GROUP TRAVELING IN CHINA
Visas are required for Americans, and can be obtained at the Chinese Embassy in Washington , D.C. , or Chinese consulates in various cities (eg. San Francisco , Los Angeles , Chicago or New York ) . One visa application form, one passport-sized photograph, and the appropriate fee (which varies according to citizenship and any rush charges that may apply) must be submitted along with a passport valid for six months. Processing time is typically four days and the cost is $ 130 . Visas can be obtained sooner for an additional charge. Visas are then valid for three months from date of issue, and be used for multiple entries. Please check the consulate web for details if you want to have more than one entry and stay longer. (You can download the application form at
Prior to arrival in China , travelers will be given a customs declaration form. This form will be given to a customs officer upon arrival .
No immunizations are required for entry into China , unless the traveler is coming from a yellow fever infected area ( South America and Africa ). The Center for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta recommends that all travelers have current polio and tetanus immunizations. For traveling into the countryside, immune (gamma) globulin is also recommended to combat hepatitis A, as is typhoid immunization.
The travel agency will have basic insurance, but if you want to cover more, you can contact Access America . 5.5% of the cost of the trip (less than $200) will cover almost everything, such as you have to be sent back due to your illness, or shorten your trip due to your family member's illness in US. You can call them or find more information at their web www.accessamerica.com
You are allowed to check in two pieces of luggage weighing up to 50 pounds each on international flights to and from China . You will be allowed to check in only one piece of luggage for domestic flights in China of up to 50 pounds and one carry-on piece of baggage not larger than 45 inches and weighing less than 11 pounds. It's safer to bring up to 50 pounds on your way to China and buy more things when you come home. However you can bring more luggage if you are willing to pay the extra charges.
The Chinese currency is called "yuan". The current exchange rate is one US dollar to 6.8 yuan now . US dollars can be exchanged to yuan at banks and hotel lobbies. Major credit cards are acceptable in most hotels in major cities. Traveler's checks can be cashed at Bank of China with a service charge. Personal checks are not acceptable. Upon exiting China , you may exchange yuan back to US dollars with the exchange receipts.
The accommodation is double occupancy (two twin beds) with a private bathroom. They are comfortable but basic.
WATER AND FOOD
Tap water is not drinkable unless it is boiled. Bottled spring water is recommended and it is very inexpensive and available everywhere. You will have the opportunity to sample the tremendous variety of Chinese food, but don't eat uncooked vegetables and unpeeled fruit.
Medical facilities for foreigners are available in major cities. We recommend you bring an ample supply of any medication that you are currently taking since it might not be available or not easy to get in China .
220 volts. More information can be found at www.kropla.com/china_power.htm
Officially tipping is not allowed in China , though it is very popular to tip tour guides, drivers and bellmen. Generally there are no tips for taxi drivers, waiters and waitresses. Most of the restaurants will include 15% service charge in your bill.
The luggage of the group will be sent to the lobby, and if you want the bellman to bring the luggage to your room, it's expected to tip the bellman (2-3 RMB per luggage).
There is one tip you have to pay. That's to our tour guides. Here is the guide for your reference.
Local guide $3 per day.
Driver $1 per day.
Since we are going to visit schools, orphanage, and teacher or student's home, to bring some gifts would be a good idea. Gift could be something from your hometown or your school that can be displayed as a memory for people who receive it. Or anything else, such as pens, music tapes, inexpensive pins.
WHAT TO PACK
Casual, comfortable and durable clothing are recommended, such as sweaters, sports jacket and pants which you can layer. One formal jacket or dress is enough for meetings. (Chinese women wear pants even in business meetings). Forget about clothing which must be dry-cleaned. Comfortable pair of walking shoes and socks a must.
- Raincoat / umbrella (You can buy an umbrella at a couple of dollars easily)
- Personal medical kit
- Electrical converter and adapter plug if you bring any electrical device with 110 volts.
- Hair dryer, razor and alarm clock. (You can get hair dryer at most the hotels)
- Sun-tan lotion and make up stuff.
- Camera and films with extra batteries if the batteries are not common.
RULES OF THUMB
Be flexible and accept the changes, and you will enjoy your trip a great deal.