BasicsTime: GMT +8.
Electricity: Electrical current is 220 volts, 50Hz. Plug types vary, but the two-pin flat blade and oblique three-pin flat blade plugs are common. Adapters are generally required.
Money: China's currency is the Renminbi Yuan (CNY), which is divided into 10 jiao or 100 fen. Make sure you exchange your leftover Yuan before returning home because you may have difficulty exchanging the currency outside China's borders. Foreign cash can be exchanged in cities at the Bank of China. It is not possible to exchange Scottish or Northern Irish bank notes. Banks are closed weekends. The larger hotels and the special 'Friendship Stores' designed for foreigners will accept most Western currencies for purchases. Major credit cards are accepted in the main cities, but acceptance may be limited in more rural areas. ATMs are scarce in rural areas.
Currency Exchange Rates
Language: The official language is Mandarin Chinese, but there are hundreds of local dialects.
Entry requirements for Americans: US nationals require both a valid passport and visa for entry into China.
Entry requirements for UK nationals: UK nationals require a passport valid on arrival and a visa for entry into China. Passports endorsed British National (Overseas) are not recognized and holders should carry a Mainland Travel Permit for Hong Kong and Macao Residents together with their Hong Kong ID.
Entry requirements for Canadians: Canadians require a valid passport and visa for entry into China.
Entry requirements for Australians: Australians require a passport valid on arrival, and a visa for entry to China. Visa exemptions include passengers with an APEC Business Travel Card valid for travel to China for stays up to 60 days.
Entry requirements for South Africans: South African nationals require a passport valid on arrival, and a visa for entry to China.
Entry requirements for New Zealand nationals: New Zealand nationals require a passport valid on arrival, and a visa for entry to China.
Passport/Visa Note: Persons holding an APEC Business Travel Card do not require a visa, provided that it is valid for travel to China. Travel to Tibet will also require a special Tibet Entry Permit. There are a few complex exceptions to Chinese visa requirements, which will not apply to the majority of visitors, but all requirements should be confirmed with a Chinese embassy before travel. All documents necessary for further travel and sufficient funds to cover intended period of stay are required. Period of validity is stated on visas, and care should be taken when reading dates on visas for China as they are written in year/month/day format. We always recommend that passports be valid for six months after intended period of travel.
Travel Health: A yellow fever vaccination certificate is required from travellers coming into China from infected areas. There is a risk of malaria throughout the low-lying areas of the country, and it is recommended that travellers to China seek medical advice about malaria before departure. Vaccinations are recommended against hepatitis A and hepatitis B, typhoid (not necessary if eating and drinking in major restaurants and hotels), Japanese encephalitis (usually only recommended for rural areas), and rabies (only recommended for travellers at risk of animal bites). Tap water shouldn't be drunk unless it has first been boiled, filtered or chemically disinfected. Street food should be treated with caution. High levels of air pollution in major cities and industrialised areas in China may exacerbate bronchial, sinus or asthma conditions. There is generally a high standard of health care in major Chinese cities, but it is not provided free of charge; travellers are advised to have comprehensive travel health insurance.
Tipping: Tipping is not officially recognised in China, though the practice is has become increasingly common among tour guides, top-end restaurants, tour bus drivers and hotel staff. Travellers wanting to tip should leave a gratuity of about 10 percent. Large hotels and restaurants often include a service charge in their bills, usually of around 10 percent, so travellers should make sure that they aren't doubling up.
Climate: Shanghai has a humid, subtropical climate with four distinct seasons. The range in temperature between the hottest part of summer (June to August) and the depths of winter (December to February) is extreme. In summer, temperatures can reach 95ºF (35ºC) and the hottest months are July and August, with about 80 percent humidity. Most of Shanghai's rainfall occurs during this period but Shanghai is a rainy city year round, due to its location on an estuary, and it rains for about a third of the year. Despite the heat, and the high chance of rain, summer is still a popular time for tourists to visit Shanghai. In winter, temperatures can drop below zero and conditions tend to be grey and dull, though snowfall rarely occurs. Springtime (March to May) is perhaps the best time to travel to Shanghai, with more moderate conditions than summer, although weather can be variable at this time of year. Autumn (September to November) also tends to be moderate, with sunny, dry weather, though the odd typhoon can occur between September and October; typhoons and cyclones can cause considerable damage in the city and it is worth checking for storm warnings before travelling. All in all, spring and autumn are the best seasons to visit Shanghai.
Safety Information: China is generally safe, and there is currently little threat from global terrorism. The risk of terror attacks is higher in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region and travellers should exercise caution if travelling to or around Xinjiang. Serious crime against foreigners is rare but does occur, particularly in isolated or sparsely populated areas. There has been an increase in the number of muggings and robberies at Beijing International Airport and around the Jianguomenwai area of Beijing, as well as in Shenzen, bordering Hong Kong. If travelling alone, including following parts of the Great Wall, it is advisable to leave an itinerary and expected time of return with a third party. Travellers should take extra care in street markets and at tourist sites, which attract thieves and pickpockets, and around the popular expat bar areas at night, where lone foreigners have occasionally been attacked. Travellers should be cautious about using pedicabs in Beijing, as tourists have reportedly been mugged by the drivers; women in particular have been targeted. Disputes over taxi fares can occur. Insist on paying the metered fare and ask for a receipt; this has the taxi number on it. Seasonal heavy rains and typhoons cause hundreds of deaths in China each year, particularly those areas bordering the Yangtze River in central, southern and western China. Demonstrations have taken place in Lhasa, Tibet, as well as in some Chinese provinces in protest against Chinese rule in Tibet. Even though the situation seems to have stabilised, visitors are advised to stay up to date on the situation before travelling to the region and to avoid all protests. The Chinese government sometimes suspends the issue of permits for travel to Tibet due to unrest.
Chinese people usually have three names, the first of
which is their surname, or family name. As a result, visitors
should be prepared for hotels mistakenly reserving rooms under
their first names. For clarity, surnames may be underlined. When
addressing Chinese people, the surname should come first and
official titles should be used. Chinese handshakes last longer than
those in western countries, and it is customary to stand close
together when in conversation. Politeness in western terms is often
foreign to the Chinese, and they rarely bother with pleasantries.
It is considered disrespectful to keep prolonged eye contact,
avoiding eye contact is considered reverential rather than rude.
All foreigners should carry their ID on them at all times, as spot
checks are common. Failure to show evidence of ID when requested by
an official may result in a fine or detention.
Travel Guide powered by Word Travels, copyright © 2020 Globe Media Ltd. All rights reserved. By its very nature much of the information in this guide is subject to change at short notice and travellers are urged to verify information on which they're relying with the relevant authorities. Neither Globe Media nor The Global Travel Group can accept any responsibility for any loss or inconvenience to any person as a result of information contained above.