11 - TravelLing within China
to the Contents menu]
11.1 Entering China
11.4 Travel within china
During your flight you will
be asked to fill in an entry form before landing –
this asks you for:
• your name
• date of birth
• permanent (UK) address
• passport number
• purpose of travelling (tick the option)
• the date of return
• the name of the airlines
The Entry Process is simplified as four steps:
1. Immigration - at the immigration desk show your passport,
air ticket, and entry form, and get your passport stamped.
2. Baggage reclaim - follow the signs to baggage reclaim
(pay attention to the flight number and make sure you are
waiting at the right carousel – sometimes these are
changed at the last minute).
3. Baggage ticket identification number - you may be required
to show your baggage ticket identification number (attached
to your airline ticket), at the exit point of baggage reclaim.
This is to ensure that your ticket stub has the same number
as your baggage, in order to prevent theft and/or accidental
4. Customs - aside from weapons, bombs and flammables, the
following things are not permitted through the Customs or
- Forged currencies
- Toxicant drugs, including marijuana,
opium, heroin, morphine, etc.
- Valuable cultural/historical objects
- Any food, medicine or other objects
which may propagate disease
- Any detrimental publications/films/photos/videos/tapes/discs
etc, which harm Chinese politics, economy, culture, and
- Animals, plants and related products
- some are allowed but need to be quarantined by National
Animal & Plant Quarantine Department
Note: when you leave China, you are required
to pay airport tax (normally 90 RMB) and fill in an exit
form before passing through the Customs. Follow the signs
at the airport, although these are not always clearly indicated.
You will not be allowed to leave until you have completed
the appropriate form.
With regard to general medical/health
issues, your GP (or Practice Nurse) should be able to advise
you more precisely as to your specific needs, as these will
vary depending on the areas you are to visit. Generally,
if your travels are restricted to the large cities, then
it is recommended that you make sure your tetanus, hepatitis
and typhoid jabs are up to date. Some Clinics also recommend
a polio booster. The more remote areas you visit, the more
risks you may take; it is advisable to take a course of
anti-malarial tablets if you intend to travel to the south
of the country, or to the more remote inland regions. These
generally require you to begin the course of tablets a week
before you leave – so know as much about your itinerary
If you have special medical needs, you should bring the
medicines that you usually take with you.
You should be aware of local
weather conditions, which can be found at http://184.108.40.206/ywwz/
This is an English-language site, which provides domestic
weather forecast on a daily basis from China Meteorological
Travel within China
Arrival and getting to your
Having claimed your luggage, and passed through Customs,
you will next need to get to your hotel:
If you are to be met:
Normally, your Chinese host company will arrange someone
(who can speak English) to meet you at the exit point of
‘International Arrivals’. Standard procedure
is to wait, holding a board with your name and your company’s
name/or the host company’s name on it. If you have
been told by the host company that someone will be there
to meet you, but nobody turns up, remain calm and be patient
– traffic jams are the main cause for such lateness.
It may even be due to the early arrival of your flight.
If it becomes necessary to communicate with the company,
you should be able to use your mobile phone (please check
before you leave). In addition, you can use telephone booths;
most Chinese airports have phone-card purchasing points
near the telephone booths.
For your own safety, you should note the following:
1. When greeting your contact, make sure that they are from
the company you have come to see – they are likely
to have a letter of introduction, or a company business
2. Do not follow anybody who fails to identify himself /
If you are not being met:
Under such circumstances, you will need to make your own
way to your hotel. The basic option is public transport.
Note: car hire is not a popular option so far in Chinese
cities, and as a UK traveller, it is risky to drive a hired
car without knowing the different traffic rules.
Most airports have reasonable bus or taxi services to the
city. Whilst buses are cheaper, they are not recommended
for the first-time traveller to China – you are likely
to find problems with the language, the routes taken with
regard to your hotel, and finding sufficient small-change.
Some of the larger, international hotels may provide a bus
It is best to use the registered taxis from outside the
airport: they are marked with a sign on the roof, written
in Chinese at the front, and with ‘Taxi’ written
at the back. Show the driver the name and address of your
hotel. Alternatively, have the hotel telephone number ready,
and ask the driver to contact your hotel’s reception
desk and they will be able to give appropriate directions.
Another alternative if you land at Shanghai, is to catch
the new Maglev Train (Magnetic Levitating Train), which
will take you from the airport to the city centre in less
than ten minutes, and costs about £11.00 (economy
class) or £19.00 (business class) each way.
National transportation networks & carriers
If you want to book national air tickets, cruise tickets,
rail tickets or coach tickets, you can rely on your hotel’s
reception for assistance, which generally has contacts with
ticket agencies. You should give a tip for this extra service,
and the rates vary from hotel to hotel.
The largest civil airline is Air China, which serves both
domestic and international routes. Other regional airlines
(including those that serve specific geographical areas)
are: China Southern Airlines, China Eastern Airlines, China
Southwest Airlines, China Northwest Airlines, and China
Northern Airlines. There are also provincial airlines: Hainan
Airlines, Yunnan Airlines, Sichuan Airlines, and Xiamen
For further information, see:
The following areas have shipping access:
Coastal cities: Hong Kong, Shenzhen, Xiamen, Dalian, and
Yangtze River Delta cities: such as Shanghai, Wuhan, Chongqing,
China has a large, well-developed railway network, which
links every main city, and also some of the smaller ones.
If you have a little extra time, take the train –
you wont regret it!
1. Quasi-high speed trains,
2. Fast trains,
3. Tourist trains,
4. Expresses, and
5. Passenger trains.
Generally, there are four classes of train coaches: soft
sleeper, hard sleeper, hard seats, and standing:
Sleeper - a soft sleeper carriage containing 8 compartments
with air conditioning, and cushioned berths, 4 berths (arranged
in upper and lower) in each compartment. A hard sleeper
carriage is equipped with fans, and has nearly 40 triple–decker
bunk beds in each coach.
Dining - every train has a dining coach; the onboard broadcast
system may give you instructions of where and when to have
meals, but this is likely to be in Mandarin only.
Purchase of tickets: you can purchase your tickets at the
railway station in most large cities. If you are unsure,
book your tickets at your hotel reception desk.
For more information, see http//:www.cnta.com/lyen/tips/transportation/railways.htm.
Coaches are an increasingly popular form of long-distance
transport, especially between the more modern cities. Coach
companies tend to operate on a regional basis, between the
more developed and provincial capital cities, such as the
routes between Chengdu and Chongqing, Shanghai and Hangzhou,
Guangzhou and Shenzhen, Beijing and Tianjin etc.
For more information, see http://www.cnta.com/lyen/tips/transportation/highways.htm.
within the cities
There are some traditional ways of travelling within Chinese
cities, apart from walking! Buses, taxis, and underground
services are frequently used.
Each Chinese city has a variety of bus routes. However,
you may find it is difficult to get free information leaflets,
and you are strongly advised to buy a city map, which contains
bus route details, at your hotel or any of the larger bookshops.
Bus travel should not be seriously entertained unless you
are familiar with the city, and/or speak the language. Even
then, it can be an experience that you may not wish to repeat
unless absolutely necessary!
The handiest way to travel within the cities is to use a
taxi. Taxi service charge is metered and timed. Some taxi
drivers in modern cities can speak simple English, however,
verbal communication is still a problem if neither you nor
they understand each other much. Always carry a phrase book,
or a pad of small sized paper with some Chinese expressions
– which are quite useful – on it. For some rudimentary
phrases, take a print out of Section 7 with you.
Currently, the underground systems in the country are in
Beijing, Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Tianjin, and Shanghai. Some
underground stations have touch-screen automatic ticketing
A Beijing subway map can be found at: http:///www.worldtips.net/localtips/chinatips/english/beijingsubway/beijingsubway.html