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The People’s Republic of China (PRC), known simply as “China,” is located in East Asia and prides itself in its ancient civilization. With its exotic locales, culture significance, and invaluable relics, as well as a center for business and commerce, China is not only a tourist’s paradise, but it is also an ideal hub for business to prosper. Here are a few tips on travelling to this faraway land.
Arrival and Departure
Arrival: The moment you arrive in China, you need to follow certain procedures, as you would do in any other country. Forms like Health Card, Entry Registration Card and Custom Luggage Declaration Form need to be filled out.
• Health Check: This is the first check that you will require to pass through. The Quarantine Check requires you show your passport as well as the Health Card Form, which was filled out while on board. Those found to be suffering with diseases like leprosy, VD, cholera, infectious pulmonary tuberculosis, AIDS, or yellow fever will be either prohibited from entering the country, or they will have to go to the clinic at the airport for further checking. Those who have travelled from areas that are plagued need to declare an official certificate of inoculation of that particular disease. If you have symptoms of vomiting, fever or diarrhea, you will need to declare this information as well. If your visit in China is for a long period, a quarantine certificate given to you by a certified health department abroad needs to be submitted.
• Border Entry: This is the second stage that you will need to pass through. You will need to show your passport, with a valid visa, as well as Entry Registration Card that was previously filled out. Visas are not issued at the border.
• Customs Check: The last stage involves the customs check. Once collecting your luggage, you will need to pass through either of the two channels: green (if there is nothing that needs to be declared) or red. Items like computers, video cameras, digital cameras, silver, gold, recorded or printed materials, for example, which you will need or that which you will not take with you when you leave the country, need to be included in the Customs Luggage Declaration Form. Once the form is filled out, you need to pass through the red channel. Here you may have to pay for duties. In some cases, items will need to be deposited at Customs, but you can take them out when you leave the country. The stamped form should be kept safely with you, as you will need to submit it to the Customs Officer on your departure from the country.
Departure: Upon your departure, show the items that you had declared on your arrival and as mentioned in the Customs Luggage Declaration Form. In the case of any missing item, a certificate issued by the relevant department needs to be submitted, or else you will need to pay import duty. The Departure Card will need to be filled out, followed by the security check.
There are a number of articles that you will be forbidden from importing into the country, namely:
• Arms and ammunition
• Counterfeit currency
• Forms of media like photographs, films, audio and video CDs, gramophone records, printed material, storage device for computers, for example.
• Poisons, marihuana, heroin, opium, morphine, as well as other drugs that cause hallucinations or that are addictive
• Plants and animals transmitting deadly diseases, as well as harmful organisms.
• Food items, medicines, and other items that are coming from plague-stricken locations, and which are harmful to domestic animals and humans.
The articles that are forbidden exports include all of the imports, as well as cultural relics which are of immense value, rare and endangered animals, and specimen plants and seeds.
Important Travel Documents To Take
• Your passport and valid visa prior to your entering the country; a single-entry visa is usually valid for 3 months from the date of issue. You will be allowed to stay for 30 days, at the most.
• If you have any medical record, you are recommended to take it, which also includes your doctor’s name and contact information, an emergency contact and your insurance company’s contact details.
Travelers are recommended to buy travel insurance from a trustworthy insurance provider prior to their departure from their hometown.
The following vaccinations are required to be taken 4 to 6 weeks prior to your travel:
• Hepatitis A & B or immune globulin (IG)
Prior to your departure, make a check list of the important items that you should carry. Some of them include:
• Your passport and necessary visas
• International airline tickets
• Authorized medical certificates, medicines, first-aid kit, insect repellant
• Clothes and accessories, depending on your place and time of visit, as well as the occasion (formal wear is mandatory is some dining places)
• Wallet, credit cards, traveler’s checks
• Contact information of your travel agency (if you have made arrangements through one), friends and relatives back home, the hotel at which you will be staying.
Ensure that your check-in luggage is lightweight. For those traveling via first-class, a weight of 88 pounds (40 kg) per person is allowed. Those traveling in business class are allowed 66 pounds (30 kg) per person, while those holding economy tickets are allowed to carry up to 44 pounds (20 kg).
As far as hand luggage or “carry on” luggage is concerned, first-class ticket holders are allowed two pieces of luggage, while the business and economy ticket holders are allowed only one piece, the dimensions of which must not be more than 20 x 40 x 55 cm. The total weight must not exceed (11 pounds) 5 kg. If the luggage does not meet these requirements, it will be considered as check-in luggage.
To ensure that your baggage is safe and secure, it is recommended that tags displaying your name and contact information be attached to and inside your baggage. Hardcover suitcases having built-in locks are ideal for travel.
When traveling by domestic flights, the same rules apply as discussed in the section on “Packing.”
Here’s a tip for those traveling in a group: The baggage allowance can be shared while checking-in. For instance, if two people are traveling economy class, one can carry 35 kg and the other 5 kg. This rule applies to those traveling in groups of three, four, five and more, as long as they are checking in at the same time.
You should know the items that you will be allowed to carry with you on your journey.
• Items that are not to be taken: materials that are poisonous, flammable, corrosive, radioactive, magnetized, explosive and polymerizable; guns, knives, ammunition and sharp objects.
• Items that should not be packed in your check-in baggage because the airline carrier does not take responsibility for them: all vital documents, currencies, valuables and other important items that are needed to be safeguarded by someone.
• Items that can be packed in your check-in baggage: scissors, knife and wine or alcohol.
• The baggage that you check in must be properly locked and able to withstand pressure. If it does not meet with the specifications of the carrier, they may refuse to take it on board.
• If baggage is lost, you will receive compensation to not exceed RMB 50 yuan for every kilogram. If the value of the baggage is less than that, then compensation will equal the actual cost of the loss.
• If the value of the checked-in baggage is more than RMB 50 yuan per kg, a passenger can declare the cost of his baggage, the value of which cannot exceed RMB 8,000 yuan. However, in the case of lost baggage, the amount that was declared prior to travel cannot be more than the current baggage.
Safety And Security
To have a hassle-free visit to China, here are a few tips for safe travel:
• Pre-travel: Prior to departure from your country, make sure that several copies of your passport, credit cards, airline tickets, traveler’s checks, itinerary as well as other travel documents are made, and that one copy of each item is left with a family member back home.
Ensure that your driver’s license, passport and other IDs are current and valid, and that photographs on them are up to date. These forms of identification should not expire before you return from your tour.
• Hotel safety: Once in your hotel room, be sure that the door and windows of your room are locked at all times. Answer the door only after verifying who it is. It is always better to carry bottled water, as the tap water available in hotel rooms is not drinkable.
• Money Matters:
1. Traveler’s Checks: The safest way to carry money for your trip is by traveler’s checks. Ensure that you take a note of the denominations, serial numbers, date and the agency that has issued them. The checks should not be signed until they are used.
2. Credit Cards: Carrying too many credit cards is unsafe. Besides taking only what is required, take the credit card company’s contact information in case the card gets lost or is stolen. A loss should always be reported at once.
3. Exchanging Money: Money should be exchanged in the hotel counter or Bank of China. Exchanging money in the black market is illegal and chances are that you may get cheated.
4. Small Cash: Always keep change on you as it will be useful when purchasing from street vendors. Check the change that you get back carefully.
• Travel And Transportation: When traveling from one city to another, it is safer to leave your driver’s license, passport and other IDs in the hotel room’s safety box or at the reception desk. If, however, you need to carry them with you, ensure that they are kept safely. When traveling by train, do not trust anyone who is not in uniform to keep your luggage safely. The railway stations in China are crowded, so always ensure that your luggage is with you. If you are traveling by taxi, it is better to have the hotel call for one. Ensure that contact information of the hotel, as well as the place that you wish to go to, is written in Chinese and in English. Once in the taxi, take a note of the driver’s name and registration number. This will ensure you get back your items, if you have left any in it.
• Dress: You do not want to attract the wrong kind of attention, so avoid dressing up. Expensive jewelry and watches should be left back home.
• Communication: Carrying a phrase book that translates English to Chinese is important as most Chinese people do not speak English, nor do they understand it. This will help getting around on your own easier. A guide book to know Chinese culture is also useful.
• Medical Care: Hotels usually provide a doctor in the case of minor illnesses. Carrying a first-aid kit for headaches and a cold is always advisable. Pharmacies, which are usually indicated by a Green Cross, are found in many stores. There are several Green Cross pharmacies open 24 hours. However, if the condition is serious, it is recommended that you go to a hospital. To call for an ambulance, you need to dial 120.
• Staying Fit: Sometimes conducted tours can become hectic and be the start of some illness, more so with the change of climatic conditions in China. So, to avoid falling ill, ensure that you get enough rest, wear clothes depending on the weather and drink plenty of bottled water. If your tour is during the summer, make sure to wear sunglasses and a hat, put on sunscreen lotion, frequently change your clothes, and drink even more water. The moment you feel an illness coming on, seek treatment.
• Photography: Taking pictures is allowed in most places. However, in some it is either prohibited (as in certain museums and archeological sites) or a fee is charged. It is always recommended you get permission before capturing images of the locals.
• Toilets: Public toilets are usually not very clean, so carrying a roll of toilet paper in your bag is a good information. Public toilets charge an amount of RMB 5 for usage.