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11 - TravelLing within China

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11.1 Entering China
11.2 Medical issues
11.3 Weather
11.4 Travel within china


11.1 Entering 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
• nationality
• 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 acquisition.
4. Customs - aside from weapons, bombs and flammables, the following things are not permitted through the Customs or airport security:
   - 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 ethics
   - 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.

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11.2 Medical issues

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 as possible.

If you have special medical needs, you should bring the medicines that you usually take with you.

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11.3 Weather

You should be aware of local weather conditions, which can be found at http://211.147.16.25/ywwz/

This is an English-language site, which provides domestic weather forecast on a daily basis from China Meteorological Administration.

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11.4 Travel within China

Arrival and getting to your hotel

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 card.
2. Do not follow anybody who fails to identify himself / herself properly.

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.

Public transport

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 service.

Taxis

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.

Airlines

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 Airlines.

For further information, see:
www.cnta.com/lyen/tips/transportation/civil%20aviation.htm
www.cnta.com/lyen/tips/transportation/majo%20chinese%20air%20companies.htm
www.cnta.com/lyen/tips/transportation/valuable%20tips.htm

Shipping

The following areas have shipping access:
Coastal cities: Hong Kong, Shenzhen, Xiamen, Dalian, and Qinhuangdao.
Yangtze River Delta cities: such as Shanghai, Wuhan, Chongqing, and Changsha.

Railways

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

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.

Travelling within the cities

There are some traditional ways of travelling within Chinese cities, apart from walking! Buses, taxis, and underground services are frequently used.

Bus services

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!

Taxis

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.

Underground system

Currently, the underground systems in the country are in Beijing, Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Tianjin, and Shanghai. Some underground stations have touch-screen automatic ticketing machines.

A Beijing subway map can be found at: http:///www.worldtips.net/localtips/chinatips/english/beijingsubway/beijingsubway.html

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