I have been writing my blog and updating the information frequently for several years. My 55 trips to China over a span of 26 years has given me many insights regarding travel to China. Please note the box to the right marked “Search”. Enter any information or title you wish and it will automatically bring up the blog entries on that subject. If nothing comes up, please contact me by email and I will be more than happy to give you that information. If I don’t have what you need, I have my Chinese partners in China to contact and supply that information for you. You can email me at email@example.com China is changing so fast that information of just one to three years ago may be old and not up to date. That is why I must go back and up date my blog entries every year. I hope you enjoy my blog.
Getting around in the large cities is often very difficult unless you are on a tour either private or group. You may have some spare time and want to visit some site that isn’t on your tour. There are buses and subways but both of these are always crowded and few service people speak any English. The best way actually is a TAXI which we have always considered a bit expensive. In China they are very reasonable. In the central area one can take a taxi for about $2 to $4 U.S. Longer rides to the suburbs can run about $10 to $15. Each is metered and the meter is actually built into the dashboard like a radio. There is one drawback. Taxi drivers seldom if ever speak English. In my 26 years and over 60 trips I have only found two drivers that spoke English. If you want to go some place, take some note paper in the hotel and write down where you want to go. Then have someone at the front desk write it down in Chinese which you can hand to the driver. Remember to take some hotel cards with you to give to a driver so you can also get back to the hotel. Some hotels furnish cards with a list of sites written both in English and Chinese for you. If you want to get a taxi while on the street, raise your hand as if to wave Goodbye which is the sign for a taxi to stop for you. Raising your index finger is a “no-no”. For more information on getting around, let me hear from you at email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Booking international air and from whom can be a difficult sometimes without all the information to make a good decision. Most people go strictly by price and that isn’t all bad either as we all like to save money. Great service can be over played sometimes as every airline will say they are the best. Closer examination can be telling of why some are more than others. Time of arrival at the destination should be one consideration. Airlines pay landing fees at each airport and the later arrivals pay less than the convenient mid day or late afternoon landings. For China arriving late say 10:00 to 11:00 p.m. is less costly for the airline, but less convenient for you too. After a long day of flying it is difficult to get to sleep as it is day time at home and your body clock tells you to stay awake. Arriving in the later afternoon you will have time to have a nice dinner and stay awake until at least 10:00 and wake up the next morning rested. Non-stop flights are best and often take much less time than having several stops which might be less costly. Seattle/Beijing is just 11 hours. Check the number of hours the different airlines take too. One airline gives a great price from Los Angeles to Beijing…but takes 22 hours. L.A./Chicago/Beijing. Good homework will help you make a good decision. Tour operators who want to sell you a tour often have the lowest price on the air tickets in order to get you to book a tour with them. ie. myself. I hope this helps you in making a good decision on your flights.
You will have many times to laugh and enjoy the differences in our cultures. Chinese people love to laugh and have a good time. One time my Chinese friends took me to this rural Buddhist Temple. It was fairly new and contained several hundred different Buddhas. The temple had 4 doors to it. You could enter any of the doors and go either right or left. The idea was to pick your door and direction and then start counting Buddhas until you came to your age and that will be your Buddha. As you see, my Buddha is a bit heavy…which reflects me to a tee although I am losing some weight these days. My friends could only laugh and we enjoyed a good time that day. I hope your visit to China will include many good times and some hearty laughs as well.
Tipping was once considered Western bribery by the government and there were signs in English advising “No Tipping Allowed”. As China became more exposed to western customs in the 1990’s and later, those signs were taken down. Tipping is still rare as service charges are included in hotel, restaurants and other establishments. Bell hops however appreciate a very small tip however when taking your luggage to your room. For a taxi, you just round off the meter to the next highest yuan is sufficient. Highway tolls however are added to the meter reading. If you are in most restaurants and the service you receive from a waiter or waitress is exceptional, even then any tip left must be turned into the restaurant owner and not kept by the receiver. There are very small value coins in China which they often call “Begger” money and are often a nuisance to keep. Although there are few beggers, I save these in my pocket for those special needs people you will see mostly in the larger cities. If you are using a guide on a tour either group tour or private tour, they will expect tips as well as bus or private car drivers. Drivers of group tour buses or private cars for tours seldom if ever speak English and are professional drivers which you will appreciate in China. You tip guides and drivers at the end of your time with them usually at the airport or train stations. Contact us at email: email@example.com for more information.
A tip on Chinese money is to wait until you get to China to exchange your money or obtain local money. The rates charged outside the country are as much as 30% sometimes. You may exchange money at the hotels for a very small exchange rate as a service to their customers. There are Cash Machines and banks in the large cities available however in the lessor cities or countryside you must have Chinese Yuan. Banks in the small cities or countryside do not exchange foreign currency or the hotels too. The largest bill is 100 yuan which is worth approximately $16.00 U.S. dollars. When exchanging money be sure to ask for some smaller bills too as you will need them for small purchases. Not all street vendors will have change for 100 yuan. Cash is King in China as you will see. Credit cards are accepted in department stores, hotels and government stores but not many other places including most large restaurants. For more information let us hear from you at email: firstname.lastname@example.org My name is Dave and I am always happy to answer any personal questions.
One of the great cities of the world is Shanghai. I have travelled there for many years watching the development of the city. Pudong area across the river from Shanghai proper was a large empty flat piece of land just 25 years ago. There was one building that displayed a mock up of what the city fathers saw as the future of Pudong. The group that I was with looked at it with a smile thinking those were far beyond reason. The photos here today show what Shanghai has accomplished in this short time. Well worth at least 3 days or more of any tour to take in all that Shanghai has to offer but too many to list here. In my over 50 working trips to China for my business I usually spend 3 to 4 weeks all over China. However I take 2 or 3 days to relax before coming home and those are spent in Shanghai. Shanghai evolves and changes with each trip and I always look forward to seeing what’s new!
There are many Holidays and Festivals in China. The one pictured here is the Lantern Festival in Nanjing. There are three main holidays. New Years, May 1st. and October 1st. These holidays most people have a full week off. New Years people go to their parents home which is a tradition. During these holidays and many Festivals hotels, planes and trains are well booked in advance. I normally suggest not touring during these periods as the expense is greater and travel is more difficult. In a country of 1.3 billion people you can often see crowds like this during holidays or festivals at many tourist sites. Best times to tour are March/April, June, July and August although a bit warm, or I like September and the last three weeks of October best. Cities like Shanghai with over 40 million people in the district crowds in the shopping areas and popular sites are common. Mornings are less crowded than afternoons or evenings usually. For more information feel free to contact us at email: email@example.com
The best book I have found on meeting the Chinese people is one called “Encountering The Chinese” The 3rd Edition is out giving the latest information on interacting with Chinese as well as getting to know an Ancient Culture and (continue reading below) being a Modern Country. The book is great not just for tourists but anyone who will be interacting with Chinese people. The more you understand their culture the better success you will have in business as well as understanding their cultural ways. For anyone going there to teach classes or be a student, this book is invaluable. I highly recommend it and some people have found it difficult to find; so I have about 100 copies that I ordered from the publisher. If you would like a copy I will mail you one post paid for $25. You may send your check or money order to Interlake China Tours, Inc. P.O. Box 33652 Seattle, WA. 98133 You can expect to receive it in about 2 weeks.
I had a question on medical assistance or problems in China. First I should mention that Travel Insurance yes can be a bit expensive if you didn’t need it. However it is very cheap if you do need it. You can cover your needs with a good travel insurance plan no matter what country you go to. I always buy travel insurance myself as we travel to many countries during our off season. My wife just had to make a claim this week due to a medical problem that will not allow her to go on a Hiking Tour with her buddies. Her trip was 100% refunded. In the large cities of China medical hospitals are available and clinics in the smaller towns. Check your health insurance policy to see if you are covered outside the country. You should take an antibiotic suggested by your doctor as well as common over the counter products for diarrhea and constipation. Do not drink the water even in a 5 star hotel including brushing your teeth. 2 bottles of water are usually included in your room. A small refrigerator may also be in your room too. Chinese use the additive MSG for flavoring in most of their food which can cause constipation. This is usually used in any gravy type foods. It is o.k. to eat them but in smaller amounts perhaps. Just be aware of it. If you will be travelling to Tibet or any place over 5,000 to 8,000 feet above sea level you might want to take a medication for high altitude sickness. I do not recommend going to places of high altitude if you have heart disease. I ask for a doctor’s release for any clients who are 80 years older or have a history of heart disease. I myself have heart disease and had some problems in Lhasa the last time I was there. If you have any other questions on health or touring China please let me know. email me at firstname.lastname@example.org My name is Dave.: