Frequently Asked Questions
Before You Travel
1Do I need vaccinations?
Currently there are no compulsory inoculations for China unless you are arriving from an infected area. However, it is recommended that you check with your doctor or travel advisory service for updates and suggested precautions. It is sensible to have a current tetanus vaccination (valid for 10 years) and protection against Hepatitis A (or A/B) is recommended for travel everywhere. It would also be useful to bring a small supply of medications with you to combat common ailments such as headaches, upset stomachs or colds.
2 How do I get my plane tickets for the tour?
Airlines no longer use paper tickets; everything is done by e tickets. Once your tickets are booked, you will be sent the booking number and other information by email.
3How do I get my train tickets for the tour?
If you live in Shenzhen, China, your tickets will be sent to you by express courier before your tour starts.
If you are coming to China from overseas, your train tickets will be sent to the place where your tour begins. Your tour guide will then give the train tickets to you.
4Will I know which hotels I will be staying in before I go?
Yes. These details will be sent with your final documents. However, these may be subject to last minute alterations.
While On Tour
1What happens if I get sick in China during my tour?
If it is only a minor illness it can easily be cured in a local hospital. Please be aware that the standard of health care in China varies widely and the more remote the destination the lower the level of medical care. In China all medical expenses have to be paid in advance and you will receive compensation from your health insurance provider later. Private insurance cover is strongly recommended. Have the details with you and make sure you know what it covers and what the conditions are.
2Will the hotel staff understand English?
Generally the higher the standard of hotel the more likely it is that English will be spoken there. Also you will find more English in the larger cities. In remote places away from tourist areas do not expect to find much English at all.
3What if I have any special meal requirements?
We will do our very best to cater for your dietary needs but you need to be aware that we cannot always guarantee special meals in some of the local restaurants. In larger international hotels, especially in the major cities, the choices and understanding may be better. We suggest you bring a supply of snacks and food items with you from home if you are concerned about this issue.
1 Do I need a passport to travel to China?
A passport is essential to travel to China. You will also need to show it whenever you travel by plane or train and when you check in to hotels. It must have a valid visa as well as at least another six months before it expires.
2What should I do if I lose my passport in China?
You should make copies of your visa, passport, airline tickets and other essential documents such as insurance details when traveling in China. Keep these in a separate place to the originals and also leave copies at home. Electronic copies are also useful. If you do lose your passport then report it immediately to the local police who will then issue you with a proof of lost passport. With this proof you can then apply for another passport at the nearest embassy or consulate of your own country.
1What would you suggest as the best itinerary for seeing China?
China is a vast country with a long history and many diverse landscapes. It is impossible for you to see all its magnificent sights and wonders in one visit. The perfect itinerary for you will depend on your interests and how long you have to travel in China.
2Why are the beds in China so hard?
Hard beds are very popular in China because the Chinese people believe that they are good for your health. Even though there are many foreign tourists coming to China, the majority of tourists in China are domestic tourists so the hotels obviously cater for their biggest market. However more and more hotels are realizing that foreign guests have different needs and the situation is gradually changing. If you find that the beds are too hard for you, please ask the housekeeping staff for a couple of extra blankets which you can put over the mattress to soften the bed a little. If you get extra blankets from the hotel make sure that you allow enough time at check-out so that the hotel can check that the blankets have been returned.
3Is it safe to explore on my own?
In general the crime rate in China is very low and you should be quite safe moving around on your own although you need to be aware of pickpockets especially in crowded areas. If you have some free time in the major cities it is easy to travel around using the subway systems which have signs in English.
It is fun to discover the local sights at your own pace and take the time to enjoy the beauty and culture of your destinations. Always remember that if you do venture out please make sure that you have the name of your hotel and the address in the local language just in case you get lost! Taxis are fairly inexpensive but the drivers are unlikely to speak any English.
4What’s the difference between a double room and a twin room?
A double room has one large bed designed for two people, either queen or king sized. A twin room has two single beds. If your room type is designated Double/Twin it means that the room can be set up for either type. Please specify your preference when booking your tour and the hotel will do their utmost to accommodate your request.
The beds in Chinese hotels, on the whole, can be divided into three types. The single bed is 1.2 meters by 2 meters; the queen-sized bed is 1.5 meters by 2 meters; the king-sized bed is 1.8 meters by 2 meters.
5Does the quoted price include my airfare?
The quotation will only include fares for internal flights which form part of your tour. Fares to the starting point of your tour and your homeward journey are not included. We also offer plane ticket booking for other services if required.
6What is train travel like in China?
Train travel is a great way to meet the locals and see how they travel. It is usually a good budget option and also gives you the opportunity to see the passing scenery. For daytime travel you can book either soft or hard seat.
7What is overnight train travel like in China?
There are two types of sleeper berths – hard or soft.
These are the most common berths on Chinese trains. Each compartment consists of six fixed bunks (upper, middle and lower) facing onto a narrow aisle. There is no door so it can be rather noisy and there is no privacy. However adequate bedding is provided and it is an extremely cost effective way to travel. If you book at the same time as five other friends you will be able to choose who will be in the compartment with you.
These four berth compartments have two upper and two lower beds. The door can be closed securely thus giving you more privacy and also making it a lot quieter. Quality bedding and pillows are provided and the beds have a little more padding than the hard sleeper berths. If you book at the same time as three other friends you will be able to choose who will be in the compartment with you.
Please Note – After the train has started the conductor will collect your paper train ticket and replace it with a token or card with your bed number on it. Make sure that you look after this very carefully because you will need to produce it at the end of your journey to retrieve your original ticket.
8What is the difference between the High Speed Trains and slow trains in China?
China has recently extended its network of High Speed Trains making them a viable option for travel between major cities like Beijing and Xi’an. They travel at around 300kph as compared to less than 100kph for the slow trains. The slow trains are the original trains of China and travel to more destinations but are older and not as clean or comfortable. If you want to see how the local people travel then a trip by slow train is an unforgettable experience.
The new High Speed Trains are fast, clean and comfortable and very similar to travelling by air and attract a higher class of passengers. There is also a dining car available.
9How many classes are available on the High Speed Train and what are the differences between them?
Normally, there are three classes on the High Speed Train. They are Business, First and Second.
Business Class is the most expensive but is also the most luxurious. They are very similar to First Class seats on a plane and you can even fold the seat down flat for sleeping. Each seat comes equipped with power outlets as well as a mini TV set loaded with movies. Some trains even offer free drinks and snacks.
In First Class there are only four seats in each row, two each side of the aisle. The seats are soft and roomy and there is a small foldable table in the arm of each seat. Power outlets and headset jacks are also supplied. The seats in each row are numbered A, C, D and F. A and F are the window seats while C and D are on the aisle.
The Second Class carriage has five seats in each row and it is very similar to economy class on a plane. Power outlets for a laptop or mobile are available at the bottom of the seats on the aisle. Even though it is the cheapest seat on the High Speed Train it is quite comfortable with a tray table and an adjustable seat back. The seats are designated A, B, C, D and F. A, B, and C are on the three seat side and D and F on the two seat side. Therefore A and F are the window seats and C and D are the aisle seats.
10How does High Speed Train travel compare to flights?
The fast train isn’t cheap and in many instances is not much different to the cost of the airfare as no discounts are available. Although it is slower over longer distances there are many advantages –
1 – You don’t need to arrive at the station as long before departure as at an airport.
2 – The railway stations are generally closer to the city than the airports.
3 – The train is much more likely to be on time.
4 – The seating is more comfortable with much more leg room.
5 – You can enjoy seeing the countryside go by and get an appreciation of the Chinese landscape.
6 – You don’t need to worry about switching off your electronic devices.
7 – You don’t need to worry about liquids or sharp articles in your luggage.
8 – You don’t need to worry about overweight luggage.
9 – You don’t need to wait to collect your luggage at your destination.
11What is the maximum luggage allowance that I can bring?
One carry-on bag and one checked bag will be allowed. The maximum weight for the checked in economy class bag on domestic flights is 20kg. However we suggest that you pack as lightly as possible because sometimes you will need to carry your own luggage. You are also sure to want to buy souvenirs and other things during your journey so make sure that you leave some room for this.
12Is the tap water drinkable?
The tap water in China is not drinkable however hotels will usually offer a free thermos filled with boiled water or an electric kettle. Bottled water is very inexpensive and sometimes hotels will provide one or two bottles of water in each room.
13What about other drinks??
Local tea is commonly served free with meals and there is a wide variety of soft drinks, local and imported beers and wines available for purchase.