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Insider’s Tips

  • Please make sure you have travel insurance
  • Electricity: 220V
  • Time Zone: Standard time zone UTC/GMT +8hrs

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Currency:

1 Renminbi Yuan (CNY; symbol ¥) = 10 jiao/mao or 100 fen. Notes are in denominations of ¥100, 50, 20, 10, 5 and 1. Coins are in denominations of ¥1, 5 and 1 jiao/mao. Counterfeit ¥50 and ¥100 notes are commonplace. CNY is not traded outside China

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Credit/Debit Cards and ATMs:

American Express, Diners Club, Mastercard and Visa are widely accepted in major provincial cities in designated establishments.  ATMs can generally be found in airports, hotels, shopping centres and banks.  Credit cards are often unlikely to be accepted away from the major cities.

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Food

Meals are included as detailed in your itinerary.  Larger city hotels provide international cuisine as well as Chinese, but presentation and taste may vary from western standards.  On touring arrangements, the majority of meals are likely to be Chinese rather than international; vegetarians can be catered for but please ensure your local tour manager is aware of your requirements.  More specific dietary requirements may be difficult to cater for.  The food is quite different from that which you are likely to be used to.

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Transportation

Transportation is in private air-conditioned coaches with local guides accompanying tours. Comfort stops are made on long journeys. Facilities can be basic so it is advisable to carry a supply of toilet paper or tissues.

Domestic flights are operated by local airlines and flight schedules will be confirmed by your local representative. Flight tickets are issued locally.

The Chinese railway system is deservedly legendary and Chinese rail travel is an opportunity to experience a true part of Chinese life. Where a train journey is part of your itinerary, keep sight of your guide who will lead you through the busy station to your train and carriage.

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Tipping

Tipping is a way of life in China and is expected in order to get things done. The normal practice is to dispense small sums to all sorts of people – hotel porters, breakfast staff, lunch waiting staff, porters on trains and at railway stations, local guides and drivers etc. – anyone and everyone providing a service will expect to be tipped and will not be shy asking for it!  To overcome the need for carrying small change on tour, and the embarrassment of knowing how much to tip and having the right change, we have devised a ‘tipping pool.’

Amounts vary dependent on the tour you have booked but generally we recommend that each member of the group contribute the equivalent of €5.00 per person per day this amount will then cover the day-to-day tips; your tour guide will give you more details.

Cruise company recommend $8-10 per person per day for the cruise portion – this does not include the river cruise guide who should be tipped separately from the rest of the onboard staff.

Tipping through your guide is not mandatory and if you prefer you can tip everyone yourself. Your guide can help with suggestions on how much at each stop. You will need to carry small notes.

Not included in this ‘pool’ are the gratuities that you may wish to present to your tour manager.

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Shopping

Our tours provide the opportunity to see some of the local crafts and industries of China. For example: Beijing, cloisonné; Xian, jade etc these visits form part of the tour and but you should not feel obliged to purchase unless you want to. Items such as silk carpets, pearls and jade provide a lovely reminder of a colourful visit to China. Try to accept the somewhat pressurised sales techniques employed in some shops with good humour. Prices are fixed in the Friendship and department stores but wherever possible elsewhere put your bargaining skills to the test for the best results. (in many cases you should get 25% to 40% off the asking price). Watch out for yesterday’s antiques and make sure you always get the right currency back when collecting your change from the street vendors.

May we also suggest you consider the following points:

  • Check your credit card receipt carefully before you leave the shop to ensure there are no errors.
  • If you are buying articles that you will import yourself, goods purchased in China attract Irish tax and duty as soon as your total imports exceed the regular duty free allowances (alcohol, cigarettes etc.) plus €400 of other gifts and souvenirs. If you bring in something worth more than the limit of €400, you must pay charges on the full value, not just the value above €400.
  • Obtain an assurance from the shopkeeper in writing that all shipping charges are included in the cost of the purchase, or to confirm what they will be.
  • Citiescapes do not assist with the payment of import or shipping charges, neither do we condone the practice of shopkeepers who offer to reduce the value of goods on invoices to reduce import duty.
  • Credit card fraud is on the increase world wide. Keep your cards safe and use them only in reputable outlets.

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Personal Safety

China is a conservative society. You are reminded to dress modestly, behave courteously and respect local customs and sensitivities. Whilst on tour you will have the services of a local guide but there are also opportunities to explore independently. When doing so all clients, but especially our lady travellers, should take extra caution and expect to attract some degree of attention and interest from the locals.

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