The People’s Republic of China can be a daunting place to visit, with its enormous population, sprawling cities and almost endless options, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed.
If you’re thinking of booking a trip to China, but keep asking yourself;
- Where do I start?
- What shouldn’t be missed?
- How do I pay for stuff?
- How will I communicate with the people?
- How do I get around?
Then check out our quick guide below and forget your worries!
Where to start
The first steps are often the hardest on any adventure or new experience. This will often be based on how much time you have but I would definitely state that Beijing is a great place to start! The capital, located in the north east, is not to be missed, and is home to some of the biggest sites; The Forbidden City and the Great Wall of China for starters.
Whether you’re looking for culture, food, adventure, wilderness or city-scapes, or all of the above. China has a lot to offer. Here’s 10 of the top locations to give you an idea;
- The Great wall of China – Beijing
- The Terracotta Army – Xi’an
- The Li River – Guilin
- The Yellow Mountains – Huangshen
- The Forbidden City – Beijing
- The Bund – Shanghai
- Victoria Harbour – Honk Kong
- Giant Pandas – Chengdu
- The Potala Palace – Lasa, Tibet
- West Lake – Hangzhou
The Chinese currency is the Renminbi, the basic unit of which is the Yuan. Yuan is generally how it’s the referred to, especially in international context. ATMs that accept international cards can be found in most places and cash is the easiest way to pay for anything, especially in the smaller cities. It’s often best to make sure you have enough cash on you before heading out though, in case you find yourself in a less touristy area. International airports are a great place to get cash when you first arrive. Train stations also!
It’s recommended to stick with the major banks such as;
- Bank of China
- China Construction Bank
Despite being a cash-based society, more and more places are beginning to accept international credit cards. Especially hotels, foreign brand name stores and up-scale restaurants. A credit card is great for making larger payments so it’s always worth carrying one with you.
China is very advance when it comes to mobile payment systems. Unfortunately, it is only serviced by local companies such as WeChat or Alipay who do not accept most international credit cards. If you ever encounter a shop that only accepts mobile payment, you can ask your guide to pay with their service and then give them the cash in exchange.
The current exchange rate is roughly: 5 yuan to 1 Australian dollar. Making it nice and simple to convert prices. 50 yuan is $10, 1000 yuan is $200 and so on. It’s often a comforting feeling knowing what you’re spending in your home currency!
Mandarin Chinese is the official national language of the mainland, accounting for a majority of the population.
English is the most common foreign language and is generally enough to get by in tourist areas.
It’s always worth learning a few words and phrases in Mandarin Chinese to use on your travels, just putting in the effort is always well received! It can also be very useful when looking for directions, shopping and ordering food.
Here’s a few useful phrases to get you started;
- Nǐ hǎo (Nee-haoww) 你好
- Nǐ hǎo ma? (Nee-haoww-mah?) 你好吗
How are you?
- Xièxie. (sshyeah-sshyeah) 谢 谢
- Duìbuqǐ. (dway-boo-chee) 对不起
- Yǒuméiyǒu …? (Yoh-may-yoh …?) 有没有 …?
Do you have …?
- Duōshao qián? 多少钱 (Dwor-sshaoww chyen?)
How much money?
- … zài nǎlǐ? (… dzeye naa-lee?) …在哪里
Where is …? (location said first)
- Wǒ xiǎng qù… (Wor sshyang chyoo …) 我想去 …
I want to go to …
- Cèsuǒ. (tser-swor) 厕所
All tours will include modern air-conditioned private vehicles, with pick-up and drop-off right from the hotel lobby. Private transfers chauffers are also available between airports and hotels. When not on organized tours, or when you’re looking to venture further on your own, transport is no issue in China. With an incredibly modern network of airports and trains to link cities, alongside fantastic subway and taxi services in the metro areas.
Almost all services will have signage in English also, and the subway systems are very intuitive, with easy to read maps (also very cheap!) Avoid peak business hours and you’ll have no trouble, a fast and easy way to get around town!
Taxis are generally safe and reliable in China, and definitely the easiest way to get around. Make sure to carry cash, smaller notes are better. Where ever you’re heading, the best thing to do is get your hotel to write the place in Mandarin Chinese and then show this to the taxi driver to save time and avoid communication issues.
Thanks for reading!