CHINA VISA REQUIREMENTS:
To enter China a visa is required for Americans and most other nationalities. Visa can be obtained at the Chinese Embassies or Consulates. Requirements: A completed application form; two recent identical 2x2 facial photo; a passport with blank pages valid for at least 6 months from date of entry for a single entry tourist visa, 9 months for multiple entries within 6 months and at least 15 months for multiple entries within one year. Cost: please check the Chinese Consulate web-site for latest updates. Visa are issued in 5 days, but can also be obtained within 2 or 3 days for additional charges.
Washington DC Embassy
|2300 Connecticut Avenue NW
Washington DC 20008
|Los Angeles Consulate
||443 Shatto Place
Los Angeles, CA 90020
|San Francisco Consulate
|900 1450 Laguna Street
San Francisco, CA 94115
|New York Consulate
|520 12th Avenue
New York, NY 10036
|104 South Michigan Avenue, Suite 900
Chicago, IL 60603
|3417 Montrose Blvd.
Houston, TX 77006
|TRAVEL TO TIBET:
Individual tourists who wish to go to Tibet must obtain permits in advance from the Tibet Tourist Authorities. The ofice of Tibet Tourism is in Chengdu, Sichuan province. It is authorized by the Tibet Autonomous Region Government to manage Tibet entrance confirmations. Visitors can go in person to the office or fax details of their passports and travel plans to this office. Tel: 028-382188, Fax: 028-333526. Chengdu is the main entrance point into Tibet and more than 70% of all visitors to Tibet leave from Chengdu. There are daily two flights to Lhasa.
Some people venture to enter Tibet without a permit, but take chances that their efforts fail. Permits may also obtained in Katmandu, Nepal.
Hotel beds are limited in Tibet and reservations have to be made well in advance.
Because of the high altitude of the region, travelers may experience symptoms of acute mountain sickness. One may experience sleeping difficulties, headaches and dizziness until ones body got accustomed to the conditions.
The climate is dry and on the cool side even in summer. The best time to visit is from May to September. Winters bring intense cold and fierce winds. Snowfall is less common in Tibet than the name "Land of Snow" implies.
|TRAVEL TO HONG KONG:
No visa are required for American tourist traveling to Hong Kong. Other passport holders should inquire with PRC embassies or consulates.
|Hong Kong Tourist Office:
|160 Sansome Street, Suite 1102
San Francisco, CA 94104
|10940 Wilshire Blvd.,Suite 1220
Los Angeles, CA 90024
For Brochures: 1-800-282-4582
Climate: the hot and humid periods last from around April to September. There is a short winter from January to March with moderate temperatures. Autumn and Spring are good times to visit.
Find daily weather reports at: http://weather.yahoo.com/regional/China.html
No inoculations are required for travel in China. Persons on special medications should bring sufficient supplies for the duration of the trip, since special prescriptions may not be available in China. To bring along an anti-diarrhea formula is always a good idea. For most updated information on vaccinations contact the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta at http://www.cdc.gov/travel/travel.html
|LITERATURE ON TRAVEL IN CHINA:
There are thousands of books available dealing with every possible aspect on China and its surrounding areas. The following list is very selective with focus on mainly travel related topics.
Each book is identified with its ISBN (International Standard Book Number) with which it can be found and ordered at any book store. A great place to browse, and order on-line is the Amazon Bookstore
Click on ISBN NUMBER for book reviews and more information
- CHINA: THE SILK ROUTES (Cadogan Guides), Peter Neville Hadley, 1997 ISBN:1860110525
- BAEDEKER CHINA, Jarrold Baedecker, 1997 ISBN:0028613651
- BEIJING (4th Edition), William Lindesay, Wu Qi, 1997 ISBN:0844247685
- IN SECRET TIBET (Mystic Traveler Series), Theodor Illion, 1991 ISBN:0932813135
- CHINA: LAND OF MYSTERY, Johnny Erling, 1997 ISBN:1860642209
- HONG KONG: EPILOGUE TO AN EMPIRE, Jon Morris, 1997 ISBN:0679776486
- LONELY PLANET BEIJING, Robert Storley, 1996 ISBN:0864423772
- LONELY PLANET CHINA, inclusive HongKong & Macau), 1994 ISBN:1740591178
- TRAVELS IN TARTARY,THIBET & CHINA,1844-1846, Joseph Gabet, Evariste Regis Huc ISBN: 0486254380
- YANGTZE RIVER: THE WILDEST, WICHEDEST RIVER ON EARTH: AN ANTHOLOGY, Madeline Lynn, 1997 ISBN:0195869206
- SHANGHAI / THE PARIS OF THE ORIENT, Lyn Pan, 1995 ISBN:0844297046
- BAZAARS OF CHINESE TURKESTAN: LIFE AND TRADE ALONG THE OLD SILK ROAD, Peter Yung, 1997 ISBN:019590270x
- THE SILK ROAD, 1994: FROM XI’AN TO KASHGAR, Judy Bonavia, 1994 ISBN:0844299510
- CONSERVATION OF ANCIENT SITES ON THE SILK ROAD, Neville Agnew, 1997 ISBN:0892364165
- HOUSE OF THE TURQUOISE ROOF, Dorje Yuthok, 1995-Tells the story of a young noble woman growing up in Lhasa. ISBN:1559390352
- CHINA: Ancient Culture, Modern Land, Robert Murowchick, 1994 ISBN:0806126833
- LIFE AND DEATH IN SHANGHAI, Nien Cheng, tells her powerful, gripping, unforgettable story, which takes place during Communist China's Cultural Revolution ISBN:014010870X
- MONGOLIA: EMPIRE OF THE STEPPES - Odyssey Guide ISBN:9622176895
- BEIJING AND SHANGHAI:CHINA'S HOTTEST CITIES - Odyssey Guide ISBN:962217728X
- CHINA - Odyssey Guide ISBN:9622176550
- THE SILK ROAD - Odyssey Guide ISBN:9622176933
|BEST TIMES TO VISIT CHINA:
To decide when to travel to China depends on which places you wish to visit. China is a huge country and during your trip you will most probably encounter different climates. Traveling along the "Golden Route" (Beijing-Xi’an-Guillin_Shanghai) is like traveling from Seattle via Denver to San Diego with all its climatic variations. May, September and October are the peak tourist month. The weather is most comfortable; prices are the highest. Late March, April, June, August and early November are shoulder season; the weather is a bit unpredictable but usually still acceptable; prices are somewhat lower than during peak season. December, January, February and beginning of March are off season (however not in Hong Kong). Winters are cold and foggy in the north (Beijing and Xi’an); crowds are few and prices unbelievably low.
The Voltage in China is 220 Volts (versus 110 in the US). In order to operate your electric appliances (hair dryer, electric razor, etc.) you need a converter. In addition to the converter (which your appliance might have built in you also need a set of adapters in order to use the differently shaped outlets in China.
The local currency in China is the Yuan. One US$ equals about 8.30 Yuan. There is now only one currency used (also known as Renminbi) since January 1994, when Foreign Exchange Certificates (FEC) were abolished. All major credit cards are widely accepted in China (especially
in the big foreign managed hotels, and at tourist spots). Traveler Checks are accepted at government stores and can also be cashed at hotel lobbies, besides banks of course. The exchange rate is set by the government and is the same, no matter where you change. ATM’s are found in Hong Kong and the machines accept major credit cards and American ATM cards. One US$ equals about 7.70 HK$; nowadays, one can also find electronic cash points in some big cities like Beijing and Shanghai, where you can draw cash on your credit cards (Visa and Mastercard's web sites give the latest details). You can use these and several other cards at larger branches of the Bank of China for the same purpose. There is a 4% commission charge, and a minimum withdrawal of Y1200 (about $145). For updated exchange rates visit http://cnnfn.com/markets/currencies.html
In most of the hotels you can use your calling card to place phone calls back to the US. AT&T customers have to dial 11810 first and then follow the instructions. MCI card holders have to dial 11812, customers of Pacific Bell should dial 10816. Customers of other long distance carriers should contact their company for more information.
|AIRPORT TAXES: |
A special Airport Development Tax is charged for each departure on a domestic flight at Chinese airports. This tax can only be paid in Yuan and must be paid by the passenger in cash. The tax varies from airport to airport and usually rises frequently. You should count on about 50 yuan (approximately $ 6.00) per flight.
Upon leaving China by train, air plane, ship or over land, travelers are charged a departure tax of 90 Yuan (about $ 11.00), which has to be paid in Yuan and in cash at the point of exit. Hong Kong’s departure tax charged only at the airport is HK$ 100.00 (about $ 13.00)
|MEALS AND LOCAL CUISINE:
Chinese cuisine has a very long history and Chinese food and cooking rates top among the great cuisine on our planet. There is a diverse range of culinary styles and between them almost everything edible ends up in the pot. Chinese cuisine can broadly be devided into four major schools: Mandarin (Beijing) and Shandong, Cantonese and Chaozhou, Sichuan and Shanghainese.
BEIJING AND SHANDONG:
This cuisine developed in the coldest part of China in China’s "Wheat Belt". Steamed bread and noodles are the staple. Northern cuisine combines simple cooking techniques ( steaming & stir-frying) with the sophistication of imperial dishes. Famous dishes are Beijing Duck, Beggar’s Chicken, Mongolian Hotpot, Mongolian Barbecue.
Imperial Cuisine is available in Beijing at the Fangshan Restaurant (401-1889), the Tingliguan Imperial Restaurant (2582504) and the Gloria Showcase Restaurant (515-8855). Dishes and prices are imperial.
CANTONESE AND CHAOZHOU:
Southern Chinese cooking with lots of steaming, boiling and stir-frying, without using a lot of oil. It’s lightly cooked and not as spicy as the other three, with lots of seafood, vegetables, roast pork, chicken, steamed fish and fried rice. Famous dishes are Dim Sum for breakfast and lunch, dried squid, 1000-year-old eggs, shark’s fin soup, snake soup, monkeys, turtles, frogs and dogs. Cantonese food has long been a favorite of Westerners and Chinese restaurants around the world include Cantonese dishes on their menu.
This is the hottest of the four major categories. Specialties include Smoked Duck, Garlic Shrimp, Dried Chilli Beef and Eggplants in Garlic. The most famous Sichuan dish undoubtedly is Gongbao Chicken.
This cuisine encompasses Shanghai, Zhejiang, Fujian and the so called lower Yangzi region. It is the most diverse of China’s regional cuisines and has produced many famous dishes like Wuxi Spear Ribs, hundreds of different soups and seafood dishes. A technique of Eastern cooking is ‘red cooking? in a stock of soy sauce and rice wine.