Beijing Travel Tips Plan your Beijing tour ? We've listed some useful Beijing travel tips here. We hope these travel tips will help you arrange your perfect trip to Beijing. These tips range from visa , hotels, climate, money, communication, transportation, tourist scams to Electricity and China electrical outlets, post offices, water and more.
Generally, Beijing is a safe and secure city. But like anywhere around the world where there are larger groups of humans, there will be more opportunities for scams. So in Beijing, you should not lower your vigilance against possible tourist scams.
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Read "China Travel Tips" by Daniel Li for more China travel advice.
If you are coming to China for sightseeing, you should obtain a tourist visa from the Chinese Embassy or Consulate in your home country. It is more convenient for tourists booked through Chinese travel agencies to get group visas for their visit to China.
Tourist visas are usually good for two months, but can be extended for an extra month at the Foreigners Section of the public Security Bureau in each big city in China. If you want to continue traveling in China for more than three months, you will have to leave the country, get a new visa, and come back.
It is not too much trouble to go to Hong Kong and apply for a new visa. You can get a new one in two or three days. For a little more money you can get a six-month visa from the China Travel Service in Hong Kong.
More adventurous souls can go to Mongolia, but you have to get another visa to go there. Whatever you do, don't stay in China longer than your visa allows. The fine for overstaying your welcome is 500 yuan (US$76) per day!
It is wise to carry your passport with you at all times, as you need it to register in hotels, buy plane tickets and change money. Also, sometimes there are random checkpoints at night for passengers riding in taxis. If you can't produce identity proving who you are, you could be fined a whopping 5 yuan. However they usually don't bother with foreigners. If you lose your passport, you should report immediately to your embassy, as well as tell the public Security Bureau.
72-Hour Visa-Free Transit in Beijing
Visa-free travelling to Beijing has come true for transit passengers from 51 countries including the US, Canada and all members of the EU to spend up to 72 hours in Beijing without a visa. This visa-free policy allow foreigners from these 51 countries with visas and plane tickets to a third country to transit through Beijing for a visa-free stay of up to 72 hours, a policy aimed at boosting tourism and smoothing the way for transiting passengers and business travelers.
1. The 51 Nationalities Eligible for 72 Hours Free Visa Stay include：
1) 24 Schengen countries in Europe:
Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovak, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.
2) 13 other European countries:
Russia, Great Britain, Ireland, Cyprus, Bulgaria, Romania, Ukraine, Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Republic of Montenegro, Macedonia and Albania.
3) 6 American countries:
The United States, Canada, Brazil, Mexico, Argentina and Chile.
4) 2 Oceanian countries:
Australia and New Zealand.
5) 6 Asian countries:
Republic of Korea, Japan, Singapore, Brunei, United Arab Emirates, and Qatar.
Foreigners Section of the Public Security Bureau in Beijing
Add:2, Ankingmen Dajie
Visa inquires: 84020101
Taiwan compatriots can obtain a travel permit from the Hong Kong Consulate of Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Those who come back to the mainland via the United States, Japan and other countries can obtain travel permit from Chinese embassies and consulates.
Hong Kong and Macao residents should hold Re-entry cards of Hong Kong and Macao compatriots for travel or family visits to the mainland. Overseas Chinese can enter China without visas. They can enter and leave China with valid passports or other ID cards issued by relevant departments of the Chinese govermment.
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- Hotel Rating in Beijing
One-Star hotels: One-Star hotels must have at least air-conditioning guest rooms with 12-hour a day cold and hot running water. Of course, 80% of the rooms must have private bath facilities. They must have a lobby with information and reception desk, postal service, coffee shop. They should have a dining room.
Two-Star hotels: Two-Star hotels must have at least 20 air-conditioning guest rooms and 90% with private bath facilities. Also 50% of the rooms are equipped with telephones and 24 hours of cold and hot running water. They must offer Western and Chinese breakfast.
Three-Star hotels: Three-Star hotels must have well-furnished standard guest rooms with dressing table, desk, drawers and close. All rooms are equipped with the carpet or wood floor. Each room has a telephone with international direct dial(IDD); mini-bar and refrigerator; color television sets, in-house movies, music and more.
Four Star hotels: Four Star hotels have spacious rooms, good quality toilets and hair dryers. Most of the hotels should background music, health club, swimming pool, sauna, business center and 24-hour doorman. Laundry should be returned by next day. Business Center. Nice Chinese and western restaurants.
Five-Star hotels: Five-Star hotels have large lobbies. They are more luxury and spacious. Service should be better than the four-star hotels described above
- Stay at your Chinese friends'or relatives'homes
If you have Chinese friends or relatives living here, and you want to stay with them, that is OK too. But you should register at the local public Security Bureau and let them know you are there, you can also register with the local Housing Committee Ju Wei Hui (there is one in every residential area.).
It may sound a little troublesome, having to register with the police or the local Housing Committee, but it is better to let them know than for them to find out themselves. If you don't register, it could present problems for you or the people you are staying with.
- Cheap accommodation in Beijing
Beijing hostels are the best way to go for budget lodging in Beijing. Ask to see a hostel room before you pay and choose a dorm (several bunks in one room) for the cheapest Beijing lodging. Expect to pay US$ 8 - 15 for a Beijing hostel bunk.
See Beijing Top Hostels for more information
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CustomsIncoming passengers are allowed to bring with them, under temporary admission, one of each of the items listed below:
Camera, portable tape-recorder, portable video-camera, and portable computer.
Passengers carrying personal items over this limit should declare accurately to the Customs and fulfill all necessary customs formalities.
- Gold, silver and ornaments made thereof
Passengers should declare to the Customs if the amount of gold, silver and other ornaments made thereof they arecarrying exceeds 50 grams.
Any consignment for export of gold. Silver and ornaments made thereof (including handicrafts of inlaid goldware and silverware) purchased in the territory shall only be allowed with special invoices issued by the People's Bank of China.
- Foreign exchange
On entering, no restrictions are imposed on the amount of foreign currency, travelers checks, credit cards. However , non-residents carrying more than 5,000 US dollars in cash should declare to the Customs the Customs shall permit foreign exchange to be carried out based on the declarations or on relevant regulations issued by the National Administration of Exchange Control.
- Cultural relics (including works by late modern famous painters and calligraphers)
Cultural relics intended for export shall be sent in advance to the cultural administrative departments for verification. The Customs shall release them on the basis of authentic marks affixed on the works by the cultural administrative departments and invoicesfor permitting cultural relics out of the territory, or export license.
- Chinese herbs and Chinese patent medicines
The maximum limits per person on the value of Chinese herbs and Chinese patent medicines to be carried out to foreign countries shall be 300 RMB per person, and 150 RMB for traveling to Hong Kong or Macao.
The maximum limits on the value of medicine sent by post shall be 200 RMB abroad, and 100 RMB to Hong Kong and Macao.
- Prohibited imports:
1. Arms, imitation arms, ammunition and explosives of all kinds;
2. Counterfeit currency and counterfeit negotiable securities;
3. Printed matter, films, photos, gramophone records, cinematographic films, loaded recording tapes and video- tapes,compact discs (video&audio), storage media for computers and other articles which are detrimental to the political, economic, cultural and moral interests of China;
4. Deadly poisons of all kinds;
5. Opium, morphine, heroin, marihuana and other addiction inducing or hallucinatory drugs;
6. Animals, plants and products made thereof infected with or carrying diseases, insect pests and other harmful organisms;
7. Foodstuffs, medicines and other articles coming from epidemic-stricken areas and harmful to humans and livestock, or those capable of spreading diseases.
- Prohibited exports;
1. all articles enumerated as articles prohibited from import;
2. manuscripts, printed matter, films, photos, gramophone records, cinematographic films, loaded recording tapes and video-tapes, compact discs (video&audio),storage media for computers and other articles which involve state secrets;
3. valuable cultural relics and other relics prohibited from export;
4. endangered and rare animals, plants (including their specimens)and their seeds or reproducing materials.
Beijing's climate is defined as "continental monsoon." The four seasons are distinctly recognizable. Autumn is the best time to be in Beijing; the temperature is mild and the sun is out a lot. The temperature in spring is nice, too, but it is very dry and winds whip sand around the ciyt.
Summer can be unbearably hot, and winter is equally freezing cold, assisted by winds blowing down directly from siberia. Beijing nice clothes for going out at night, but for touring during the day wear casual clothes and comfortable sturdy shoes.
In autumn, jeans and a sweater are usually enough. In the warmer months, T-shirts and light pants or shorts are the best bet. In the colder months, it is wise to dress in layers; long underwear and jeans, shirt, sweater and down jacket. It you want to go local, you can buy a cool army coat (jun da yi )for less than 100 yuan.
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CommunicatingSpoken communication has been a problem in China for hundreds, if not thousands of years. Different people from different regions separated by rivers and mountains tend to speak differently from each other. There are hundreds of different dialects in China , and many of them are like totally different languages, though they are all lumped together into the category "Chinese."
The official language of China is Mandarin Chinese, actually a northern dialect, and this is what the people of Beijing speak. Often when Chinese people from the countryside or far-flung regions of the country come to Beijing, they have a hard time communicating. So if you are having difficulty making yourself understood, you are not alone!
Most hotel staff can speak English, so this is not a big problem, But on the street it may be difficult to communicate. If you are going to take a taxi, get someone to write down the address of your destination in Chinese. Street signs are both in Chinese and English, so if you have a map, it is easier to figure out where you are. Also, nowadays most young people are studying English, so for simple directions and help, you can most likely get assistance from a younger person. If they can't help you, they will most likely do their best to find someone who can .
When addressing somebody, remember that in China, the surname comes before the given name, there are hundreds of surnames, the most common being Zhang, Li, Wang, Zhao and Liu, so if a woman's name is Wu Runmei, you should call her Ms.Wu. Names are usually composed of two or three characters and occasionally four. If a person has four-character name, the first two are the surname and the second two are their given name. Women keep their own surname after marriage, so if somebody's husband's surname is Wang, it doesn't mean that she is Mrs.Wang. She is still Mrs. Whatever.
Most of the scenic spots in Beijing sell entrance tickets from 8:00 till 16:00. Some are open much earlier like Temple of Heaven, Beihai Park, Summer Palace. Many early birds in Beijing come to these parks for morning exercises.
Shops generally open at 09:00 and close between 19:00 and 21:00 and are open on Sundays. Offices are usually closed on public holidays including New Year's Day ( 3 days off ), Spring Festival( the Chines Lunar New Year - 7 days off ), Labor Day on May 01 ( 3 days off ) and National Day on October 1 ( 7 days off ).
Paper currency comes in 1.2,5,10,50 and 100 yuan notes. Paper jiao come in denominations of 1,2, and 5. There are also 1 and 2 fen notes, but these are rarely used as their purchasing power is exactly zero. As for coins, there are 1 youan ,1 and 5 jiao,and 1,2, and 5 fen.
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To change money, you have to have your passport at hand. If you want to change money in a hotel, you usually have to be a guest there. Sometimes if you are not a guest in a hotel but need to change money there, you can just say a random room number, but this doesn't always work.
At present ,the RMB is not exchangeable on the international market, so it is only usable within the country. So when you are changing money, don't change too much, because it is difficult to change back into other currencies.
To change RMB back into your home currency, you must retain the exchange slips that are given to you at the bank or money exchange counter. Then when you want to go home, you have to bring the slips with you to prove that you are merely changing back money you haven't spent instead of taking out needed foreign exchange. if you lose the slips, you can change on the black market (locations vary , ask a Chinese friend for details), but the exchange rate is not so good and of course it is illegal.
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They are mostly useful for paying for really expensive things. They can be used to pay for hotel rooms and for meals in some of the fancier restaurants. You can also buy plane tickets with them. As mentioned above. AmEx can be used to get a cash advance in the main offices of the Bank of China. It is also possible to cash a check against the AmEx card ,but again , only in the main offices.
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Phony MoneyThe government is cracking down on the counterfeit money. Still you need to be aware of this. Unless you have been here for this; unless you have been here for a while, it is not easy to spot.
The ways to identify phony money are by the color, the watermark, the paper, and the braille dots. The color of RMB notes is hard to imitate, and counterfeit bills are usually too fuzzy, that is, the images and colors are not so sharp. The watermark on counterfeit money is also not clear. On real bills the outline of the model worker or the Great Helmsman (on the 100) is fairly distinct.
The way to test the paper is to look at it under a black light. Originally, the way to tell real from fake is to see if the words "YIBAI"or "WUSHI"(depending on the denomination) appeared in fluorescent letters under the light.
But the pros have found a way to imitate this. Now the true test is to see the color of the paper itself under the black light. If the paper appears bright, then it is fake. If it appears to absorb the black light. Then it is real. The final test is the dots.
On each denomination of the yuan notes (nobody bothers making fake jiao, not to mention fen), there is a corresponding number in braille in the lower left hand corner of the front side. It is hard to feel, but the dots are slightly raised on the surface of the paper. If they are not, then it is also a fake.
Radio and TVBeijing's larger hotels have satellite dishes that can receive over 100 of channels from all over China and many from around the world. America's CNN, NHK from Japan and Star TV from Hong Kong are staples.
There are over 100 Chinese channels, the main ones being China Central TV and Beijing TV. For a Chinese perspective, CCTV9 ( English Speaking Channel ), CCTV2 and 4, as well as BTV1 all have English news programs in the evening at 23:00 in Chinese residential homes.
Channels from provinces and regions all over China are piped in through cable TV , but foreign channels are usually not available, with the occasional exception of star TV.
China Radio International broadcasts to the world around the clock in 39 languages and four Chinese dialects. 91.5 Easy FM features 12 hours of English broadcasting and Western music. This station also has news updates every hour on the hour for five minutes. Another English language and music radio program is 91.5 joy FM from 21:00-23:00.
PublicationsThe English-language China Daily (published seven days a week) and Beijing Weekend (published every Friday) is available in all leading hotels. Most bookstores sell the magazines Beijing Review, China Pictorial, and China Today (published in various languages),as well as the English-language Women in China.
An informative English monthly is Beijing This Month, distributed free at the beginning of every month at most star-rated hotels, the Capital International Airport and major universities. Business Beijing, the sister magzine of Beijing This Month, is also published around the first day of each month.
Hotel shops also stock a wide variety of newspapers, magazines and books from Hong Kong, Japan, Europe and the United States.
Looking for a prepaid sim card for use in China? If you will be traveling to China, and you would like to keep contact with your relatives and friends at your home country through your cell phone, China Unicom Sim Card is your easy sim card solution - Surf, Text, Talk at super-fast 4G speed! Check out Prepaid Sim Card for more information.
- International calls
can be made directly from hotel rooms with IDD phones. Just dial the international prefix 00, plus country code, area code and number. Some large post offices also provide this service. Otherwise, look for roadside kiosks with the IDD sign. IDD calls have a three-minute minimum charge, additional time thereafter is calculated by the minute. Operator-assisted international calls have a minimum three-minute charge. Four-star and five-star hotels charge a variable service charge from 10 to 20 percent. For a collect international call, just dial the number listed in the section of Beijing Directory. The AT&T operator number in China is 10811.
- Domestic Long-distance Calls
Direct long-distance calls (DDD) can be made from most hotels to some 2,000 localities throughout China. Visitors should dial the domestic prefix 0, plus area code and the number. Hotel service charges are the same as for international calls.
Most post offices also provide this service. Alternatively look for roadside kiosks with the IDD and DDD sign. If your call isn't urgent, phone between 21:00 and 07:00-not only is it easier to get through but calls are half the daytime price.
- Phone cards Magnetic phone cards and IC phone cards for IDD and DDD are available in major telecommunications offices and large hotels. China phone cards are specially issued to offer DDD and IDD services in any direct-dial phone around the city. Charges for calls within Beijing are 0.5 yuan per three minutes, and there is no half price for long-distance calls.
Users may buy the cards at the Beijing Long-Distance Phone Service at Fuxingmen. Be careful, phone cards issued by Beijing Telecom can only be used in phones in Beijing. Phone cards issued by the Post Office telephones. Cards issued by China Telecom can be used anywhere apart from the post office.
Medical ServicesMost hotels have access to a doctor. They can also help guests buy medicine or, if necessary, go to the hospital.
Below is a list of a few local hospitals and clinics catering to foreigners.
- Beijing United Family Hospital
Address: 2 Jiangtai Road, Chaoyang District, Beijing,Zip: 100016
- Sino-Japanese Friendship Hospital
Tel: 86-10-6422 2965, 86-10-6422 1122
Fax: 86-10-6421 7749
Add: Ying Hua Dong Lu, He Ping Li, Beijing 100029
- Peking Union Medical College Hospital
ADD:1 Shuaifuyuan, Wangfujing (the foreigners' wing is located behind and to the left of the main hospital entrance), Dongcheng District Mon-Fri 8am5pm
Tel: 6529 5284, 24hr em: 6529 5269
- Hong Kong International Medical Clinic Beijing
The Clinic is located inside the 5-star hotel Swissotel, which is situated at No. 2 Chaoyangmenwai, Dongcheng District, Beijing.
- Beijing Hospital
Call the Foreign Affairs Office: 010-85138505
Post Office- Express mail services
DHL,UPS,EMS,TNT and FedExprovide express mail services for urgent documents, parcels and other items to more than 10,000 cities in 170 countries and regions.
EMS is the only official one in China that can handle private letters and has particular advantage handling mail within China. The Beijing Shuang Chen Express Co. handles fast delivery of gifts and flwoers within the city on request.
Many express delivery services have offices in major hotels and office buildings. Check the building directory in the lobby for their locations.
Some 45 post offices and express mail counters at hotel business centers can also hotel business centers can also handle urgent letters.
- International Post & Teleommunications Office
Besides regular postal services, this office handles remittances, money orders, telegraphic money transfers, international and domestic telephone and telegraph services. In the same building there is a Customs office for those who need customs clearance for postal items.
- Wiring money
You can wire money , or have it wired to you , using a service called Money Transfer, which is a joint project between the China Courier Service Corporation and Western Union, this service allows instant money wiring to and from 100 countries. The place that has this service are:
Post Office, Jianguomendaijie Post Office
China uses 220 volt power supply for standard domestic and business purposes. Hotels generally provide wall sockets in every bathroom for razors and hair dryers, accommodating both "straight two-pin plugs," and "triangular 3-pins plugs."
A variety of electrical outlets can be found in China, so a good all-around adapter plug set is recommended. Keep in mind that no matter what type of plug an outlet might accept, voltage in China is 220V 50 Hz.
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WaterPotable water is available only at a few of the best hotels, so tourists should always ask to make sure. Some hotels offer free bottled water and others you need to pay.
Bottled mineral water is widely available in all stores and street kiosks and sometimes provided free by the hotel. Made in-China mineral water is usually sold at around 3 yuan per bottle.
LaundryThe Chinese Laundries so popular in the U.S. are harder to find here. There are also no coin-op laundromats.
However, laundry services are available at most hotels, usually via the floor attendants. One-day dry cleaning and ironing services are offered at better hotels. Quality of service and price vary. Try a few easily replaceable articles first.
1) The taxi plaque number starts with the number "B"
2) The taxi should be equipped with the light on the top and meter measuring.
3) It's better to take a taxi on the road instead of a taxi waiting somewhere. The empty taxi must show a red light in the front window.
- Watch out! Don't come aboard the black "illegal tour bus":
In Beijing, there are also some black illegal tour bus sending tourists to the Great Wall. You will have a terrible trip once you get on it. To promote their illegal tours, these sales people always deliver a small card to passing-by travelers wanting to go to Great Wall tour by standing on the some public places like the street, Tian'anmen Square, or the entrance of Forbidden City.
Very often they use their "unbelievable low price" to attract those "blind" tourists. But once you come aboard their bus for the Great Wall, they have to make you pay additional fees again and again. Sometimes even the Great Wall is not real Badaling section!! We remind you not to take their card if you happen to meet them. Actually it's very easy to recognize an illegal tour bus in Beijing. A legal tour bus plaque starts with "B", if not, you possibly get on a "black tour bus".
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Beijing Travel Advice
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It is quite useful and practical to learn some useful Chinese phrases if you have the chance to visit China. Chinese is a difficult language for most foreigners. But with some efforts foreign people still can master some useful and daily life sentences to be used in their trips to Beijing China.
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Questions & Answers:
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