Do your homework before your departure; the following information will help you prepare for a trouble free China vacation
Travel Documents Flights to China Passport & China Visa Upon Arrival Baggage Inoculation Medication Internet Your Tour Guides Currency Time Difference Electricity Water Meals Climate Dress & Laundry Mail Media Cell phone Telephone Camera, Memory Card Toiletry Shopping Packing for a China TourGratuities Travel Insurance Jet Lag Precautions Canada Duty-free
Your Travel Document
Make sure that you have
1. Valid passport ready
2. Obtain the right China visa.
3. Check your name spellings on your airline tickets, it must matches EXACTLY your name on your passport.
4. Check the weather in the places you are going to visit in China and pack your baggage light and smart.
5. Call the airline related to get your seat pre-assigned and your special dietary request placed as soon as you receive your airline tickets.
We recommend you make two copies of your passport identification page. This will facilitate replacement in case your passport is lost or stolen. Leave one copy at home with friends or relatives. Carry the other one along with a passport size photo with you in a separate place from your passport. Leave a copy of your China Tour itinerary and contact information with family or friends at home so that you can be contacted in case of an emergency.
Contact your airline to confirm flight number and any possible schedule changes prior to leaving for the airport. Connecting passengers should verify, at the time of check-in, that luggage can be checked through to your China destination. For transpacific flights, you must check in at least three hours prior to the scheduled departure time.
In case you choose to arrange your own add-on flights to the designated gateway city, you must take the following facts into consideration before booking any flights. Rewards Holiday is not responsible for any missed connections and penalties/loss as a result. For a peace of mind, we strongly recommend you to purchase trip interruption/cancellation insurance. Note:
• For transpacific flight, you must check-in at least three (3) hours ahead of departure time.
• It takes at least one (1) hour to clear customs and claim your checked baggage.
• For domestic flight, you must check in at least two (2) hours prior to departure time.
Most airline tickets are issued using a special fare which cannot be changed or canceled without incurring additional cost. Should you lose or misplace your tickets while traveling, you should immediately notify the airline. In most cases the airline will have you complete a Lost Ticket Indemnity Form, and for a fee, issue replacement tickets.
All foreign nationals traveling to the People's Republic of China must travel on a valid passport with at least six(6) months remaining validity after the entry date into China. A tourist visa must be obtained prior to entering the PRC. Please read complete details about Passport & Visa for your China Travel Vacations.
A Rewards Holiday local Tour Guide will greet you once you have cleared the Customs area at your China arrival airport. Please wear your name badge for easy identification, and look for a Rewards Holiday sign. If you take care of the flight to China on your own and book our 'Land only' package, your airport/hotel transfers on arrival/departure days are excluded. The metered taxicab from Beijing Airport to your Beijing hotel costs about $15 per ride depending on the traffic. Optional private transfer is available upon request. The hotel address in both English and Chinese is available at the "Contact Information" page in the travel documents sent to you two weeks prior to departure of your China trip.
We strongly recommend you travel with one piece of checked luggage, one carry-on bag, and one personal item per person.
Baggage allowance differs for the Trans-Pacific and the China domestic sections of your China trip. Baggage allowance for the Trans-Pacific flight is two pieces of checked baggage per person. Total dimensions (Length + Width + Height) of the two pieces must not exceed 107 inches (273cm); maximum dimensions of single piece shall not exceed 62 inches (158cm). Maximum weight per piece is 50 lbs. Each passenger may carry one piece of carry-on luggage, the combined dimensions of which shall not exceed 45 inches (115cm).
China domestic flights are more restrictive than Trans-Pacific flights. You are allowed only one piece of checked baggage, and that must not exceed 44 lbs per person. In addition, you are allowed one carry-on bag not to exceed 11 lbs, and one personal item such as a purse or camera bag. The carry-on must fit in the overhead bin or under the seat. The airport authorities seldom weigh your carry-on baggage, but the size of it does matter, particularly when the flight is full. This is the rule. Sometimes it is enforced strictly and sometimes it is not - depending on the local airport and how full the flight is. The checked-baggage rule, allowing only one piece and its weight allowance are usually enforced, particularly in the inland cities.
Overweight luggage in excess of allowances will incur excess baggage charges payable on site by the passenger. For domestic China flights, you may be asked by the airline to pay fees of approximately $2 to $4 per pound in excess of the weight limit.
Baggage Lock & Liquids
If you departure from Vancouver / Toronto, you can either lock your checked baggage or leave it open to your discretion.
China aviation and transportation authorities have a different rule on this issue and your checked baggage must be locked during the transportation in China. You only need to lock the major compartment of your baggage. This is a Chinese regulation. If your bag is found unlocked during transit, the airline or the train station will lock it for you and you will be billed for the locks. So prepare a lock for the main compartment of each bag and any lock will do.
Liquids & gels over 100 ml must be packed in checked luggage at all airports in both Canada and China.
Make sure that you have luggage tags for each checked suitcase. A copy of your itinerary and contact information should also go in an outside pocket of your luggage to aid the airline personnel to locate you in case you and your luggage become separated. Never check luggage containing prohibited items (i.e. lighters), valuables (i.e. cash, jewelry, and cameras), fragile items (i.e. undeveloped film, bottles, eyeglasses) or critical items (i.e. medicines, travel vouchers). Please also refer to Canada Customs information about Permitted and Prohibited Items.
Rewards Holiday will not be responsible for loss or damage to your luggage and/or personal belongings. You must report any loss or damage immediately at the time of the incident and obtain a written report from the local authority for submission to your travel insurance provider. Travel Insurance covering lost and damaged baggage is strongly recommended. If your luggage is lost or damaged by the airlines, a baggage claim form must be filled with the carrier before leaving the airport.
Your checked baggage must be locked during transportation while in China. This is a Chinese regulation. No specification on type of locks as long as there is one.
No inoculation is mandatory for your China travel. However, we remind you that traveling in China does require certain precautions. Most seasoned travelers get immunized for Hepatitis A&B and Tetanus. Note we are not in the position to tell you that you should or should not take certain inoculation. We, therefore, highly recommend that you consult your family doctor to verify your particular needs, or contact your local Travel Clinic for their professional advice. You can locate a Travel Clinic in your area by a Google search using keyword “Travel Clinic” or look at your local Yellow Pages. Some shots need to be taken well in advance.
If you take prescription medication, be sure to bring enough to last the entire trip. Keep these medications with you and do not pack them in checked baggage.
Long-term travel overseas might cause tourists to develop stomach upset; a change in water, food, sleep habits and/or climate may all cause discomfort. Bring anti-diarrhea medications such as Imodium and Lomotil just in case.
If you are prone to motion sickness, you are strongly recommended to bring motion sickness medication or patch to help ease nausea or dizziness. Motion sickness also includes air sickness and sea sickness.
If your China tour includes Tibet (elevation of 12,000 feet), you are strongly recommended to visit your doctor or a travel clinic for their professional advice about traveling at high altitudes. People may experience Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) with symptoms like light-headedness, shortness of breath and may tire a little more easily at that high elevation. Medication to reduce mountain sickness may be advised by your physician. The hotel we use in Tibet offers an oxygen bag to you at no cost.
Internet access is available at almost all hotels on your Rewards Holiday travel itinerary. You can use the computers in the business center at your hotel for a fee. Internet access is usually charged by minute and may be expensive. Many hotels offer free internet access at your hotel room, so you may want to bring your own laptop, but some hotels do charge for that and it could be expensive (up to $15-18 per day). Wi-Fi is not commonly available in China hotels. Most hotels in China either do not have WiFi at all or only have WiFi in a public area. Usually you will not have access to WiFi from your hotel room. In order to use iPad or iPhone in your hotel room, you may buy an AirPort Express from Apple to convert the internet access from the cable modem to wireless. Your iPhone can roam to China but data roaming could be expensive.
Please rest assured you are in good hands when you join Rewards Holiday's inclusive China package travel. Our travel guiding system in China is comprised of a centralized office on a national level, local offices and partners in each destination city, and an extensive network of tour guides.
For a tour group with 10 travelers or more, a professional Rewards Holiday National Guide (a Chinese national) will be assigned to accompany the group throughout mainland China, supervising the work performed by local agencies and smoothing over any possible difficulties along the trip.
Your National Guide is a licensed professional who gives you personal care and is accessible 24 hours a day throughout your trip in mainland China (For tours in Hong Kong you only have a Hong Kong local guide). For your convenience, your National guide will give his/her cell phone number to you at the beginning of your China tour.
In addition to your national guide, a local guide is assigned along the trip in each destination to provide in-depth tour services to you and offer assistance on local tour arrangements. Sometimes, your National Guide may also act as your local guide in the city where he/she is from, provided he/she has a local tour guide license and is eligible to do so.
sFrom time to time, our qualify control manager in the North American office may contact our customers while they are in China to ensure their China tour is progressing smoothly and satisfactorily.
Rewards Holiday local tour guides are hand-picked, well trained and service oriented. They are constantly evaluated based on the performance and our customer evaluation of each individual Rewards Holiday tour group. We strive to hire only the best. We know the success of your China trip largely depends on the quality of your tour guides.
China is very much a cash-based society – bring a money belt or clothing with secure pockets because you’ll need to carry around a fair amount of local cash. Major credit cards are only acceptable at hotels, tourist stores and upscale shops. We recommend you use a credit card for big purchases at tourist stores and buy insurance for the shipped items. Don’t count on ATMs for credit card and bank card cash advances; they are not common in China. Please call your credit card company to notify them of your trip to China so they won’t decline your transactions made while you are in China. Tipping can be made with either Canadian. dollars or the equivalent Chinese RMB. Pay in smaller bills when shopping with street vendors.
The Chinese currency is known as Renminbi (RMB), literally "People's Money". The basic unit of RMB is Yuan (dollar), which is divided into 10 Jiao (dimes), which is divided again into 10 Fen (cents). Bank of China issues RMB bills in denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 Yuan and 1, 2, 5 Jiao. Bronze and nickel coin equivalents exist for the smaller units. As of June. 2011, CAD$1=RMB 6.6, Exchange rate fluctuates daily. Hong Kong's currency is the Hong Kong Dollars (HKD). It is internationally exchangeable and worth slightly less than RMB. Note, Hong Kong dollar cannot be used in mainland China and you must convert all your HKD back to USD or CAD before leaving Hong Kong.
You can change money at hotels, China arrival and departure airports, and at Bank of China branches. The official exchange rate is used in most places so it’s unnecessary to shop around for a better deal. For the sake of convenience and safety we suggest that you change money in your hotel. Almost all hotels in your China trip offer foreign currency exchange service supervised by Bank of China. Retain the exchange receipts because you will need the receipt to convert RMB to your home currency at the end of the trip. Those traveling to Hong Kong can change RMB to Hong Kong Dollars there, but make sure you convert all Hong Kong dollars to RMB or your home currency before departing Hong Kong. You must exchange all Chinese RMB before the last day of your tour because you won’t have time to convert it back to your home currency at the airport.
The fact is that Traveler’s Checks become more inconvenient to use in China, particularly in the smaller cities and in local Chinese hotels. So don’t rely on Traveler’s Checks.
If you are lucky to cash your Traveler’s checks, you will find the advantage of it is obvious: you can always void them if they are lost. Keep your exchange slip; you will need it when buying back your home currency. We recommend you use only Traveler’s Checks issued by major financial organizations such as American Express and Visa. But note, cash, particularly in the form of U.S. dollars is easier to use than Traveler's Checks.
Cash advance service is not commonly available in China, so you need to bring cash with you. Please note: foreign coins are not acceptable in China. All paper bills should be complete, not badly worn and free from graffiti. Partial, badly worn or defaced bills will not be accepted by local vendors.
Major credit cards are only acceptable at hotels, tourist stores and upscale shops. We recommend you use a credit card for any big purchases at tourist stores and purchase insurance for the shipped items. Please call your credit card company to let them know you are traveling in China so they won’t decline your transactions made during your trip.
Personal checks are generally not acceptable outside North America.
ATMs (Automated Teller Machine)
Do not count on ATMs in mainland China, although they are commonly used in Hong Kong. ATMs can be found in a growing, but still limited number of large banks in mainland China. You can use Visa, Master card, American Express, Cirrus and Plus to withdraw cash. The network is only available in sizeable cities like Beijing and Shanghai. Most ATMs in China can only be used for withdrawing RMB. The exchange rate on ATM withdrawals is similar to credit cards but there is a maximum daily withdrawal amount. For credit-card cash advance, service fees apply.
You may feel more comfortable using a money belt for large sums of cash and credit cards. Care and good judgment is a must in all travel.
Although P. R. China covers five time zones, only Beijing Standard Time is adopted for the entire country. It is 8 hours ahead of GMT, 16 hours ahead of Pacific Standard Time (15 hours ahead of PST in daylight saving time). People in China's far western regions like Tibet follow a later work schedule to keep pace with the official centralized Beijing Time. Please check World Clock for current regional time.
When it's 8 am in Beijing, the time in other Canada cities at Daylight Saving Time is:
Vancouver Calgary / Regina Winnipeg Toronto
5 pm (previous day) 6pm (previous day) 7pm (previous day) 8 pm (previous day)
The following is the easiest way to convert Canada time to Beijing time during Daylight Saving Period:
Pacific Time + 3 hours, then switch AM and PM. For instance, it is 5 pm in Vancouver, Beijing time is 8 am, the next morning.
Eastern Time only change AM and PM. For instance, it is 8 pm in Toronto, Beijing time is 8 am, the next morning.
China's electrical current is 220V, 50 cycles AC. Plugs and Outlets come in a variety of shapes and are different from that in North America. Adapters and converters are readily available at all hotels but may be limited to a small number. So if you have to use them in urgency you are advised to bring along your own adapters and converters for your North American appliances. As soon as you check-in, you should contact Housekeeping to borrow adaptors and converters. Hair dryers and irons are readily available also.
Tap water is not considered safe to drink in China despite the fact that water in China is commonly chlorinated and processed. Drink only bottled water or boiled water. Bottled purified water and soft drinks can be easily obtained at reasonable prices. All your hotels offer boiled water to your room daily, with which you can safely make tea.
Most meals are included as specified in your China Tour itinerary. Breakfasts included on your China Tour are usually American buffet breakfast to give you a good start for the day. Lunches and dinners are usually served in local Chinese restaurants with a set menu and in a family style.A regular lunch/dinner is composed of 6-12 dishes shared by 6-10 people sitting at a round table (which symbolizes union and perfection-harmony). One beverage of your choice (beer, mineral water and soda) is included per person per meal at no additional charge; Chinese tea is usually complimentary. Special meals such as an authentic Peking Duck dinner, Dumping Banquet is also included courtesy of Rewards Holiday.
China is a huge country with varied climates. In general, the north is cold and dry in winter. In the south, summer is hot and humid. The rainy season is in July and August. The best season to travel in China is April, May, late September, October and the first two weeks of November. The climate in Hong Kong is sub-tropical, similar to that of Hawaii. Read more on average temperatures in China's major tourist cities and their current weather conditions.
China is a country with few dress taboos. Dress for comfort. Sandals, shorts, and jeans are widely accepted. Coordinate your outfits for multi-tasking. Dress in layers to suit various weather/temperature changes. No formal dress is required.China hotels offer laundry service. It is convenient but may appear expensive for someone. The least expensive places to do laundry are in smaller cities like Xian and Guilin. Please check pricing at your Hotel Laundry List from the hotel information page of each tour.
Your China Tour hotels have postal service allowing you to send postcards and letters overseas. It usually takes more than 10 days for a postcard to reach North-America. The postage is charged in Chinese RMB equivalents to about 50 cents U.S. for a postcard, and 80 cents U.S. for a letter up to 20 grams.
China publishes various newspapers and magazines in English. Among them, China Daily is a popular English newspaper, complimentary at most hotels. Imported publications like Time, Newsweek, and The Economist can be found at certain hotels. BBC, CNN or even HBO are becoming commonly available in most tourist hotels.
Blackberry and Iphone can roam to China, but data roaming could be expensive. Check with your phone carrier for their special internal roaming plan. You may also buy a SIM card in China to use on your cell phone if your phone is unlocked. You may also get an unlocked tri-band (multi-band) mobile phone from the States (Canada), and buy a local SIM card as soon as you arrive in China. The cards are prepaid -- e.g. RMB100 will get you quite a bit of talk time and at lower cost than the hotel IDD service. For your convenience, you may rent a cell phone. Please visit Pandaphone.com for details.
Both international and domestic calls can be made from your hotel room. Domestic long-distance rates in the PRC vary according to distance and are usually inexpensive. Local calls are either at a very low rate or free of charge depending on the hotel. International Direct Dial (IDD) calls made from a hotel room could be expensive when the hotel adds a surcharge on top of China's already high IDD rates. Some hotels may request that you pay a deposit before you can access the international line from your hotel room. Use a phone card for international calls; it is becoming more widely available and the rate is reasonable. Simply consult your Tour Director regarding this matter, he or she will be happy to assist you.
• Calling North America from Mainland China
Dial 00 (international access code) + 1 (North America country code) + local number
• Calling China from North America
Dial 011 (international access code) + 86 (China country code, or 852 for Hong Kong regional code) + China area code (minus initial zero) + local number
• Essential Numbers in China
There are several telephone numbers that are the same throughout China. However, only International Assistance and Local Weather Forecast are likely to have an English-speaking operator.
International Assistance: 115Local Directory Enquiries:114Long Distance Enquiries: 113 or 173
Local Weather Forecast: 121 Police Hotline: 110 Fire Hotline: 119
Area Code list: CITYCODE
Camera, Memory Card & Film
Your camera bag is considered a personal item and can be carried onboard in addition to your carry-on baggage. Make sure to bring many camera memory cards with you for your China vacations. A memory card is easy to obtain but may not compatible with your camera. If you still use conventional camera and film you should be aware that when flying U.S. domestic and transpacific flights, you should pack all undeveloped film in carry-on baggage. Repeat screening on checked baggage will damage undeveloped film. Most X-ray machines in China's airports and railway stations are marked "film safe". However, films with a higher ASA rating could be fogged by repeat exposures to X-rays. You should carry such film by hand.
It is wise to bring hand wipes to use before dinner and after toilet. Also bring a handkerchief or bandanas; this can substitute for a hand towel. Always bring your own toilet paper as it is not usually available in public toilets.
Pack light and you'll soon find you are better off with less! The best packing question a traveler can ask is "do people where I am headed live without this item"? Don't pack the stuff which is readily available in the hotels where you will be staying. Don't cram your suitcase with unnecessary items, and you'll have room for the "treasures" you collect along the way. Remember that you will have access to:
• Convenient, same day laundry service in all your hotels, if you send clothes in the morning you should have them back in the evening. The price is reasonable. For any destination city where you stay two or more nights you can do laundry.
• A hair dryer and iron are readily available at most hotels for your use; simply contact Housekeeping.
• Bath accessories in your private bathroom include disposable tooth brush and toothpaste, comb, soap, shampoo, body lotion, sewing kit, sanitary bag, shower cap etc.
• You can easily purchase a shoulder bag or small piece of luggage to carry your purchases back home.
• Virtually anything you require can be secured along the way. It is part of the adventure. Travel in China involves a lot of walking. Comfortable walking shoes are essential. Make sure to check current weather conditions before you decide what clothes to pack.
Tips are commonly expected from foreign tourists to China. Whether they are considered as gratuities or service fees, tips are the major motivator for the tour guides. Your China Tour national guide, local guides, drivers and porters are professional, conscientious, and most thankful for your acknowledgment.
CAD$10 per traveler per day, shared between all guides, porters and drivers.
Outside dining: service charge is included (except in Hong Kong)
China is the world's factory and bargain shoppers' paradise. We are aware of the fact that shopping is an integral part of international travel, particularly to countries like China. However, your valuable travel time in China is limited and therefore Rewards Holiday tours features the minimum arranged shopping stops compared to all other tours.
We strongly recommend you buy travel insurance to protect yourself and your travel investment against the unexpected. Please read more details about Travel Insurance.
Jet lag happens when your body's inner clock falls out of sync with daily cycles of light, rest and meals as you cross time zones to reach your destination. Its symptoms are fatigue, irritability and vague disorientation. You cannot totally avoid jet lag, but you can minimize its effects. Here are some suggestions:
1. Get several good nights of sleep before your trip departure.
2. Set your watch to your destination time when you board the plane, and adjust sleep and meals accordingly.
3. Try to sleep on the plane.
4. Walk around the plane occasionally, do isometric exercises at your seat.
5. Drink plenty of water and fruit juice while flying.
6. Avoid alcoholic and caffeinated drinks during and after the flight.
7. On arrival, throw yourself into your new schedule, avoid naps, and try to stay awake until your normal sleeping time at home.
When shopping in China, keep receipts of all purchases. Upon reentering the Canada be ready to show customs officials what you've bought. Each resident returning to Canada is entitled to one of the following personal exemptions based on his/her time absent from Canada (including all goods and/or gifts purchased or received abroad)
24 hours: CAN$200 48 hours: CAN$800 7 days: CAN$800
This includes alcohol and tobacco, see information below:
1.5 L of wine or 1.14 L of liquor or 24 x 355 ml cans or bottles (8.5 L) of beer or ale. You must be of legal age in the province of importation.
200 cigarettes, 200 tobacco sticks, 50 cigars or cigarillos and 200 grams of manufactured tobacco (Special duty may apply).
You must complete a Declaration Card before entering Canada Customs. Sample Declaration Card.
Please check the guideline for residents of Canada returning to Canada, and updated information on Duty-free exemptions and available on
Canada Border Services Agency web site.
PDF version of Guideline for Residents of Canada Returning to Canada
On behalf of Rewards Holiday, have a wonderful safe, pleasant China Vacation !