Info Centre

China Travel Tips - How to Pack, Luggage Allowance, Hygience Concerns, Weather

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Do you work with travel agents and tour organizers?
A: As a destination management company, we work closely with overseas partners promoting travel to China. You will be impressed by our buying power, experience, efficiency and enthusiasm.

Q: Do I need a passport and visa to travel to China?
A: Yes, you need both. We’ll send you more information on this later on.

Q: Can you help us obtain visa?
A: Yes. More on this.

Q: Does Ace China Tours accept credit cards?
A: We accept MasterCard and Visa for deposits only. Final payment should be made by wire transfer, PayPal or cash on arrival.

Q: Does Ace China Tours accept disabled travellers?
A: Disabled travellers can book a private tour with us.

Q: Do you recommend any inoculation shots?
A: Our main concern is hepatitis A & B. We do not feel it necessary to receive shots for tetanus and rabies. Please see your family doctor or government’s websites for more information.

Q: Do I need Chinese currency before arrival?
A: No. Because the Chinese yuan (RMB) is not yet a freely convertible currency on the international market, you pay a premium for it outside China. All the major airports in China have currency exchange service provided by multiple vendors. Generally, the banks (Bank of China, Commercial & Industrial Bank of China etc) offer better rates than other dealers. You can also withdraw Chinese currency from ATM machines located throughout the airport.

Q: What is the baggage allowance on intra-China flights?
A: Twenty kilograms or 44 pounds for passengers in economy class passengers who are restricted to one piece per person. Carry-on is limited to 5kg or 12 lbs per passenger. See Terms & Conditions.

Q: What time zone is China in?
A: China spans several time zones but the whole country operates to a single standard time (GMT+8) all year round. Beijing Standard Time is 13 hours ahead of North America’s Eastern Standard Time and 16 hours ahead of Pacific Standard Time. The difference becomes one hour less during Daylight Saving Time in North America.

Q: Do we eat Chinese food throughout the tour?
A: Unless otherwise noted the answer is yes.

Q: Is Internet access available at all the hotels?
A: Yes. All of the hotels provide free Wi-Fi in the lobby area. Some of them also offers free Wi-Fi coverage in guest rooms.

Q: Is it expensive to call home from China?
A: There are low cost alternatives to being gouged by the hotels that often charge over $1 per minute on international long distance calls. The alternatives include email and instant messaging or video chat from your Wi-Fi enabled devices, local phone card, local SIM card for your smart phone, mobile phone rental.

Q: Do I get non-smoking rooms throughout the tour?
A: The answer is yes in principle.

Q: There are three of us sharing one room. Why don’t you give us a big discount for the third person?
A: The tour price is based on double occupancy or twin room sharing. The extra bed with buffet breakfast for the third person costs the same as one half of a twin bed room per contracts we have with the hotels. Therefore, we have no savings to pass on to you.

Q: Is laundry service available in China?
A: Hotels provide speedy laundry service but the prices can be steep. Laundromat style facilities are hard to find in China. It’s better to bring clothing that can be worn in layers and easy to wash by hand.

Q: Do I need to bring my own hair dryer?
A: The hotels all have one in each guest room.

Q: How bad is cigarette smoking in China?
A: China forbids smoking in public indoor spaces but many people still do it anyway. China accounts for 20% of the world’s population but consumes over 30% of the world’s tobacco products. Chinese smokers amount to over 300 million, equal to 9 times of Canada’s population or the entire population of the United States.

Q: How expensive is medical care in China?
A: Some Chinese hospitals look like luxury hotels. Those equipped with the latest diagnostic devices and staffed by doctors trained in the West charge as much as the hospitals in your home country.

Q: Are public toilets outside hotels clean?
A: In fact, they can be very filthy and smelly. Even worse, most of them have no toilet paper, soap, and tissue for hand drying. No matter where you go, it’s essential that you carry your own toilet paper, antiseptic wipes or gel, soap, and a small towel that can be attached to your backpack.

Q: How do we handle tipping?
A: Generally you’ll need to budget $15 per day per person for this purpose. If you prefer, we can add this to the tour price. The bottom line is tipping tour guides and drivers in China is customary just as in North America.

Q: What airlines do you use for intra-China flights?
A: We choose local airlines based on convenience and cost. There is no Chinese air carrier with laughable safety record by international standard. In fact, the overall safety record of the Chinese civil aviation industry is as good as their counterpart in Canada and the United States due to the young age of the aircraft fleet and the good work done by the Chinese civil aviation regulatory body.

Q: Should I lock my checked bag?
A: Yes.

Q: How do you arrange tour guides?
A: A local guide is provided in each city. The guide will meet you at the airport or train station on your arrival and later on escort you back to the airport or train station where the guide will stay with you until you get past security check.

Motor Vehicle & Washroom Stops
Comfortable, air-conditioned motor vehicles are used throughout your tour. The vehicles are professionally operated and well maintained. There will be enough seats to ensure everyone’s comfort. We do not share vehicles with other companies except during Yangtze cruise where shore excursions are arranged by the cruise operators.

Few tour buses in China are equipped with toilet. Some super-sized tour buses may come with a toilet but it is always “out of service”. When we travel long distance, we stop every 2 hours for washroom break and we certainly can stop more often to accommodate travellers with bladder problems.

Weather & Temperatures
China is a vast country with extremely diverse climatic patterns, ranging from tropical in the south to sub-arctic in the north. Generally speaking, the best months to visit China are April, May, September and October.

What to Wear and Pack
Over-packing is a common problem among inexperienced and anxious travellers. It adds to the stress and wastes a lot of time during packing and unpacking. The more you carry, the more you worry about and the more likely you’ll lose something along the way.

We advise our customers to travel light. Airlines are reducing checked bag allowance, making it necessary for the passenger to pack light. Also, almost anything you forget can be found in China, often for less. They don’t call China “factory of the world” for nothing!

Bring comfortable walking shoes and casual clothes that can be worn in layers. T-shirts, shorts and jeans are fine – you won’t offend anybody. During the Yangtze cruise, a clean and pressed shirt would be adequate for the captain’s cocktail party and farewell dinner. At no time during the tour is formal attire required. So, no suit or fancy dress please. Overcoat or heavy jacket is not necessary unless you travel in winter (December – March).
For practical reasons, we recommend quick-dry clothing that can be worn in layers and easy to wash by hand. Short sleeve shirts with a pocket are better than T-shirts. Shorts and convertible pants with deep side pockets are more desirable than jeans. You’ll find the pockets to be extremely useful, especially at the airports.

Please do not pack your passport, prescription medication, money and personal electronic devices in checked bag. Checked bags are not allowed to contain lithium battery. List of banned items can be found on airlines’ websites. You do not need to bring your own hair dryer. Please do not bring a laptop computer unless you need it for work.

It is important to remember that checked luggage on intra-China flights is limited to 20kg/44lbs. Most international air carriers these days limit passengers in economy class to one piece of checked bag that must weigh no more than 23kg (50lbs). Since you need some allowance for souvenir purchases, your packed suitcase at the start of the trip should weigh less than 15kg. The suitcase should have very sturdy wheels and be wrapped with a strap to withstand rough handling.

We recommend that you bring a high quality backpack. The backpack should be medium sized and have no wheels so that it may double as a day pack. The fully packed carry-on should weigh no more than 5kg/11lbs.

With a little practice and some common sense, you will find our advice works really well. If you go against our advice, please read our Terms & Conditions.

Health & Hygiene
You are not required of any inoculation certificate to enter China. However, we do suggest you visit your family physician or a travel medicine clinic to determine what precautions you should take. We recommend inoculation shots for hepatitis A and B and suggest that you check out advice provided by your own government.

Travellers going to Tibet, Zhongdian (Shangri-la) and Kashgar are strongly advised to visit their family doctor a few weeks before the trip to discuss if it is necessary to get on acetazolamide/Diamox, which is believed to be an effective remedy for altitude sickness. The altitudes of the above locations range from 3,300 metres (10,824 feet) to 4,700 metres (15,416 feet) above sea level.

Tap water in China is not safe to drink. Chinese themselves drink purified or boiled water. If you ask for cold water in a Chinese restaurant, you would get bottled water instead and charged accordingly. Chinese like hot water, which is always offered free of charge in restaurants.

Food we order is thoroughly cooked. However, you may still experience stomach upsets due to ingredients your stomach is not used to. Most of the dishes we order are stir fries.

Electricity & Adaptor Plugs
The standard electrical voltage in China is 220/240 volts AC, 50Hz. In Hong Kong, the standard is 220 volts AC, 50Hz. In China, two-pin and three-pin sockets are in use (see image to the right).

Nowadays, most personal electronic devices such as digital cameras and smart phones are designed to work with voltages between 110 and 240. Check your devices before going on the trip. In rare circumstances (Nintendo game consoles, for example) where you’ll need a transformer to recharge the battery, you can borrow one from the hotel. In other words, don’t bother to go buy a transformer just for this trip.

Many customers ask us what type of power adaptor plug they should bring. If you already have one that can plug into one of the sockets shown above, feel free to pack it in the suitcase. Otherwise, don’t bother to buy or borrow one because your hotel rooms are all equipped with proper sockets suitable for your electronic devices.

Baggage Allowance
During the tour each customer is limited to one (1) piece of checked luggage. Violation of this requirement will result in extra charges to cover our handling and/or excess weight. Our handling charge is $25 per piece per city or port. Charge for excess weight will be decided solely by the airline at the time of check-in. According to the Chinese air carriers, your checked luggage must weigh no more than 20kg (44 lbs). One carry-on weighing no more than 5kg is allowed. The customer must be able to lift and comfortably transport their own luggage short distances as porter service may not be available at all hotels, airports, train stations, cruise and ferry terminals.

Maximum Size of Checked Baggage
Maximum dimensions should not exceed 100 x 60 x 40 in centimeters (39.5 x 23.5 x 15.75 in inches). Baggage exceeding the weight and/or size limitations should be transported as freight.

Minimum Size and Weight of Checked Baggage
Minimum weight of each checked baggage should not be less than 2kg (4.4 lbs), and the minimum dimension should not be less than 30 x 20 x 10 in centimeters or 12 by 4 by 8 in inches.”

Should I lock my checked bag?
In China, airport security won’t cut the passenger’s lock. At the time of check-in, the passenger agent will tag your bag and then ask you to wait at a designated spot for a couple of minutes so that security staff can x-ray your bag. If nothing suspicious is found, you will receive the boarding pass right away. Otherwise, you will be invited into a private room to open your bag for inspection. The most common items that trigger the alarm are lithium batteries and hair spray.

Navigating Airports
Most of the Chinese airports in big cities are very new, designed up to international standard. However, dim lighting and stale warm air are commonplace, no matter how new the airports are. Some small airports such as the one in Guilin can be very crowded, noisy, hot and humid.

Whether it’s for a domestic or international flight, we generally show up at the airport 2 hours in advance. The first order of business is to grab your bag from the vehicle and follow the guide to the right check-in counter. The guide will collect your passport and check you in. All you have to do is standing aside and watching. Then the guide will return your passport and give you the boarding pass – your seats may not be together but you are allowed to swap once aboard the plane. After that, the guide will walk you to security check where you will be asked to produce your passport and boarding pass. The officer will stamp your boarding pass and waive you through to the next step. The security check is very thorough although removing shoes is not required. They’ll scan your carry-on (laptop computer must be taken out) just like anywhere else and frisk you with the “magic wand”.

After passing security check, proceed to the gate marked on your boarding pass. Passport will no longer be needed beyond this point. Sometimes, the gate number is given out only for the airline’s convenience to check you in; so be prepared to move to a different gate on very short notice. The good thing is they can’t afford to lose you once you have your boarding pass and your checked bag has been loaded onto the plane. In other words, don’t panic if you fail to notice the change of gate. By the way, the PA system broadcasts in both Chinese and English and the status of each flight is displayed throughout the airport.

Arriving in China by Air
While en route, you will receive a custom declaration form called Arrival Card from the cabin crew. If not, you can pick up one after arrival. The short form lists a few very simple questions and takes the average traveller less than 1 minute to complete. The Departure Card attached to the Arrival Card is for you to use on exit but you can throw it away to avoid confusion – you can always pick up a copy of the Departure Card on exit.

With the completed form, you will proceed to clear customs joining one of the lines designated for foreigners. The custom officers, all with university education and mostly in their 20’s and 30’s, are certainly not intimidating, unlike so many rude border control officers in certain countries. If your declaration form is completed properly, you’ll be on your way to baggage claim area after no more than 1 minute with the custom officer.

Follow the crowd to the baggage claim area. Depending on the terminal you are in, you may need to take the automated people mover train to get to the baggage claim area and arrival hall. If your transfer to the airport is included, you will find our guide in the arrival hall holding an Ace China Tours flag or a sign with your name on it. Otherwise, you will need to get to the hotel by taxi – you can buy Chinese yuan from a local bank in the arrival hall.

Exit China by Air
Leaving is as simple as arriving.
It’s important that you check your e-ticket and the airline’s website before going to the airport to ensure you won’t end up at the wrong terminal or airport. International flights require that you arrive at the airport 2 to 3 hours ahead.

Before leaving the hotel, make sure you have all your belongings with you, with nothing left in the safe of your hotel room. Passport, wallet, personal electronic devices and medication must be on you, not in the suitcase to be checked in. Review content in your carry-on and pockets one more time before checking in your suitcase; any (sharp) objects that you fear may not pass security should be packed in the checked bag.

After check-in, follow the gate number on boarding pass to proceed to border control and security check. Please have your passport, boarding pass and a pen handy (it’s better to wear a shirt with pocket for this purpose). First thing to do is filling out your Departure Card as shown above. The border control officer would ask you to look at the camera while processing your information and the process generally takes 10 to 30 seconds. After that is security check, which is as stringent as you normally experience back home. Laptop computer must be taken out of the backpack or carrying case; bottled water must be disposed of… Removal of shoes is not required. After this, you’ll be ready to board the plane.

Got more questions? Contact us for accurate answers.