Bella Ispirazione

China

We planned 18 days in China and decided to split them in (click on each link):

And of course we had to expend lots of hours travelling from one city to another, including our international flight Madrid-Shanghai-Madrid.
For this trip we spent 1000 euros in China, 730 euros for the international flight and 600 euros between internal flights and trains. All of these from August 12th to August 30th of 2015.
Here some of the tips for planning your trip to China. Also, don´t forget to read my post about “What and how to pack to China”.

MONEY:

Yuan (CNY)

LANGUAGES:

Mandarin and Canton. Only a few people understand english; take with you all the addresses written in Chinese, it is really necessary to explain to taxi drivers where you want to go. I also bought the “Mandarin Phrasebook & Dictionary“, but I got to say we only used it a couple of times. I believe is a lot better to take the “Point it” book.

Point it

 NUMBERS

Chinese number gestures with the hands are a little bit different from what we are use to. Since the languages barrier is huge, it is pretty helpful if you learn the way the do these gesture for your trip to China. Check this web to see how to they do it (with 1 hand).

Hand numbers used in Chinese from: http://studyinchina.universiablogs.net

Hand numbers used in Chinese from: http://studyinchina.universiablogs.net

WEATHER:

Check the seasons and weather here before planning your trip. It could really hot and humid, especially in the south.

In Guilin with our raincoats

In Guilin with our raincoats

In Chengdu with our raincoats

In Chengdu with our raincoats

VISA: 

Check if you need a visa here. For Europeans and Venezuelans it is needed to enter in China, but not to Hong Kong. If you are planning a trip to Hong Kong in the middle of your itinerary in China don’t for get to ask for more than 1 entry in your visa application. My recommendation is to request the visa at least 20 days before your departure to China. If you are including the Tibet, an extra permit is needed. You will have to get it through a travel agency.

INTERNET:

Wifi is becoming more popular in restaurants and it is common to have access to internet in your hotel, especially in Hong Kong. In China (no Hong Kong), lots of webs are banned (facebook, instagram, google, etc.), download  similar apps before arriving in China or download a VPN app also before arriving (Astrill, per example).

SIM CARDS:

I highly recommend to buy a sim card once you arrive in China. It won’t only keep you in contact with your relatives, but it helps you with directions and translations. It’s easy to get a prepaid sim card at the airport or in the big cities. I paid 200 Yuan for a month of internet (2Gb) and 300minutes to local calls. Make sure it works in all the cities you plan to visit. In Hong Kong we had to buy a different Sim Card, also at the airport without any issue.

ATM:

Easy to find in the big cities. But not all of them work with international cards. Carry cash with you all the time.

CREDIT CARDS:

Not accepted in all the places, even in the big cities lots of restaurants and monuments don’t accept them, especially American Express.

TAXI:

Usually it is not an expensive option, but make sure the driver agrees to use the “meter” before getting into the taxi. In the airport / Train Stations use only official taxis, the others will probably try to charge you 300% more than with the meter, especially if you don´t haggle. We also used “Uber” in Shanghai and Beijing, but make sure you have the address written in Chinese to show it to the driver.

TIPS:

Not common in China.

WATER:

Always buy water in sealed bottles. Your stomach is not probably used to the  food/drinks of other countries, so it is better to take care of yourself and go easy with the food. But try not to be an extremist, after going so far away from home, give the local food a try.

MOBILE APPS:

As I mention before download a VPN app if you want access to all the webs that you access outside China. If you are travelling in group, we always use “Trip Splitter” to divide costs and know who paid each bill. Of course, a map and translator app are neccesary here. Also we use “XE Currency” to convert local currency in Euros/Dollars.

ELECTRICITY:

 It is generally 220V, 50Hz. A standard socket in China has two pins on the upper part and earthed three pins on the lower part. I personally didn´t have any problem using my europeans plugs. Anyway I always travel with a universal adaptor that also has 2 USB inputs.

NATIONAL FLIGHTS:

I recommend Ctrip to search for flights (it is like skyscanner, edreams, etc.). In our trip we flew with Spring Airlines (low cost airline) but it had delays that seem to be common, plus they cancel one of our flights a few days before the departure, causing a little reschedule of our trip. We also used Air China and Juneyao Airline, both were OK, but with their respective delays. I personally prefer to travel by train when it is possible.

TRAIN TICKETS:

We bought our tickets through www.travelchinaguide.com 3 months before our flight to China, but it is common to buy them only 1 month before your trip. The only thing is that you have to buy them through a travel agency, so you will be changing emails with your agency to choose the trains. Travel China Guide is highly recommended, they were very kind and helpful, and got us good seats/beds in the trains. They will send you the tickets to an address in China, to your hotel or you can get them at the station once you arrive in China. We were lucky to have a friend living in China so we sent them to her house.

Here is an image that I create myself (as you can see), with the train ticket details that you need to know.

Train Ticket Details

Train Ticket Details

 

Do you have any other recommendation? or if you have any doubt with planning your trip, I am more than happy to help you.

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