Tour Preparation

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Tour Preparation

CACBC wants your group to benefit the most from your tour, so let this list assist in your travel preparation for your tour to China.

Our Tour Operations Partner in China

Our professional tour operations partners in China take care of every detail of your tour. Since our first tour we have been working together, and they constantly strive for excellence in service. They have a precise understanding of American groups’ needs. They are experts at making sure your hotel, meals, transportation, and every other travel detail match up to American expectations! Our direct, bilingual communication with them effectively conveys your requirements.

Your Tour Guide

Your bilingual guide meets you as soon as you clear customs, and will travel as part of your group, twenty-four hours a day, for the duration of your special visit.
He or she offers helpful travel tips, teach you about social customs, shares insight into local history and culture, and takes care of any travel problems that might arise.

Hotel Accommodations

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We provide you with comfortable, clean, good-quality hotels. Each double occupancy room has a private bath, television, telephone, air conditioning, and daily maid service. All hotels are from 3 – 5 stars, provide English speaking staff, conference rooms, recreation centers, bars, cafes and restaurants that serve both western and Chinese food for foreign guests. The “Star” rating system is China’s national standard for ranking the quality of service and level of luxury. We arrange your hotel accommodations according to your groups’ needs and budget. The level of accommodation and service will be matched to your group’s requests.

Transportation

MOTOR COACHES

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A luxury motor coach is waiting at the airport when you arrive. We make sure your travel in China is safe and comfortable.

You ride in motor coaches from one location to another within a city or for short distances between cities.

TRAINS

If the distance between two destinations requires an overnight trip, you will travel in comfort by passenger train. Like European sleeper trains, they feature restaurants, modern toilet facilities, and separate beds for each traveler. You will arrive at your destination the next morning feeling refreshed and ready for another active day. Another option is travel by Bullet train if there is one available between the two cities.

PLANES

Depending on your destinations, you may also fly modern airliners to minimize travel time. The planes are just like the planes in America, with American facilities and services.

Insurance Coverage

Your entire stay in China is covered by travel liability insurance from Peoples Insurance Company of China. The amount of coverage is reasonable and considered sufficient, as medical care costs in China are much less expensive than in the United States. The “insured time” covers you upon your arrival and remains in effect until you leave China.
We also offer Travel Guard insurance for our tour participants. Contact us for details.

Luggage

The traveler is always responsible for taking his/her own luggage through customs. During your tour CACBC will do its best to provide porters and other luggage assistance whenever possible. Travelers should be prepared to carry their own luggage whenever necessary.
CACBC shall not be responsible for loss or damage to a tour member’s luggage.

Visas

Group visas for 10 or more people can be arranged by your group leader. CACBC will arrange for a reasonable fee. Visas for individual travel to China are quite easy to get. You may apply directly to the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China or one of several Chinese consulates in the US.
Participants on CACBC tours apply for a single-entry tourist visa. If you would like for us to arrange a visa for you, and you are in the following states (CO, IL, IN, IA, KS, MI, MN, MO, WI) that cover the Chicago consulate jurisdiction, simply click to download and print your visa application (Q1). Fill out as much of the application as you can and mail it to us along with your passport and one passport-sized photograph. China Embassy addresses for visa.

Money & Banking

The Chinese currency is the renminbi (RMB) or yuan, which is divided into fen. There are Y100, Y50, Y10, Y5, Y2, Y1, 50 fen, 20 fen and 10 fen banknotes. The smaller denominations are being replaced with coins, valued at 10 fen, 20 fen, 50 fen, and 1 fen. American cash can be exchanged in all major hotels and banks; do not bring traveler’s cheque as they are not accepted anymore. Local banks in all major destinations offer emergency Check Cashing Replacement Services.
ATM machines offer a good exchange rate, but are not always accessible at every sightseeing place. It is wise to bring a variation of cash, credit cards and an ATM debit card when traveling to China. Also, it is best to store your money and other valuables in several different places.

Passports

Visitors should be sure to carry their passports while in China as they are needed to check into hotels, make plane or train reservations, exchange money or establish the holder’s identity.
Loss of a passport should be reported immediately to the holder’s embassy or consulate, and the Beijing Municipality Public Security Bureau, Foreigners Section, 85 Beichizi Jie, tel. 553102.

Foreign Embassies

Your national embassy in Beijing (some also have consulates in Shanghai and Guangzhou) can assist with problems such as lost passports, as well as offering advice about doing business in China. They are also important resources in the event of an emergency.

Customs

All visitors entering China must fill out customs declaration forms upon arrival, these forms will be provided for you while on your flight to China. Reasonable amounts of money (currently up to $5,000 US), alcohol and cigarettes, cameras, and camcorder can be brought into China. Certain valuable items, such as professional camera equipment, computers, and commercial gold, must be declared on the form or else import duty will be charged on them.

Tourists may bring camcorders, but professional video or audio recording equipment requires special authorization. Importing arms and ammunition, narcotic drugs, and printed or video material “detrimental to China’s politics, economy, culture, or ethics” is forbidden. It is also forbidden to take out any of these items, or endangered species of animals or plants and antiques without export permits.

Health Requirements

Although China does have excellent preventative healthcare products available and modern healthcare systems in major cities, for time and convenience travelers should bring with them any special health remedies or medications they require, as well as over-the-counter items. Elderly travelers, or those with medical problems, are advised to check with their healthcare professional before visiting China. Travel to high-altitude areas, such as Tibet, is not recommended for those with pulmonary or heart problems.

Water

In China the water cannot be drank from the faucet, as it has not gone through a filtering process. The only two ways of drinking water is by purchasing bottled water, or use the small water heater provided in each hotel room to boil water before drinking, and each room also provide mugs for that purpose.

What to Pack?

There are no clothing restrictions in China, and people in China dress very much like how Americans dress. Pack lightly, and bring casual clothes. A comfortable pair of walking shoes is a must (break them in first!). Bring a couple of shirts, sweaters, and a jacket (depending on the season) that can be worn in layers to accommodate China’s range of climates. Wash-and-wear clothing is preferable, although all hotels offer reliable laundry and dry cleaning services. Bring a poncho or umbrella for rainy weather, poncho is preferred over umbrella. When packing accessories, decide what’s really important and take only the items you’ll really use. (Keep in mind that there will be opportunities to buy clothes to wear during your trip). Don’t forget to take along an alarm clock.

Electrical

To charge electronic devices in China, an international converter is needed to convert the 220-volt in China to 110 volts. As for a hair dryer, although most hotels supply them in the hotel room, it’s always best to bring one in case they don’t have it.

Tipping

Tipping is customary in China and many tourists bring along inexpensive gifts to show their appreciation to guides, drivers or others who have been helpful. See your itinerary for the tipping rate for your group.

Language

All Chinese people speak Putonghua (Mandarin), the national language based on the Beijing dialect. Many students and young people study English or other foreign languages (there are daily television language classes), however few have a chance to practice speaking them.
The hotels you are staying at employ staff fluent in English, Japanese and other languages.

Time

All of China observes Beijing Time, GMT+8, which is adjusted to daylight savings time during the summer. When it’s 12 NOON in Beijing, it’s-
12 PM in Hong Kong
2 PM in Sydney and Guam
4 PM in Auckland
6 PM in Hawaii and Anchorage
8 PM in Los Angeles and Vancouver
9 PM in Denver
10 PM in Chicago
11 PM in New York and Montreal
4 AM in London
5 AM in Paris
6 AM in Cape Town
7 AM in Moscow

Working Hours

Shops open seven days a week, from 8 or 8.30 AM to 7.30 or 8 PM. Restaurants in hotels have similar hours to those in Western countries, however most eating places outside the hotels close much earlier, with people eating breakfast before going to work, and having lunch some time between 11.30 AM and 2 PM, between which times restaurants are closed. Dinner is traditionally taken around 6 or 7 in the evening.
China observes few public holidays. The most important is the Spring Festival (Chinese New Year), when most people take off work for three days. They also celebrate National Day on October 1, International Labor Day on May 1, and to a lesser degree, the Ching Ming, Dragon Boat and Mid-Autumn Festivals.

Medical Services

Most hotels have basic medical supplies or have access to a doctor (or acupuncture practitioner). They can also help guests purchase medicine (either western or Chinese) or if necessary, enter a hospital for treatment.

Phone or Cellphone

There are public phones in hotels, in restaurants, shops and on the street, in all major cities. International calls can be made direct from hotel rooms with IDD phones. Otherwise you call 115 for the international operator. Hotels usually add a service charge. Cell phones can be brought from USA to be used in China, the rate depend on your cell phone carrier. Note: If you have an Iphone you can contact home by using face time without using your minutes, but the airplane mode needs to be turned on, and wifi is needed.

Computer

Using a computer is the best way to communicate while in China; there is no need to estimate the time change between China and USA, and in some cases it is cheaper than calling. Hotels in China all have either wifi or landline served for their guests, although it is up to the individual hotels whether those services are free or cost money. Note: One of the cheaper ways of communication (if you brought your computer) is through Skype, and minutes can be purchased before the trip to be used. If you are a Facebook fanatic (sorry to disappoint you) it is banned in China, and you will not be able to access it while you are in China.

Street Vendors

At certain popular tourist sites, street vendors are common. They can sometimes be quite aggressive. We recommend that you do not purchase anything from the street vendors. Simply say no, don’t buy anything, and they should leave you alone. If you do decide to purchase from them, make sure to use exact change or smaller currency in case they give back counterfeit money.

Postal Service

Hotel desks provide the most convenient post office services for visitors. They have mailboxes and sell stamps for letters, postcards and parcels. For insured postage, express mail and other special services, it’s best to use post offices, which are found on main streets, the airport, railway stations and tourist spots. They are open 8 AM – 7 PM, plus round-the-clock facilities for telephones, telegraphs and telexes.

chinamap

China’s geographic area is slightly larger than the U.S.; it covers similar latitudes, with the majority of cities in the temperate zone. This provides endless year-round variety for visitors to this amazing country, from ice festivals in the north to tropical beach resorts in the south. Keep in mind the vast distances between destinations when planning your trip. The following chart can help you:

 
Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
June
July
Aug
Sep
Oct
Nov
Dec

Beijing
25
29
41
57
68
77
82
80
69
55
40
28

Kaifeng
35
40
46
56
66
75
85
81
75
64
56
44

Shanghai
40
46
56
65
73
81
82
76
66
55
44
39

Wuhan
37
41
50
61
70
80
84
83
75
63
52
40

Zhengzhou
34
41
45
55
65
72
84
82
74
62
57
43

Guilin
47
49
54
64
73
78
83
80
76
68
61
50

Chongqing
45
50
58
67
73
78
84
86
77
66
57
51

Hangzhou
39
42
49
58
68
78
83
81
75
64
55
44

Luoyang
34
41
46
55
65
74
86
82
74
63
57
45

Xi’an
33
35
46
57
67
78
79
77
67
55
44
31

We hope that you will find these resources both fun and informative! However, we can not guarantee that everything on these sites is accurate. So surf at your own risk!

Books

These are suggested materials by our past participants to better understand China’s past and today.

- Riding the Iron Roaster (book), by Paul Theroux
- Wild Swans (book), by Jung Chang
- New Emperor: China in the era of Mao and Deng (book), by Harrison E. Salisbury
- Falling Leaves: The Memoir of an Unwanted Chinese Daughter (book), by Adeline Yen Mah
- Red Star Over China (book), by Edgar Snow
- River Town (book), by Peter Hessler
- From Yao to Mao: 5000 Years of Chinese History (DVD, audio, CD), by Professor Kenneth J. Hammond, Ph.d.,

Chinese Culture

Chinese Calligraphy
http://www.chinapage.com/calligraphy.html

http://www.giftplum.com/calligraphy-guide.html

Asian Arts
http://www.asianart.com/

Chinese Gardens
http://www.chinesegarden.org/

Art and Literature
http://www.chinapage.com/china.html

Chinese Food
http://chinesefood.about.com/library/blphotogalleryindex.htm

Chinese Music
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_music

Chinese Tea
http://chineseteas101.com/

Chinese Holidays
http://traditions.cultural-china.com/en/14Traditions7225.html

Buddhism
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buddhism

Chinese Philosophy and Religion
http://academic.brooklyn.cuny.edu/core9/phalsall/texts/chinrelg.html

Taoism
http://www.chinaculture.org/library/2008-02/04/content_24194.htm

Teacher Resources

Asia for Educators
http://afe.easia.columbia.edu/index.html

Chinese New Year Lesson Plans and Activities
http://seasonal.theteacherscorner.net/chinese-new-year/

Six Paths to China
http://www.kn.pacbell.com/wired/China/

Archaeology
http://www.nga.gov/education/chinatp_pt2.htm

Ask Asia
http://www.askasia.org/

Chinese Geography
http://kids.nationalgeographic.com/kids/places/find/china/

Chinese History

For a review of Chinese History, use Gopher.

The Three Gorges
http://www.ibiblio.org/chinesehistory/contents/07spe/specrep01.html

Ancient Chinese Dynasties
http://library.thinkquest.org/12255/library/dynasty/dynasty.htm

Chinese Language

Chinese Language
http://www.chinalanguage.com/

Chinese Pronunciation and Animated Chinese Characters
http://lost-theory.org/ocrat/chargif/

Other Resources

Comprehensive information on China, check out the best source: the CIA’s World Fact Book
https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/ch.html

News coverage of China
China Daily or The China News Digest

Excellent maps of China
Maps of China

Educational instructional materials and resources for educators, schools, and libraries to educate their students about China. http://www.jmoriental.com

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