Archive for the ‘Plan China Trip’ Category

How to give a tip in China

Tuesday, November 29th, 2011
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Plan your China tour? Do you think of tipping policy in China? To tip or not to tip in China is a question which has confused many foreign visitors. Those against tipping in China argue that China has no tradition of tipping; those for tipping in China think that China is changing and tipping has become more and more popular as a kind of etiquette as well as bonuses for service providers like that in the west.
There are plentiful reasons to disagree or agree with the tipping in China. So it is advisable to avoid meaningless argument over the tipping policy in China. Let’s focus on the present tipping practices existing in China (seeking truth from facts), then regulate our way to deal with the tipping issue properly in China. 
Do I have to tip in China?
You don’t have to tip in China even though in some cases you are expected to give a tip. You have your own choice of giving or not giving since tipping is a personal matter. 
The tipping practices existing in China
No matter you agree or disagree with the present tipping practices common in China, they do exist in China, especially in the following sectors:
1.  Tipping waiters and maids in high-level western restaurants
2.  Tipping bellboys who take your luggage to the room at your luxury hotel 
3.  Tipping tour guides and drivers on an organized private or group tour 
4.  Tipping the staff on the Yangtze River Cruise


Non-tipping sectors in China
Though tipping has become more and more popular in China, there are still many places where you don’t need to give a tip.
1. Taxi
2. Street side restaurants
3. Normal Chinese restaurants
4. Restaurant chains like Pizza Hut, McDonald’s…
5. Pubs and bars
6. Massage studios
How much should I tip?
Though traditionally there is no tipping (except Hong Kong and Macau). However, hotels may allow tipping. Tour guides and  drivers expect tipping. Then how much for the common tipping practices in Beijing China? Below is just for your reference:
1. For the tour guide and the driver: RMB 20 -80 a day per person  
2. For the bellboys or waiters at high end hotels and western restaurants: RMB 5-30 per person

to be tipped

Hopefully you can act easily and properly in terms of how to tip in China based on the present tipping practices in China. 

China Business Hours

Sunday, November 27th, 2011
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Plan your China tour? It is advisable to have some basic knowledge of the working hours and business hours in China to better parpare for your trip.
The Chinese government regulates that Chinese people work 8 hours a day with five working days a week and a maximum 44 working hours a week. In China, business hours are generally set between 9:00am and 6:00pm. But typical business hours vary by different working units and regions.
For government offices, the working hours are often fixed from 8:00am to 5;00pm from Monday to Friday;
Hospitals, banks and post offices are open from 08:30-09:30 to 16:00-18:00. But hospital clinics offer 24 hours service.

A bank's business hours sign

Most of the hotels also provide 24 hours service to any tenants.
Shops, department stores and supermarkets are open daily from 09:00-10:00 to 21:30 – 22:00, including public holidays and festivals.
Most restaurants are open from 10:00 to 22:00 late night, some even into small hours.

A restaurant's business hours sign

Bars are open from 10:00 to 22:00 late nigh, sometimes even into the small hours or for all night.

A bar's business hours sign

Apart from the normal day off (Saterday and Sunday), Chinese people also enjoy non-working China public holidays with salaries as below:
New Year’s Day (January 1) one day off
Spring Festival (The Chinese Lunar New Year, later Jan or Early Feb ) three days off
Qing Ming ( April 4th – 6th ) one day off
International Labor Day ( May 1) one day off
Duan Wu (Dragon Boat) Festival (5th of the 5th month of the lunar year ) one day off
Mid-Autumn Festival (15th of the eighth month) one day off
National Day (October 1)  three day off
Total 11 public holidays off
Banks, post offices, hospitals, hotels and most restaurants are still open during Chinese public holidays.
Chinese Holidays & Festivals

Tips on hotel bookings in China

Saturday, November 26th, 2011
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Plan your China tour? How to choose a hotel in China is very important in the course of preparation for your China trip. Here are some useful tips for your China hotel bookings for your reference.
China hotel star Rating system
For the past 20 years, the Chinese government has gradually established an fairly effective hotel star rating system which has classified all qualified hotels in China into five categories – Five Star, Four Star, Three Star, Two Star and One Star ( or youth hostels). The higher level of a hotel’s star rating system, the better service and high rates you will expect. But The number of stars of a hotel may not necessarily match its service level.
5 Star Hotel
the 5 star hotels in China will offer you a good night stay with full range of moden room facilities. But the hotel rates are also very expensive usually ranging from USD100 to USD500 per room per night.
4 Star Hotel
You will feel very comfortable for most of the 4-star hotels in China. but some 4 star hotels are far below your expectation and you would like to stay in a clean and cozy three star hotel.
3 Star Hotel
There is a big difference between the quality among the three star hotels in China. The three star hotel rating is decided by the local governments with strong local protectionism. Some of the three star hotels are clean and comfortable; some are just rundown and shabby. Most of the three star hotels have no websites which make it quite difficult to book online.
2 Star Hotel
Strangely enough, 2 star hotels have comfortable facilities comparable to some 3-stars. But the problem for many 2 star hotels is that very few staffers can speak English. So if you are able to manage it, you may get some good rates.
One Star or Youth Hostel
Youth hostes are getting very popular in China. Low rates with simple and basic facilities. The rooms are clean and safe too. The staffers are always helpful and resourceful. Most of the staffers at youth hostels can speak English.
Non-star hotels in China
Not all the hotels in China are interested in the official hotel rating system. Furthermore, these non-star hotels are not forced to take part in the stars accreditation. Some hotel chains have their own hotel rating systems and hotel brandings. So you are not necessary to book a star rated hotel in China.
Foreign management hotels or domestic management hotels?
In terms of hotel management, all the hotels in China fall into two categories – foreign management (hotel chains) and domestic management(hotel chains or independent hotel). So which is better?
There are many foreign management hotels in China including Hyatt, Starwood, Sheraton, Westin, Six Continents and etc. We also have a few famous domestic management hotels chains like Jinjiang Hotels Chains. There are also huge number of independent hotels in China.
Basically the domestic management hotels offer better prices than foreign management hotels. But the foreign management hotels have the upper hand in terms of service and efficiency. Choosing a foreign or domestic hotel is largely decided by the location, rates and your personal interest.

A room at a foreign management five star hotel

Luxury hotels or express inns?
Stay in a hotel or an express hotels or inns? In the past 10 years, express hotels or inns are mushrooming everwhere in China. Some express hotels have beaten the old and traditional 3 and even 4 star hotels in terms of service and locations.
Some famous express hotel chains like Hanting, Hotel Inns have been on the stock markets in the States. They have proliferated in all China with increasingly bigger market share. These clean and trendy express hotels have two strong points – multi locations in one city and convenient use of free internet and etc.
For luxury, keep your stay at hotels; for easy going and money saving, choose an express hotel at your ideal location in a city.

A room at an cozy express hotel

Boutique Hotels
Apart from chain hotels, independent hotel and express hotels foreign or domestic, boutique hotels may be the great alternatives for romantic getaways for couples or families seeking hotels of a more distinctive theme. Many boutique hotels have fewer rooms but offer more value added services. Your choice of hotel really depends on what you want out of your holiday.
China hotels online booking
Empowered by the internet, you can act as an individual travel agent on your own, surfing the hotel information, choosing and booking your ideal hotels online by yourself.
There are many hotel companies online offering competitive rates with a wide range of hotels including Expedia, Travelocity, and etc.
China hotels direct booking
You may also surf the loaction and hotel phone number of the hotel you are going to book. Then contact the hotel directly by phone or email.
China hotels booking through travel agents
You also keep your tradition of turning to your local travel agent or hotel agent for hotel booking.
How to evaluate a hotel?
When you are going to book a hotel in China, please consider the following points:
Early Booking
early booking would offer you more options and the best hotel rates possible.


Promotion Offers
 Some hotels or hotel companies have special deals for hotel bookings. Make sure to check these such as Free Breakfast and Free Upgrades.
Check out the freebies like free continental breakfast, in-room coffee, shuttle service and an on-site pool and workout center, which can add up to big vacation savings. 
Well located Hotel prices tend to rise. So as you move further away from the center of the city,  you can enjoy discounted hotel rates for the same level of hotels if you are willing to take some public transport, taxi, or walk.
Useful hotel booking related links
Top 10 Luxury Hotels in Beijing 
Top 10 Boutique Hotels in Beijing
Top 10 Budget Hotels in Beijing
Top 10 Beijing Hostels