passport, Taiwanese Identity Card and Taiwan Compatriot Pass (台胞证 táibāozhèng). The Compatriot Pass may be obtained for single use at airports in Fuzhou, Haikou, Qingdao, Sanya, Wuhan and Xiamen. The entry permit fee is ¥100 plus ¥50 for issuing a single-use Taiwan Compatriot Pass. Travellers should check the most up-to-date information before traveling.
  
{{infobox|Visa overview|* '''G visa''' - transit
+
{{infobox|Visa overview|* '''C visa''' - international flight crews
* '''L visa''' - tourism, family visits
+
* '''D visa''' - permanent residents
* '''F visa''' - business trips, internships, short study
+
* '''F visa''' - business trips, exchanges, and study trips
* '''Z visa''' - working, multi-entry
+
* '''G visa''' - transit
* '''X visa''' - study more than 6 months}}
+
* '''J visa''' - journalists, incl. J-1 and J-2 visa types
 +
* '''L visa''' - for general visitors
 +
* '''M visa''' - trade and commercial activities
 +
* '''Q visa''' - overseas Chinese or foreigners visiting for family reunions, incl. Q-1 and Q-2 visa types
 +
* '''R visa''' - foreigner workers urgently needed within the mainland
 +
* '''S visa''' - foreigners visiting for family reunions, incl. S-1 and S-2 visa types
 +
* '''X visa''' - for students, incl. X-1 and X-1 visa types
 +
* '''Z visa''' - foreign workers}}
  
 
Getting a tourist visa is fairly easy for most passports as you don't need an invitation, which is required for business or working visas. The usual tourist single-entry visa is valid for a visit of 30 days and must be used within three months of the date of issue. A double-entry tourist visa must be used within six months of the date of issue. It is possible to secure a tourist visa for up to 90 days for citizens of some countries.
 
Getting a tourist visa is fairly easy for most passports as you don't need an invitation, which is required for business or working visas. The usual tourist single-entry visa is valid for a visit of 30 days and must be used within three months of the date of issue. A double-entry tourist visa must be used within six months of the date of issue. It is possible to secure a tourist visa for up to 90 days for citizens of some countries.
  
Some travelers will need a dual entry or multiple entry visa. For example, if you enter China on a single entry visa, then go to Hong Kong or Macau, you need a new visa to re-enter mainland China. In Hong Kong, multiple entry visas are officially available only to HKID holders, but the authorities are willing to bend the rules somewhat and may approve three-month multiple entry visas for short-term Hong Kong qualified residents, including exchange students. It is recommended to apply directly with the Chinese government in this case, as some agents will be unwilling to submit such an application on your behalf.
+
Tourist visa extensions can be applied for at the local Entry & Exit Bureaus against handing in the following documents: valid passport, visa-extension application form including one two-inch-sized picture, and a copy of the Registration Form of Temporary Residence which is received from the local police station at registration.
 +
 
 +
Some travellers will need a dual-entry or multiple-entry visa. For example, when entering China on a single-entry visa, then departing the mainland to Hong Kong or Macau, a new visa to re-enter the mainland is needed. In Hong Kong, multiple-entry visas are officially available only to HKID holders, but the authorities are willing to bend the rules somewhat and may approve three-month multiple-entry visas for short-term Hong Kong qualified residents, including exchange students. It is recommended to apply directly with the Chinese government in this case, as some agents will be unwilling to submit such an application on your behalf.
  
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 KCR 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 British nationals have to pay ¥450. The office now accepts only Chinese yuan as payment, so be sure to bring sufficient cash.
+
Holders of multiple-entry visas must leave China to renew the visa. The easiest way was to go to Hong Kong, Seoul or some other country, cross the border and re-enter China. A new way is to go to Xiamen and cross to Jinmen island. Jinmen is held by Taiwan and like Hong Kong is officially considered leaving China. See details of below on boats to China.
  
 
There may be restrictions on visas for political reasons and these vary over time. For example:
 
There may be restrictions on visas for political reasons and these vary over time. For example:
Line 398: Line 356:
 
* The visa fee for American nationals was increased to US$140 (or US$110 as part of a group tour) in reciprocation for increased fees for Chinese nationals visiting America. [http://www.china-embassy.org/eng/hzqz/t334452.htm]
 
* The visa fee for American nationals was increased to US$140 (or US$110 as part of a group tour) in reciprocation for increased fees for Chinese nationals visiting America. [http://www.china-embassy.org/eng/hzqz/t334452.htm]
  
* Visas issued in Hong Kong are generally limited to 30 days, same day service is difficult to get. Multiple-entry visas have also become much harder or impossible to get.
+
* Visas issued in Hong Kong are generally limited to 30 days, same-day service is difficult to get. Multiple-entry visas have also become more difficult or impossible to get.
 +
 
 +
* Indian nationals are limited to 10- or 15-day tourist visas, and are required to show US$100 per day of visa validity in the form of traveller's checks (US $1,000 and $1,500, respectively).
 +
 
 +
Currently a Z-visa only gets you into the country for 30 days; once you are there, the employer arranges a residence permit. This is effectively a multiple-entry visa; you can leave China and return using it. Some local visa offices will refuse to issue a residence permit if you entered China on a tourist (L) visa. In those cases, you have to enter on a Z-visa. These are only issued outside China, so obtaining one will likely require a departure from the mainland, for example to a neighbouring country. (Note that in Korea, tourists not holding an alien registration card must now travel to Busan, as the Chinese consulate in Seoul does not issue visas to non-residents in Korea.) They also usually require an invitation letter from the employer. In other cases it is possible to convert an L visa to a residence permit; it depends upon which office you are dealing with and perhaps on your employer's connections.
  
* Indian nationals are limited to 10 or 15 day tourist visas, and have to show US $100 per day of visa validity in the form of traveler's checks (US $1000 and US $1500, respectively), likely owing to the contested border and migration fears.
+
It is possible for most foreigners to get a visa in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. 
 +
<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.
  
A few years ago, the Z (working) visa was a long-term visa. Now a Z visa only gets you into the country for 30 days; once you are there, the employer gets you a residence permit. This is effectively a multiple-entry visa; you can leave China and return using it. Some local visa offices will refuse to issue a residence permit if you entered China on a tourist (L) visa. In those cases, you have to enter on a Z visa. These are only issued outside China, so getting one may require  a trip to Hong Kong or Korea. They also usually require an invitation letter from the employer. In other cases it is possible to convert an L visa to a residence permit; it depends upon which office you are dealing with and perhaps on your employer's connections.
+
====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.
  
One option for foreigners married to Chinese citizens (see [[Marriage in China]]) is to obtain a six to twelve month ''visting relatives'' (探亲 tànqīn) visa. A ''visting relatives'' visa is actually a tourist (L) visa that permits individuals to remain in China continuously for the duration of their visa and does not require the visa holder to exit and reenter the country to maintain the validity of the visa. Individuals seeking to apply for a ''visting relatives'' visa should first enter the country on a different visa and then apply for a ''visting relatives'' visa at the local Public Security bureau in the city that your marriage was registered in, which is usually your Chinese spouse's hometown. Make sure to bring your marriage certificate and spouse's identification card (身份证 shēnfènzhèng).
+
====[[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.
  
 
====Registering your abode====
 
====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.
  
If you are staying in a private residence you are required to register your abode with the local police within 24 (city) to 72 (countryside) hours of arrival. The police will ask for (1) a copy of the photograph page of your passport, (2) a copy of your visa, (3) a copy of your immigration entry stamp, (4) a photograph, (5) a copy of the tenancy agreement or other document concerning the place you are staying in. That agreement might not be in your name but it will still be asked for.
+
When staying in a private residence, in theory it is required to register the abode with the local police within 24 (city) to 72 (countryside) hours of arrival, though in practice the law is rarely, if ever, enforced so long as you don't cause any trouble. The police will ask for (1) a copy of the photograph page of your passport, (2) a copy of your visa, (3) a copy of your immigration entry stamp, (4) a photograph, and (5) a copy of the tenancy agreement or other document concerning the place you are staying in. That agreement might not be in your name but it will still be requested.
 
+
(In Shanghai this is not required of holders of residence permits of any kind, only for visa holders)
+
* Registration needs to be done each time you come into China (except for resident permit holders - they should register only after a new visa is issued)
 
+
* A fine of up to ¥500 can be levied for not registering within 24 hours.
As a result of the H1N1-flu pandemic there are some kinds of health-checks currently in effect. These may be as simple as a customs person judging your appearance to IR-cameras checking for elevated body temperature. If there is a suspicion of flu, you will be quarantined for seven days.
+
* 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]], neigbouring countries such as [[South Korea]] and [[Japan]], and sometimes [[Southeast Asia]].
+
{{infobox|Transiting Hong Kong and Macau|
 +
If arriving in Hong Kong or Macau there are ferries that can shuttle passengers straight to another destination such as Shekou or Bao'an Airport in Shenzhen, Macau Airport, Zhuhai and elsewhere without actually "entering" Hong Kong or Macau. A shuttle bus takes transit passengers to the ferry terminal so their official entry point, where they clear immigration, will be the ferry destination rather than the airport. Please note that the ferries do have different hours so landing late at night may make it necessary to enter either territory to catch another bus or ferry to one's ultimate destination. For example, it would be necessary to clear immigration if going from Hong Kong International Airport to Macau via the Macau Ferry Terminal. The most recent information on the ferries to Hong Kong can be found at the Hong Kong International Airport website.[http://www.hongkongairport.com/eng/index.html]}}
  
{{infobox|Transiting Hong Kong and Macau|
+
While many major airlines now fly to Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Hong Kong, budget seats are often scarce. For good offers, book as early as possible. Tickets are particularly expensive or hard to come by at the beginning or end of summer when Chinese students abroad return home or fly back to their universities around the world. As with other travel in China, tickets are scarce and expensive around Chinese New Year.
If arriving in Hong Kong or Macau there are ferries that can shuttle passengers straight to another destination such as Shekou or Bao'an Airport in Shenzhen, Macau Airport, Zhuhai and elsewhere without actually "entering" Hong Kong or Macau. A shuttle bus takes transit passengers to the ferry terminal so their official entry point, where they clear immigration, will be the ferry destination rather than the airport. Please note that the ferries do have different hours so landing late at night may make it necessary to enter either territory to catch another bus or ferry to one's ultimate destination. For example, it would be necessary to clear immigration if going from HK Int'l Airport to Macau via the Macau Ferry Terminal. The most recent information on the ferries to Hong Kong can be found at the Hong Kong International Airport website.[http://www.hongkongairport.com/eng/index.html]}}
 
  
While many major airlines now fly to Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Hong Kong, budget seats are often scarce. For good offers, book as early as possible. Tickets are particularly expensive or hard to come by at the beginning or end of summer when Chinese students abroad return home or fly back to their universities around the world. As with other travel in China, tickets can be difficult to get and expensive around Chinese New Year.  
+
Hong Kong-based Cathay Dragon offers discounted '''companion fares''' [https://www.cathaypacific.com/cx/en_HK/offers/flight/flight-offers-to-mainland-china/companion-fare-to-mainland-china-origin-hong-kong.html] on return flights between Hong Kong and mainland China when travelling in a group of two to six people (the return journey must be no later than seven days after the outbound journey).
  
If you live in a city with a large overseas Chinese community (such as Toronto, San Francisco, Sydney or London), check for cheap flights with someone in that community. Sometimes flights advertised only in Chinese newspapers or travel agencies cost significantly less than posted fares in English.
+
If you live in a city with a sizable overseas Chinese community, check for cheap flights with someone in that community or visit travel agencies operated by Chinese. Sometimes flights advertised only in Chinese newspapers or travel agencies cost significantly less than posted fares in English. The same discount price is available if requested.
  
 
''See also:'' [[Discount airlines in Asia]]
 
''See also:'' [[Discount airlines in Asia]]
 +
 +
''Information:'' As a result of the ''H1N1-flu pandemic'' there are some kinds of health-checks currently in effect. These may be as simple as a customs person judging your appearance to IR-cameras checking for elevated body temperature. If there is a suspicion of flu, you will be quarantined for seven days.
  
 
'''Airlines and Routes'''
 
'''Airlines and Routes'''
  
China's carriers are growing rapidly. Airbus estimates the size of China’s passenger aircraft fleet will triple from 1,400 planes in 2009 to 4,200 planes in 2029.
+
China's carriers are growing rapidly. Airbus estimates the size of China's passenger aircraft fleet will triple from 1,400 planes in 2009 to 4,200 planes in 2029.
  
They are also working hard at becoming highly competitive in both service and pricing. Airlines include China Southern [http://www.cs-air.com/en/], China Eastern [http://www.chinaeastern.co.uk/], Air China [http://www.airchina.com.cn/en/index.shtml], and Hainan Airlines [http://global.hnair.com/].
+
Major domestic airlines include Air China, China Southern [http://www.cs-air.com/en/], China Eastern [http://www.chinaeastern.co.uk/], Hainan Airlines [http://global.hnair.com/], and Xiamen Airlines [https://www.xiamenair.com/en-us/].
  
Fliers may prefer Asian airlines as they generally have more cabin staff and quality service. Hong Kong based Cathay Pacific [http://www.cathaypacific.com] is an obvious possibility. Other candidates include Singapore Airlines [http://www.singaporeair.com/saa/], Japan Airlines [http://www.jal.co.jp/en/], and Garuda Indonesia [http://www.garuda-indonesia.com]. Korean Air [http://www.koreanair.com] often has good prices on flights from various places in Asia such as [[Bangkok]] via [[Seoul]] to North America. Connecting flights may be cheaper than direct flights so keep this in mind. Korean Air also flies to more than a dozen Chinese cities, including Shanghai.
+
Fliers may prefer Asian airlines as they generally have more cabin staff and quality service. Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific [http://www.cathaypacific.com] is an obvious possibility. Other candidates include Singapore Airlines [http://www.singaporeair.com/saa/], Japan Airlines [http://www.jal.co.jp/en/], and Garuda Indonesia [http://www.garuda-indonesia.com]. Korean Air [http://www.koreanair.com] often has good prices on flights from various places in Asia such as [[Bangkok]] via [[Seoul]] to North America. Connecting flights may be cheaper than direct flights. Korean Air also flies to more than a dozen Chinese cities.
  
* [[North America]]: Delta Air Lines [http://www.delta.com] serves Hong Kong, Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou through its hub at [[Narita]]. United [http://www.united.com/] has the most nonstop flights, serving Hong Kong, Beijing, and Shanghai from Chicago, [[San Francisco]] and [[Washington]]. Continental Airlines [http://www.continental.com/web/en-US/default.aspx] flies to Hong Kong and Beijing from [[Newark]]. American [http://www.aa.com/homePage.do] flies nonstop to Shanghai from Chicago. Air Canada [http://www.aircanada.com/] serves Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong from [[Toronto]] and [[Vancouver]].
+
* [[North America]]: Delta Air Lines [http://www.delta.com] serves Hong Kong, Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou through its hub at [[Narita]] and directly from Detroit, Boston and Seattle. United [http://www.united.com/] has the most nonstop flights, serving Hong Kong, Beijing, Chengdu and Shanghai from [[Chicago]], [[San Francisco]], [[Newark (New Jersey)|Newark]], and [[Washington, D.C.|Washington]]. American [http://www.aa.com/homePage.do] flies nonstop to Shanghai, Beijing and Hong Kong from [[Los Angeles]] and [[Dallas]]. Air Canada [http://www.aircanada.com/] serves Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong from [[Toronto]] and [[Vancouver]].
  
* [[Australia]]: Qantas [http://www.qantas.com] offers direct flights from [[Sydney]], [[Melbourne]], [[Brisbane]] and [[Perth]] to Hong Kong. Qantas also flies to Beijing and Shanghai from Sydney but only offers a code-share service to Shanghai from Melbourne. There may be cheaper flights via Southeast Asia; some of the discount airlines there fly to Australia.
+
* [[Australia]]: Qantas [http://www.qantas.com] offers direct flights from [[Sydney]], [[Melbourne]], [[Brisbane]] and [[Perth]] to Hong Kong. Qantas also flies to Beijing and Shanghai from Sydney but only offers a code-share service to Shanghai from Melbourne. There may be cheaper flights via Southeast Asia; some of the discount airlines there fly to Australia. China Southern Airlines now offers direct flights from [[Brisbane]], [[Sydney]] and [[Melbourne]] to [[Guangzhou]] with ongoing connections to the major cities.
  
* [[New Zealand]]: Air New Zealand [http://www.airnz.co.nz] is the only direct option to Mainland China. They offer direct flights to Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong.
+
* [[New Zealand]]: Air New Zealand [http://www.airnz.co.nz] offers direct flights to Shanghai and Hong Kong. China Southern Airlines now offers direct flights from [[Auckland]] to [[Guangzhou]] with ongoing connections to the major cities.
  
* [[Southeast Asia]]: [[Singapore]] has arguably the best connections, due to its large ethnic Chinese population, with flights to all the major cities as well as some regional centers such as Xiamen, Kunming and Shenzhen. Besides Singapore, [[Kuala Lumpur]] and [[Bangkok]] offer good connections. Tiger Airways [http://www.tigerairways.com], Bangkok Airways [http://www.bangkokair.com], Air Asia [http://www.airasia.com], and Cebu Pacific [http://www.cebupacificair.com] offer low-priced 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], 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 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===
 
===By train===
  
China can be reached by train from many 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.
  
* '''Russia & Europe''' - two lines of the [[Trans-Siberian Railway]] (Trans-Mongolian and Trans-Manchurian) run between [[Moscow]] and Beijing, stopping in various other Russian cities, and for the Trans-Mongolian, in [[Ulaanbaatar]], Mongolia.
+
* '''Russia and Europe''' - two lines of the [[Trans-Siberian Railway]] (Trans-Mongolian and Trans-Manchurian) run between [[Moscow]] and Beijing, stopping in various Russian cities, and for the Trans-Mongolian, in [[Ulaanbaatar]], Mongolia.
  
* '''Kazakhstan & Central Asia''' - from [[Almaty]], Kazakhstan, one can travel by rail to [[Urumqi]] in the northwestern province of Xinjiang. There are long waits at the border crossing for customs, as well as for changing the wheelbase for the next country's track.
+
* '''Kazakhstan and Central Asia''' - [[Almaty]], Kazakhstan is connected by rail to [[Urumqi]] in Xinjiang. There are long waits at the border crossing for customs, as well as for changing the wheelbase for the next country's track.
  
* '''Hong Kong''' - regular services link mainland China with [[Hong Kong]].
+
* '''Hong Kong''' - regular services link mainland China with [[Hong Kong]]. Direct trains run from Hong Kong's Hung Hom direct to Guangzhou East station. Immigration is done at the respective station rather that at the border. Some trains also stop at other Guangdong stations. The Hong Kong MTR runs from the city to two points on the Shenzhen border. The main border crossing is at Lo Wu/Luo Hu, which is next to Shenzhen's main station.
  
 
* '''Vietnam''' - from Nanning in Guangxi province into Vietnam via the Friendship Pass. Services from [[Kunming]] have been suspended since 2002.
 
* '''Vietnam''' - from Nanning in Guangxi province into Vietnam via the Friendship Pass. Services from [[Kunming]] have been suspended since 2002.
Line 464: Line 431:
  
 
===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.
  
 
====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 pass between Skikim in India and Southern Tibet has recently reopened. There is talk of a bus service between the cities of Gangtok (India) and Lhasa (Tibet).
+
====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.
====Myanmar====
 
 
 
Entering China from Myanmar is possible at the [[Ruili]] (China)-[[Lashio]] (Myanmar) border crossing, but permits need to be obtained fromt the Burmese authorities in advance. Generally, this would require you to join 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:
  
 
* '''Dong Dang (V) - Pingxiang (C)'''
 
* '''Dong Dang (V) - Pingxiang (C)'''
  
You can catch a local bus from Hanoi's eastern bus station (Ben Xe Street, Gia Lam District, tel: 04/827-1529) to Lang Son, where you have to switch transport to minibus or motorbike to reach the border at Dong Dang. Alternatively there are many offers from open-tour providers; for those in a hurry, they might be a good option if they offer a direct hotel to border crossing transfer.
+
Local buses ply from Hanoi's eastern bus station (Ben Xe Street, Gia Lam District, tel: 04/827-1529) to Lang Son, from where minibuses and  motorbikes continue the journey to the border at Dong Dang. Alternatively there are many offers from open-tour providers; for those in a hurry, they might be a good option if they offer a direct hotel-to-border-crossing transfer.
  
You can change money with freelance money changers, but check the rate carefully beforehand.
+
There are freelance money changers, but check the rate carefully beforehand.
  
Border formalities take about 30 minutes. On the Chinese side, walk up past the "Friendship-gate" and catch a taxi (about ¥20, bargain hard!) to [[Pingxiang (Guangxi)|Pingxiang]], Guangxi. A seat in a minibus is ¥5. There is a Bank of China branch right across the street from the main bus station; the ATM accepts Maestro cards. You can travel by bus or train to Nanning.
+
Border formalities take about 30 minutes. On the Chinese side, walk up past the "Friendship-gate" and catch a taxi (about ¥20, bargain hard) to [[Pingxiang (Guangxi)|Pingxiang]], Guangxi. A seat in a minibus is ¥5. There is a Bank of China branch right across the street from the main bus station; the ATM accepts Maestro cards. Buses and trains operate to Nanning.
  
 
* '''Lao Cai (V) - Hekou (C)'''
 
* '''Lao Cai (V) - Hekou (C)'''
 +
 +
There is an eight-hour train trip from Hanoi to Lao Cai in a soft sleeper. From there, it's a long walk (or a five minute ride) to the Lao Cai-Hekou border. Crossing the border is simple, fill out a customs card and wait in line. They will search your belongings (in particular your books/written material). Outside the Hekou border crossing is a variety of shops, and the bus terminal is about a ten-minute ride from the border. A ticket for the seven-hour Hekou to Kunming ride costs about &yen;140.
  
 
* '''Mong Cai (V) - Dongxing (C)'''
 
* '''Mong Cai (V) - Dongxing (C)'''
  
At Dongxing, you can take a bus to Nanning, a sleeper bus to Guangzhou (approximately ¥180), or a sleeper bus to Shenzhen (approximately ¥230, 12 hours) (March 2006).
+
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]] you can get a bus leaving at around 8 a.m. going to [[Boten]] (Chinese border) and [[Mengla]]. You need to have a Chinese visa beforehand as there is no way to get one on arrival. The border is close (about 1 hr). Customs procedures will eat up another good 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 [[Vientiane]] to Kunming (about 32 hours). You can jump in this bus at the border, when the minibus from [[Luang Namtha]] and the sleeper meet. Don't pay more than ¥200, though.
 
  
 
====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 Surat (Pakistan) across the Kunerjab 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 near Mount Everest, and through amazing mountain scenery. Entering Tibet from Nepal is only possible for tourists on package tours.
 
  
 
====Mongolia====
 
====Mongolia====
 +
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. There are local trains leaving in the evening most days and arriving in the morning. The border opens around 8:30. From Erlian there are buses and trains to other locations 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====
  
The sole border crossing to China is located at [[Khorgos]]. 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 very rough and the pass is only open during the summer months (June-September) every year. It is possible to arrange crossings all the way from Kashgar, but ensure that all your 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.
  
Alternatively, while less scenic, a smoother crossing is located at [[Irkeshtam]] to the south of Torugart.
+
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====
  
There is a single border crossing between China and Tajikistan at [[Kulma]], which is open on weekdays from May-November. A bus operates across the border between [[Kashgar]] in Xinjiang and [[Khorog]] in Tajikistan. However, it currently remains closed to foreigners (non-Tajiks/Chinese).
+
[[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 sole border crossing is located at [[Manzhouli]] in [[Inner Mongolia]]. Buses run from Manzhouli to [[Zabaikalsk]] in Russia. Ensure both your Russian and Chinese papers are in order before attempting this crossing
+
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, but must be pre-arranged on 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. Ensure both your Chinese and North Korean papers 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.
 
  
 
====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====
 +
It is currently not feasible for travellers to cross the borders with [[Afghanistan]] and [[Bhutan]].
  
 
===By boat===
 
===By boat===
 
+
====Hong Kong and Macau====
There is regular ferry and hovercraft service between various points on the mainland, such as Guangzhou, Shenzhen and [[Zhuhai]] to Hong Kong and Macau.  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]].
+
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 2-day ferry service from Shanghai and Tianjin to [[Osaka]], Japan. Service is once or twice weekly, depending on season.
+
A twice-weekly ferry also connects [[Qingdao]] to [[Shimonoseki]].
  
A twice-weekly ferry also connects [[Qingdao]] to [[Shimonoseki]].
+
A once-weekly ferry between [[Shanghai]] and [[Nagasaki]] has recently started[http://htbc.co.jp/].
  
====South Korea (ROK)====
+
====South Korea====
 +
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 very close to [[Seoul]]. Another line is from [[Qingdao]] or [[Weihai]] to Incheon or [[Dalian]] to Incheon.
+
====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.
  
 
====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 runs 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.
+
===Cruise ship===
 
+
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.
====Taiwan====
 
 
 
Star Cruises[http://www.starcruises.com] operates between [[Keelung]] in Taiwan and Xiamen in mainland China, stopping at one of the Japanese islands on the way.
 
  
 
==Get around==
 
==Get around==
Line 565: Line 531:
 
===By plane===
 
===By plane===
  
China is a huge country, so unless you enjoy spending a couple of days on the train or on the road getting from one area to another, you should definitely consider domestic flights. China has many domestic flights connecting 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.
+
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.
  
Traveling between Hong Kong or Macau and mainland cities is considered an international flight and so can be quite expensive. Hence if arriving in, or departing from, Hong Kong or Macau it is '''much''' cheaper to fly to or from Shenzhen or Zhuhai, just across the border, or Guangzhou, which is a little further afield but offers flights to more destinations. As an example, the distance from Fuzhou to Hong Kong, Shenzhen or Guangzhou is about the same, but as of mid-2005 flying to Hong Kong cost ¥1400 while list price for the other cities was ¥880 and for Shenzhen discounts to ¥550 were available. Overnight bus to any of these destinations was about ¥250.
+
Flights between Hong Kong or Macau and mainland cities are considered to be international flights and so can be quite expensive. Hence if arriving in, or departing from, Hong Kong or Macau, it is usually '''much''' cheaper to fly to or from Shenzhen or Zhuhai, just across the border, or Guangzhou, which is a little further afield but offers flights to more destinations.
  
Prices for domestic flights are set at standard rates, but discounts are common, especially on the busier routes. Most good hotels, and many hostels, will have a travel ticket service and may be able to save you 15%-70% off the price of tickets. Travel agencies and booking offices are plentiful in all Chinese cities and offer similar discounts. Even before considering discounts, traveling by plane in China is not expensive.
+
Prices for domestic flights are set at standard rates, but discounts are common, especially on the busier routes. Most good hotels, and many hostels, offer ticketing and may be able to save 15%-70% off the price of tickets. Travel agencies and booking offices are plentiful in all Chinese cities and offer similar discounts. Even before considering discounts, traveling by plane in China is not expensive.  
  
For travel within China, it is usually best to buy tickets in China. Overseas, especially online, vendors often charge much higher rates.  
+
For travel within China, it is usually best to buy tickets in China via a high-street travel agent, or on Chinese websites. Most domestic flights when bought abroad (e.g. on Expedia or even via an Air China office) will be more expensive, as only full-fare tickets are sold. Discounted tickets are only sold within China, or as a tag-on fare on an international ticket. Schedules for domestic flights are generally not finalised or released until two to three months before a flight. Unlike most air markets, early buyers will pay higher rates, as discounts tend to increase with time. For most flights, the optimum purchase period is two to four weeks before a flight. On emptier flights, the rates are discounted in the days before the flight. Once you know your intended route, it's advisable to monitor the fares to see when they rise and fall (which they will almost definitely will do). However, when travelling during a busy period (e.g. Chinese New Year), it's wise to buy earlier to guarantee yourself a seat. Some more expensive tickets are flexible, allowing cancellation for a nominal amount (between 5%-20%), then rebooking at a lower fare. Recently, premium cabins have been discounted on domestic flights. On some routes, the buy-up from economy is minimal and justified by the extra space. Ground-side perks (e.g. lounge, extra luggage, points) are often excluded on the discount rates.
  
Be prepared for flight delays as these are common despite pressure from both the government and consumers. Flight cancellations are also not uncommon. If you buy your ticket from a Chinese vendor they will likely try to contact you (if you left contact information) to let you know about the change in flight plan. If you purchased your ticket overseas, be certain to check on the flight status a day or two before you plan to fly.
+
Be prepared for unexplained flight delays, as these are common despite pressure from both the government and consumers. For short distances, consider other, seemingly slower options. Flight cancellations are also not uncommon. If you buy your ticket from a Chinese vendor they will likely try to contact you (if you left contact information) to let you know about the change in flight plan. If you purchased your ticket overseas, be certain to check on the flight status a day or two before you plan to fly. Chinese airlines are generally quick to offer meals when a particular flight has been delayed. It is always advisable to travel with emergency rations in China. Water cannot be brought through security, but all Chinese airports have hot-water machines, so bring a plastic mug and some tea bags.
  
As everywhere in the world, prices for food and drink at Chinese airports are vastly inflated. Coffee that is ¥25 in a downtown shop is ¥78 at the same chain's airport branches. KFC seems to be the one exception; their many 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===
Line 581: Line 547:
 
[[Image:Shanghai_Maglev_Train.jpg|right|thumb|200px|Maglev train in [[Shanghai]]]]
 
[[Image:Shanghai_Maglev_Train.jpg|right|thumb|200px|Maglev train in [[Shanghai]]]]
  
Train travel is the major mode of long-distance transportation for the Chinese themselves. Their extensive, and rapidly expanding, network of routes covers the entire country. Roughly a quarter of the world's total rail traffic is in China.
+
Train travel is the major mode of long-distance transportation for the Chinese. Their extensive and rapidly expanding network of routes covers the entire country. Roughly a quarter of the world's total rail traffic is 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]].
  
China is in the process of building a network of high-speed trains, similar to French TGV or Japanese 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 much the '''best way to get around'''. For more detail, see [[High-speed rail in China]].
+
====Train types====
  
During busy seasons tickets sell out rapidly at train stations. It may be better to get tickets in advance through an agent. In cities like Beijing there are also agents who sell train tickets in the normal time frame with a nominal markup (there is an agent across from Tian'anmen Square). The convenience of avoiding a trip to the train station and waiting in the queue is well worth the small increase in cost.
+
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:
  
[[Image:DSCI2961.JPG|thumb|T train soft sleeper compartment]]
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* '''G-series''' (高速 ''gāosù'') – 300 km/h long-haul high-speed expresses - currently on Wuhan–Guangzhou, Zhengzhou–Xi'an, Beijing-Xi'an, Shanghai–Nanjing, Shanghai–Hangzhou, Beijing–Shanghai, Harbin-Dalian, and Guangzhou–Shenzhen lines.
 +
* '''C-series''' (城际 ''chéngjì'') – 300 km/h short-haul high-speed expresses - currently only on Beijing–Wuqing–Tianjin–Tanggu line.
 +
* '''D-series''' (动车 ''dòngchē'') – 200 km/h high-speed expresses.
 +
* '''Z-series''' (直达 ''zhídá'') – 160 km/h non/less-stop services connecting major cities. Accommodation is mostly soft seat or soft sleeper, although they often have a couple of hard sleepers, too.
 +
* '''T-series''' (特快 ''tèkuài'') – 140 km/h intercity trains only calling at major cities. Similar to Z–trains although they usually stop at more stations.
 +
* '''K-series''' (快速 ''kuàisù'') – 120 km/h fast trains, the most commonly seen series, calls at more stations than a T train and has more hard-sleepers and seats.
 +
* '''General fast trains''' (普快 ''pǔkuài'') – 120 km/h trains, with no letter designation, four digits starting with 1–5. These trains are the cheapest, although slowest long-distance trains
 +
* '''General trains''' (普客 ''pǔkè'') - 100 km/h short-distance trains with no letter designation, four digits starting with 5, 6, or 7. The slowest trains, they stop almost everywhere.
 +
* '''Commuting trains (通勤 tōngqín) / Service trains (路用 lùyòng)''' - four digits starting with 8, or five digits starting with 57, very slow local trains, mostly used by rail staffs.
 +
* '''L-series''' (临时 ''línshí'') – seasonal trains suitable to K- or four-digit-series.
 +
* '''Y-series''' (旅游 ''lǚyóu'') – trains primarily serving tourist groups.
 +
* '''S-series''' (市郊 ''shìjiāo'') - currently only on the Beijing Suburban Railway between Beijing North and Yanqing County via Badaling (Great Wall).
  
 +
====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:
* '''hard seats''' (硬座 yìngzuò)
 
* '''soft seats''' (软座 ruǎnzuò)
 
* '''hard sleepers''' (硬卧 yìngwò)
 
* '''soft sleepers''' (软卧 ruǎnwò)
 
* '''standing''' (无座 wúzuò)
 
  
'''Soft sleepers''' are the most comfortable mode of transportation and are still relatively cheap by Western standards. The soft sleeper compartments contain four bunks stacked two to a column (though some newer trains have two-bunk compartments), a latchable door for privacy, and are quite spacious. '''Hard sleepers''', on the other hand, have 3 beds per column open to the corridor. The highest bunk is very high up and leaves little space for headroom. Taller travelers (6'3" and above) may find this to be the best bunk since when sleeping your feet will extend into the passageway and they will not be bumped. The top bunk is also useful for people with things to hide (i.e. cameras). When placed by your head they are harder for would-be thieves to reach. It should be noted that the "hard" sleeper is not "hard"; the beds have a mattress and are generally quite comfortable. All sleepers have pillows and a blanket.
+
[[Image:DSCI2961.JPG|thumb|T-train soft sleeper compartment]]
 +
 
 +
* '''Soft sleepers''' (软卧 ''ruǎnwò'') are the most comfortable mode of transportation and are cheap by Western standards. The soft sleeper compartments contain four bunks stacked two to a column (though some newer trains have two-bunk compartments), a latchable door for privacy, and are spacious. Try to get the lower bunk as climbing to the upper bunk is difficult, also looking out the window while sitting on the lower bed is possible.
 +
*  note: Ticker holders of this class can go to the VIP waiting room at station.
 +
 
 +
* '''Hard sleepers''' (硬卧 ''yìngwò''), on the other hand, have three beds per column open to the corridor. The highest bunk is high and leaves little space for headroom. Taller travelers (6'3" and above) may find this to be the best bunk since when sleeping because the feet extend into the passageway and and are too high to be bumped. The top bunk is also useful for people with things to hide (e.g. cameras). When placed by your head they are harder for would-be thieves to reach. It should be noted that the "hard" sleeper is not "hard"; the beds have a mattress and are generally quite comfortable. All sleepers have pillows and a blanket.
 +
 
 +
* '''Soft seats''' (软座 ''ruǎnzuò'') are an uncommon category of cloth-covered, generally reclining seats. These are only available on day trains between destinations of about 4-8 hours of travel time, as well as on all high-speed trains (class D and above).
 +
 
 +
* '''Hard seats''' (硬座 ''yìngzuò''), which are actually padded, are not for everyone, especially overnight, as rows are five seats wide, in a three and two arrangement. It is in this class, however, that most of the backpacker crowd travels. Despite the "no smoking" signs, there is usually smoking within the car. There is invariably a crowd of smokers at the ends of the cars and the smoke drifts into the cabin. On most trains, particularly in China's interior, the space between the cars is a designated smoking area although the signs for "designated smoking area" are only in Chinese. Overnight travel in the hard seats is uncomfortable and sleep-depriving.
 +
 
 +
* '''Standing''' (无座 ''wúzuò'') allows access to the hard-seat car but without seat reservation. Consider carrying a tripod chair in your backpack to make such journeys more comfortable.
 +
 
 +
Soft-seat and soft-sleeper cars, and some hard-seat and hard-sleeper cars are air-conditioned.
 +
 
 +
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====
 +
[[Image:Chinese_train_ticket.jpg|220px|thumb|Chinese train ticket with fields description]]
  
'''Hard seats''' (which are actually padded) are not for everyone, especially overnight, as they are 5 seats wide, in a three and two arrangement. It is in this class, however, that most of the backpacker crowd travels. Despite the "no smoking" signs, there almost always remain smokers within the car. There is invariably a crowd of smokers at the ends of the cars and the smoke will drift endlessly into the cabin. On most trains, particularly in China's interior, the space between the cars is a designated smoking area although the signs for "designated smoking area" are only in Chinese so this fact may not be clear to many travelers. Overnight travel in the hard seats can safely be deemed uncomfortable for just about everyone and will cause a great deal of discomfort for nearly including many restless endless hours of no sleep. '''Soft seats''' are cloth-covered, generally reclining seats and are a special category that you will rarely find. These are only available on day trains between destinations of about 4-8 hours of travel time.
+
At the point where a given train starts, train tickets can usually be bought up to seven days in advance. After the point where a given train starts, a small number of tickets might be reserved for purchase in larger towns along the route of travel. Usually these are the "standing" class. To get a seat assignment (zuowei) or a sleeper (wopu), then find the train conductor, who will tell if there is availability. The biggest demand is for hard seats and hard sleepers, so ask a local friend to buy hard-seat tickets as the sellers are not always willing to sell them to foreigners, although this is changing. As of January 2012, nationals and foreigners alike must '''present ID''' in order to purchase a ticket (e.g., national ID card or passport). The purchaser's name is printed onto the ticket and each individual is required to be present, with ID, to pick-up their ticket.
  
At the point where a given train starts, train tickets can usually be bought up to five days in advance. After the point where a given train starts, a small number of tickets might be reserved for purchase in larger towns along the route of travel. Usually these are "no seat" tickets (wuzuowei) that allow access to the train but give no seat assignment. Consider carrying a tripod chair in your backpack to make such journeys more comfortable. If you want to get a seat assignment (zuowei) or a sleeper (wopu), then find the train conductor and he will tell you if there is availability. It is a good idea to ask a local friend to buy 'hard' tickets as the sellers are not always willing to sell them to foreigners although this is rapidly changing. Travel Agencies will accept money and bookings for train tickets in advance but no one can guarantee your ticket until the station releases them onto the market, at which point your agency will go and buy the ticket they had previously "guaranteed" you. This is true anywhere in China.
+
There are local state-railway ticket agencies in many locations remote from train stations, clearly marked "Booking Office for Train Tickets" in English and Chinese and with a locomotive emblem, but are easily overlooked as these are simple "hole in the wall" shops. They are equipped with computers connected to the central booking system. Tickets purchased at these locations can be bought up to ten days in advance at face-value prices which can be half of what commercial travel agencies charge. Staff usually does not speak English. An easy fix is finding someone who looks like a college student and he will usually be willing to help.
  
Chinese trains are split into different categories designated by letters and numbers indicated on the ticket. A rough guide to the hierarchy of Chinese trains from fastest to slowest are as follows:
+
Do not expect English-speaking staff at station cash desks either, even in big cities. And if the cashier finds some English-speaking colleague, don't expect that he can work with the reservation system. If unable to speak Mandarin, write the departure and destination stations, date and time of departure, train number and required class on paper. You can write the station name in pinyin, as the cashier enters them in the same way to the reservation system. Beware that many cities have different stations for normal trains and high-speed trains. High-speed station names usually consist of city name and cardinal direction (for example ''Héngyángdōng'' "Hengyang East").
* G-series (gao tie) - 350 km/h long-haul high-speed expresses - currently only on Wuhan-Guangzhou, Zhengzhou-Xi'an and Shanghai-Nanjing lines.
 
* C-series - 350 km/h intercity high-speed expresses - currently only on Beijing-Tianjin line.
 
* D-series (dong che) - 250 km/h CRH high speed trains.
 
* Z-series - Non/Less-stop services connecting major cities. Accommodation is mostly soft-seat or soft-sleeper, although they often have a couple of hard-sleepers too.
 
* T-series (te kuai) - Intercity trains calling at major cities only - similar to Z trains although they usually stop at more stations and have hard-seat accommodation.
 
* K-series (kuàisù) - this is the most often seen series, calls at more stations than a T train and has more hard-sleepers and seats.
 
* Pǔkuài - No letter designation, four digits starts with 1, 2, or 4 - these are trains that stop more stations and cheaper class available but the slower.
 
* Pǔkè - No letter designation, four digits starts with 5, 6, or 7 - Slowest train stop at almost every station.
 
* L-series - temporary trains added to the schedule during the Chinese Spring Festival travel season.
 
* Y-series - Trains primarily serving tourist destinations - currently the only Y-series trains operate on the Beijing Suburban Railway between Beijing North and Yanqing County via Badaling (Great Wall).
 
  
The toilets on trains tend to be a little more "usable" than on buses or most public areas because they are simple devices that empty the contents directly onto the track 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. Be aware that if the train will be stopping at a station, the conductor will normally lock the bathrooms prior to arrival so that people will not leave deposits on the ground at the station.
+
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.
  
Long distance trains will have a buffet or dining car, which serves hot, but generally overpriced, at ¥25 or so and frankly not very tasty, food. The menu will be entirely in Chinese, but if you're willing to take the chance, interpret some of the Chinese characters, or ask for common dishes by name, you can eat very well. If you are on a strict budget, wait until the train stops at a station. There are normally vendors on the platform who sell noodles, snacks, and fruit at better prices. Trains generally have boiled water available so bring tea, soups and instant noodles to make your own food.
+
====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.
  
Be careful of your valuables while on the train; property theft on public transportation has gone up in recent years.
+
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.
  
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). On local trains there are no English annoucements so knowing when to get off can be harder.
+
Guard valuables while on the train; property theft on public transportation has increased in recent years.
  
Motion sickness pills are recommended if you are inclined toward that type of ailment. Ear plugs are recommended to facilitate uninterrupted sleep. In sleeper cars, tickets are exchanged for cards on long distance trains. The cabin attendants return the original tickets when the train approaches the destination station thus ensuring everyone gets off where they should even if they can't wake themselves up.
+
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.
  
If you have some things to share on the train, you'll have fun. The Chinese families and business people traveling the route are just as bored as the next person and will be happy to attempt conversation or share a movie shown on a laptop. All in all, the opportunity to see the countryside going by is a neat experience.
+
Motion-sickness pills are recommended for those inclined toward that type of ailment. Ear plugs facilitate uninterrupted sleep. In sleeper cars, tickets are exchanged for cards on long-distance trains. The cabin attendants return the original tickets when the train approaches the destination station, thus ensuring everyone gets off where they should, even if they don't wake themselves up.
  
You'll need your ticket to enter and exit the station - usually there will be an inspection at the departure hall entrance or the boarding gate and another at the exit gate. Once in the departure hall, follow the digital indicator boards to find the right boarding gate (they are in Chinese but will display the train service number which is printed at the top of your ticket). Approx 10 minutes before boarding your train and platform will be announced and the gate will be opened, just follow the crowd to the platform - at larger stations the train will already be waiting, in smaller stations look for your car number written on the platform edge - make sure you're waiting in the right place because often the train will only stop for a couple of minutes. Some newer stations have high-level platforms that are level with the door, but at smaller stations the platforms are very low and you have to ascend several steep steps to board the train so be prepared if you have a large suitcase. Generally passengers are friendly and will offer to help you with bulky luggage.
+
If you have some things to share on the train, you'll have fun. The Chinese families and business people aboard are just as bored as the next person and will happily attempt conversation or share a movie shown on a laptop. And the watching the countryside going by is a neat experience.
  
Smoking is not permitted in the seating or sleeping areas but is allowed in the vestibules at the end of each car, and in the restaurant 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.
+
A ticket is needed to enter and exit the station - usually there will be an inspection at the departure-hall entrance or the boarding gate and another at the exit gate. Once in the departure hall, follow the digital indicator boards to find the right boarding gate (they are in Chinese but will display the train service number which is printed at the top of your ticket). Approximately ten minutes before boarding, the train and platform will be announced and the gate will be opened, just follow the crowd to the platform - at larger stations the train will already be waiting, in smaller stations the car number is written on the platform edge. Wait in the right place because the train will often stop briefly. Some newer stations have high-level platforms that are level with the door, but at smaller stations the platforms are low and passengers must ascend several steep steps to board the train, so be prepared carrying a large suitcase. Generally passengers are friendly and will offer to help with bulky luggage.
  
Useful websites for planning train travel in China include:
+
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.
*The Man in Seat 61 [http://www.seat61.com/China.htm] has a good section on Chinese trains.
 
*Absolute China Tours [http://www.absolutechinatours.com/china-trains] or China Highlights [http://www.chinahighlights.com/china-trains/] have English time and fare information (note that while extremely useful, these sites' lists are not 100% complete)
 
*OK Travel [http://www.oklx.com/cn/train/search_station.aspx] has more schedules. This site is mostly in Chinese, but includes romanized place names and you can use it without knowing Chinese. On the search page, simply choose from the lists provided: the left-hand side is the place of departure, the right-hand side is the destination. Note that you have to choose the province(s) or region(s) in the drop-down box before the corresponding list of cities will appear. You choose the cities you want, then press the left-hand button below (marked 确认, "confirm") to carry out the search. If you can enter place names in Chinese characters, the search function can even help you plan multi-leg journeys.
 
  
=== By bus ===
+
====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.
 +
*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.
 +
*CNVOL [http://www.cnvol.com] has an almost exhaustive and frequently updated list of all the trains that travel in China. Just enter the origin and destination and all trains plying the route (including all trains that are just passing by the selected stations) will be listed along with their own origins, destinations and times. Click on a train number to find the prices for all the classes of seats or berths that are available by clicking "check price" further down. It is important to enter the correct "pinyin" town names. The characters are never separated by a space, ie: Lijiang, Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Kunming, etc.
 +
*China DIY [https://www.china-diy-travel.com/en] is a webpage for booking train tickets and displaying schedules and prices of all the trains in China.
 +
*[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.
  
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 distances transportation.  
+
===By bus===
 +
[[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.
  
City buses vary from city to city - generally expect plastic seats, many people, no English signs and unhelpful drivers. However, if you can understand the bus routes then they are cheap and go almost everywhere. Buses will normally have recorded announcements telling you the next stop - examples of which might include 'xia yi zhan - zhong shan lu' (next stop Zhongshan Road) or 'Shanghai nan huo che zhan dao le' (Shanghai South railway station - now arriving). Some major cities such as Beijing or Hangzhou will have English announcements on some major routes. Fares are usually about 1 or 2 yuan (the former for older buses with no air-conditioning, the latter for air-conditioned modern buses) or more if travelling into the suburbs. Most buses simply have a metal cash-box next to the entrance where you can insert your fare (no change - save up those 1 yuan coins) or on longer routes a conductor that will collect fares and issue tickets and change. Note that the driver usually prioritises speed over comfort so hold on tight.
+
On city buses there are plastic seats, many people, no English signs and unhelpful drivers. However, if you can understand the bus routes then they are cheap and go almost everywhere. Buses normally have recorded announcements indicating the next stop - for example 'xia yi zhan - zhong shan lu' (next stop Zhongshan Road) or 'Shanghai nan huo che zhan dao le' (Shanghai South railway station - now arriving). Some major cities such as Beijing or Hangzhou have English announcements on some major routes. Fares are usually about 1 or 2 yuan (the former for older buses with no air-conditioning, the latter for air-conditioned modern buses) or more if travelling into the suburbs. Most buses simply have a metal cash-box next to the entrance for fare collection (no change - save up those one-yuan coins and notes). On long routes a conductor collects fares and issue tickets and change. Note that the driver usually prioritises speed over comfort, so hold on tight.
  
{{Infobox|Sleeper buses|Sleeper buses are common in China; instead of seats they have bunk beds. These are a good way to cover longer distances &mdash; overnight at freeway speeds is 1000 km or more &mdash; but they are not all that comfortable for large or tall travelers.
+
{{Infobox|Sleeper buses|Sleeper buses are common in China; instead of seats they have bunk beds. These are a good way to cover longer distances &mdash; overnight at freeway speeds of 100 km/h or more &mdash; but are uncomfortable for large or tall travelers.
  
Generally, these are fast smooth and comfortable in the prosperous coastal provinces and less so in less developed areas. Try to avoid getting the bunk at the very back of the bus; if the bus hits a major bump, passengers there become airborne.
+
Generally, these are fast, smooth and comfortable in the prosperous coastal provinces and less so in less-developed areas. Avoid getting the bunk at the very back of the bus; if the bus hits a major bump, passengers there become airborne!
  
You have to remove your shoes as you enter the bus; a plastic bag is provided to store them. If there are food or restroom stops, you put the shoes back on. If you normally travel in boots, it is worth getting a pair of kung fu slippers to make this easy.}}
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Sometimes shoes must be removed upon entering the bus and a bag to store them is provided. Follow the locals. Put shoes back on at food or restroom stops. If you normally travel in boots, a pair of kung fu slippers makes this easy.}}
  
Coaches, or '''long-distance buses''', differ drastically and can be a reasonably comfortable or very unpleasant experience. Coaches originating from larger cities on the east coast tend to be air conditioned with soft seats or sleepers. The roads are very good and the ride is smooth, allowing you to enjoy the view or take a snooze. Coaches are often a better, though more expensive option than trains. Bus personnel tend to try to be helpful, but they are much less familiar with foreigners than airline personnel and English ability is very rare. Some coaches have toilets, but they are frequently dirty and using them can be difficult as the bus turns a corner and water in the basin splashes around.  
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Coaches, or '''long-distance buses''', range from comfortable to unpleasant. Coaches originating in large, coastal cities tend to be air conditioned with soft seats or sleepers. The roads are good and the ride is smooth, allowing enjoying the scenery or sleeping. Coaches are often a better, though more expensive option than trains. Bus personnel often try to be helpful, but are less familiar with foreigners than airline personnel and English ability is rare. Some coaches have toilets, but they are frequently dirty and using them can be difficult as the bus turns a corner causing water in the basin to splash.
  
A coach or bus in rural China is a different experience altogether. Signs in the station to identify buses will only be in Chinese or another local language, routes may also be posted or pasted on bus windows and drivers or touts will shout their destinations as you pass, the coach's license plate number is supposed to be printed on the ticket, but all too often that is inaccurate. Due to different manners and customs, foreigners may find bus personnel to be lacking in politeness and other passengers lacking in manners as they spit on the floor and out the window and smoke. The vehicle can get crowded if the driver decides to pick up as many passengers as he can cram into the bus. The roads in rural China are frequently little more than a series of potholes, which makes for a bumpy and painful ride; if you have a seat in the back of the bus you'll spend much of your trip flying through the air. Scheduled times of departure and arrival are only rough estimates, as many buses won't leave until every seat is sold, which can add hours, and breakdowns and other mishaps can significantly extend your trip. The misery of your ride is only compounded if you have to travel for 10 or 20 hours straight. As gut-wrenching as all this sounds, short of shelling out the cash for your own personal transport, rural coaches are the only forms of transportation in many areas of China. On the bright side, such rural coaches are usually more than willing to stop anywhere along the route should you wish to visit more remote areas without direct transport. Buses can also be flagged down at most points along their route. The ticket price the rest of the way is negotiable.
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A coach or bus in rural China is a different experience altogether. Signs in the station to identify buses will only be in Chinese or another local language, routes may also be posted or pasted on bus windows and drivers or touts will shout their destinations as you pass, the coach's license plate number is supposed to be printed on the ticket, but all too often that is inaccurate. Due to different manners and customs, foreigners may find bus personnel to be lacking in politeness and other passengers lacking in manners as they spit on the floor and out the window and smoke. Some drivers pick up as many passengers as can be crammed into the bus. The ride is bumpy, especially in the back of the bus. Scheduled times of departure and arrival are only rough estimates, as many buses won't leave until every seat is sold, which can add hours, and breakdowns and other mishaps can significantly extend the trip. Rides of 10 or 20 hours straight can be miserable. As gut-wrenching as all this sounds, short of shelling out the cash for your own personal transport, rural coaches are the only forms of transportation in many areas of China. On the bright side, such rural coaches are usually more than willing to stop anywhere along the route should you wish to visit more remote areas without direct transport. Buses can also be flagged down at most points along their route. The ticket price the rest of the way is negotiable.
  
Everywhere in China drivers often disregard the rules of the road, if there are any, and accidents are frequent. Sudden swerves and stops can cause injury, so keep a good hold wherever possible. Horn honking is widespread among Chinese drivers, so a set of earplugs is a good idea if you plan on sleeping during the trip.
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Chinese drivers often disregard the rules of the road and accidents are frequent. Sudden swerves and stops can cause injury, so keep a good hold wherever possible. Horn-honking is widespread, so use earplugs to sleep ''en route''.
  
Getting a ticket can be fairly hard. Large bus stations have ticket counters who sell printed tickets displaying the departure time, boarding gate and license plate number of your bus (not always accurate) and have fixed prices. Smaller bus stations will have touts shouting destinations and will direct you to your bus where you pay on board. Even large stations have touts outside - generally they will call the bus driver of a departing bus, who will wait up the road while the tout takes you there on the back of a motorcycle to the waiting bus - you can then negotiate the fare with the driver. This is sometimes a complete scam and sometimes you can save around 30% of the fare - depending on your bargaining and Chinese abilities.
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Obtaining a ticket can be difficult. Large bus stations have ticket counters who sell printed tickets displaying the bus' departure time, boarding gate and license plate number (not always accurate) and have fixed prices. Smaller bus stations have touts shouting destinations and directing passengers to the right bus, where payment is made on board. Large stations often have touts outside - generally they will call the bus driver of a departing bus, who will wait up the road while the tout brings the passenger on the back of a motorcycle to the waiting bus - then the fare is negotiated with the driver. This is sometimes a complete scam and sometimes results in 30% savings - depending on the passenger's bargaining and Chinese abilities.
  
There is an alternative now with an Independent Travel Network that has been created by a western company. Dragon Bus China now operates an Integrated transport and accommodation network across most of China.   The Network is a “Jump On & Off” style of travel which means that you can stay longer at any of the Cities that they travel through and be assured that another bus will be coming through that same City for you or you travel partners to board.   This travel option has been operating for more than 25 years throughout Europe and is an extremely popular form of independent travel within New Zealand, Australia and Canada.  Traveling by this method could greatly reduce the hassle of traveling by public buses and greatly increase the safety aspect.
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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===
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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.
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One caveat is that the subway network maps posted on the walls in the stations are not always completely bilingual, or hard-copy pamphlets with fully bilingual maps may not always be available in the stations. This can be a problem when trying to change lines in a hurry, because you need to know the correct line terminal to board at the correct platform. Bring along a bilingual subway network map while traveling by subway.
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Subway stations in Chinese cities generally have a security checkpoint before the turnstiles that is manned when the station is open. They normally do not have walk-through metal detectors so you won't have to empty your pockets like in an airport. But these checkpoints do have an X-ray scanner large enough to take all bags up to small carry-ons, and all patrons are expected to run their bags through the scanner. Sometimes the staff will ask water bottles to be removed from bags and conduct additional inspections.
  
Major cities &mdash; at least Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Shenyang, Xian and Nanjing &mdash; have a subway (地铁 ''dìtiě'') system. Chongqing and Wuhan have monorail systems. Xiamen has a system of bus-only roads, mostly elevated. Generally these are modern, clean and efficient. The signs and ticket machines are in both English and Chinese.
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Spare change is needed for the subway. Most of the ticket machines will accept coins and small bills from 5 to 50 yuan. One hundred yuan bills are generally not accepted, nor are credit cards. Small bills can easily be exchanged at the ticket counter.
  
Most of these systems are being expanded, and new ones are under construction (as of early 2009) in other cities such as Hangzhou, Xi'an and Chengdu. The long-term plans are quite ambitious, 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 in many regions.
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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 ===
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===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 ¥12 in others, with a per kilometer charge around ¥2. In most situations, you can expect between ¥10 and ¥50 for an ordinary trip within the city. There is no extra charge for luggage, but in many cities rates are a bit higher at night. Tips are not expected.
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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.
  
While it is not unheard of for drivers to cheat visitors by deliberately selecting a longer route, it is not that common, and usually shouldn't be a nuisance. When it does happen, the fare difference will usually be minimal. However, should you feel you have been seriously cheated on the way to your hotel, and you are staying at a mid- or high-range hotel that has a doorman, you can appeal to him and/or the desk staff for assistance: A single sharp sentence pointing out the deception may resolve the issue.  
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While it is not unheard of for drivers to cheat visitors by deliberately selecting a longer route, it is uncommon. When it does happen, the fare difference will usually be minimal. However, should you feel you have been seriously cheated on the way to a mid- or high-range hotel that has a doorman, appeal to him and/or the desk staff for assistance: A single sharp sentence pointing out the deception may resolve the issue.
  
Also beware of taxi hawkers who stalk naive travelers inside or just outside the airport terminals and train stations. They will try to negotiate a set price to bring you to your destination and will usually charge 2x or 3x more than a metered fare. If you’re not familiar with the area then stick with the designated taxi areas that are outside most major airport terminals and insist that the driver use the meter. The fare should be plainly marked outside the taxi.  
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Some taxi hawkers stalk naive travelers inside or just outside the airport terminals and train stations. They try to negotiate a set price for the trip and will usually charge twice or thrice the metered fare. If you’re not familiar with the area, stick with the designated taxi areas that are outside airport terminals and insist that the driver use the meter. The fare should be plainly marked outside the taxi.
  
Finding a taxi during peak hours can be a bit hard. But it really gets tough if it is raining. Away from peak hours, especially at night, it is sometimes possible to get a 10% to 20% discount especially if you negotiate it in advance, even if with the meter on and asking for a receipt. As with everything else in China you should not tip. (It's seen as a form of corruption.)
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Finding a taxi during peak hours can be difficult and is even worse when it rains. Away from peak hours, especially at night, it is sometimes possible to get a 10% to 20% discount especially if you negotiate it in advance, even if with the meter on and asking for a receipt. As with everything else in China you should not tip. (It's seen as a form of corruption.)
  
 
Sitting in the front passenger seat of taxis is acceptable; some taxis even mount the taxi meter down by the gearbox, where you can only see it from the front seat. Be warned that drivers may start smoking without asking by just opening their window and lighting up. In some cities it is also common for drivers to try and pick up multiple passengers if their destinations are in the same general direction. Each passenger pays full fare but it saves the time of waiting for an empty cab at rush hour.
 
Sitting in the front passenger seat of taxis is acceptable; some taxis even mount the taxi meter down by the gearbox, where you can only see it from the front seat. Be warned that drivers may start smoking without asking by just opening their window and lighting up. In some cities it is also common for drivers to try and pick up multiple passengers if their destinations are in the same general direction. Each passenger pays full fare but it saves the time of waiting for an empty cab at rush hour.
  
Even in major cities like Shanghai or Beijing, you are very unlikely to find an English-speaking taxi driver, though Beijing made progress toward this in preparation for the Olympics, and Shanghai has made some progress due to the World Expo. Anywhere else it is basically impossible. If you try say the name of your destination in [[Chinese phrasebook|Mandarin]] (but with your native pronunciation), you may not be understood. Therefore, it is advisable to keep a written note of the name of place where you want to go to by taxi. Chinese characters are far better for this than a romanized (pinyin) version, as many drivers cannot read pinyin, and the same pinyin may correspond to different characters. Get business cards for your hotel, and for restaurants you like, to show taxi drivers. It will be a good idea to equip yourself with sound tracked guide to conversation in Chinese. Such tools can be easily found on the Internet in different languages.
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Outside of Beijing and Shanghai, it is difficult to find an English-speaking cabbie. Saying the destination's name in [[Chinese phrasebook|Mandarin]], but with your native pronunciation, may not be understood. Therefore, it is advisable have the destination written. Chinese characters are better for this than a romanized (pinyin) version, as many drivers cannot read pinyin, and the same pinyin may correspond to different characters. Get business cards for your hotel, and for restaurants you like, to show taxi drivers. Equip yourself with a sound-tracked guide to conversation in Chinese. Such tools can be easily found on the Internet in different languages. Through your cell phone, your Chinese friends can state the destination to the driver.
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In some cities, taxi companies use a star-rating system for drivers, ranging from 0 to 5, displayed on the driver's name-plate, on the dashboard in front of the passenger seat. While no or few stars do not necessarily indicate a bad driver, many stars tend to indicate good knowledge of the city, and willingness to take you to where you ask by the shortest way. Another indicator of the driver's ability can be found on the same name-plate - the driver's ID number. A small number indicates a long on the job and, most likely, good knowledge of the city. If you feel you are being cheated, get out the car and write down the license plate number and if you speak some Chinese (or have a good phrasebook) threaten to report the driver to the city or the taxi company. Most drivers are honest and fares are reasonable, but dishonest drivers will try to use visitors' lack of Chinese skills to their advantage.
  
If you are in China for any length of time, consider getting a cell phone so you can call Chinese friends and let them tell the driver where to take you. Cellphones are inexpensive, and pay-as-you-go GSM SIM cards are readily available.
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The Chinese are assertive when seeking a taxi. The person who flags down a particular car is not necessarily entitled to that ride. Some locals move farther up in traffic to intercept cars or shove others out of the way as they try to enter a taxi. When competing with others for rides, move toward the taxi and enter it as soon as possible after flagging it down.
  
In some cities, taxi companies use a star-rating system for drivers, ranging from 0 to 5, displayed on the driver's name-plate, on the dashboard in front of the passenger seat. While no or few stars do not necessarily indicate a bad driver, many stars tend to indicate good knowledge of the city, and willingness to take you to where you ask by the shortest way. Another indicator of the driver's ability can be found on the same name-plate - the driver's ID number. A small number tells you he has been around for a long time, and is likely to know the city very well. A quick tip to get a taxi driver's attention if you feel you are being ripped off or cheated: Get out the car and start writing down his license plate number and if you speak some Chinese (or have a good phrasebook) threaten to report the driver to the city or the taxi company. Most drivers are honest and fares are not very high but there are the bad ones out there who will try to use your lack of Chinese skills to their advantage.
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Seat belts should always be worn at all times, even if the driver states otherwise.
  
Chinese can sometimes be very assertive when it comes to finding a taxi. The person who flags down a particular car is not necessarily entitled to that ride. Having locals move farther up in traffic to intercept cars or being shoved out of the way while trying to enter a taxi is not unheard of. If there are others in the area competing for rides, be ready to reach your car and enter it as soon as possible after flagging it down.
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===By tram (trolley)===
  
Wear your seat belt at all times (if you can find it) however much the taxi driver insists you don't need it.
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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 ===
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===By bicycle===
  
Bicycles (zìxíngchē, 自行车), along with electronic bikes and motorcycle, are the most common form of transportation in China; at rush hour almost anywhere in China there will be thousands of them. Many are traditional heavy single-speed roadsters, but basic multi-geared mountain bikes are pretty common as well. For travelers, bicycles can be a cheap, convenient means of transport that is better than being squeezed into a public bus for hours on end.  
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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.  
  
 
There are two major '''dangers for cyclists''' in China:
 
There are two major '''dangers for cyclists''' in China:
* One is the rest of the '''traffic'''; cars and motorcycles frequently pull out without any warning, and in some areas red lights are apparently optional. See the more extensive comment at [[Driving in China]].
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* Cars and motorcycles frequently pull out without any warning, and in some areas red lights are apparently optional. See the more extensive comment at [[Driving in China]].
* '''Bicycle theft is rampant''' throughout cities in China. Observe how other people park their bikes. In some places you can still see local people causally parking their bikes, but in many cities, people tend to lock it inside restaurants and internet cafes. This is a warning sign. Don't expect your high-grade locks can do much. You're highly advice to park in designated areas with a guard as much as possible; it usually costs around RMB1 to RMB2. Some local people also intentionally buy a second-hand, old, ugly bikes so that they won't tempt a thief.  
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* '''Bicycle theft is rampant''' throughout cities in China. Observe how other people park their bikes. In some places, local people causally park their bikes, but in many cities, people lock them inside restaurants and Internet cafés. This is a warning sign. Even high-grade locks do not suffice. Park in a designated area with a guard if possible; it usually costs around RMB1 to RMB2. Some local people also intentionally buy second-hand, old, ugly bikes that won't tempt a thief.
  
In most tourist areas &mdash; whether major cities like [[Beijing]] or heavily-touristed villages such as [[Yangshuo]] &mdash; bicycles are easy to rent and there is a repair shop around every corner. Guided bike tours are also readily available.
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In most tourist areas &mdash; whether major cities like [[Beijing]] or heavily-touristed villages such as [[Yangshuo]] &mdash; bicycles are easily rented and there are plentiful repair shops. Guided bike tours are also readily available.
  
Buying a bicycle is easy. Dahon, Merianda and Giant are three most popular brands in amatuer and semi-professional market and all cities have their distributors. Many supermarkets also carry a good stock of bikes. Prices vary from as little as ¥150 to over ¥10000. For a reasonably well-equipped mountain bike for riding to areas like Tibet, expect around ¥3000-¥4500 for a bike. Big cities like Shanghai and Beijing usually stock more professional upmarket bikes, but if you have very specific requirements, Hong Kong is still the last hope for buying them.  
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Buying a bicycle is easy. Dahon, Merianda and Giant are three popular brands in amateur and semi-professional bicycles and all cities have their distributors. Many supermarkets also carry a good stock of bikes. Prices vary from as little as ¥150 to over ¥10000. For a reasonably well-equipped mountain bike for riding to areas like Tibet, expect around ¥3000-¥4500 for a bike. The biggest cities usually stock professional upmarket bikes, but for very specific requirements, shop in Hong Kong.  
  
Bicycle repair shops are frequent apparently anywhere in cities and rural areas; Non-Chinese speaking tourists might find it a bit difficult, but you can just look for bikes and tires. For a quick fix to a sudden flat tire, there are also many people standing by along the road with a bowl of water and a repair kit ready. For special parts like disc brake, you may want to bring your spare one if you are not using them in big cities.
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Bicycle repair shops are ubiquitous in cities and rural areas; non-Chinese-speaking tourists might find it difficult, so just look for bikes and tires. For a quick fix to a sudden flat tire, there are also many people standing by along the road with a bowl of water and a repair kit ready. For special parts like disc brakes, bring a spare one if planning to visit a rural area.
  
China is a vast country and it provides professional bikers with challenges to bike across mountains and desert. However, as of May 2010, if foreign tourists want to bike across Tibetan Plateau, ''you are required by law to obtain a permit and hire a tour guide''.  
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China provides professional bikers challenging mountains and deserts. However, as of May 2010, foreign tourists wanting to bike across the Tibetan Plateau ''are required by law to obtain a permit and hire a tour guide''.
  
 
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 ===
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===By car===
  
 
''See also:'' [[Driving in China]]
 
''See also:'' [[Driving in China]]
  
The PRC generally does not recognize International Driving Permits and does not permit foreigners to drive in China without a Chinese license. Note that Hong Kong and Macau licenses are also considered to be foreign and having one of them will not allow you to drive in the mainland. This supposedly changed in 2007 and short-term driving without a Chinese license became legal. However, as with many laws in China, official changes and changes in practice do not necessarily correspond; as of December 2008 it is still illegal for foreigners to drive without a Chinese license. Unless you have diplomatic status, importing foreign vehicles is nearly impossible.
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The legal driving age in Mainland China is '''18'''.
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The PRC generally does not recognize International Driving Permits and requires foreigners to have a Chinese license. Note that Hong Kong and Macau licenses are also considered to be foreign and having one does not permit driving in the mainland. Unless you have diplomatic status, importing for vehicles is impossible.
  
Rented cars most often come with a driver and this is probably the best way to travel in China by car. Driving in China is not recommended unless you are used to extremely chaotic driving conditions. Traffic moves on the right in mainland China. Many neighbors, such as India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan as well as the Special Administrative Regions of Hong Kong and Macau have traffic that moves on the left.
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Rented cars most often come with a driver, similar to the ''remises'' of South America; this is probably the best way to travel in China by car. Driving yourself around China, even if you can read and speak basic Chinese and are able to qualify for a local license, is not recommended unless you are accustomed to chaotic driving conditions. Driving in China's cities is not for the faint-hearted, and parking spaces are often difficult to find. That said, driving in China is still easier than driving in Vietnam and other developing countries in Asia. Traffic moves on the right in mainland China. Many neighbors, such as India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan and the Special Administrative Regions of Hong Kong and Macau have traffic that moves on the left.
  
English directional signs are ubiquitous in Beijing, Shanghai and other major cities which see many Western tourists. However, they are spotty at best in other cities and virtually non-existent in the countryside. As such, it is always a good idea to have your destination written in Chinese before you set off so that locals can point you in the right direction should you get lost.
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English directional signs are ubiquitous in Beijing, Shanghai and other major cities which see many Western tourists, but there are few elsewhere. So, have your destination written in Chinese before departing so locals can point you in the right direction.
  
Foreigners should really avoid driving outside of major cities. "One Way" signs usually mean "mostly but not always one way". Expect someone who misses an exit ramp on a freeway to slow down just before the upcoming entry ramp and make a 270° turn to engage on that ramp. Expect drivers to take creative shortcuts at traffic circles.  
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Foreigners should avoid driving outside of major cities. "One Way" signs usually mean "mostly but not always one way". Drivers who miss an exit ramp on a freeway slow down just before the upcoming entry ramp and make a 270° turn to engage on that ramp. And expect drivers to take creative shortcuts at traffic circles.
  
As a pedestrian ALWAYS look both ways every time you cross any street. Not only may a bicycle come along traveling in the wrong direction, so may increasingly popular electric motorbike -- and they are silent.
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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 ===
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===By motorcycle===
  
 
''See also:'' [[Driving in China#Motorcycles]]
 
''See also:'' [[Driving in China#Motorcycles]]
  
Motorcycle taxis are common, especially in smaller cities and rural areas. They are usually cheap and effective but somewhat scary. The fares are negotiable.
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Motorcycle taxis are common, especially in smaller cities and rural areas. They are somewhat scary and the fares are cheap and negotiable.
 
 
Regulations for riding a motorcycle vary from city to city. In some cases, 50cc mopeds can be ridden without a driving license although many cities have now banned them or reclassified them due to numerous accidents. Riding a 'proper' motorcycle is much harder - partly because you'll need a Chinese license, partly because they are banned in many cities and partly because production and importing have slowed with the focus on automobiles and electric scooters. The typical Chinese motorcycle is 125cc, can do about 100km/h and is a traditional cruiser style. They are gnerally slow, mundane to ride and have little sporting potential. Government restrictions on engine size mean that sports bikes are rare but can still be found. Another popular choice is a 125cc automatic 'maxi' scooter based loosely on the Honda CN250 - it's a bit quicker than a moped and more comfortable over long distances but has the benefit of automatic transmission which makes negotiating stop-start urban traffic much easier.
 
  
Most cities will have a motorcycle market of some description and will often sell you a cheap motorcycle often with fake or illegal license plates - although a foreigner on a motorbike is a rare sight and it will grab the police's attention. Helmets are essential on 'proper' bikes but optional on scooters. Technically you'll need a license plate - they are yellow or blue on a motorcycle or green on a scooter and can cost several thousand RMB to register the bike yourself although fake plates are easily available at a lower price - do so at your own risk.
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Regulations for riding a motorcycle vary from city to city. In some cases, 50cc mopeds can be ridden without a driving license although many cities have now banned them or reclassified them due to numerous accidents. Riding a 'proper' motorcycle is much harder - partly because you'll need a Chinese license, partly because they are banned in many cities and partly because production and importing have slowed with the focus on automobiles and electric scooters. The typical Chinese motorcycle is 125cc, can do about 100km/h and is a traditional cruiser style. They are generally slow, mundane to ride and have little sporting potential. Government restrictions on engine-size mean that sports bikes are rare but can still be found. Another popular choice is a 125cc automatic 'maxi' scooter based loosely on the Honda CN250 - it's a bit quicker than a moped and more comfortable over long distances. Their automatic transmissions make negotiating stop-start urban traffic easier.
  
=== By pedicab (rickshaw) ===
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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.
  
{{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 gradually phased out by the 1950s. Videos of Western elites 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.}}
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===By pedicab (rickshaw)===
  
In some mid-sized cities, pedicabs are a much more convenient means of traveling short distances. Sanlunche (三轮车), the Chinese term used both for pedal-powered and motorized rickshaws, are ubiquitous in rural China and lesser developed (which is to say, less touristy) areas of larger cities. Negotiating the fare in advance is a must.
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{{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.}}
  
Reports that "the drivers will frequently try and rip you off" probably refer to rip-off artists working tourist destinations, like Silk Alley, Wangfujing, and the Lao She Tea House in Beijing in particular. Perhaps the rule of thumb should be, "Beware of anyone selling anything near tourist traps."
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In some mid-sized cities, pedicabs are a convenient means of traveling short distances. Sanlunche (三轮车), the Chinese term used both for pedal-powered and motorized rickshaws, are ubiquitous in rural China and lesser developed (which is to say, less touristy) areas of larger cities. Agree to a fare in advance.
  
If you see normal Chinese families using the "sanlun" - for instance, traveling between the Beijing Zoo and the nearest subway stop - then it's safe. Don't patronize any sanlun wearing some old fashioned costume to attract tourists. He'll try to charge you ten times the going rate.
+
Reports that "the drivers will frequently try and rip you off" probably refer to rip-off artists working tourist destinations, like Sanlitun, Silk Street, and Wangfujing areas in Beijing in particular. Perhaps the rule of thumb should be, "Beware of anyone selling anything near tourist traps."
  
Where possible try to choose pedicabs over motorized transport. You'll be helping the truly poor stay in business and preserving part of China's traditional charm.
+
If you see normal Chinese families using the "sanlun" - for instance, traveling between the Beijing Zoo and the nearest subway stop - then it's safe. A sanlun wearing an old-fashioned costume to attract tourists will charge ten times the going rate.
  
 +
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==
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[[Image:Sinitic Languages0.gif|thumb|240px|Map of Chinese dialects]]
 
[[Image:Sinitic Languages0.gif|thumb|240px|Map of Chinese dialects]]
  
The official language of China is '''[[Chinese phrasebook|Standard Mandarin]]''', which is based on but not identical to the Beijing dialect of Mandarin, known in Chinese as ''Putonghua'' (普通话, "common speech"). It has been the only language used in education on the mainland since the 1950s, so most people speak it. Unless otherwise noted, all terms, spellings and pronunciations in this guide are in standard Mandarin. As Mandarin is tonal, getting the four tones correct is necessary for one to be understood.
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The official language of China is '''[[Chinese phrasebook|Standard Mandarin]]''', which is mostly based on the Beijing dialect, known in Chinese as ''Putonghua'' (普通话, "common speech"). Mandarin has been the only language used in education on the mainland since the 1950s, so most people speak it. Unless otherwise noted, all terms, spellings and pronunciations in this guide are in standard Mandarin. As Mandarin is tonal, getting the four tones correct is necessary to be understood.
  
Many regions, especially in the southeast and south of the country, also have their own tonal "dialect." These are really different languages, as different as French and Italian, although referring to Chinese dialects as separate languages is a touchy political issue. Of true dialects within Mandarin, pronunciation varies widely between regions and there is often a liberal dose of local slang or terminology to liven up the mix. After Mandarin, the largest groups are '''[[Wu phrasebook|Wu]]''', spoken in the region around Shanghai, Zhejiang and southern [[Jiangsu]], followed by '''[[Cantonese phrasebook|Cantonese]]''', spoken in most of Guangdong Province, Hong Kong and Macau, and the '''Min''' (Fujian) group which includes '''[[Minnan phrasebook|Minnan]]''' (Hokkien) spoken in the region around [[Xiamen]] and in Taiwan, a variant of Minnan known as Teochew spoken around [[Shantou]] and [[Chaozhou]], as well as '''Mindong''' (Hokchiu) spoken around [[Fuzhou]]. Most Chinese are bilingual in their local vernacular and Mandarin. A few who are older, less educated or from the countryside may speak only the local dialect, but this is unlikely to affect tourists. It often helps to have a guide that can speak the local language as it marks that person as an insider, and you as a friend of the insider. While you can easily get by in most parts of China speaking Standard Mandarin, locals always appreciate any attempt to say a few words or phrases in the local dialect or language, so learning a few simple greetings will help you get acquainted with the locals much more easily. In general, an understanding of or appreciation for the local speech can be useful when traveling to more remote areas. But in those areas a phrase book that includes Chinese characters will still be a big help as written Chinese is more or less the same everywhere.
+
Many regions, especially in the southeast and south of the country, also have their own "dialect." These are really different languages, as different as French and Italian, although referring to Chinese dialects as separate languages is a touchy political issue. Like standard Mandarin, the "dialects" are all tonal languages. Even within Mandarin (the large brown language area on the map), pronunciation varies widely between regions and there is often a liberal dose of local slang or terminology to liven up the mix. After Mandarin, the largest groups are '''[[Wu phrasebook|Wu]]''', spoken in the region around Shanghai, Zhejiang and southern [[Jiangsu]], followed by '''[[Cantonese phrasebook|Cantonese]]''', spoken in most of Guangdong Province, Hong Kong and Macau, and the '''Min''' (Fujian) group which includes '''[[Minnan phrasebook|Minnan]]''' (Hokkien) spoken in the region around [[Xiamen]] and in Taiwan, a variant of Minnan known as Teochew spoken around [[Shantou]] and [[Chaozhou]], as well as '''Mindong''' (Hokchiu) spoken around [[Fuzhou]]. Most Chinese are bilingual in their local vernacular and Mandarin. Older, less educated or rural Chinese may speak only the local dialect, but this is unlikely to affect tourists. It often helps to have a guide who can speak the local language as it marks that person as an insider and you as a friend of the insider. While you can easily get by in most parts of China speaking Standard Mandarin, locals appreciate any attempt to say a few words or phrases in the local dialect, so learning a few simple greetings will facilitate getting acquainted with the locals. In general, an understanding of or appreciation for the local speech can be useful when traveling to more remote areas. But in those areas a phrase book that includes Chinese characters will still be a big help as written Chinese is more or less standard.
  
Formal written Chinese is for all intents and purposes the same everywhere. Even Japanese and Korean use many of the same characters with the same or similar meaning. There is a complication in this, however. Mainland China uses "simplified characters", adopted to facilitate literacy during the mid-1950s. Traditional characters are used in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau, and by many overseas Chinese, but also on the mainland in advertising and commercial signs. As a result you will just as often see 银行 (''yínháng'') as 銀行 for "bank". The simplification was however fairly systematic, which means that all hope is not lost for the traveler trying to pick up some sign-reading skills. On the other hand, native speakers usually do not encounter problems reading either script so learning how to write either one would usually suffice.
+
Formal written Chinese is for all intents and purposes the same, regardless of the local dialect. Even Japanese and Korean use many of the same characters with the same or similar meaning. There is a complication in this, however. Mainland China uses "simplified characters", adopted to facilitate literacy during the mid-1950s. Traditional characters are used in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau, and by many overseas Chinese, but also on the mainland in advertising and commercial signs. As a result you will just as often see 银行 (''yínháng'') as 銀行 for "bank". The simplification was, however, fairly systematic, which means that all hope is not lost for the traveler trying to read signs. On the other hand, native speakers usually do not encounter problems reading either script, so learning how to write either would usually suffice.
  
Note that in calligraphy, the number of scripts is much more varied as different painters use different unique styles, though these have been grouped into five different styles. They are ''zhuanshu''(篆书/篆書), ''lishu''(隶书/隸書), ''kaishu'' (楷书/楷書), ''xingshu'' (行书/行書) and ''caoshu'' (草书/草書), of which ''kaishu'' is the official script used in China today. When calligraphy is written in ''kaishu'', it is usually traditional Chinese characters that are used due to their superior aesthetic value. The casual traveler can easily get by without learning the other four styles though learning them would certainly help those with a deep interest in traditional Chinese art.
+
Note that in calligraphy, the number of scripts is more varied as different painters use different unique styles, though these have been grouped into five different styles. They are ''zhuanshu''(篆书/篆書), ''lishu''(隶书/隸書), ''kaishu'' (楷书/楷書), ''xingshu'' (行书/行書) and ''caoshu'' (草书/草書), of which ''kaishu'' is the official script used in China today. When calligraphy is written in ''kaishu'', it is usually traditional Chinese characters that are used due to their superior aesthetic value. The casual traveler can easily get by without learning the other four styles though learning them would certainly help those with a deep interest in traditional Chinese art.
  
In the far western reaches of the country, Turkic languages such as [[Uyghur phrasebook|Uighur]], Kirghiz, and Kazakh as well as other languages such as [[Tibetan phrasebook|Tibetan]] are spoken by some of the non-Han ethnic minorities. In the north and northeast other minority languages including Manchu, [[Mongolian phrasebook|Mongolian]] and [[Korean phrasebook|Korean]] are also spoken in areas populated by the respective ethnic minorities. Yunnan, Guizhou, Hainan and Guangxi in the south are also home to many other ethnic minorities such as the Miao, Dong, Zhuang, Bai and the Naxi who speak their own languages. However, with the possible exception of the elderly, Mandarin is generally usable in these areas too, and all educated individuals will be bilingual in both their minority language and Mandarin. Sadly some of the minority languages such as Manchu are dying out.
+
In the far western reaches of the country, Turkic languages such as [[Uyghur phrasebook|Uighur]], Kirghiz and Kazakh as well as other languages such as [[Tibetan phrasebook|Tibetan]] are spoken by some of the non-Han ethnic minorities. In the north and northeast, Manchu, [[Mongolian phrasebook|Mongolian]] and [[Korean phrasebook|Korean]] are spoken in areas populated by the respective ethnic minorities. Yunnan, Guizhou, Hainan and Guangxi in the south are also home to many other ethnic minorities such as the Miao, Dong, Zhuang, Bai and the Naxi who speak their own languages. However, with the possible exception of the elderly, Mandarin is generally usable in these areas, too, and most young people are bilingual in their minority language and Mandarin. Sadly, some of the minority languages such as Manchu are dying out.
  
 
''See also'': [[Chinese phrasebook]], [[Cantonese phrasebook]], [[Minnan phrasebook]]
 
''See also'': [[Chinese phrasebook]], [[Cantonese phrasebook]], [[Minnan phrasebook]]
  
===English speakers===
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===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.
 +
 
 +
Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou, and Shenzhen have a high proportion of English-speaking locals. In certain cities, outside tourist attractions and establishments catering specifically to foreigners, it is rare to find locals conversant in English. Airline staff and those at large hotels - particularly international chains - usually speak some basic to conversational English, although in-depth skills are seldom seen.
  
All Chinese are taught English as it is a compulsory subject starting from late elementary school. Passing an English exam is a requirement to earn a four-year university degree, regardless of major. However, the focus of the instruction is formal grammar and writing rather than conversation. As a result, few are able to participate in an English conversation. Even in the big cities, outside the main tourist attractions, it is rare to find locals conversant in English. Hotel and airline staff are more likely to be able to speak English, although in-depth conversation skills are seldom seen. Proficiency among graduates are diverse and range from basic to fluent.
+
When speaking, use simplified English. Speak slowly, avoid slang and idioms, and use simple present tense declarative sentence structure. Don't say "Would you mind if I come back tomorrow?", use simple, abrupt phrasing like "Tomorrow I will return." This brings the phrase closer to its Chinese equivalent and is therefore not necessarily condescending.
  
While English signage is increasingly widespread in China, especially at or near tourist attractions, it is often written in grammatically incorrect English with the wrong sentence structure, and even mistranslations of several words. The signs can be difficult to read but as "Chinglish" follows certain rules, it can usually be deciphered.
+
To meet people, ask about "English Corner" - a time and place in town where local residents, often with a foreign host or speaker, meet to practice spoken English. Typically, they are held on Friday evenings or Sundays in public parks, English training schools, bookstores, and university campuses. There may also be "Corners" for French, German, Russian and perhaps other languages.
  
It is helpful to simplify your English. Speak slowly, avoid slang and idioms, use simple sentence structure, and split phrasal clauses into two sentences.  Don't say "Would you mind if I come back tomorrow?", stick to simpler, more abrupt phrasing like "Tomorrow I will return." This brings the phrase closer to its Chinese equivalent and is therefore not necessarily condescending. Avoid saying "It's a place where I feel at home." and say "I feel home in this place."
+
Consider arranging the services of a tour guide before the trip commences if planning to visit far-flung areas. This will help overcome the language barrier where locals are unlikely to know English. However, due to lasting effects of the Sino-Soviet friendship treaty, in rural regions, particularly in the northwest, Russian is commonly encountered.  
  
One way to meet people is to ask about "English Corner" - a time and place in town where local residents meet to practice English with one another. Typically, they are held on Friday evenings or Sundays in public parks, bookstores, or on university campuses. There may also be Corners for French, German, Russian and perhaps other languages.
+
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===
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''See also:'' [[#Learn|Learn]]
 
''See also:'' [[#Learn|Learn]]
  
In the West, Chinese has an undeserved reputation for its difficulty. While it is very different from Western languages, a traveler may be surprised to learn that the basic grammar is pretty simple. Verbs are static regardless of whether they are referring to the past, present or future. Genders of nouns do not exist, and there is no separate form of nouns for plurals. The main difficulties are the existence of several consonants not present in European languages and using tones.  
+
In the West, Chinese has an undeserved reputation for its difficulty. While it differs from Western languages, the basic grammar is simple. Verbs are static regardless of subject and whether they are referring to the past, present or future. Genders of nouns do not exist, and there is no separate form of nouns for plurals. The main difficulties are the existence of several consonants not present in European languages (as well as a few vowels found in other European languages but not in English), the use of count words (i.e., the term "head" in the phrase "head of cattle"), serial verb stacking, the emphasis on verb aspect instead of verb tense, and, of course, the use of tones.
 +
 
 +
Mandarin, like Vietnamese and Thai, is a tonal language that uses a pitch in sounds to inflict different meanings. "Ma" could mean mother, horse, numb, or blame, depending on the tone. Homophones are also common; the same sound at the same pitch usually has dozens of meanings. "Zhong1" ("Zhong" at the 1st tone) can mean China, loyalty, clock, chime, finish, a bowl, etc. All of them come with different Chinese characters, just the same sound at the same pitch. While homophones are unlikely a problem in most everyday conversations, it is common for Chinese to ask how to write someone's name by identifying the characters one by one. "My name is Wang Fei (王菲). Wang is the "wang" with three strokes, Fei is the "fei" in "shifei" (gossip), with a grass on top."
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 +
Written Chinese looks like a mysterious secret code to some, but if you can recognize so many commercial logos -- usually not logically related, you will be impressed with your capacity to memorize so many characters - most of them are logically related and formed based on certain rules. Smartphone apps like Pleco, Waygo, and ChineseNow can identify the characters you don't recognize.
  
Mandarin, like Vietnamese and Thai, is a tonal language that uses a pitch in sounds to inflict different meanings. Ma could mean mother, horse, numb, blame, depending on tones. Homophones are also common. The same sound at the same pitch usually has dozens of meanings. Zhong1 (Zhong at the 1st tone) can mean China, loyalty, clock, chime, finish, a bowl, etc. All of them come with different Chinese characters, just the same sound at the same pitch. While homophones are unlikely a problem in most everyday conversations, it is very common for Chinese to ask how to write someone's name by telling the meaning of all characters one by one. "My name is Wang Fei (王菲). Wang is the Wang with three strokes, Fei is the fei in shifei(gossip), with a grass on top."
+
There are, in theory, more than 50000 Chinese characters. The good news is that more than 85% have become obsolete, or are rarely used. Like native speakers of many languages, most Chinese couldn't tell you how many characters are required to read a book and never bother to count how many characters they know. One may argue that junior students are supposed to learn at least 2000 characters and graduates in university 5000 characters.
  
Written Chinese looks like a mysterious secret code to some, but if you can recognize so many commercial logos -- usually not logically related, you will be impressed with the brain capacity to memorize so many characters - most of them are logically related and formed based on certain rules.  
+
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.
  
There are, by theory, more than 50000 Chinese characters. The good news is that more than 85% have become obsolete, or are rarely used. Like native speakers of many languages, most Chinese couldn't tell you how many characters are required to read a book and never bother to count how many characters they know. One may argue that, junior students are supposed to learn at least 2000 character and graduates in university 5000 characters.
+
===Translators and Interpreters===
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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:
  
To bridge the gap between recognizing and reading out loud, pinyin was developed, which uses Latin script as an aid to teaching Chinese. Pronouncing pinyin is not intuitive for English speakers, as certain letters and consonant clusters are not pronounced as a westerner would expect. Nonetheless, learning it at even a basic level has enormous practical value for the traveler.
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<listing name="SeekPanda" url="http://www.seekpanda.com" phone="+1 303.997.0442 +86 185.1170.8629" email= "[email protected]"></listing> Pricing is by the half day / full day. Specializes in business travelers and bilingual events/conferences. Interpreters available in most of mainland China and Taiwan, including Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, and Taipei. Can handle last-minute requests for in-person interpretation. <br>
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<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 and you will never run out of things to see. Especially near the coastal areas, if you run out of things to see in one city, the next one is usually just a short train ride away.
+
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.
 
 
Whether you are a history buff, a nature lover or someone who just wants to relax on a nice beach, China has it all from the majestic Forbidden City in [[Beijing]], to the breathtaking scenery of [[Jiuzhaigou]]. Even if you live in China for many years, you'll find that there's always something new to discover in another part of the country.  
 
  
 
[[Image:Diecaishan.jpg|thumb|240px|Karst formations, Guilin]]
 
[[Image:Diecaishan.jpg|thumb|240px|Karst formations, Guilin]]
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===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 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; [[Wu Yi Mountain]] in Fujian, [[Guilin]] and [[Yangshuo]] in [[Guangxi]], and much of central and western Guizhou province.
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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===
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* [[Dunhuang#See|Mogao Caves]] in [[Gansu]] province - art and manuscripts dating back to the 4th century
 
* [[Dunhuang#See|Mogao Caves]] in [[Gansu]] province - art and manuscripts dating back to the 4th century
 
* [[Dazu]] Rock Carvings near Chongqing - dating from the 7-13th century
 
* [[Dazu]] Rock Carvings near Chongqing - dating from the 7-13th century
* [[Longmen National Park|Longmen Grottoes]] near Luoyang - 5-10th century
+
* [[Longmen National Park|Longmen Grottoes]] - 5-10th century
  
 
===Mountains===
 
===Mountains===
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The ''Five Great Mountains'' (五岳 ''wǔyuè''), associated with Taoism:
 
The ''Five Great Mountains'' (五岳 ''wǔyuè''), associated with Taoism:
 
* [[Mount Tai]] (泰山), Shandong Province (1,545 meters)
 
* [[Mount Tai]] (泰山), Shandong Province (1,545 meters)
* [[Huashan National Park|Mount Hua]] (华山), Shaanxi Province (1,997 meters)
+
* [[Huashan National Park|Mount Hua]] (华山), Shaanxi Province (2,054 meters)
 
* [[Mount Heng (Hunan)]] (衡山), Hunan Province (1,290 meters)
 
* [[Mount Heng (Hunan)]] (衡山), Hunan Province (1,290 meters)
 
* [[Mount Heng (Shanxi)]] (恒山), Shanxi Province (2,017 meters)
 
* [[Mount Heng (Shanxi)]] (恒山), Shanxi Province (2,017 meters)
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The ''Four Sacred Mountains'' (四大佛教名山 ''sìdà fójiào míngshān''), associated with Buddhism:
 
The ''Four Sacred Mountains'' (四大佛教名山 ''sìdà fójiào míngshān''), associated with Buddhism:
 
* [[Emeishan National Park|Mount Emei]] (峨嵋山), Sichuan Province (3,099 meters)
 
* [[Emeishan National Park|Mount Emei]] (峨嵋山), Sichuan Province (3,099 meters)
* [[Mount Jiuhua]] (九华山), Anhui Province (1,342 meters)    
+
* [[Mount Jiuhua]] (九华山), Anhui Province (1,342 meters)
 
* [[Mount Putuo]] (普陀山), Zhejiang Province (297 meters, an island)
 
* [[Mount Putuo]] (普陀山), Zhejiang Province (297 meters, an island)
 
* [[Wutaishan National Park|Mount Wutai]] (五台山), Shanxi Province (3,058 meters)
 
* [[Wutaishan National Park|Mount Wutai]] (五台山), Shanxi Province (3,058 meters)
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* [[Amnye Machen]]
 
* [[Amnye Machen]]
  
There are also several other well-known mountains. In China, many mountains have temples, even if they are not especially sacred sites:
+
There are also other well-known mountains. In China, many mountains have temples, even if they are not especially sacred sites:
* [[Mount Qingcheng]] (青城山), Sichuan Province  
+
* [[Mount Qingcheng]] (青城山), Sichuan Province
* [[Mount Longhu]] (龙虎山), Jiangxi Province  
+
* [[Mount Longhu]] (龙虎山), Jiangxi Province
* [[Mount Lao]] (崂山), Shandong Province  
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* [[Mount Lao]] (崂山), Shandong Province
 
* [[Mount Wuyi]] (武夷山), Fujian Province, a major tourist/scenic site with many tea plantations
 
* [[Mount Wuyi]] (武夷山), Fujian Province, a major tourist/scenic site with many tea plantations
 
* [[Mount Everest]], straddling the border between Nepal and Tibet, world's highest mountain
 
* [[Mount Everest]], straddling the border between Nepal and Tibet, world's highest mountain
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* [[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
* [[Jinggangshan]] (井冈山) - The first CCP rural base area after the 1927 crackdown by the KMT
+
* [[Jinggangshan|Mount Jinggang]] (井冈山) - The first CCP rural base area after the 1927 crackdown by the KMT
 
* [[Ruijin]] (瑞金) - Seat of the China Soviet Republic from 1929 to 1934
 
* [[Ruijin]] (瑞金) - Seat of the China Soviet Republic from 1929 to 1934
 
* [[Zunyi]] (遵义) - Site of the Zunyi Conference where Mao Zedong joined the Politburo Standing Committee
 
* [[Zunyi]] (遵义) - Site of the Zunyi Conference where Mao Zedong joined the Politburo Standing Committee
 
* [[Luding]] (泸定) - Site of a famous forced crossing of a high mountain river
 
* [[Luding]] (泸定) - Site of a famous forced crossing of a high mountain river
 
* [[Yan'an]] (延安) - Primary base area for the Communist Party from 1935 to 1945
 
* [[Yan'an]] (延安) - Primary base area for the Communist Party from 1935 to 1945
* [[Wuhan]] - Site of the Wuchang Uprising that led to the fall of the Qing Dynasty and the establishment of the Republic of China
+
* [[Wuhan]] - Site of the 1911 Wuchang Uprising that led to the fall of the Qing Dynasty and the establishment of the Republic of China
 +
* [[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===
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* [[Along the Yellow river]]
 
* [[Along the Yellow river]]
 
* [[Along the Grand Canal]]
 
* [[Along the Grand Canal]]
* [[Overland Kunming to Hong Kong]]
 
 
* [[Yunnan tourist trail]]
 
* [[Yunnan tourist trail]]
 
* [[Overland to Tibet]]
 
* [[Overland to Tibet]]
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Others are partly in China:
 
Others are partly in China:
 
* [[Europe to South Asia over land]]
 
* [[Europe to South Asia over land]]
* [[Overland from Singapore to Shanghai]]
 
 
* [[Silk Road]] - ancient caravan route from China to Europe
 
* [[Silk Road]] - ancient caravan route from China to Europe
 
* [[Karakoram Highway]] - Western China to Pakistan through the Himalayas
 
* [[Karakoram Highway]] - Western China to Pakistan through the Himalayas
 
* [[On the trail of Marco Polo]]
 
* [[On the trail of Marco Polo]]
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* [[Overland Kunming to Hong Kong]]
  
== Do ==
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==Do==
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===Martial Arts and Taichi===
  
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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]].
  
 
===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.
  
Massage is available all over China, often both high quality and reasonably priced. Traditionally, massage is a trade for the blind in Asia. Expert work costs ¥15 to ¥30 an hour.
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* Almost any hairdresser will give a hair wash and head massage for ¥10. This often includes cleaning out ear wax and some massage on neck and arms. With a haircut and/or a shave, ¥15-25. In large cities, expect to pay ¥40 or more for a cut and wash.
 
 
* Almost any hairdresser will give a hair wash and head massage for ¥10. This often includes cleaning out ear wax and some massage on neck and arms. With a haircut and/or a shave, ¥15 to ¥25.
 
  
* Foot massage (足疗 ''zúliáo'') is widely available, often indicated by a picture of a bare footprint on the sign. Prices are from ¥15 to about ¥60.  
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* Foot massage (足疗 ''zúliáo'') is widely available, often indicated by a picture of a bare footprint on the sign. It costs ¥15-60.
  
* Whole body massage is also widespread, at prices from ¥15 an hour up. There are two varieties: ''ànmó'' (按摩) is general massage; ''tuīná'' (推拿) concentrates on the meridians used in acupuncture. The most expert massages are in massage hospitals, or general Chinese medicine hospitals, usually at ¥50 an hour or a bit more. The best value is at tiny out-of-the-way places some of whose staff are blind (盲人按摩 ''mángrén ànmó'').
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* Whole-body massage is also widespread, costing ¥15 or more per hour. There are two varieties: ''ànmó'' (按摩) is general massage; ''tuīná'' (推拿) concentrates on the meridians used in acupuncture. The most expert massages are in massage hospitals, or general Chinese medicine hospitals, usually at ¥50 an hour or a bit more. The best value is at tiny out-of-the-way places some of whose staff are blind (盲人按摩 ''mángrén ànmó'').
  
 
These three types of massage are often mixed; many places offer all three.
 
These three types of massage are often mixed; many places offer all three.
 
Some massage places are actually brothels. Prostitution is illegal in China but quite common and often disguised as massage. Most hot spring or sauna establishments offer ''all'' the services a businessman might want for relaxation. As for the smaller places, if you see pink lighting or lots of girls in short skirts, probably considerably more than just massage is on offer, and quite often they cannot do a good massage. The same rule applies in many hair salons which double as massage parlors/brothels.
 
 
The non-pink-lit places usually give good massage and generally do not offer sex. If the establishment advertises massage by the blind, it is almost certain to be legitimate.
 
 
It is possible to take a nap for a few hours in many massage places and even to spend the night in some. Hairdressers generally do not have facilities for this, but you can sleep on the table in a body massage place or (much better) on the couch used for foot massage. Fees are moderate; this is probably the cheapest way to sleep in China. Note, however, that except in high-end saunas with private rooms, you will share the staff's toilet and there may not be any way to lock up luggage.
 
  
 
Language for massage:
 
Language for massage:
Line 890: Line 889:
 
* ''yǎng'' (痒) is "that tickles"
 
* ''yǎng'' (痒) is "that tickles"
  
There are several ways a masseur or masseuse might ask a question. For example "does this hurt" might be asked as ''tòng bú tòng?'' or ''tòng ma?''. For either, answer ''tòng'' or ''bú tòng''.
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A masseur or masseuse might ask "does this hurt": ''tòng bú tòng?'' or ''tòng ma?''. Answer ''tòng'' or ''bú tòng''.
 
 
=== Traditional arts ===
 
  
If you are planning to spend a longer time in China then you may want to consider learning some of the traditional arts. Traveling to China is after all 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 you can learn 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 popular national hobby. Many calligraphers practice by writing with water on sidewalks in city parks. Other traditional arts which offer classes include learning to play traditional Chinese instruments (inquire in shops that sell these as many offer classes), cooking Chinese cuisine, or even singing Beijing Opera (京剧 ''jīngjù''). Fees are usually extremely modest, and materials you need will not exactly break the bank. The only requirement is 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.
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Be aware some massage shops or hair salons are fronts for [[China#Prostitution|prostitution]]. Venues advertising massages by the blind and without neon lighting are usually legitimate massage parlours and generally do not offer sex.
  
===Martial Arts and Taichi===
+
===Traditional arts===
  
As with traditional cultural arts, those with the time and inclination may be interested in studying 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. You will likely find many eager teachers. Other martial arts require more 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]].
+
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.
  
 
===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 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 very popular and often (well-nigh always) played for money, although its vast regional variations mean that you will have to learn new rules everywhere you go. 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.
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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.
 
 
=== Golf===
 
  
Golf is rapidly becoming a popular hobby for wealthy Chinese. With more land available for development, the Pearl River Delta has seen a boom in golf courses and country clubs catering to both Hong Kong clients and local elites. For more information on courses and rules, please see the [[Golf in China]] article.
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===Volunteering===
  
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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 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;.  
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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 yuan is currently pegged at ¥6.77 to the U.S. dollar.
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The yuan is currently ¥6.77 to the US dollar and slowly rising in value (Feb 2019).
  
{{infobox|Cheat Sheet|* 10 ''fen'' (&#20998;) is 1 ''jiao'' (&#35282;)
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{{infobox|Cheat Sheet|* 10 ''jiao'' is 1 ''yuan'' (&#20803;), the base unit
* 10 ''jiao'' is 1 ''yuan'' (&#20803;), the base unit
 
 
* ''yuan'' is commonly called ''kuai'' (&#22359;)
 
* ''yuan'' is commonly called ''kuai'' (&#22359;)
 
* ''jiao'' is commonly called ''mao'' (&#27611;)
 
* ''jiao'' is commonly called ''mao'' (&#27611;)
Line 922: Line 917:
 
* 1000 is ''qiān'' (千)
 
* 1000 is ''qiān'' (千)
 
* 10000 is ''wàn'' (万)}}
 
* 10000 is ''wàn'' (万)}}
The official subdivisions of the yuan are the ''jiao'' (&#35282;), at 10 jiao to the yuan, and the ''fen'' (&#20998;) at 10 fen to the jiao. The ''fen'' is extinct nowadays. A coin worth ¥0.10 will thus say &#22777;&#35282; ("1 jiao"), not "10 fen", on it. But in colloquial [[Chinese phrasebook|Mandarin]], people often say ''kuai'' (&#22359;) instead of ''yuan'', and the ''jiao'' is also dubbed the ''mao'' (&#27611;). A price like &yen;3,7 would thus be read as "3 kuai 7 mao" (although the trailing unit is usually omitted).
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The official subdivisions of the yuan are the ''jiao'' (&#35282;), at ten to the yuan, and the ''fen'' (&#20998;) at ten to the jiao. The ''fen'' is rare, but is present in less-developed areas. A coin worth ¥0.10 will thus say &#22777;&#35282; ("1 jiao"), not "10 fen", on it. But in colloquial [[Chinese phrasebook|Mandarin]], people often say ''kuai'' (&#22359;) instead of ''yuan'', and the ''jiao'' is also dubbed the ''mao'' (&#27611;). A price like &yen;3,7 would thus be read as "3 kuai 7" (although the trailing unit is usually omitted).
  
When dealing with numbers, note that for example ''wu bai san'', literally "five hundred three", means 530 or "five hundred three tens", with the trailing unit dropped. The number 503 would be read as ''wu bai ling san'', literally "five hundred zero three". Similarly ''yi qian ba'', literally "one thousand eight", means 1800. When using larger numbers, keep in mind that Chinese has a word for ten thousand, ''wàn'' (万), and thus for example 50000 becomes ''wu wan'', not ''wu shi qian''.
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When dealing with numbers, note that for example ''wu bai san'', literally "five hundred three", means 530 or "five hundred three tens", with the trailing unit dropped. The number 503 would be read as ''wu bai ling san'', literally "five hundred zero three". Similarly ''yi qian ba'', literally "one thousand eight", means 1800. When using larger numbers, keep in mind that Chinese has a word for ten thousand, ''wàn'' (万), and thus for example 50,000 becomes ''wu wan'', not ''wu shi qian''.
  
[[Image:China_currency_overview.jpg|thumb|240px|Chinese coins and bills]]
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[[Image:China_currency_overview.jpg|thumb|240px|Nearly all present-day Chinese coins and bills]]
A lot of 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.
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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.
  
 
===Counterfeiting===
 
===Counterfeiting===
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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 certain experience on it. From ¥1 coin, to ¥10, ¥20, ¥50 and ¥100 bills, all currency are subject to a risk. The very first lesson to survive in China is how to scrutinize notes and even coin. The main focus is on the texture of different parts, metal line, change of colors under different lights. Ask anyone how, all of them have their own way.
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It is common for a cashier to scrutinize the banknotes being received. Don't be offended; they are being reasonably cautious, not judgemental. Scrutinize the banknotes received as change, especially notes over ¥50. Salespeople may give counterfeit change that they received from other customers.  
 
 
It is very common for Chinese cashier to scrutinize the banknotes you pay. Don't be offended; they are not suggesting that you're using counterfeit currency. They just need to be responsible. When you get change, do the same, scrutinize the banknotes you get, especially notes over ¥50. Salespeople may try to give you counterfeit money that they took from other customers as change.  
 
  
Counterfeits from ATMs became a hot topic in recent years, although it is not common. If you are worried, withdraw your money from the bank counter and say "I worry about jiabi (counterfeit)". Bank staff seem to be very understanding on this.
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Counterfeits from ATMs are uncommon. If worried, make withdrawals from the bank counter and say "I worry about jiabi (counterfeit)". Bank staff seem to be very understanding on this.
  
It's not unheard of a non licensed money exchanger on China borders to change counterfeits to travelers. If you're not experienced in checking notes, you're highly advised to go to banks.  
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Some non-licensed money changers at the borders give counterfeits to travellers. Tourists who are inexperienced in checking notes should use a bank, instead.  
  
When you pay with a ¥50 or ¥100 banknote in a shop or taxi, it's socially accepted that you remember the last few digits of your currency number as you pass it. It's possible that they say that your banknote is fake, just make sure you get back what you gave them.
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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.
  
 
===Changing money===
 
===Changing money===
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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, yuan is readily convertible in many countries, especially in Asia. The Hong Kong dollar, US dollar, Canadian dollar, Euro, British pond, Australian dollar, Japanese yen and South Korean won can be easily changed in China. Southeast Asian currencies are generally not accepted, the exception being Singapore dollars, which can be changed at all major banks and money changers.
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A black market for currency exchange exists, but is to be avoided as counterfeiting is frequent when exchanging money in China. Private money changers found in markets and hanging around large banks offer attractive exchange rates, but unless a local friend is providing assistance, avoid them. To avoid receiving counterfeit bills in return for a large amount of cash, use the official exchange counter in the Bank of China or another large bank; although the rates are slightly less favourable, there is almost no risk of getting counterfeit bills.
 
 
Black market does exist especially on the border but you are highly advised to avoid it unless you are confident at telling the difference between legitimate and counterfeit notes - even local people are not confident sometimes.  
 
 
 
Foreign exchange is under tight control in China (some restrictions have been dropped for the World Expo: now foreigners can freely exchange from RMB to foreign currency). Private money exchanger, widely seen in many tourist spots or shopping malls around the globe, is still uncommon in China. In a bank, it usually takes 5 minutes to 60 minutes to process the exchange in banks, sometimes a little faster in an hotel, depending on their experience. You need to fill a form and show your passport. Keep the exchange receipt if you plan to leave the country with larger sum of money.  
 
  
Exchanging U.S. currency for RMB can be simple, but expect the bills to be heavily 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 banks will allow you to get a cash advance via a debit or credit card. It's useful to carry an international currency such as British Pounds, US Dollars, or Japanese Yen to fall back on should you not have access to a cash machine.
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Foreign exchange is regulated in China. Private money changers, present in tourist spots or shopping malls around the globe, are still uncommon in China. In a bank, it usually takes 5-60 minutes to process the exchange, sometimes a little faster in an hotel. Generally speaking, the bigger the city, the more quickly the exchange transaction will be completed.
  
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Regardless of location, it is required to complete a form and show a passport. The passport will be photocopied and scanned. Keep the exchange receipt if planning to leave the country with a large sum of money. Note that not all banks with the "Exchange" logo will exchange money for non-customers or for all currencies in cash. For example, Standard Chartered will only exchange cash for its customers (but they will quickly open an account, even on a tourist visa) and then, only USD and HKD in cash, but they offer a better cash exchange rate than most local banks.
  
As '''Counterfeiting''' is a major issue when exchanging money in China, beware the private money changers found in markets and hanging around large banks. While their exchange rates may look attractive, unless you have a local friend to help you out, do ''not'' exchange money with them. It is not uncommon to exchange a large amount of cash only to find that most of what you got is fake. Stick with the '''Bank of China''' or one of the other large banks as even though you get slightly worse rates, the risk of getting counterfeit bills from them is close to zero.
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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.
  
 
====ATM cards====
 
====ATM cards====
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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 all over the country but most ATMs outside the large cities that accept Cirrus, PLUS, VISA and MasterCard network are owned by Bank of China and the Industrial and Commercial Bank. In big cities like Shanghai any ATM will take Visa/Plus/MC/Maestro/Cirrus, and it's only cash advances from Diner's Club, American Express, or JCB cards that are an issue. 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 and flat fee.
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Although Minsheng Bank, Shenzhen Development Bank and Bank of Shanghai ATMs all display PLUS, Cirrus and Maestro logos, only selected ATMs of theirs are linked to these networks, and there is usually no indication until a transaction is attempted. This is true of many other banks' ATMs, even Agricultural Bank of China (one of the big four).
 
 
Before traveling, find out if your home bank charges a currency conversion fee (often between 0-3%) on such transactions. It is worth opening a zero conversion fee account beforehand if possible. Otherwise it would be better to open a local account on arrival to store money in if staying for a sufficiently long time.  
 
  
If you have trouble because the ATM requires a 6 digit PIN and you only have 4 digits, add 2 zeros before it. If you find yourself in a town with a Bank of China branch but no international network-capable ATM, it is possible to get a cash advance on a credit card inside the bank. Just ask.
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If an ATM requires a six-digit PIN and your PIN has only four digits, type two zeros before it. In towns with a Bank of China branch but no international network-capable ATM, it is usually possible to get a cash advance on a credit card inside the bank.
  
UnionPay, the local ATM card network, has made agreements with various ATM card networks across the globe. If your card is covered, any ATM in China will accept withdrawals and balance inquiries from your card. Currently covered are Pulse in America (also applies to cash advances from Discover cards), Interac in Canada, and LINK in the UK.
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UnionPay, the local ATM-card network, has made agreements with foreign ATM-card networks. Any ATM in China will accept withdrawals and balance inquiries from covered cards (such as NYCE and Pulse in the US (as well as to cash advances from Discover cards), Interac in Canada, and LINK in the UK).
  
Also, if your bank is part of the Global ATM Alliance, be aware that China Construction Bank is the local partner for fee-free withdrawals.
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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.
  
====Travelers cheques====
+
====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 banks and upscale hotels will exchange currency and travelers' cheques. You will need identification; in second-tier cities you will need to go to the head branch of Bank of China or Merchants' Bank.
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===Foreign currency===
 +
Foreign currencies, including the Hong Kong dollar and the US dollar, rarely substitute for RMB except in several five-star hotels, some shops on the Hong Kong-Shenzhen border, and stock exchanges. Foreign currency is unlikely to be used in most transactions. Without renminbi and with only foreign currency, bills usually may not be paid without a trip to a bank or one of the scarce automatic currency-exchange machines scattered around Tier 1 cities.
  
====Foreign currency====
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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.
Foreign currencies, including Hong Kong dollar or US dollar, are rarely seen as a substitute for RMB except in several 5-star hotels, some shops on the border, and stock exchanges. You are unlikely to use other currencies in most transactions (after all, the average visitor comes to China to sight-see and shop, not to play day-trader, but for the curious, the minimum balance for US$ trading is US$1000 with US$19 A/C opening fee while the minimum for HK$ trading is HK$5000). If you are running out of money and only have dollar in your pocket, it usually means that you don't have money to pay the bill. Many shops don't accept it, having no idea on exchange rate and how to check if they are counterfeit.
 
  
 
====Electronic transfers====
 
====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 difficult. Most banks don't offer this service; you need to use the main branch of the Bank of China, and even they may not do it except in major cities. Service charges are high, the staff is often not properly trained, and the process can take up to a week. Alternatively, you may choose to look to a Chinese branch of a foreign or Hong Kong-based bank to do your transfers from. This is easier in the big cities, though.  
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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 if you have an dual-currency account with the Bank of China - opened at the branch from which you plan to get your money. Electronic transfers to dual currency accounts incur no or very low fees although it will usually take about one week. Transfers to Chinese accounts from overseas also take from three to ten business days. All you need to start an account is your passport, visa and a small initial deposit (can be RMB) plus the new-account fee (¥10-20). If you open a foreign currency account or a dual currency account, be sure to check if you will be able to access it in another province (e.g. the Bank of China does not allow this as of 2006). Alternatively, for visitors from the US, Wells Fargo offers a service called ExpressSend that allows someone to send money from the US and have it arrive at a China Agricultural Bank account on the same day.  
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=====Western Union=====
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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 a lot of Western Union signs around. This 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. There may, however, be problems. Their "system" may be "down" or the employee you deal with may ask for silly things &mdash; for an overseas transfer, the recipient's passport number and visa number; for a within-China transfer, cash in U.S. dollars. Just try another branch if you are having difficulties.
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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====
 
====Credit cards====
Outside of hotels, major supermarkets, and high-class restaurants, credit cards are generally not accepted (not even in places such as KFC), and most transactions will require cash. However, those with Discover credit cards will find that their card is much more widely accepted (under the UnionPay system) than those with Visa/Mastercard/AmEx. 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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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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Many department stores and large grocery stores have point-of-sale terminals for Chinese bank cards; typically these will not work for foreign cards (unless it is also a UnionPay card). However, because of the nature of Discover's agreement with the UnionPay network, it is treated as a domestic card at ATMs and point-of-sale. If you are going to spend a lot of time in China and use significant amounts of money, consider getting a Chinese bank account if signing up for a Discover card is impractical. Ideally, if in a big city and later travelling to smaller ones, try to open an account with smaller banks like Woori Bank or Ping An Bank; these offer free inter-bank ATM withdrawals anywhere in China (Ping An Bank also offers free withdrawals overseas, a plus if travelling to nearby countries later). Alternatively, Travelex offers UnionPay Cash Passports in certain countries.
  
Many stores have point-of-sale terminals for Chinese bank cards; typically these will not work for foreign cards. However, because of the nature of Discover's agreement with the UnionPay network, it is treated as a domestic card at ATMs and point-of-sale. If you are going to spend a lot of time in China and use significant amounts of money, consider getting a Chinese bank account if signing up for a Discover card is impractical. Ideally, if in a big city and later traveling to smaller ones, try signing up for an account with smaller banks like Woori Bank or Ping An Bank; these offer free inter-bank ATM withdrawals anywhere in China (Ping An Bank also offers free withdrawals overseas, a plus if traveling to nearby countries later).
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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.
  
 
===Costs===
 
===Costs===
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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.
  
While China is no longer dirt cheap as it was during the 1990's, unless you are heading to Hong Kong or Macau, China is generally a cheaper than industrialised countries. If you eat local food, use public transport and stay in a very inexpensive budget hotel or hostel then ¥100 to ¥200 is a perfectly serviceable daily backpacker budget. However, if you want to live an extravagant lifestyle and eat only Western food and stay in star-rated hotels, then ¥1000 a day would not be nearly enough. There is a high degree of variation in prices depending on where you go. Major cities like Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou generally cost much more than second tier cities and rural, inland parts of the country. Shenzhen and Zhuhai are also known for being expensive by Chinese standards but they are still relatively cheap by Western standards. Many Hong Kong or Macau residents, who are generally more affluent than their mainland Chinese counterparts, often go to these cities to shop.
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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===
 
===Tipping===
As a general rule, tipping is not practised anywhere in China, and can even be insulting in many cases. In addition, many service staff and taxi drivers are forbidden from accepting tips by their employers, and doing so may cost them their jobs. Even if your tip is accepted a restaurant, note that more often than not, it is the boss and not the waiter that gets to keep the tip.
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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.
 
 
While some staff working in tourist industries that see many American toursts have started to expect tipping, especially from Caucasians, it is widely accepted not to tip for room service, hotel staff, airport service, taxi and anything. If a taxi driver or masseur becomes pushy at getting your tips, most Chinese see this as extortion and an immoral practice, so just be firm with them if you don't wish to give any.  
 
 
 
In China, compliment over service is usually expressed in an implicit way. If you are a smoker, you are expected to pass a cigarette to people near to you, or you will be seen as selfish and egocentric. It is common to buy a bartender and pub owners a drink. If you are satisfied with service and the one who serves you has a longer relation with you, you will more likely treat him dinner rather than tipping him.  
 
  
Tipping in a wrong way can lead to embarrassment, and can sometimes be an insult, because you are suggesting that the relationship is based on money, not friendship.
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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===
 
===Banking===
Opening a bank account in China is a very 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 very 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 if you have the bank book or card they issued with your 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). You may receive a bank book in which will record all transactions and balances - 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%) for depositing and withdrawing money in a different city than the one you opened your account in (if opening with Woori Bank, they offer unlimited ATM withdrawals at any ATM in China until June 2011, and Wing Hang Bank offers the same except they charge a ¥5/month maintenance fee no matter the balance). ATMs are now present in almost all towns and cities except in the most remote areas. 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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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.
  
Also, in Shanghai, most of the smaller local banks have relations with each other allowing for no-fee interbank deposits for any amount and withdrawals over ¥3000. Also, any Bank of Shanghai deposit-capable ATM can do deposits for any bank with a Shanghai-issued account.
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In Shanghai, most of the smaller local banks have relations with each other allowing for no-fee interbank deposits for any amount and withdrawals over ¥3,000. Also, any Bank of Shanghai deposit-capable ATM can do deposits for any bank with a Shanghai-issued account.
  
 
'''Bank of China'''
 
'''Bank of China'''
 
Bank of China ATMs are occasionally the only ATMs where an international bank card will work. This bank has good international banking experience.
 
Bank of China ATMs are occasionally the only ATMs where an international bank card will work. This bank has good international banking experience.
  
'''China Construction Bank & Bank of America'''
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'''China Construction Bank and Bank of America'''
Bank of America and China Construction Bank have business ties, and because of this, Bank of America customers can use China Construction Bank ATM's without any fees to withdraw RMB.
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Bank of America and China Construction Bank have business ties, and because of this, Bank of America customers are charged no fee when withdrawing renminbi from China Construction Bank ATM's.
 
 
'''China Merchants Bank'''
 
This bank gets best reviews from expatriates as at July 2009.  
 
  
 
'''Standard Chartered'''
 
'''Standard Chartered'''
This bank is also very expat-friendly (it is based in the UK), however branches outside the big cities are lacking. They offer unlimited interbank ATM withdrawals within the city the card was issued in as long as the amount drawn is over ¥2000 each time and they also offer multiple foreign-currency investment products.
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This bank is expat-friendly (it is based in the UK), however branches outside the big cities are lacking. They offer unlimited interbank ATM withdrawals within the city the card was issued in as long as the amount drawn is over ¥2000 each time and they also offer multiple foreign-currency investment products.
  
 
'''Woori Bank'''
 
'''Woori Bank'''
It has even fewer branches than Standard Chartered, but offers the Shanghai Tourist Card, which gives discounts at assorted restaurants and half-price tickets to various attractions, as a debit card. Locally-owned banks only issue this as a credit card, which foreigners can't get, so this is the better choice if traveling to Shanghai. They also offer unlimited free ATM withdrawals anywhere in China. As a Korean bank, they typically cater to Koreans and it shows in the level of customer service.
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It has even fewer branches than Standard Chartered, but offers the Shanghai Tourist Card, which gives discounts at assorted restaurants and half-price tickets to various attractions, as a debit card. Locally-owned banks only issue this as a credit card, which foreigners can't get, so this is the better choice if travelling to Shanghai. They also offer unlimited free ATM withdrawals anywhere in China. As a Korean bank, they typically cater to Koreans and it shows in the level of customer service.
  
 
'''ICBC'''
 
'''ICBC'''
Very difficult to get complete bank statements from them.
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The largest bank in China.
  
Do note that if you are employed in China, you may not get a choice: many companies and schools deposit into only one bank, and therefore you must have an account with that bank to get paid.
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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.
  
 
===Shopping===
 
===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 now illegal to purchase antiques from before 1911 and take them out of China. Even antiques 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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{{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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As disposable income has increased, shopping has become a national pastime. Not everything is cheap. The prices of imported brand-name items, such as camping equipment, mountain bikes, mobile phones and electronics, cosmetics, personal-care products, sportswear, cheese, chocolate, coffee and milk powder are often higher than overseas.
  
As China's emergent middle class finds itself with increasing amounts of disposable income, shopping has become a national pastime. A wide range of goods are available to suit any budget. In most brand name shops or more upscale malls and supermarkets, the prices of goods already have Value-Added Tax (VAT) and any sales tax included. Thus anything with a marked price tends to be sold at that price or, perhaps, slightly below especially if you do not require a receipt for your purchase. For unmarked goods, there is '''wide''' room for bargaining.
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In most brand-name shops, upscale malls and supermarkets, the prices already have Value-Added Tax (VAT) and any sales tax included. Thus, anything with a marked price tends to be sold at that price or, perhaps, slightly below especially if you pay cash and do not require a receipt for your purchase. For unmarked goods, there is '''wide''' room for bargaining.
  
In the West, sales are often advertised with big percentage numbers on the windows which show the actual discount. In China, the tell-tale sign to look for when bargain hunting is 折 (''zhé''), which tells you what fraction of the original price you pay. For example, a 20% discount would be displayed as 8折.
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Regarding discounts, the character 折 (''zhé'') represents the tenths of the original price now charged. For example, 8折 refers to 20% off; 6.5折 is equal to 35% off.
  
China excels in handmade items, partly because of long traditions of exquisite artisanship and partly because labor is still relatively inexpensive compared to other countries. Take your time, look closely at quality and ask questions, but don't take all the answers at face value! Many visitors come looking for antiques, and hunting in the flea markets can be great fun. The overwhelming majority of the "antique" items you will be shown are fakes, no matter how convincing they look and no matter what the vendor says. Should you buy a real antique you may not be able to export it (See Infobox). Do not spend serious money unless you know what you are doing, since novices are almost always taken for a ride.
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China excels in handmade items, partly because of long traditions of exquisite artisanship and partly because labour is still comparatively inexpensive. Take the time to examine quality and ask questions, but don't take all the answers at face value! Many visitors seek antiques, and hunting in the flea markets can be great fun. But most of the "antique" items shown are fakes, no matter how convincing they look and no matter what the vendor says.
  
[[Image:China_porcelain.jpg|thumb|240px|Porcelain at Shanghai's antique market]]
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[[Image:China_porcelain.jpg|thumb|upright=1.3|Porcelain at Shanghai's antique market]]
* '''Porcelain''' with a long history of porcelain manufacture, China still makes great porcelain today. Most visitors are familiar with Ming-style blue and white, but the variety of glazes is much greater, including many lovely monochrome glazes which are worth seeking out. Specialist shops near hotels and the top floors of department stores are a good place to start, though not the cheapest. The "antique" markets are also a good place to find reproductions, though it can be hard to escape from attempts to convince you that the items are genuine antiques (with prices to match). Two of the most famous centers for porcelain are [[Jingdezhen]] and Quanzhou.
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* '''Porcelain''' with a long history of porcelain manufacture, China still makes great porcelain today. Most visitors are familiar with Ming-style blue and white, but the variety of glazes is much greater, including many lovely monochrome glazes which are worth seeking out. Specialist shops near hotels and the top floors of department stores are good places to start, though not the cheapest. The "antique" markets also offer reproductions, though it can be hard to escape from vendors' attempts to convince you that their items are genuine antiques (with prices to match). Two of the most famous centers for porcelain are [[Jingdezhen]] and Quanzhou.
  
* '''Furniture''' in the last 15 years China has become a major source of antique furniture, mostly sourced from the vast countryside. As the supply of old items dwindles many of the restorers are now turning to making new items. The quality of the new pieces is often excellent and some great bargains can still be had in new and old items. Furniture tends to be concentrated in large warehouses on the outskirts of town, Beijing, Shanghai and Chengdu all have plenty of these and hotels can tell you how to find them. Major sellers can also arrange international shipment in most cases. [[Zhongshan]] has a huge furniture market.
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* '''Furniture''' in the 1990s and 2000s China become a major source of antique furniture, mostly sourced from the vast countryside. As the supply of old items has dwindled, many of the restorers now produce new items using the old styles. The quality of the new pieces is often excellent and some great bargains can still be had in new and old items. Furniture tends to be concentrated in large warehouses on the outskirts of cities: Beijing, Shanghai and Chengdu all have plenty of these and hotels can provide directions. Major sellers can also arrange international shipment in most cases. [[Zhongshan]] in particular has a huge furniture market.
  
* '''Art and Fine Art''' the art scene in China is divided into three non-interacting parts. First, there are the traditional painting academies which specialize in "classical" painting (bird and flower, landscapes with rocks and water, calligraphy), with conservative attitudes and serving up painting that conforms to the traditional image of Chinese art. Second, there is a burgeoning modern art scene, including oil painting, photography and sculpture, bearing little relation to the former type. Both "scenes" are worth checking out and include the full range from the glorious to the dreadful. The center of the modern scene is undoubtedly Beijing, where the Da Shan Zi (sometimes called 798) warehouse district is emerging as the new frontier for galleries, reminiscent of New York's Soho in the mid-80s. The third arts scene fits closely with China's prowess in mass-production. China has become famous for producing hand painted reproductions of great works. The Shenzhen suburb of Dafen is particularly renowned for its reproductions.
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* '''Art and Fine Art''' the art scene in China is divided into three non-interacting parts. First, there are the traditional painting academies which specialize in "classical" painting (bird and flower, landscapes with rocks and water, calligraphy), with conservative attitudes and serving up painting that conforms to the traditional image of Chinese art. Second, there is a burgeoning modern-art scene, including oil painting, photography and sculpture, bearing little relation to the former type. Both "scenes" merit exploration and include the full range from the glorious to the dreadful. The centre of the modern scene is undoubtedly Beijing, where the Da Shan Zi (sometimes called 798) warehouse district is emerging as the new frontier for galleries, reminiscent of New York's Soho in the mid-80s. The third arts scene fits closely with China's prowess in mass-production. China has become famous for producing hand-painted reproductions of great works. The Shenzhen suburb of Dafen is particularly renowned for its reproductions.
  
* '''Jade''' There are two types of Jade in China today: one type is pale and almost colorless and is made from a variety of stones mined in China. The other type is green in color and is imported from [[Myanmar]] (Burma) - if genuine!. The first thing to be aware of when buying Jade is that you will get what you pay for (at best). Genuine Burmese jade with a good green color is extraordinarily expensive and the "cheap" green jade you will see in the markets is made either from synthetic stone or from natural stone that has been colored with a green dye. When buying jade look closely at the quality of the carving (How well finished is it? Is it refined, or crude with tool marks visible?). The quality of the stone often goes along with the quality of the carving. Take your time and compare prices before buying. If you are going to spend a fair sum of money, do it in the specialist stores, not in the flea markets. [[Khotan]] in Xinjiang is a famous area for jade production.
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* '''Jade''' There are two types of Jade in China today: one type is pale and almost colorless and is made from a variety of stones mined in China. The other is green in color and is imported from [[Myanmar]] (Burma) - if genuine! The first thing to be aware of when buying Jade is that you will get what you pay for (at best). Genuine Burmese jade with a good green colour is extraordinarily expensive and the "cheap" green jade you will see in the markets is made either from synthetic stone or from natural stone that has been coloured with a green dye. When buying jade look closely at the quality of the carving: How well finished is it? Is it refined, or crude with tool marks visible? The quality of the stone often goes along with the quality of the carving. Compare prices before buying. Serious shopping should be done in specialist stores, not flea markets. [[Khotan]] in Xinjiang is famous for jade production.
  
* '''Carpets''' China is home to a remarkable variety of carpet-making traditions. These include Mongolian, Ningxia, Tibetan and modern types. Many tourists come looking for silk carpets: these are actually a fairly recent "tradition", most of the designs being taken from middle-eastern traditions rather than reflecting Chinese designs. Be aware that though the workmanship is quite fine on these carpets they often skimp on materials, particularly dyes. These are prone to fading and color change, especially if the carpet is displayed in a brightly lit place. Some excellent wool carpets are also made in China. Tibetan carpets are amongst the best in terms of quality and construction, but be aware that most carpets described as Tibetan are not made in Tibet, with a few notable exceptions. As with jade, best to buy from stores with a reputation to uphold.
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* '''Carpets''' China is home to a remarkable variety of carpet-making traditions. These include Mongolian, Ningxia, Tibetan and modern types. Many tourists come looking for silk carpets although these are actually a recent tradition with most of the designs being taken from middle-eastern traditions rather than reflecting Chinese designs. Be aware that though the workmanship is quite fine on these carpets, the materials, particularly dyes, are often inferior. These are prone to fading and colour change, especially if the carpet is displayed in a brightly lit place. Some excellent wool carpets are also made in China. Tibetan carpets are amongst the best in terms of quality and construction, but be aware that most carpets described as Tibetan are not actually made in Tibet, with a few notable exceptions. As with jade, best to buy from stores with a reputation to uphold.
  
* '''Pearls & Pearl Jewelry''' cultured Akoya and freshwater pearls are mass-produced and sold at markets across China. The use of large scale aquaculture makes pearl jewelry affordable and available to virtually anyone in the world. Big, lustrous, near-round and round freshwater pearls come out with a variety of colors and overtones. In addition to pearl jewelry, pearl-based cosmetics are also widely available.
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* '''Pearls and Pearl Jewellery''' cultured Akoya and freshwater pearls are mass-produced and sold at markets across China. The use of large-scale aquaculture makes pearl jewellery affordable and available. Big, lustrous, near-round and round freshwater pearls are available a variety of colours and overtones. In addition to jewellery, pearl-based cosmetics are available.
  
*'''Silver Coins''' a variety of silver coins are sold in China's markets with good reason: in the 19th century, the emperor decreed that foreigners had to pay for all silk and tea in silver. The United States even minted a special silver "trade dollar" just to meet this requirement. Collectors can find Mexican, U.S., French Indochinese, Chinese and other silver dollars available for purchase, mostly dated 1850-1920. Unfortunately, most of the coins on sale now are counterfeit. If you want to collect coins, carry a small portable scale to check their weights. In a tourist area, expect at least 90% to fail this simple test.
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* '''Silver Coins''' a variety of silver coins are sold in China's markets with good reason: in the 19th century, the emperor decreed that foreigners had to pay for all trade goods in silver. The United States even minted a special silver "trade dollar" just to meet this requirement. Collectors can find Mexican, U.S., French Indochinese, Chinese and other silver dollars available for purchase, mostly dated 1850-1920. Unfortunately, most of the coins on sale now are counterfeit. If you want to collect coins, carry a small portable scale to check their weights. In a tourist area, expect at least 90% to fail this simple test.
  
* '''Other arts and Crafts''' Other items to look for include Cloisonne (colored enamels on a metal base), lacquer work, masks, kites, shadow puppets, Socialist-realist propaganda posters, wood carvings, scholar's rocks (decorative rocks, some natural, some less so), paper-cuts, and so on.
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* '''Other Arts and Crafts''' Other specialities include Cloisonné (coloured enamels on a metal base), lacquer work, opera masks, kites, shadow puppets, Socialist-realist propaganda posters, wood carvings, scholar's rocks (decorative rocks, some natural, some less so) and paper-cuts.
  
'''Luxury goods''' such as jade, expensive ceramics and other artwork, antiques or carpets are risky. Most of the antique furniture available are replicas. Much of the jade is either glass or low quality stone that has been dyed a nice green; some is even plastic. Various stone carvings are actually molded glass. The samurai swords are mostly either inferior weapons mass produced for the Japanese military and Manchurian soldiers in World War II or modern Chinese copies. At the right price, such goods can be a very good buy. However, none of them are worth anywhere near the price of real top-quality goods. Unless you are an expert on whatever you want to buy, you are quite likely to get sold low quality merchandise at high prices.  
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'''Luxury goods''' such as jade, expensive ceramics and other artwork, antiques or carpets are risky. Most of the antique furniture available today are replicas. Much of the jade is either glass or low-quality stone that has been dyed a nice green; some is even plastic. Various stone carvings are actually moulded glass. The samurai swords are mostly either inferior weapons mass-produced for the Japanese military and Manchurian soldiers in World War II or modern Chinese copies. At the right price, such goods can be a good buy, but non-experts are quite likely to pay high prices for low-quality merchandise.
  
There are two solutions. Either stick to the cheaper products, some of which are quite nice, or if you do decide to spend a substantial amount, then deal with a large and reputable vendor; you may not get the bargains an expert could find elsewhere, but you probably won't get cheated either.
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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.
  
 
====Clothing====
 
====Clothing====
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[[Image:Nanjing Lu Zai Baitian.jpeg|thumb|220px|Nanjing Road in Shanghai]]
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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 next section for additional comment. Chinese brands, similar in look, feel and style to their foreign counterparts, are often an excellent deal.
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Travellers would be wise to try on any item they wish to purchase as sizes tend to be erratic. Items of clothing which may be a size XL in the US can be anywhere from an L to a XXXL in China. Most nicer stores have a tailor on call who will adjust the length and hem of pants in 15-30 minutes for free.  
 
 
Travelers would be wise to try on the item they wish to purchase as sizes tend to be very erratic. Items of clothing which may be a size XL in the U.S. can be anywhere from an L to a XXXL in China. Most nicer stores have a tailor on call who will adjust the length and hem of pants in 15-30 min for free.  
 
 
 
There are very affordable tailors anywhere in China. In the major cities, some of them can make a fine job of Western-style garments. Shirts, pants and suits can be measured, fitted, assembled and delivered within three days in many cases. Some tailors have their own fabric selections while others require customers to purchase it in advance from fabric markets. The quality of the tailors, as everywhere, varies widely. More reputable tailors will often come to hotels to do measurements, fittings and final sales.
 
 
 
  
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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.
  
 
====Brand-name goods====
 
====Brand-name goods====
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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 '''big worldwide brand labels''' sold in China may be bogus, especially expensive sporting goods like brand name running shoes or golf clubs. By no means all are bogus; major companies do market in China, but some will be unauthorized or downright bogus. If you are buying genuine branded foreign goods, particularly ''haute couture'' brands such as Gucci, Louis Vuitton and Prada, there is usually little, if any difference in price to buying them in Western countries.  Indeed, Chinese tourists often purchase luxury brand name goods outside of China because the costs are often lower than in Chinese stores.
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There are a number of sources of potential knock-offs or fake brand-name goods.
 
 
There are a number of sources of potential knock-offs or fake brand name goods.
 
  
 
* The most common variant comes from a Chinese firm that gets a contract to deliver, say, 100,000 shirts to BigBrand. They actually have to make a few more than that because some will fail quality control. Maybe 105,000? What the heck, make 125,000. Any extras will be easy to sell; after all they have the BigBrand label. So 25,000 shirts &mdash; a few "factory seconds" and many perfectly good shirts &mdash; arrive on the Chinese market, without BigBrand's authorization. A traveler might be happy to buy these &mdash; just check carefully to avoid the seconds and you get exactly the shirt BigBrand sells for a much better price.
 
* The most common variant comes from a Chinese firm that gets a contract to deliver, say, 100,000 shirts to BigBrand. They actually have to make a few more than that because some will fail quality control. Maybe 105,000? What the heck, make 125,000. Any extras will be easy to sell; after all they have the BigBrand label. So 25,000 shirts &mdash; a few "factory seconds" and many perfectly good shirts &mdash; arrive on the Chinese market, without BigBrand's authorization. A traveler might be happy to buy these &mdash; just check carefully to avoid the seconds and you get exactly the shirt BigBrand sells for a much better price.
* However, it doesn't end there. If the factory owner is greedy, he goes on to crank out a bunch more. Only now he doesn't have to worry about BigBrand's strict quality control. He can cut a few corners, slap the BigBrand label on them, and make a great profit. These may or may not be a good buy, but in any case they are not what you would expect from BigBrand.
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* However, it doesn't end there. If the factory owner is greedy, he goes on to crank out many more. Only now he doesn't have to worry about BigBrand's strict quality control. He can cut a few corners, slap the BigBrand label on them, and make a great profit. These may or may not be a good buy, but in any case they are not what is expected from BigBrand.
* Finally, of course, some other factory may be cranking out utterly bogus "BigBrand" shirts. On these outright forgeries, they often misspell the brand name, which is a dead giveaway.
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* Finally, some other factory cranks out utterly bogus "BigBrand" shirts. These outright forgeries often misspell the brand name - a dead giveaway.
  
Such fake brand oddities include items such as a reversible jacket with "Adidas" on one side and "Nike" on the other or a similar pair of reversible socks found in Guangzhou. While these might be interesting curiosities, they definitely are not genuine examples of either brand.
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Fake brand oddities include a reversible jacket with "Adidas" on one side and "Nike" on the other or shirts with more than one brand.
  
There are two basic rules for dealing with expensive brand name goods in China.
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There are two basic rules for dealing with expensive brand-name goods in China.
 
* First, you cannot just trust the brand; inspect the goods carefully for flaws. Check the spelling on labels.
 
* First, you cannot just trust the brand; inspect the goods carefully for flaws. Check the spelling on labels.
* Second, if the deal seems too good to be true, be very suspicious. China makes a lot of good cheap products, but a hundred dollar "Rolex" is utterly certain to be bogus.  
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* Second, if the deal seems too good to be true, be suspicious. China makes many good cheap products, but a hundred-dollar Louis Vuitton handbag is certainly bogus.
  
Bogus goods can cause legal problems. Selling "pirate" DVDs or forged brand name goods is illegal in China, but enforcement is lax. It is generally much less lax at customs for travelers' home countries. Customs officials will seize pirate DVDs or bogus brand name goods if they find them. Some Western travelers have even reported having to pay hefty fines after being caught returning home with bogus products.
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Bogus goods can cause legal problems. Selling "pirate" DVDs or forged brand-name goods is illegal in China, but enforcement is lax. It is generally much less lax at customs in travelers' home countries. Customs officials seize counterfeit merchandise. Some Western travelers have even reported hefty fines after being caught returning with bogus products.
  
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 packing them out of the country, if you have a suitcase full of brand new tagged designer knock-offs or swing produced clothes, you are likely to be hassled at home.  The likely worst case scenario is you will lose the items and receive a fine; the best case scenario is you will lose the items. Simply remove the tags and they will almost certainly go unnoticed with the rest of your belongings.
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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.
  
 
====Software, Music and Movies ====
 
====Software, Music and Movies ====
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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. The ones that sell for ¥6-10 and come in cheap flat paper envelopes are absolutely certain to be bogus. Some of the ones at higher prices with better packaging might be legal copies, but it can be hard to tell. Probably the best way to avoid bogus discs is to buy at one of the larger bookstores or department stores; most of these have a CD/DVD section. The prices are ¥15-40.
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Fakes are identified by:
 
 
Some good checks, or dead giveaways, for a fake are:
 
  
 
* Credits on the back of the case which do not match the movie.
 
* Credits on the back of the case which do not match the movie.
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In stores, it is usually acceptable to ask the owner to test the DVD to make sure it works and has the correct language soundtrack.
 
In stores, it is usually acceptable to ask the owner to test the DVD to make sure it works and has the correct language soundtrack.
  
If you buy DVDs or CDs and plan to take them home, be sure to get a receipt that will prove your good faith to Western customs officers.
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Obtain and keep the receipt when purchasing DVDs or CDs to prove your good faith to Western customs officers.
  
 
====Endangered species====
 
====Endangered species====
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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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It is illegal to trade in such products in nearly all countries, including China, under the [http://www.cites.org/index.html Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species]. Enforcement in China is lax, but anyone buying such products risks serious hassles either when trying to leave China with them or when trying to import them into another country. This can bring substantial fines and/or imprisonment. So if a store clerk seems eager to sell you a leopard skin or an ivory trinket, use your better judgment and move on.
  
It is illegal to trade in such products in nearly all countries, including China, under the [http://www.cites.org/index.html Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species]. Enforcement in China is somewhat lax, but anyone buying such products risks serious hassles either when trying to leave China with them or when trying to import them into another country. This can bring substantial fines and/or jail time. So if a store clerk seems eager to sell you a leopard skin or an ivory trinket, use your better judgment and move on.
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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 note 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 and ground bone.
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===Bargaining===
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''See also'': [[How to haggle]]
  
===Bargaining===
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Bargaining is a national pastime in China. Almost anything is negotiable, and sometimes it's even possible to ask for a discount in a restaurant at the last minute before checking the bill. Many restaurants or bars will willingly offer a free dish or two (such as a fruit plate in a KTV) to accompany a particularly large order. Shopping malls are less willing to bargain, but why not ask "Will I get a gift?"
  
''See also'': [[How to haggle]]
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Unlike many southeast Asian countries, the tourism industry in China is overwhelmingly dominated by Chinese businesses, not westerners running businesses for their own such as seen in places like Bangkok's [[Khao San Road]] or Saigon's Pham Ngu Lao. Merchants in touristy areas, particularly street and sidewalk-stall sellers, are masters in exploiting the wallets of foreigners. They can also be pushy, sometimes even grabbing the customer's hands. Prices are almost always posted, but they are all substantially marked up, normally 2-3 times. Some items like silk fans (largest size: 1'2") are posted as &yen;60-75, but the lowest price is actually just &yen;10. Therefore it's often better to buy souvenirs somewhere just a few blocks away from the tourist spots. Local Chinese tourists have no issue with posted prices because they are all well trained in the art of bargaining. Foreigners always pay more for everything negotiable in China but remember that Chinese whose accents identify them as being from other provinces also pay higher prices than locals.
  
Bargaining is a national sport in China. You can bargain almost anything, and sometimes it's possible to ask for discount in a restaurant at the last minute before you check the bill. Shopping malls are less willing to bargain, but why not ask "Will I get a free souvenir?"
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The purchasing power of the ''nouveau riche'' has elevated prices. In tourist spots, it is possible to see a &yen;1,000 skirt tailor-made by a designer, &yen;2,000 per a bag of tea, or dozens of thousands for silverware.
  
Unlike many southeast Asian countries, tourism in China is overwhelmingly supported by local people, not westerners. Places like Bangkok's [[Khao San Road]] or Saigon's Pham Ngu Lao remain rare. Merchants in tourist spots, particularly street and sidewalk-stall sellers are usually the masters in exploiting the wallets of foreigners. They are also very pushy, sometimes even grab your hands. Prices are almost always posted, but they are all marked up considerably high, normally 2-3 times. Some items like silk fan (largest size: 1'2") is posted &yen;60-75, but the lowest sold price is just &yen;10. Therefore it's better to buy souvenir somewhere just a few blocks away from the tourist spots. The local Chinese have no issue with posted prices because they were all well trained in the art of bargaining. Foreigners always pay more for everything in China.
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It is hard to tell what price to offer when starting negotiations. Depending on the city, product or market in question, 5% to 50% of the posted price or vendor's first offer is common. And if someone offers a huge discount, it could indicate shoddy merchandise. So walk around and compare. In tourist spots, it's common to ask for a 30-50% discount, but in a place catering to local people, asking for a 50% discount sounds foolish.
  
The purchasing power of the nouveau riche in China makes the place not always cheap anymore. When you go to tourist spots, it is possible to see a &yen;1,000 skirt tailor made by a designer, &yen;2,000 per a bag of tea, dozens of thousands for silverware.  
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In touristy places, don't take what merchants say seriously. When asked for a 50% discount, they pretend to be appalled and show scorn; it's a favourite drama. Souvenirs, including "antiques", are usually standard products from factories. Compare more. Be aware that in tourist markets, the room for negotiation is narrower than before. With so many tourists shopping for the same products, vendors know they can make high margins and may not be as amenable to negotiation. They may dismiss tourists offering low starting prices because trying to get the margin they want isn't worth their time.
  
It is hard to tell how much discount rate you should go. 5% to 50% discount is common, but if someone offers you too-great-to-be-true discount, it could be worrying. The thumb of rule is that to walk around and compare. In tourist spots, it's more likely to ask for 30-50% discount, but in a place almost catering for local people, asking for 50% discount will definitely make fool of yourself.
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Souvenirs in a place may be unrelated to its history and change frequently, perhaps being cheap nick nacks the stallholders' association picked up cheap and in bulk from a disposal sale.
  
In a tourist place, don't take what merchant's say seriously. When you ask for 50% discount, they may be appalled and scorn; it's a favorite drama. Souvenirs, including so-called antiques, are usually standard products from factories. Compare more.  
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In this former communist country, most local people still expect a standard price for grocery products and see it as 'black-hearted' (黑心 hēixīn) to charge too much, even if the shops are in a major business district. However, in a tourist area where rental payments are skyrocketing, if someone sells bottles of Coca Cola for &yen;5 (&yen;3 elsewhere), there may be room to bargain.
  
In this former communist country, most local people still expect a standard price for grocery products and see it as an 'black-heartened' (黑心 hēixīn) to charge too much, even if shops are in a major business district. In a tourist place where rental payment is skyrocketing, if someone sells you a bottle of Coca Cola for &yen;5 (usually &yen;3 in most places), you may have a chance to bargain a little bit too. It sometimes works, but not all the time.
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Souvenir shops selling jewellery, herbs and tea recommended by hotel staff can also be tricky. While it is common that the staff takes tourists to places that pay them commission, it is also common that they take them to certain places because the establishment actually offers decent products and prices, so appearing overly cautious is likely to offend the hosts by suggesting a 'good guy' is actually a cheater.
  
Also tricky are the souvenir places like jewelry, herbs, tea shops, recommended by hotel staff. While it is common that they take tourists to places that give them commission, it is also common that they take you to a place only because it's the best deal. For the latter one, if you make a show of being overly cautious, it is likely to offend them because you try to suggest a 'good guy' is a cheater.
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In several places like the [[Lijiang]] Ancient City, when the ethnic horse-carriage drivers stop by a souvenir shop, assume that a commission is being added to the price. These carriage operators are notoriously known for extorting money from shops, or creating trouble if the shops refuse to pay. The local government usually avoids intervening in these cases where minority ethnic groups are involved.
  
In several places like the [[Lijiang]] Ancient City, when you get a ride on a horse carriage drivers run by local ethnic group and stop by to buy souvenirs, assume that you're paying commission. These carriage operators are notoriously known for extorting money from shops, or creating troubles if shops refuse. The local government usually avoid intervening the case where a minor ethnic group is involved.
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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.
  
On many tours, tourists will be visiting the National Academic of Chinese Traditional Medicine, doctors will give inflated-price prescriptions, usually over a thousand USD. If you are interested in buying, the interpreter walk you to their herb shop, but you can not take the prescription home with you, even after buying the medicine at the school. Actually the prescription is written in Chinese and the interpreter just shows it to you for the price. Also, the more money the tourist spend at a place, the more money the tour guide will be award by that place.
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===Basics===
  
===Western goods===
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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.
  
Areas with large expatriate communities like [[Beijing]], [[Shanghai]], [[Guangzhou]] and [[Shenzhen]] have specialty grocery stores catering to those communities. These are often no larger than a 7-Eleven, usually stock imported snacks, alcohol, groceries and often meat and cheese, and are often expensive. See the individual articles for details.
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Some discount and mid-market department stores in China also have grocery sections.
  
Several Western-owned supermarket chains are widespread in China &mdash; Wal-mart (沃尔玛 Wòěrmǎ), Metro (麦德龙 Màidélóng), and Carrefour (家乐福 Jiālèfú). All have some Western groceries. 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) and SM; these also carry imported goods. Some larger Chinese chains such as Beijing Hualian (北京华联 Běijīng Huálián) also carry a limited selection of foreign products.
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===Western goods===
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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.
  
=== Tobacco products===
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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.
  
While China has experienced a declining trend for smoking, it is still a popular habit 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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===Tobacco products===
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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.
  
Most mainstream Chinese brands sell at around ¥5-20 for a 20-pack. Popular national brands include Zhongnanhai (中南海 zhōngnánhǎi), Honghe (红河 hónghé), Baisha, Nanjing, Liqun, and Double Happiness (双喜 shuāngxǐ). Some local brands sold in certain regions can be much cheaper whilst others are more expensive. Chinese cigarettes are stronger than many foreign cigarettes (13mg tar is the norm) although Zhongnanhai is popular with foreign visitors, having a similar taste to Marlboro Light but only half the price. Western brands are available including Marlboro (万宝路 wànbǎolù), 555 (三五 sān wǔ), Davidoff (大卫杜夫 dàwèidùfú), Kent, Salem and Parliament. Western cigarettes are a little more expensive - stick to major convenience store chains such as C-Store or Kedi as many smaller stores sell counterfeit or illegally imported cigarettes.
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Most mainstream Chinese brands sell at around ¥5-20 for a 20-pack. Popular national brands include Zhongnanhai (中南海 zhōngnánhǎi), Honghe (红河 hónghé), Baisha, Nanjing, Liqun, and Double Happiness (双喜 shuāngxǐ). Some local brands sold in certain regions can be much cheaper whilst others are more expensive. Chinese cigarettes are stronger than many foreign cigarettes (13mg tar is the norm) although Zhongnanhai is popular with foreign visitors, having a similar taste to Marlboro Light but for only half the price. Western brands are available including Marlboro (万宝路 wànbǎolù), 555 (三五 sān wǔ), Davidoff (大卫杜夫 dàwèidùfú), Kent, Salem and Parliament. Western cigarettes are more expensive - stick to convenience store chains such as C-Store or Kedi as many smaller stores sell counterfeit or illegally imported cigarettes.
  
Premium-brand cigarettes are often ridiculously overpriced and are vary rarely smoked personally - they are usually offered as gifts or bribes as an expression of wealth. The two most famous 'premium brands' include Zhonghua (中华 zhōnghuá) (¥50) and Panda (¥100). If you choose to buy them then stick to major department stores - those sold in neighbourhood cigarette stores are likely to be fake. Rolling tobacco and papers are rare in urban China. Lighters (打火机 dǎhuǒjī) are usually cheap (about ¥1) but flimsily made. Zippos are easily available but expensive.
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Premium-brand cigarettes are often overpriced and are rarely smoked personally - they are usually offered as gifts or bribes as an expression of wealth. The two most famous 'premium brands' include Zhonghua (中华 zhōnghuá) (¥60-100) and Panda (¥100). If you choose to buy them then stick to major department stores - those sold in neighbourhood cigarette stores are likely to be fake. Rolling tobacco and papers are rare in urban China. Lighters (打火机 dǎhuǒjī) are usually cheap (about ¥1) but flimsily made. Zippos are widely available, but expensive, whilst counterfeits are cheaper.
  
Cigars can be bought from some specialist tobacco stores and Chinese-made cigars are surprisingly good - expect to pay around &yen;20-30 for 10 locally produced cigars. Beware of fake western-brand cigars sold in bar-districts; they are usually terrible and ridiculously overpriced. Genuine Cuban cigars are available in cigar bars and upscale establishments in large cities but are often very expensive.
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Cigars can be bought from tobacco stores and Chinese-made cigars can be good - expect to pay around &yen;20-30 for ten locally produced cigars. Beware of terrible, overpriced, counterfeit western-brand cigars sold in bar-districts. Genuine Cuban cigars are available in cigar bars and upscale establishments in large cities, but are expensive (luxury goods are heavily taxed).
  
Duty-free stores in international airports, 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.
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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.
  
 
==Eat==
 
==Eat==
Food in China varies widely from region to region so the term "Chinese food" is pretty much a blanket term, just like "Western food." While visiting, relax your inhibitions and try a bit of everything.  
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[[Image:Chifan De Malu.jpeg|thumb|240px|A food street in Jinan]]
 
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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.
Do keep in mind that undercooked food or poor hygiene can cause bacterial or parasitic infection, particularly during warm or hot weather.  Thus it is advisable to take great care about (and perhaps abstain from) eating seafood and meat on the street during the summer. In addition, unless you're in Hong Kong, raw meat and seafood should always be avoided. That being said, hygiene is generally better than much of Southeast Asia and the Indian subcontinent, and food in restaurants is generally safe to eat with a low risk of food poisoning.  
 
  
Chinese gourmands place emphasis on freshness so your meal will most likely be cooked as soon as you order it. Searing hot woks over coal or gas fires make even street food usually safe to eat.
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Do keep in mind that undercooked food or poor hygiene can cause bacterial or parasitic infection, particularly during warm or hot weather. Thus it is advisable to take great care about (and perhaps abstain from) eating seafood and meat on the street during the summer. In addition, unless you're in Hong Kong, Beijing, Shanghai or other large cities, raw meat and seafood should be avoided. That all being said, the hygienic conditions of a restaurant are usually satisfactory which means that there is little risk of diarrhea. Chinese gourmands place emphasis on freshness, so meals will most likely be cooked upon order. Searing hot woks over coal or gas fires make even street food usually safe to eat.
  
The two-menu systems where different menus are presented according to the skin color of a guest remain largely unheard of in China. Most restaurants only have one menu - the Chinese one. Learning some Chinese characters such as beef (牛), chicken (鸡), fried (炒), soup (汤), rice (饭) will take you a long way.
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Most restaurants only have one menu - the Chinese one. Learning some Chinese characters such as beef (牛), pork (猪), chicken (鸡), fish (鱼), stir-fried (炒), deep-fried (炸), braised (烧), baked or grilled (烤), soup (汤), rice (饭), or noodles (面) will serve one well. As pork is the most common meat in Chinese cuisine, where a dish simply lists "meat" (肉), assume it is pork.
  
Certain Chinese dishes contain ingredients some people may prefer to avoid, such as dog, snake or endangered species. However, it is very unlikely that you will order these dishes by a mistake. Dog and snake are usually served in a specialty restaurants which do not hide their ingredients. Products made from endangered ingredients will be phenomenally expensive and would obviously not be listed on the regular menu anyway, so it is unlikely that an average traveller will order them by mistake.
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Certain Chinese dishes contain ingredients some people may prefer to avoid, such as dog, snake or endangered species. However, it is ''very unlikely'' that you will order these dishes by mistake. Dog and snake are usually served in specialty restaurants which do not hide their ingredients. Obviously, products made from endangered ingredients will have astronomical prices and would not be listed on the regular menu anyway.
  
 
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.
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===Regional Cuisines===
 
===Regional Cuisines===
  
* Beijing (京菜 ''Jīng Cài'' ): home-style noodles and ''baozi'' (包子 bread buns), Peking Duck (北京烤鸭 ''Běijīng Kǎoyā''), cabbage dishes, great pickles. Not fancy but can be great and satisfying.
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====Four Great Traditions (四大菜系)====
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* '''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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* '''Cantonese / Guangzhou / Hong Kong''' (广东菜 ''Guǎngdōng  Cài'', 粤菜 ''Yuè Cài''): the style most Western visitors are already familiar with to some extent. Not too spicy, the emphasis is on freshly cooked ingredients and seafood. Dim Sum (点心 ''Diǎnxīn''), small snacks usually eaten for breakfast or lunch, are a highlight. That being said, Cantonese cuisine is also among the most adventurous in China in terms of variety of ingredients as the Cantonese are famous, even among the Chinese, for their wide definition of what is considered edible.
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* '''Shandong''' (山东菜 ''Shāndōng cài'', 鲁菜 ''Lǔ Cài'', Shandong cuisine): Although modern transport has greatly increased the availability of ingredients throughout China, Shandong cuisine remains rooted in its ancient traditions. Most notable is the staggering array of seafood, including scallops, prawns, clams, sea cucumbers and squid.
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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.
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 +
====Famous Traditions====
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(The Other Four of the Eight Culinary Traditions of Chinese cuisine):
  
* 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 unique exotica such as camel's paw, shark's fin and bird's nest.
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* '''Fujian''' (福建菜 ''Fújiàn Cài'', 闽菜 ''Mǐn Cài''): uses ingredients mostly from coastal and estuarial waterways. "Buddha Jumps over a Wall" (佛跳墙 ''Fó Tiào Qiáng'') is particularly famous. According to legend, the smell was so good a monk forgot his vegetarian vows and leaped over the wall to have some. Fujian cuisine can be split into at least two distinct cuisines: Minnan cuisine from the area around Xiamen and Mindong cuisine from the area around Fuzhou.
  
* Cantonese / Guangzhou / Hong Kong (广东菜 ''Guǎngdōng  Cài'', 粤菜 ''Yuè Cài''): the style most Western visitors are already familiar with to some extent. Not too spicy, the emphasis is on freshly cooked ingredients and seafood. Dim Sum (点心 ''Diǎnxīn''), small snacks usually eaten for breakfast or lunch, are a highlight. Authentic Cantonese cuisine is also among the most adventurous in China in terms of variety of ingredients as the Cantonese are famous, even among the Chinese, for their expansive definition of what is considered edible.
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* '''Zhejiang''' (浙菜 ''Zhè Cài''): includes the foods of Hangzhou Ningbo, and Shaoxing. A delicately seasoned, light-tasting mix of seafood and vegetables often served in soup. Sometimes lightly sweetened or sometimes sweet and sour, Zhejiang dishes frequently involve cooked meats and vegetables in combination.
  
* 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. Sugar is often added to fried dishes giving Shanghainese food a sweet flavor.
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* '''Hunan''' (湖南菜 ''Húnán Cài'', 湘菜 ''Xiāng Cài''): the cuisine of the Xiangjiang region, Dongting Lake and western Hunan Province. Similar, in some ways, to Sichuanese cuisine, it can actually be "spicier" in the Western sense.  
  
* Sichuan (川菜 ''Chuān Cài''): Famously hot and spicy. A popular saying is that it is so spicy your mouth will go numb. However, not all dishes are made with live chilis. The numbing sensation actually comes from the Sichuan peppercorn (花椒). It is widely available outside Sichuan and also native to Chongqing. If you want really authentic Sichuanese food outside Sichuan, look for small eateries sporting the characters for Sichuan cuisine in neighborhoods with lots of migrant workers. These tend to be much cheaper and often better than the ubiquitous up-market Sichuan restaurants.
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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.
  
* Hunan (湖南菜 ''Húnán Cài'', 湘菜 ''Xiāng Cài''): the cuisine of the Xiangjiang region, Dongting Lake and western Hunan Province. Similar to Sichuanese cuisine, it can actually be "spicier" in the Western sense.  
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====Other traditions====
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* '''Shanghai''' (沪菜 ''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.
  
* Teochew / Chaozhou (潮州菜 ''Cháozhōu Cài''): originating from the [[Shantou]] area in northern Guangdong, a unique style which nonetheless will be familiar to most Southeast Asian and Hong Kong Chinese. Famous dishes include braised duck (卤鸭 ''Lǔyā''), yam paste dessert (芋泥 ''Yùní'') and fishballs (鱼丸 ''Yúwán'').
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* '''Teochew / Chaozhou''' (潮州菜 ''Cháozhōu Cài''): originating from the [[Shantou]] area in northern Guangdong, is familiar to most Southeast Asian and Hong Kong Chinese. Famous dishes include braised duck (卤鸭 ''Lǔyā''), yam paste dessert (芋泥 ''Yùní'') and fishballs (鱼丸 ''Yúwán'').
 
   
 
   
* Fujian (福建菜 ''Fújiàn Cài'', 闽菜 ''Mǐn Cài''): uses ingredients mostly from coastal and estuarial waterways. "Buddha Jumps over a Wall" (佛跳墙 ''Fó Tiào Qiáng'') is particularly famous. According to legend, the smell was so good a monk forgot his vegetarian vows and leapt over the wall to have some. Fujian cuisine can be split into at least two distinct cuisines: Minnan cuisine from the area around Xiamen and Mindong cuisine from the area around Fuzhou.
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* '''Guizhou''' (贵州菜 ''Guìzhōu Cài'', 黔菜 ''Qián Cài''): combines elements of Sichuan and Xiang cuisine, making liberal use of spicy, peppery and sour flavors. The peculiar ''zhergen'' (折耳根 ''Zhē'ěrgēn''), a regional root vegetable, adds an unmistakable sour-peppery flavor to many dishes. Minority dishes such as Sour Fish Hot Pot (酸汤鱼 ''Suān Tāng Yú'') are widely enjoyed.
  
* Guizhou (贵州菜 ''Guìzhōu Cài'', 黔菜 ''Qián Cài''): combines elements of Sichuan and Xiang cuisine, making liberal use of spicy, peppery and sour flavors. The peculiar ''zhergen'' (折耳根 ''Zhē'ěrgēn''), a regional root vegetable, adds an unmistakable sour-peppery flavor to many dishes. Minority dishes such as Sour Fish Hot Pot (酸汤鱼 ''Suān Tāng Yú'') are widely enjoyed.
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* '''Hainan''' (琼菜 ''Qióng Cài''): famous among the Chinese, but relatively unknown to foreigners, is characterized by the relatively heavy use of coconuts. The signature specialties are the "Four Famous Dishes of Hainan" (海南四大名菜 ''Hǎi Nán Sì Dà Míng Cài''): Wenchang chicken (文昌鸡 ''Wénchāng jī''), Dongshan goat (东山羊 ''Dōngshān yáng''), Jiaji duck (加积鸭 ''Jiājī yā'') and Hele crab (和乐蟹 ''Hélè xiè'').
  
* Zhejiang (浙菜 ''Zhè Cài''): includes the foods of Hangzhou, Ningbo, and Shaoxing. A delicately seasoned, light-tasting mix of seafood and vegetables often served in soup. Sometimes lightly sweetened or sometimes sweet and sour, Zhejiang dishes frequently involve cooked meats and vegetables in combination.
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* '''Beijing''' (京菜 ''Jīng Cài'' ): home-style noodles and ''baozi'' (包子 bread buns), Peking Duck (北京烤鸭 ''Běijīng Kǎoyā''), cabbage dishes, great pickles. Not fancy, but great and satisfying.
  
* Hainan (琼菜 ''Qióng Cài''): famous among the Chinese, but still relatively unknown to foreigners, characterised by the relatively heavy use of coconuts. The signature specialties are the "Four Famous Dishes of Hainan" (海南四大名菜 ''Hǎi Nán Sì Dà Míng Cài'') which are Wenchang chicken (文昌鸡 ''Wénchāng jī''), Dongshan goat (东山羊 ''Dōngshān yáng''), Jiaji duck (加积鸭 ''Jiājī yā'') and Hele crab (和乐蟹 ''Hélè xiè'').
+
* '''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. Street side food vendors are called ''gai bin dong'' in Cantonese, such ventures can grow into a substantial business with the stalls only barely 'mobile' in the traditional street food sense. Various quick eats available nationwide include:
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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 items from the ubiquitous bakeries.
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* Various, usually sweet, items from the ubiquitous bakeries (面包房, 面包店). A great variety of sweets and sweet food found in China are sold as snacks, rather then as a post-meal dessert course in restaurants as in the West.
* A great variety of sweets and sweet food found in China are often sold as street food, rather then as a post-meal dessert course in restaurants as in the West.
 
 
* Barbecued sticks of meat from street vendors. Yang rou chuan (羊肉串), or fiery Xinjiang-style lamb kebabs, are particularly renowned.
 
* Barbecued sticks of meat from street vendors. Yang rou chuan (羊肉串), or fiery Xinjiang-style lamb kebabs, are particularly renowned.
 
* Jiaozi (饺子), which Chinese translate as "dumplings", boiled, steamed or fried ravioli-like items with a variety of fillings. These are found throughout Asia; momos, mandu, gyoza, and jiaozi are all basically variations of the same thing.
 
* Jiaozi (饺子), which Chinese translate as "dumplings", boiled, steamed or fried ravioli-like items with a variety of fillings. These are found throughout Asia; momos, mandu, gyoza, and jiaozi are all basically variations of the same thing.
* Baozi (包子), steamed buns stuffed with salty, sweet or vegetable fillings.
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* Baozi (包子), steamed buns with savoury, sweet or vegetable fillings.
* Mantou (馒头), steamed bread available on the roadside - great for a very cheap and filling snack.
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* Mantou (馒头), steamed bread available on the roadside, a cheap and filling snack.
* Lanzhou-style lamian (拉面), fresh hand-pulled noodles - look for a tiny restaurant with staff in Muslim dress, white fez-like hats on the men and head scarves on the women.
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* Lanzhou-style lamian (拉面), fresh hand-pulled noodles. This industry is heavily dominated by members of the Hui (回族) ethnic group[http://www.chinatravel.com/facts/chinese-culture-and-history/chinese-ethnic-groups/hui-ethnic-minority/] - look for a tiny restaurant with staff in Muslim dress, white fez-like hats on the men and head scarves on the women.
 
* In Guangdong and sometimes elsewhere, dim sum (点心). At any major tourist destination in China, you may well find someone serving dim sum for Hong Kong customers.
 
* In Guangdong and sometimes elsewhere, dim sum (点心). At any major tourist destination in China, you may well find someone serving dim sum for Hong Kong customers.
  
The Western notion of fast food is arguably as popular as the domestic variety. McDonald's (麦当劳), KFC (肯德基), and Pizza Hut (必胜客) are ubiquitous, at least in mid-sized cities and above. There are a few Burger Kings (汉堡王) as well but only in major cities. Chinese chains are also widespread. These include Dicos (德克士) - chicken burgers, fries etc., cheaper than KFC and some say better - and Kung Fu (真功夫) - which has a more Chinese menu.
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The Western notion of fast food is arguably as popular as the domestic variety. KFC (肯德基), McDonald's (麦当劳), Subway (赛百味) and Pizza Hut (必胜客) are ubiquitous, at least in mid-sized cities and above. Although common, the menus and flavors in these Western chains have been altered to suit Chinese tastes, such as McDonald's Red Bean Mcflurry. There are a few Burger Kings (汉堡王), Domino's and Papa John's (棒约翰) as well, but only in major cities. Chinese chains are also widespread. These include Dicos (德克士) - chicken burgers, fries, etc., cheaper than KFC and some say better - and Kung Fu (真功夫) - which has a more Chinese menu.
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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.
  
 
===Etiquette===
 
===Etiquette===
China is the birthplace of chopsticks and unsurprisingly, all important etiquette is related to using chopsticks. While Chinese generally feel tolerant over table manners, you will highly likely be seen as ill brought up, annoying , offensive when using chopsticks in wrong ways. Be stick to the following rules:  
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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:  
  
* Never use your chopsticks to examine a dish piece by piece, making everyone to taste your saliva. Implicitly use your eye to target what you want, and pick it.  
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* Never use chopsticks to examine a dish piece by piece, contaminating the group's food with saliva. Implicitly use your eye to target what you want, and pick it.
  
* Once you pick a piece, you are obliged to take it. Don't put it back. Confucius says never leave someone what you don't want.
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* A picked piece must be taken, not put back. Confucius says never leave someone what you don't want.
  
* When someone is picking a dish, don't try to cross over or go underneath his arms to pick a dish farther. Wait until they finish picking.
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* When someone is picking from a dish, don't try to cross over or go underneath his arms to pick from a dish further away. Wait until they finish picking.
  
* In most cases, a dish is not supposed to be picked simultaneously by more than one person. Don't try to compete with anyone to pick a piece from the same dish.  
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* In most cases, a dish is not supposed to be picked simultaneously by more than one person. Don't try to compete with anyone to pick a piece from the same dish.
  
* Don't put your chopsticks vertically into your bowl of rice as it is reminiscent of incense sticks burning at the temple and carries the connotation of wishing death for those around you. Instead, place it across your bowl or on the chopstick rest, if provided.
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* Don't place chopsticks vertically into a bowl of rice as it is reminiscent of incense sticks burning at the temple and carries the connotation of wishing death for those around nearby. Instead, place it across the bowl or on the chopstick rest, if provided.
  
* Don't drum your bowl with chopsticks. Only beggars do it. People don't find it fun even if you're willing to satirically call yourself a beggar.  
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* Don't drum your bowl with chopsticks. Only beggars do it. People don't find it funny even if you're willing to satirically call yourself a beggar.
  
When a guest fails to comply with etiquette above, observe others' facial expression. It's common for them to openly stop you or show a scorn on it.
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Less important dining rules include:
  
Other lesser important dining rules include:
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* Many travel books suggest that cleaning your plate suggests that your host did not to feed you well and will feel pressured to order more food. In general, finishing a meal involves a delicate balance. Cleaning your plate will typically invite more to be served, while leaving too much may be a sign that you didn't like it. When feeling stuffed, please your host by lifting up a thumb, telling your host how much you enjoy it, and theatrically rubbing your belly to show that you're stuffed.
* Communal chopsticks (公筷) are not always provided. Diners typically use their own chopsticks to transfer food to their bowl. While many Westerners consider this unhygienic, it is usually quite safe, and extremely rare for diseases to be spread this way. However, if desired, it is socially acceptable to request communal utensils.
 
  
* Making slurping noises when eating could be considered inappropriate, especially among well educated families. However, slurping, like "cupping" when tasting tea, is more likely accepted and seen by a gourmet as a way to enhance flavor.
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* Communal chopsticks (公筷) are not always provided. Diners typically use their own chopsticks to transfer food to their bowl. While many Westerners consider this unhygienic, it is usually safe. However, if desired, it is acceptable to request communal utensils.
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* Making slurping noises when eating is common but could be considered inappropriate, especially among well-educated families. However, slurping is seen by some gourmands as a way to enhance flavor.
  
 
* Spoons are used when drinking soups or eating watery dishes such as porridge. In China, the dish should be scooped ''towards'' you, and not away from you as done in the West, as the Chinese believe that this rakes in wealth.
 
* Spoons are used when drinking soups or eating watery dishes such as porridge. In China, the dish should be scooped ''towards'' you, and not away from you as done in the West, as the Chinese believe that this rakes in wealth.
  
* If a piece is too slippery to pick, do it with the aid of spoon, do not spear it with the sharp end of the chopstick.
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* If a piece is too slippery to pick, do it with the aid of a spoon; do not spear it with the sharp end of the chopstick.
  
* Putting table scraps on the floor is pretty common, but may not be accepted everywhere. See what others do first.
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* All dishes are shared, similar to "family-style" dining in North America. When you order anything, it's not just for you, it's for everyone. You're expected to consult others before ordering a dish. When you're asked about your opinion, being overly picky is usually seen as annoying.
  
* Dishes are shared. When you order anything, it's not just for you, it's for everyone. You're expected to consult others before you order a dish. When you're asked about your opinion, being overtly picky is usually seen as annoying.
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* It is normal for your host or hostess to put food on your plate. It is a gesture of kindness and hospitality. If you wish to decline, do it in an unoffensive way. For example, insist that they eat and that you serve yourself.
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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.
  
 
===Treating===
 
===Treating===
In China, restaurants and pubs are very common social places and treating plays an important part of socializing culture.  
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In China, restaurants and pubs are common entertainment places and treating plays an important part in socializing.
  
While splitting the bill is relatively accepted by young people - just relatively, treating is still the norm, especially when two are in obviously different social classes. Men are expected to treat women, elders to juniors, riches to poorer, hosts to guests, working class to non-income class(students). For friends of the same class, they prefer to split the chance of treating, rather than splitting the bill, i.e. this is my turn, and you treat next time.  
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While splitting the bill is beginning to be accepted by young people, treating is still the norm, especially when the parties are in obviously different social classes. Men are expected to treat women, elders to juniors, rich to poor, hosts to guests, working class to non-income class (students). Friends of the same class will usually prefer to split the opportunity to treat, rather than split the bill, i.e. "This is my turn, and you treat next time."
  
It is common to see Chinese competing sweatily to pay your bill. You are expected to fight back and say 'it's my turn, you treat me next time.' The smiling loser will accuse the winner of being too courteous. All these dramas, despite still being common among all generations and usually played wholeheartedly, is decreasingly practiced among urban Chinese and the younger generation. Going dutch is a growing trend, but more commonly, one of them will treat this time and expect you to treat next time.
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It is common to see Chinese competing sweatily to pay the bill. You are expected to fight back and say "It's my turn, you treat me next time." The smiling loser will accuse the winner of being too courteous. These dramas are becoming somewhat less common among young urban Chinese despite still being widespread among all generations and usually played wholeheartedly.
  
Unless you only hang out with non-Chinese tourists, you will have fair chances of experiencing all these. For budget travelers, the good news is that Chinese tend to be eager to treat foreigners, although you shouldn't expect much from students and grassroots working class families and individuals.  
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Unless you mingle only with non-Chinese tourists, you will have fair chances of being treated. For budget travelers, the good news is that Chinese tend to be eager to treat foreigners, but expect little from students and working-class families and individuals.
  
That being said, Chinese tend to be very 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.
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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.
  
 
==Drink==
 
==Drink==
  
The Chinese love a tipple and the all-purpose word ''jiǔ'' (酒) covers quite a range of alcoholic drinks.
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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.
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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.
  
Exercise caution. Fortunately, the glasses are usually small &mdash; even beer is often drunk from an oversized shot glass. The Chinese liquor, ''baijiu'', is definitely potent (up to 65% alcohol). Baijiu is often drunk in small shot glasses for a good reason. US president Nixon practiced drinking before his first trip to China to be ready to drink with Mao Zedong. Unless you are used to imbibing heavily, be very careful when drinking with Chinese.  
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Exercise caution. Fortunately, the glasses are usually small &mdash; even beer is often drunk from an oversized shot glass. The Chinese liquor, ''baijiu'', is definitely potent (up to 65% alcohol). Baijiu is often drunk in small shot glasses for a good reason. US president Nixon practiced drinking before his first trip to China to be ready to drink with Mao Zedong. Unless you are used to imbibing heavily, be careful when drinking with Chinese.
  
 
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===
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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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'''Beer''' (啤酒 ''píjiǔ'') is common in China and is served in nearly every restaurant. The most famous brand is '''Tsingtao''' (青島) from Qingdao, which was once a German concession. Other brands abound and are generally light beers in a pilsner or lager style with 3-4% alcohol. In addition to national brands, most cities will have one or more cheap local beers. Some companies (Tsingtao, Yanjing) also make a dark beer (黑啤酒 ''hēipíjiǔ''). In some regions, beers from other parts of Asia are fairly common and tend to be popular with travellers &mdash; Filipino San Miguel in Guangdong, Singaporean Tiger in Hainan, and Laotian Beer Lao in Yunnan. The typical price for beer is about ¥2.5-4 in a grocery store, ¥4-18 in a restaurant, around ¥25 in an ordinary bar, and ¥40+ in a fancy bar.
  
'''Beer''' (啤酒 ''píjiǔ'') is very common in China and is served in nearly every restaurant. The most famous brand is '''Tsingtao''' (青島) from Qingdao, which was at one point a German concession. Other brands abound and are generally light beers in a pilsner or lager style with 3-4% alcohol. In addition to national brands, most cities will have one or more cheap local beers. Some companies (Tsingtao, Yanjing) also make a dark beer (黑啤酒 ''hēipíjiǔ''). In some regions, beers from other parts of Asia are fairly common and tend to be popular with travellers &mdash; Filipino San Miguel in Guangdong, Singaporean Tiger in Hainan, and Laotian Beer Lao in Yunnan, The typical price for beer is about ¥2.5-4 in a grocery store, ¥4-18 in a restaurant, around ¥10 in an ordinary bar, and ¥20-40 in a fancier bar.
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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.
 
 
Unfortunately, most places outside of major cities serve beer at room temperature, regardless of season, though places that cater to tourists have it cold.  
 
  
Locally made '''grape wine''' (葡萄酒 ''pútaojiǔ'') is common and much of it is reasonably priced, from ¥15 in a grocery store, about ¥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 very, very 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 a bit better. If you're looking for a Chinese-made, Western-style wine, try to find these labels:
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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
* Les Champs D'or, French-owned and probably the best overall winery in China.  
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* Les Champs D'or, French-owned and probably the best overall winery in China.
 
* Imperial Horse and Xixia, from Ningxia
 
* Imperial Horse and Xixia, from Ningxia
 
* Mogao Ice Wine, Gansu
 
* Mogao Ice Wine, Gansu
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* Shangrila Estates, from [[Zhongdian]], Yunnan
 
* Shangrila Estates, from [[Zhongdian]], Yunnan
  
There are also several brands and types of '''rice wine'''. Most of these resemble a watery rice pudding, they are usually very sweet and only have a very small amount of alcohol for taste. These do not generally much resemble Japanese sake, the only rice wine well-known in the West. Travelers' reactions to these vary widely.
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There are also several brands and types of '''rice wine'''. Most of these resemble a watery rice pudding, they are usually sweet and have only a small amount of alcohol for taste. These do not generally much resemble Japanese sake, the only rice wine well-known in the West.
  
'''Báijiǔ''' (白酒) is distilled liquor, generally about 80 to 120 proof made from sorghum and sometimes other grains depending on the region. As the word "jiǔ" is often loosely translated as "wine" by Chinese beverage firms and English speakers, ''baijiu'' is frequently referred to as "white wine" in conversation. ''Baijiu'' will typically be served at banquets and festivals in tiny shot glasses. Toasts are ubiquitous at banquets or dinners on special occasions. Most foreigners find ''baijiu'' tastes like diesel fuel, while a liquor connoisseur may find high quality, expensive ''baijiu'' quite good. ''Baijiu'' is definitely an acquired taste, but once the taste is acquired, it's quite fun to "ganbei" a glass or two at a banquet.
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'''Báijiǔ''' (白酒) is distilled liquor, generally 80 to 120 proof, made from sorghum and sometimes other grains depending on the region. As the word "jiǔ" is often loosely translated as "wine" by Chinese beverage firms and English speakers, ''baijiu'' is frequently referred to as "white wine" in conversation. ''Baijiu'' will typically be served at banquets and festivals in tiny shot glasses. Toasts are ubiquitous at banquets or dinners on special occasions. Most foreigners find ''baijiu'' tastes like diesel fuel, while a liquor connoisseur may find high-quality, expensive ''baijiu'' quite good. ''Baijiu'' is definitely an acquired taste, but once the taste is acquired, it's quite fun to "ganbei" a glass or two at a banquet.
  
The cheapest ''baijiu'' is the Beijing brewed '''èrguōtóu''' (二锅头) which comes in two variants 56% and 65% alcohol by volume. Ordering "xiǎo èr" (Erguotou's diminutive nickname) will likely raise a few eyebrows and a chuckle from working class Chinese.  
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The cheapest ''baijiu'' is the Beijing-brewed '''èrguōtóu''' (二锅头) (¥4.5 per 100 ml bottle). It comes in two variants: 53% and 56% alcohol by volume. Ordering "xiǎo èr" (Erguotou's diminutive nickname) will likely raise a few eyebrows and a chuckle from working-class Chinese.
  
'''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 it's expensive cousins (such as Kaoliang in Taiwan) is well-known for its strong fragrance and are actually sweeter than western clear liquors as the sorghum taste is preserved - in a way.
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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.
  
Chinese '''brandy''' (白兰地) is 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.  
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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 that enjoy them.
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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 becoming increasingly popular across the country. Especially in the more 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 these places. Be aware that imported beer can be very expensive compared to local brew.
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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.
  
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 is more than around 5 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.
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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.
  
In '''discos''' and '''fancy bars''' with entertainment, you normally buy beer ¥100 at a time; this gets you anywhere from 4 import-brand beer (Heineken, Bud, Corona, Sol, ..) to 10 local beers. A few places offer cocktails; fewer have good ones.
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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.
  
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; extremely 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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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.
  
 
These places often have '''bar girls''', young women who drink a lot and want to play drinking games to get you to consume more. They get a commission on whatever you buy. In general, these girls will not leave the bar with you; they are professional flirts, not prostitutes.
 
These places often have '''bar girls''', young women who drink a lot and want to play drinking games to get you to consume more. They get a commission on whatever you buy. In general, these girls will not leave the bar with you; they are professional flirts, not prostitutes.
  
'''Karaoke''' (卡拉OK) is huge in China and can be broadly split into two categories. More common is the no-frills karaoke box or '''KTV''', where you rent a room, bring your friends and the house gives you a mike and sells you booze. Much favored by students, these are cheap and fun with the right crowd, although you need at least a few people for a memorable night. Bringing your own booze can keep the price tag down but must be done on the sly - many places have windows in the door so the staff can make sure you only drink liquor they sold to you.
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'''Karaoke''' (卡拉OK) is huge in China and can be broadly split into two categories. More common is the no-frills karaoke box or '''KTV''', where you rent a room, bring your friends and the house gives you a mike and sells you booze. Much-favored by students, these are cheap and fun with the right crowd, although you need at least a few people for a memorable night. Bringing your own booze on the sly can keep the price tag down, but many places have windows in the door so the staff can make sure you only drink liquor they sold to you.
  
 
Rather different is the distinctly dodgier '''special KTV''' lounge, more oriented to businessmen entertaining clients or letting their hair down, where the house provides anything and everything at a price. At these often opulent establishments &mdash; over-the-top Roman and Egyptian themes are standard &mdash; you'll be joined by short-skirted professional karaoke girls, who charge by the hour for the pleasure of their company and whose services may not be limited to just singing badly and pouring your drinks. It's highly advisable not to venture into these unless you're absolutely sure somebody else is footing the bill, which can easily run into hundreds of dollars even if you keep your pants on.
 
Rather different is the distinctly dodgier '''special KTV''' lounge, more oriented to businessmen entertaining clients or letting their hair down, where the house provides anything and everything at a price. At these often opulent establishments &mdash; over-the-top Roman and Egyptian themes are standard &mdash; you'll be joined by short-skirted professional karaoke girls, who charge by the hour for the pleasure of their company and whose services may not be limited to just singing badly and pouring your drinks. It's highly advisable not to venture into these unless you're absolutely sure somebody else is footing the bill, which can easily run into hundreds of dollars even if you keep your pants on.
  
As elsewhere, never '''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.
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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.
  
 
===Tea===
 
===Tea===
  
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 almost every restaurant. The most common types served are:
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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:
  
 
* '''gunpowder tea''' (珠茶 ''zhūchá''): a green tea so-named not after the taste but after the appearance of the bunched-up leaves used to brew it (the Chinese name "pearl tea" is rather more poetic)
 
* '''gunpowder tea''' (珠茶 ''zhūchá''): a green tea so-named not after the taste but after the appearance of the bunched-up leaves used to brew it (the Chinese name "pearl tea" is rather more poetic)
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* '''oolong''' (烏龍 ''wūlóng''): a half-fermented mountain tea.
 
* '''oolong''' (烏龍 ''wūlóng''): a half-fermented mountain tea.
  
However, specialist tea houses serve a vast variety of brews, ranging from the pale, delicate white tea (白茶 ''báichá'') to the powerful fermented and aged pu'er tea (普洱茶 pǔ'ěrchá). Tea in Chinese culture is akin to wine in Western culture, and even the same type of tea will come in many different grades. Always check prices carefully before ordering as some of the best varieties can be very pricey indeed. Most tea shops have some teas at several hundred yuan per jing (500 g) and prices up to ¥2,000 are not uncommon. The record price for top grade tea sold at auction was well over ¥7000 a ''gram''.
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However, specialist tea houses serve a vast variety of brews, ranging from the pale, delicate white tea (白茶 ''báichá'') to the powerful, fermented and aged pu'er tea (普洱茶 pǔ'ěrchá). Tea in Chinese culture is akin to wine in Western culture, and even the same type of tea will come in many different grades. Always check prices carefully before ordering as some of the best varieties can be pricey indeed. Most tea shops have some teas at several hundred yuan per jing (500 g) and prices up to ¥2,000 are not uncommon. The record price for top grade tea sold at auction was well over ¥7000 a ''gram''.
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Various areas of China have famous teas. Hangzhou, near Shanghai, is famed for its "Dragon Well" (龙井 ''lóngjǐng'')  green tea. [[Fujian]] has the most famous oolong teas, "Big Red Robe" (大红袍 ''dàhóngpáo'') from [[Mount Wuyi]] and "Iron Goddess of Mercy" (铁观音 ''tiěguānyīn'') from [[Anxi]]. [[Pǔ'ěr]] in Yunnan has the most famous fully fermented tea, ''pǔ'ěrchá'' (普洱茶). This comes compressed into hard cakes, originally a packing method for transport by horse caravan to Burma and Tibet. The cakes are embossed with patterns; some people hang them as wall decorations.
  
Various areas of China have famous teas. Hangzhou, near Shanghai, is famed for its "Dragon Well" (龙井 ''lóngjǐng'')  green tea. [[Fujian]] has the most famous oolong teas, "Dark Red Robe" (大红袍 ''dàhóngpáo'') from [[Mount Wuyi]] and "Iron Goddess of Mercy" (铁观音 ''tiěguānyīn'') from [[Anxi]]. [[Pǔ'ěr]] in Yunnan has the most famous fully fermented tea, ''pǔ'ěrchá'' (普洱茶). This comes compressed into hard cakes, originally a packing method for transport by horse caravan to Burma and Tibet. The cakes are embossed with patterns; some people hang them up as wall decorations.
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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 will be more than happy to let you sit down and try different varieties of tea. "Ten Fu Tea" is a national chain and in Beijing "Wu Yu Tai" is the one some locals say they favor.
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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.
  
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. The type of tea most common in the West is known in China as "red tea" (紅茶 ''hóngchá'').
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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===
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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.
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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 lots of smaller independent coffee shops or 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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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.
  
For cheap coffee just to stave off withdrawal symptoms, there are several options. Go to a Western fast food chain (KFC, McD, etc.) for some ¥8 coffee. Additionally, almost any supermarket of convenience store will have both canned cold coffee and instant Nescafé (black or pre-mixed with whitener and sugar) - just add hot water.
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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.
  
 
===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.  
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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.
  
You can get cold drinks from small grocery stores and restaurants, just look for the cooler (even though it might not actually be cool). You can try bringing a cold beverage into a restaurant. Most small restaurants won't mind--if they even notice--and there is no such thing as a "cork" charge in China. Remember that most people will be drinking tea, which is free anyway, so the restaurant is probably not expecting to profit on your beverage consumption.
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Cold drinks are available at small "convenience" stores and restaurants, just look for the cooler (even though it might not actually be cool). You can try bringing a cold beverage into a restaurant. Most small restaurants won't mind--if they even notice--and there is no such thing as a "cork" charge in China (there actually is cork charge in most high-end restaurants, but generally it does not apply to foreigners due to the language barrier). Remember that most people drink tea, which is usually free anyway, so the restaurant probably does not expect to profit on your beverage consumption (again, it's actually a matter of language barrier because most foreigners simply do not know what to order to drink in China; in fact most restaurants make huge profit on beverage consumption).
  
 
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==
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{{warningbox|Foreigners MUST present an original passport with a valid visa to check into a legal hotel or hostel.
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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.
  
Availability of accommodation for tourists is generally good and ranges from shared dorm rooms to five-star luxury hotels. In the past, Chinese laws restricted or outright banned foreign tourists from the cheapest hotels, although this is slowly changing. The traditional prohibition, still widely practiced, is not always a bad thing. Many cheap establishments are still locally state-run affairs and haven't changed much 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's a dizzying number of sleeping options in most Chinese towns, and despite language and legal barriers you should be able to find something in your budget and comfort range.
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Hotels in China are subject to PSB control, which strictly requires all legal hotel and hostels to register guests' passports and visa information. A hotel that fails to comply may be suspended and the relevant staff, imprisoned.
  
Finding a hotel when first arriving in a Chinese city can be a daunting task: a mob of passengers is pushing to disembark from the train or bus, touts are tugging at your arm and screaming in your face to go with them, everything is in incomprehensible Chinese and you are just looking for a place to put down your bag. It doesn't get any better once you get in a cab because the driver doesn't speak any English and every hotel in your guide book is full or closed! This can be the experience for many travelers in China, but the pains of finding a hotel room can be avoided if you know where to look and what you're looking for.  
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As of July 2018, the Chinese government does not have a policy to help those who have lost their passports to check in. Due to the tough penalty, especially in big cities, it is useless to plead with a receptionist to break the law for you. In this situation, call the police and ask them to arrange lodging.
  
If you're willing to pay ¥200 or more for a room, then you'll probably have little problem finding a room. But if you want something cheaper yet still comfortable, you'll 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 you schedule your long-distance travel overnight (see the [[#Get around|Get around]] section of this page for more information). If you're in a town and you can't find a hotel, try looking near the bus or train station, an area that typically has a larger selection of cheap hotels. Hotels that are not licensed to accept foreigners can be heavily fined if they are caught housing foreign occupants, but enforcement of this law appears spotty and many unlicensed hotels will find you a room anyway. In the cheapest range of hotels it is important to ask if hot water is available 24 hours-a-day (有没有二十四个小时的热水 ''yǒuméiyǒu èrshisì ge xiǎoshí de rèshuǐ''), and check if the shower, sink and toilet actually work. It is also advisable to avoid checking into a room next to a busy street as traffic may keep you up late and wake you up early. If you do plan on just showing up in town and looking for a place to sleep, it's best to arrive before 6PM-7PM. or the most popular places will be booked for the night. If you are absolutely at a loss for finding housing you should seek out the local police (警察) or Public Security Bureau (公安局). They can help you find a place to crash - at least for one night.
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As a last resort, there are lists of illegal hostels in hostel-booking websites. There are plenty of "homestays" (家庭旅馆, jiating lvguan) which are illegal accommodations located in residential buildings. These types of accommodations are subject to frequent crackdowns. They attract the unemployed, criminals and those who overstay with their visas. Beware. (''26 May 2015'')
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}}
  
'''Prices are often negotiable,''' and a sharp reduction from the price listed on the wall can often be had, even in nicer hotels, by just 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 daily rate. However, these negotiating tactics won't work 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.
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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.
  
In mid-range and above hotels, it is common for guests to receive phone calls offering "massage" services; this is actually a thinly-veiled front for prostitution.
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'''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.
  
'''Booking a room over the Internet''' with a credit card can be a convenient and speedy method of making sure you have a room when you arrive at your destination, and there are numerous websites that cater for this. 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 you to book without a credit card and pay 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.
+
'''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.
  
 
===Low-cost Housing===
 
===Low-cost Housing===
  
There are various ways to sleep very cheaply in China: hostels, dorms, zhusu, massage shops, saunas, and spas.
+
Affordable lodging is provided by the following:
  
* '''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 can still fill up quickly because of their popularity with backpackers. Hostels can often be booked on-line in advance although you definitely should bring a print out of your confirmation as not all hostels are aware you can book their rooms (and pay a portion of the cost) 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.
+
* '''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.
  
* '''Dorm rooms (宿舍)''' are located on university campuses, near rural tourist attractions and as part of some hotels. Most travelers have spotty luck with dorms. It is not unusual to have rowdy or intoxicated roommates, and shared bathrooms can take some getting used to, especially if you're not used to traditional squat toilets or taking 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 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 you may have to print out the characters for your hunt. Security in zhusu's is sketchy, so this option is not recommended if you have valuables with you.
+
* '''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.
  
* '''Massage shops, saunas, and spas''': spa costs vary but can be as low as ¥25. Entering a spa very late at night (after 1AM) and leaving before noon may get you a 50% discount. When in the spa there are beds or reclining couches in addition to showers, saunas etc. Admission to a spa is typically for 24 hours, and a small locker is provided for bags and personal possessions. This is ideal if you are traveling light. Furthermore spas often provide complimentary food, and paid services such as massages and body scrubbing. 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 your belongings (even your clothes!) are stored away in the lockers. Don't be fooled when receptionists try to make up reasons why you have to pay more than the listed rate. They may try to convince you 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. Don't let them know that you are checking the spa's claims. Just act as if you are thinking about 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.
  
===Budget Hotels===
+
* '''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.
  
The next level of hotels, which cater to Chinese clients, are usually officially off-limits to foreigners but you may be able to convince them to accept you, especially if you can speak a smattering of 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 small, rural towns a night's stay might be as cheap as ¥25; in bigger cities you can usually get a room for ¥80-120. One problem with such hotels is that they can be quite noisy as patrons and staff may be yelling to each other across the halls into the wee hours of the morning. Another potential inconvenience is booking a room with a shared bath as many of these hotels have one bathroom for twenty or thirty rooms. You may have to wait a while to use the toilet and half an hour or more to take a shower. In smaller budget hotels the family running the place may simply lock up late at night when it appears no more customers are coming. If you plan on being late, try to explain this in advance or else you may have to call the front desk, bang on the door, or climb over the gate to get in.
+
===Hotels===
  
===Mid-range 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.
  
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 complimentary toiletries. A buffet breakfast may be included, or a breakfast ticket can be purchased for around ¥10.
+
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.
  
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:
+
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:
 
* '''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]
 
* '''Motel 168''' (莫泰168) [http://www.motel168.com]
 
* '''Motel 168''' (莫泰168) [http://www.motel168.com]
 +
* '''7DaysInn''' ((7天连) [http://7daysinn.cn/]
  
===Splurge===
+
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.
  
At the high end of the hotel food chain are international hotel chains or resorts, such as the Marriott, Hyatt and Shangri-La. These can charge hundreds of yuan per night for luxurious accommodations. There are suites in Shanghai, for example, for ¥10,000 a night. Many 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). Some hotels in the ¥400-700 range such as Ramada or Days Inn are willing to lower their prices when business is slow. If you are coming to China on a tour, the tour company may be able to get you a room in a true luxury hotel for a fraction of the listed price.
+
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.
  
 
==Learn==
 
==Learn==
 +
[[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 different educational needs. China's universities offer many different types of courses and teaching methods to cater to these needs as well as to the different educational levels of the students that come from abroad. '''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.
+
'''Language trainees'''
 +
Universities accept students who have achieved the minimum of a high-school education for Chinese-language courses. These courses usually last a year or two. Certificates are awarded upon completion. Students who do not speak Chinese and want to study further in China are usually required to complete a language-training course.
  
'''Language trainees'''
+
Private language schools also offer flexible language courses to prepare to study, live or work in China.<listing name="Mandarin House" alt="美和汉语"  url="http://www.mandarinhouse.com"> was established in 2004 and is a well known Chinese school offering intensive group courses or private tutoring. Students can start every month and choose the length of their studies. Xi'an is also a popular destination for language learners due to it's low population of foreign workers and good standard Mandarin.<listing name="International House Xi'an" alt="IH Xian"  url="http://ihxian.com/"> offers intensive language training </listing>
Universities accept students who have achieved the minimum of a high school education for courses in the Chinese language. These courses usually last 1 or 2 years. Students are given certificates after they complete their course. Students who do not speak Chinese and want to study further in China are usually required to complete a language training course.
 
  
 
'''Undergraduates'''
 
'''Undergraduates'''
Undergraduate degrees usually require 4-5 years of study. International students have classes together with native Chinese students. In accordance with each student's past education, some classes of a degree course can be cancelled and some have to be added. Students receive a Bachelor's degree after passing the necessary exams and completing a thesis.
+
Undergraduate degrees usually require four to five years of study. International students have classes together with Chinese students. In accordance with each student's past education, some classes of a degree course can be omitted and additional ones added. Students receive a Bachelor's degree after passing the necessary exams and completing a thesis.
  
 
'''Postgraduates'''
 
'''Postgraduates'''
Master's degrees are granted after 2-3 years of study. Oral examinations are also taken as well as written exams and a postgraduate thesis.  
+
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'''  
Three years of study are needed to obtain a PhD.  
+
Usually four to five years of study are needed to obtain a PhD.
  
 
'''Research scholars'''
 
'''Research scholars'''
Research is usually conducted independently by the student under the supervision of an assigned tutor. Any surveys, experiments, interviews, or visits that a research scholar has to make need to be arranged beforehand and authorised.  
+
Research is usually conducted independently by the student under the supervision of an assigned tutor. Any surveys, experiments, interviews or visits conducted by the scholar must be pre-arranged and authorised.
  
'''Short-term training courses'''
+
'''Short-term courses'''
Short-term courses are now offered in many areas such as Chinese literature, calligraphy, economics, architecture, Chinese law, traditional Chinese medicine, art, and sports. Courses are offered in the holidays as well as during term time.  
+
Short-term courses are offered in Chinese literature, calligraphy, economics, architecture, Chinese law, traditional Chinese medicine, art, and sports. Courses are offered in the holidays as well as during the academic term.
  
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 you need to demonstrate a sufficient proficiency in Chinese before you can enroll. You do this by passing the '''HSK test''' (汉语水平考试 ''hànyǔ shuǐpíng kǎoshì''), the official way to certify your skills on a Basic, Intermediate or Advanced level. 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===
  
In order 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 study of your choice. Full scholarships cover pretty much everything, including books, rent, some medical coverage, and a monthly allowance for food and expenses. Although studying pins you down to a specific city and limits the time you can spend travelling, a scholarship is a great way to help you cut through some red tape, get a Residence Permit, and, if you're lucky, live in China practically for free.
+
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 inquire about scholarships, you can directly contact the embassy in your area, or ask around at universities and language schools that have China-related courses. Scholarships are pre-distributed by quota to every country, so if too many people want one, you will be competing against your fellow citizens, 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, ...)
Line 1,408: Line 1,424:
 
* plenty of passport-sized photos
 
* plenty of passport-sized photos
  
All of this is shipped by the embassy to Beijing, which then decides who is accepted, where, and under what modalities. Application usually rounds up by the end of march, and the answer may not come until as late as august, with classes starting in September.
+
All of this is shipped by the embassy to Beijing, which then decides who is accepted, where, and under what modalities. Application usually finishes by the end of March, and acceptance may arrive as late as August, with classes starting in September.
 
 
If all goes well, this will net you a letter of acceptance by the university of your choice, plus a visum that lets you stay in China for about two months. Once in China, you will have to do the medical tests all over again, and upgrade the visum to a residence permit. This however is where being part of a university comes in handy, as they should be able to handle all of the paperwork, going so far as to bring a medical team on campus to check you up &mdash; much preferable over you running from police station to hospital to consulate, especially if you don't speak Chinese!
 
  
When all is said and done, you will have a residence permit that lets you stay one year in China, lets you leave and enter the country as you want, and a fair ability to travel during weekends, holidays, and the occasional class-skipping stint.
+
If all goes well, a letter of acceptance by the university of one's choice and a visa allowing about a two-month stay in China are obtained. Once in China, more medical tests are performed and the visa is upgraded to a residence permit. Fortunately, the university may handle all of the paperwork and even bring a medical team to campus evaluate students &mdash; much preferable to going from the police station to hospital to consulate, especially for those who don't speak Chinese. After all this is completed, a residence permit allowing a one-year stay in China will be issued, permitting leaving and re-entering the country at will. Travel is feasible during weekends, holidays, and the occasional class-skipping stint.
  
 
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.
Line 1,418: Line 1,432:
 
==Work==
 
==Work==
  
Teaching a language, most commonly English, is a very 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 most major world languages. Guangzhou is establishing itself 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.
  
Requirements and qualifications range from just having a pulse and speaking a bit of English up to needing an MA and experience. Typically, the good jobs want at least one, preferably two or three of:
+
Requirements and qualifications range from just having a pulse and speaking a bit of English up to needing an MA and experience. Typically the good jobs want at least one, preferably two or three, of:
* a 4-year degree
+
* a four-year degree
 
* a teaching certificate for primary school or high school from your own country
 
* a teaching certificate for primary school or high school from your own country
 
* a recognised TEFL certificate, e.g. Cambridge CELTA [http://www.cambridgeesol.org/teaching/celta.htm]
 
* a recognised TEFL certificate, e.g. Cambridge CELTA [http://www.cambridgeesol.org/teaching/celta.htm]
 
* teaching experience
 
* teaching experience
  
If you want to go and do not already have good qualifications, get a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) certificate. It really helps.
+
Those lacking other qualifications should get a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) certificate. Native English-speakers are preferred.
 +
 
 +
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.
  
There are a fairly strong preferences for native English speakers and for citizens of major English-speaking countries &mdash; UK, US, Canada, Australia, and NZ are on every employer's list, Ireland and South Africa on most. Some schools will not even read the rest of your resume if you do not have one of those passports. Various prejudices may also come into play; overseas Chinese (even with perfect English), Filipinos, Indians, Malaysians, American Blacks, and especially Africans all report some difficulties 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 people who fit a stereotype &mdash; Caucasians especially Americans or British. Accent can also be an issue; Chinese people generally hope to acquire American accents, so a really thick Scots or Aussie accent will bother some employers, for example.
+
Make '''certain''' you understand your employer's policies on outside work as some are quite restrictive. The standard government-provided contract[http://www.china-tesol.com/SAFEA_Contract/safea_contract.html], which most schools use (perhaps amended a bit), prohibits it entirely unless approved by the employer.
  
Pay and conditions vary greatly 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 nearly always make enough to live well in China, though some have a problem in summer because many university or high school jobs pay for only the 10 months of the academic year. It is often possible to teach private lessons on the side - in fact your students or their parents may ask about this incessantly. Make '''certain''' you understand your employer's policies on outside work as some are quite restrictive. Foreign teachers generally earn two or three times their Chinese colleagues' salaries but the differences are gradually narrowing. A public college or university will often pay less than a private school, but will also require fewer teaching hours.  
+
Before working as a teacher in China, '''research carefully'''. It may be a dream job or a nightmare. Carefully choose an employer; broken contracts and general unscrupulousness and dishonesty are common. As a rule, government schools give the best all-around deals and if there is any dispute, appeal to the Foreign Experts Office of the provincial education ministry. They will quickly take action on a documented, valid grievance. Before filing an appeal, try to resolve the issue through direct discussion. If that fails, enlist an intermediary -- Chinese, preferably, but another expatriate will suffice. Only appeal as a last resort: the threat of action is often more effective than the action itself.
  
If you plan to work as a teacher in China, research ''very'' carefully. You might get your dream job or a nightmare. Take great care in your selection of employer; broken contracts and general unscrupulousness and dishonesty are common. As a rule, government schools give the best all-around deals and if there is any dispute, you can appeal to the Foreign Experts Office of the provincial education ministry. If you can document your case and it is a valid one, they will take action. And it tends to be fast. Before filing an appeal, try to resolve the issue through direct discussion. If that fails, ask someone to function as a go-between -- a Chinese if possible, but otherwise another expatriate will do. Only appeal as a last resort: as in other aspects of life everywhere, the threat of action is often more effective than action itself.
+
When looking for a teaching job in China it's generally a good idea to apply through a reputable recruiter and ask them about the schools, the contracts, the work, the hours, the pay, etc. With the size of the Chinese ESL market exploding, there are many private academies sprouting up and many unscrupulous businessmen trying to make a buck. Be careful, and let the recruiter do the work of screening an employer. Recruitment services are completely free of charge for teachers. The fee is covered by the schools or the language centers.
  
 
See also [[Teaching English]].
 
See also [[Teaching English]].
Line 1,438: Line 1,454:
 
===Work visas===
 
===Work visas===
  
To work as teacher in China you need either a Foreign Teacher's Certificate (FTC) or a Foreign Expert's Certificate (FEC). 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; 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 where you are, how well-connected your school is, and how much trouble they are willing to go to. It helps if you have other certifications or diplomas.  
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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.
  
If you plan to teach in China, you are strongly advised to enter the country on a Z visa and not to believe any potential employer who tells you to come in a tourist visa, which he will convert for you. More likely than not, you will be strung along until getting fired a few days before your permit expires. Despite what anybody tells you, you cannot work on a tourist visa. If you are caught working illegally, the fine is up to ¥500 per day -- see below for details.
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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 you have the FEC, getting a Residence Permit is routine. The Residence Permit acts as a multiple entry visa; you can leave China and return with no problem. Showing the Expert's Certificate may get you a teacher's discount on some products and services including domestic flights.
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There can be difficulties. Universities and other public institutions can easily get Foreign Expert Certificates for staff, but not all private schools can. Before they can even apply for certificates, they must be authorized to employ foreigners by SAFEA. Getting the authorization takes many months and a significant amount of money. They also have to comply with SAFEA standards such as providing housing, health insurance and annual air fare home for all staff. Large established schools have the permission, but many of the smaller ones don't want the expense, so all their teachers are illegal. Some lie to teachers about this.
  
There can be problems. Universities and other public institutions can easily get Foreign Expert Certificates for staff, but not all private schools can. Before they can even apply for certificates, they must be authorized to employ foreigners by SAFEA. Getting the authorization takes many months and a lot of money. They also have to comply with SAFEA standards such as providing housing, health insurance and annual air fare home for all staff. Large established schools have the permission, but many of the smaller ones don't want the expense, so all their teachers are illegal. Some lie to teachers about this.
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People over 60 often have trouble getting visas because of their age, and some job ads specify an age range. There are conflicting reports on whether this is SAFEA policy, SAFEA advice to provincial departments that make their own policies, or a question of health insurance. But there are a few people in their seventies still working legally.
  
Until recently many teachers would enter China on a tourist visa and then have their school make arrangements to obtain the FEC and Residence Permit. Some schools pay for these; others don't. The process was generally smooth. Since 2007, however, some Public Security Bureau (PSB) offices have refused to convert tourist (L) or business (F) visas into Residence Permits; they require the foreigner to enter on a working (Z) visa. Working visas can only be obtained outside of China and require an invitation letter from the prospective employer. It used to be fairly common for people already in China to go to Hong Kong or Macau for this. Since early 2008, however, people are being told they must return to their home countries to obtain a Z visa. There seems to be a general campaign to tighten visa regulations and enforcement, presumably partly related to Olympic security.
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The Foreign Expert's Certificate provides a teacher's discount on some products and services including domestic flights.
  
For the Z visa, the employer should send you a letter or form that must accompany your passport to get the visa. Many times the school will request a signed contract, a health certificate from a health professional, a copy of your passport details, and a copy of your diploma. If you are over 60 and they are asking for their provincial office to accept you, they may also require that you have your own health insurance.
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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.
  
If you complete your 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.  Even though you do all of this you may,and most likely will, be required to take another physical in China. Request before coming to China that if the physical is required inside of China after you arrive, that the school pay for the service.  The physical is usually very quick: EKG, chest x-ray, sonogram of heart and stomach area, blood test, and urine check.  However, the time of completion and various tests may change depending on the province.
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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.
  
Your appearance at the local PSB is required to get your residency permit. Again, negotiate with the school for them to pay for the permit prior to your leaving for China. Children and spouse going with you may require an even higher amount for their residency permit.
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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.
  
Schools range from completely reliable to crooks who leave foreigners stranded without a legitimate work visa after they arrive. It is '''illegal''' to work with a tourist visa, but some schools want teachers to do that, and some even want you to foot the bill for "visa runs" to Hong Kong to renew it, although with restrictions on renewals this has become more difficult. Be sure to speak with current or former teachers from the school before you sign up. If the school won't put you in touch with them, or if current teachers don't have Foreign Experts Certificates, don't go near the place.  In fact at present, it is not possible to obtain a work Z visa in Hong Kong unless the invitation paperwork clearly stipulates it.  This is also true of other nearby countries such as Vietnam, Korea, Japan or Singapore. A final note of caution valid for all disputes: do not show anger. At best you get a concession but you will pay for it later on down the line; but more likely, your anger will simply terminate all contact on the spot and you will be ignored. If you feel anger welling up, politely break off the conversation, say goodbye and come back after you have cooled off.
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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.
  
==Stay safe==
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Schools range from completely reliable to crooks who leave foreigners stranded without a legitimate work visa after they arrive. It is '''illegal''' to work with a tourist visa, but some schools want teachers to do that, and some even want the teacher to foot the bill for "visa runs" to Hong Kong to renew it, although with restrictions on renewals this has become more difficult. Be sure to speak with current or former teachers from the school before signing up. If the school won't offer contact with them, or if current teachers don't have Foreign Experts Certificates, don't go near the place.
  
===Crime===
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There are two options for applying for a position in a Chinese schools: directly or through an agency. Generally, pay is higher going direct but requires negotiating experience with the school and trust that they will honour the conditions set out in the contract. Consequently, the direct route is preferable for experienced teachers with experience of life in China and dealing with employers. Using an agency employs the agency to negotiate the best positions on the applicant's behalf. However, not all agencies are reliable. New teachers are therefore advised to use a reputable UK agency based in the UK or US that is accountable under Western employment laws and standards and can be thoroughly researched before choosing an agency.<ref>https://www.nooneliterecruitment.com/teach-english-in-china/</ref>
China is a huge country that shows a huge regional difference over crime rates but in general it poses no more risk than most western countries. Although you may hear locals complain about increasing crime rate, violent crime remains low. Many tourists will more likely feel safer in China than in their home country.
 
  
Generally speaking, crime rates are higher in the larger cities than in the countryside. The larger cities in [[Guangdong]] such as [[Guangzhou]] and [[Shenzhen]] are known among the Chinese for having crime rates higher than the rest of the country. Nevertheless, they are no more dangerous than the likes of [[Sydney]], [[London]] or [[New York City|New York]] in the Western world, so if you avoid seedy areas and use your common sense, you'll be fine.
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==Stay safe==
 +
===Banned items===
 +
The Chinese government is known to try to control the media. Books, magazines and CDs with undesired content may be confiscated, although customs usually doesn't confiscate English books so long as there are no explicit photos depicting Chinese politics. Belongings will be searched even when entering from Macau, Hong Kong, or Taiwan. In general, use common sense.
  
Bicycle theft can be a problem. In big cities you may hear a story from locals that he lost 3 bikes within one month, but in some other places, local people still casually park their bike. Follow what local people do. If you see bikes are parked anywhere, just park yours and better tie it to a pole. In a place where everyone takes their bikes inside restaurants or internet cafes, it's a warning sign. Assume your expensive lock won't help at all. Professional thieves can break any chains in a minute. In China, bike parking is common outside supermarkets or several shopping malls, and it usually charges RMB1 to 2 per day (usually until 8-10pm). If you have an electric bicycle or scooter, pay extra caution as its battery-packs may be targeted.
+
* So-called ''Anti-Chinese'' materials will generally be confiscated: These include the Tibetan Lion-Mountain flag, and Falun Gong or Tiananmen Square incident materials.
  
In long journey buses, there has been handful reports that a group of robbers mugged all passengers on the bus, especially on the ones leaving from Shenzhen. Now all passengers are required to take a mug shot before broading and you're expected to follow the norm rather than discussing privacy issue. Since the measure has been introduced, reports have been dropped drastically.
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* Books: Any books with photos of the Dalai Lama or Tiananmen Square incidents will be subject to confiscation. Expect to be questioned if you bring a book with Chairman Mao's portrait on it. George Orwell's novels ''Animal Farm'' and ''Nineteen Eighty-Four'' have been seized at Chinese airports despite the fact that the very same books are legally published and sold in both English and Chinese within China. Some of the more sensitive books are "muck-raking" publications regarding the current government and leaders, usually published in Hong Kong or Taiwan. The aforementioned books will be only available through China's numerous illegal street vendors.
  
===Traffic===
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* Pornography: A penalty is imposed on all pornography and is based on the number of pieces brought into the country. If customs considers the amount excessive, let's say, more than 100 videos in a laptop, the owner will likely be detained.
  
While it's true that China claims more lives in car accidents than any country in the world, its mortality rate per head remains lower than most others due it its enormous population.
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===Crime===
 
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[[File:CCTV in GDZQZX.jpg|thumb|250px|CCTV cameras are a very common sight across Mainland China.]]
Traffic rules are usually practiced half-heartedly. Cars are allowed to turn right on a red light and tend not to stop for pedestrians. Bikers tend to do as they like. Don't be fooled by any signs and pedestrian paths, it is very common to see a motorcycle driving in a pedestrian lane. Equally, pedestrians often walk in the roadways, especially at night as they are better lit.
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China is a huge country with big regional differences in crime rates. Most of the major cities in China are safe. Violent crime remains rare and it is generally safe for even women at night. There are some scams such as the teahouse scam. Minor crimes can happen especially at transportation hubs, border crossings and in crowded areas. Contact with "Triads" or gangs are rare, except for those involved in the drug trade and human trafficking.
 
 
See also [[driving in China]].
 
  
===Begging===
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====Begging====
Chinese people traditionally hold strong negative views against begging, so unsurprisingly, begging is not a major issue in most places. It's however never off the scene and particularly common in major transportation hubs.
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Begging has been reported as being controlled by organised crime groups which when true means money doesn't go to the beggar. Donating food may be a better idea than giving money. Child beggars may be victims of trafficking with triads buying children from impoverished families before mutilating the children to generate sympathy from passers by and to make the beggars dependent on gang-masters for support. Fortunately, child-begging appear to have declined since the early 2000s due to a crackdown.
  
Be aware of child beggars. Once you give them money, expect to be accosted by all the rest. And a few minutes later, you will see him to pass your money to an adult hidden in the corner. Child beggars could be victims of child trafficking. There have been several reports in local media about begging con artists who abducted a baby, made him drunk, and pretended to be his mother to beg for money.  
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Chinese traditionally disapprove of begging, so begging is usually a minor issue. However, it is never off the scene in a big city and is particularly common just outside major tourist attractions and around transportation hubs. Beggars loiter outside some places of worship; Christians may just have heard a sermon, Buddhism has a tradition to give money to beggars.
  
In China, local people usually only give money to those who have obviously lost the ability to earn money. If you feel like giving them some, bear in mind that many Chinese make only ¥50-70 a day doing hard labour jobs. Giving ¥1 to a beggar is ''very''  generous.
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In China, local people usually only give money to those who have obviously lost the ability to earn money. Professional beggars have clear deformities. Before donating, remember that many Chinese make only ¥30-70 a day doing hard-labour jobs.
  
 
See [[begging]] for more detailed discussion.
 
See [[begging]] for more detailed discussion.
  
===Pollution===
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====Illicit Drugs====
Pollution is a serious problem in the world's factory. Beijing, by some accounts,is the most polluted city in the world and 16 out of the worst polluted cities in the world are in China. Talking about air pollution has become a part of life and countryside, depending on provinces, are not immune.
 
  
Places with higher altitude or plains, like Yunnan, Xinjiang and Tibet are usually with good air quality. Don't expect much on the rest including the coastal cities.  
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Possession or trafficking of illicit drugs is a serious offence in China and even possession of Cannabis for personal use may lead to imprisonment. Enforcement is weak, but penalties are severe for an offender who is caught. In some cities such as Beijing, the police tend to see foreigners as a high-risk group. Body inspection can happen in an expat bar. Random searches of cars may occur in the countryside, and if caught with drugs, do not expect lenient treatment from the police. Drug trade could result in capital punishment, from which foreigners are not exempted. In 2009, a British national was executed for trafficking heroin despite the British government's protests.
  
You will also hear a lot of noises and it has trained Chinese ears to be more tolerate to it.
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The Chinese strongly dislike drug-use, probably because their humiliation in the past 150 years is linked to the spread of drugs. Cannabis, heroin and LSD are the same to many of them, especially to the older generations. You may appear foolish when informing them that weed is common in the West. It is totally irrelevant to them.
  
===Scams===
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====Prostitution====
 +
Be aware many massage shops or hair salons are fronts for prostitution. While it may seem widespread and tolerated, prostitution is illegal in mainland China, except in [[Foshan]] in [[Guangdong]], where erotic massages also known colloquially as ''Happy Endings'' are legal. The consequences for anyone arrested by police can be dire. Look up yourself online the 2003 Zhuhai prostitution case resulting in 14 jail sentences (including 2 life sentences) with Chinese authorities requesting assistance from their Japanese counterparts in detaining a group of businessmen from Osaka. Like almost everywhere else, these brothels are ran by organised crime entities exploiting those working there. Many of the prostitutes are trafficked and/or forced into this work. These establishments are indicated by pink or other neon lighting and/or women in short skirts. Prostitution is the primary vector for the increasing spread of [[China#Transmittable diseases |HIV in China.]]
  
: ''See also: [[Common scams]], [[Pickpockets]]''
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====Scams====
 +
: ''See also: [[Common scams]]''
  
In touristy places, while it is common for genuine students and other travelers to look for foreigners with whom to practice their English and local people are known for inviting guests to drink, these social pleasantries also provides con artists with new opportunities.
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Tourist areas Beijing and Shanghai are plagued by the "teahouse scam" targeting foreigners. The scam goes something like this.
 +
* Around the likes of Tiananmen Square and Wangfujing in Beijing and the Bund, People's Square, and Nanjing Road in Shanghai, scammers stroll up to foreigners and attempt to start a conversation in English
 +
* They often seek opportunities to try to assist with orientation and bargaining as a means to engage and build rapport with their intended target
 +
* They then invite the intended target to a teahouse, café or pub
 +
* Every item consumed there, including each cup of tea, biscuit and slice of fruit is massively overpriced
 +
* Sometimes scam artists offer to split the enormous bill and ask the victim to pay at least half of it
 +
* A variant of this scam is being invited by "art students" to shabby art shops and being pressured to buy overpriced reproductions
  
They may approach you and start a conversation in English. It is fine until they invite you to go to a tea house, cafe, pub and leave you to foot a skyrocketing bill. Another scam is to take you into small shabby art shops (or their teacher's private studio) and pressure you to buy overpriced art. In stations or airports, some may also offer you bargain tours during which you spend much of the time visiting overpriced souvenir shops.
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That being said, it is common for curious Chinese to start a genuine conversation with a visitor and sometimes follow it with an invitation to a meal or a drink. Being vigilant is sensible; being paranoid about all invitations and interactions with the Chinese will ruin a travel experience. Remember the following tips:
  
While most scams can be avoided easily, it can be tricky in dealing with curious local people who invite you to a pub or restaurant. Unless you only hang out with other travelers from other countries, you will have a fair chance of treating or being treated. This is often the highlight of a trip to China and should not be missed. See [[China#Treating|Treating in China]].  
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# If feeling suspicious about the venue you are invited to, instead propose a venue of your choice. If the other person insists on going to their "place" and resists your suggestions, it should be considered a scam alarm bell. Consider if it is time to calmly say "No thank you" and walk away.
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# Proposing a friendly selfie photograph (especially saying it is for immediate posting straight on to the internet), with the person engaging you before going anywhere can generate a reactive indication of the intent for which you are being engaged; people who avoid being photographed have a reason such avoidance
 +
# In a genuine tea shop, tea sampling is always free. A tea shop wants visitors to taste tea and buy the leaves. Prices will be mentioned beforehand. Never agree to any products without seeing a price list first
 +
# 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.
 +
# If forced to pay, request a "fapiao" (发票), an official sales invoice issued by the taxation department. It is illegal for an owner to refuse to render it. This receipt can be used when making a report later. Pay by credit card, because it is possible to later cancel the payment.  
  
When viewing prices to determine if a scam is afoot, bear in mind that legitimate tea houses can charge RMB50-200 per refillable cup or pot of tea and a pub RMB15-60 per bottle of beer. Although it is perfectly possible to pay RMB1000 or more per pot of tea in a very high-end tea house, run-of-the-mill teas should not be nearly this expensive. Such delicate tea would only be offered to tea gourmets, not a causal 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.
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However, high prices do not necessarily indicate a scam. In a teahouse, &yen;50-200 per cup or pot of tea is common. In a bar, prices vary even more. &yen;10-80 per bottle of beer is a norm and having a new bottle of wine can cost from a few hundred to many thousands. However, in all genuine places, prices are stated clearly on a menu.
  
===Banned items===
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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.
  
The Chinese government is known to have strong hands on any media. Books, magazines and CDs can be confiscated if the content is considered inappropriate, although custom usually doesn't bother to take your English books away, if there is no explicit photos depicting politics of China.
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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.
  
* No so-called ''Anti-Chinese'' materials: Tibetan Lion-Mountain flag, Falungong, Taiwan national flag.  
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====Theft====
 +
: ''See also: [[Pickpockets]]''
 +
Pick-pocketing and other theft such as of bags, bicycles and / or electronic devices  is common. Being sensible and vigilant in securing your belongings goes a long way.
  
* Books: any books with photos on Dalai Lama or Tiananmen Square incidents. Expect a questioning session if you bring a book with Chairman Mao's portrait.  
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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.
  
* Pornography: Heavy penalty is imposed on all porns and penalty is counted based on the number of pieces you bring into the country. If they consider what you bring is too much, let say, more than 100 porn videos on your laptop, they will likely detain you.
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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.
  
==Stay healthy==
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===Privacy and Security===
  
===Personal hygiene===
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The Chinese police (locally called "Public Safety Bureaus") is a well-known monitor of any communication inside China, including phone calls and Internet data. All unencrypted data transmitted on the Internet (including emails and HTTP transmissions), encrypted Chinese web services (including WeChat, QQ and Chinese-language Skype), and phone calls will be stored for three months in a police database. Any of this data can be used for court evidence if someone is arrested (刑事拘留, xíngshì jūliú).
  
Outside major cities, public washrooms vary from mildly unpleasant to utterly repulsive. In cities, it varies from place to place. High quality bathrooms can be found inside major tourist attractions (e.g., the Forbidden City), at international hotels, office buildings, and upper-class department stores. Washrooms in McDonald's, KFC, Pizza Hut, or any of the coffee chains listed in the drink section are usually more or less clean. While those in common restaurants and hotels are barely acceptable, those in hotel rooms are generally very clean. Some public facilities are free, others cost from a few mao up to one or two kuai (¥1-2). Separate facilities are always provided for men (男 nán) and women (女 nǚ), but sometimes there are no doors on the front of the stalls.  
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===Traffic===
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[[Image:Beijing Duche.jpeg|thumb|180px|Traffic jam in Beijing]]
 +
Driving in China ranges from from nerve-rattling to outright reckless. Traffic rules are practiced half-halfheartedly and are rarely enforced. Zebra crossings are for display, cars are allowed to turn right on a red light and rarely stop for pedestrians. Bikers tend to do as they like. Don't be fooled by following any signs and pedestrian paths; it is common to see a motorcycle driving in a pedestrian lane. On occasion even cars will take to bike lanes and motor bikes to the sidewalk. Equally, pedestrians often walk in the roadways, especially at night, as they are better lit. Look in all directions when crossing! Expect or assume that anything will come at or behind you from any direction at any time.
  
The sit-down toilet familiar to Westerners is rare in China in public areas. Hotels will generally have them in rooms, but in places where Westerners are scarce, expect to find squat toilets more often than not. Many private homes in urban areas now have sit down toilets, and one major benefit from having a local host is that they have clean bathrooms. As a rule of thumb, a western establishment such as McDonald's will have a western toilet.
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See also [[driving in China]].
  
Carry your own tissue paper (卫生纸 wèishēngzhǐ, or 面纸 miànzhǐ) as it is rarely provided. You can sometimes buy it from the money-taker at a public toilet; you can also buy it in bars, restaurants and Internet cafes for ¥2. Put used paper in the bucket next to the toilet; do not flush it away as it may block the often poor plumbing systems.
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==Stay healthy==
 
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[[Image:Chu Shi Ji.jpeg|thumb|180px|A domestic desiccant may be useful in eastern China's humid summer]]
The Chinese tend to distrust the cleanliness of bathtubs. In hotels with fixed bathtubs, disposable plastic bathtub liners may be provided.
 
 
 
Wash your hands often with soap, or better carry some disposable disinfectant tissues (found in almost any department or cosmetics store), especially after having used public computers; the main cause for getting a cold or flu is through touching your face, especially the nose, with infected hands.
 
  
===Food & drink===
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===Food and drink===
  
There are no widely enforced health regulations in restaurants. Restaurants generally prepare hot food when you order. Even in the smallest of restaurants, hot dishes are usually freshly prepared, instead of reheated, and rarely cause health problems. Most of the major cities have chain fast food places, and the hygiene in them tends to be good. Be cautious when buying food from street vendors. This is especially the case for meat or seafood products; they can be very unsafe, particularly during warm weather, as many vendors don't have refrigeration.  
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There are no widely enforced health regulations in restaurants. Restaurants generally prepare hot food on order. Even in the smallest of restaurants, hot dishes are usually freshly prepared, instead of reheated, and rarely cause health problems. Most of the major cities have chain fast-food places, and the hygiene in them tends to be good. Use common sense when buying food from street vendors. This is especially true for meat or seafood products; they can be unsafe, particularly during warm weather, as many vendors don't have refrigeration.
  
A rule of thumb regarding street food is to make certain it is cooked thoroughly while you are watching; als