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Necessities Guide

The Chinese money can be referred to in English as the Chinese Dollar.

However in Chinese, it has 3 common names and 2 symbols in use: The Chinese currency can be expressed both in Renminbi (RMB for short) and the Chinese Yuan (CNY). You will commonly hear people say "kuai", (pronounced as kwai), which is a local term for Yuan and means dollar. In writing, both CNY 1000 and RMB 1000 refer to 1000 Chinese dollars. In addition, there are two names for 1/10th of a Chinese dollar- one "mao" or "jiao".

Money Changer

The best place to exchange foreign currency in Beijing is the Beijing airport’s arrival area: just before you exit the arrivals gate and enter the terminal. On the side there is a Bank of China. This Bank of China booth does not charge for travelers' check and does not charge other fees for the transaction. It is also open 24 hours, 7 days a week.

Once you step out of the arrivals gate there are extra charges for exchange at all banks, including the Bank of China. Banks in China will exchange foreign currency Monday to Friday only, not on the weekends.

ATMs are also widely available, although only some will work with international cards. Look for machines with your card system’s logo. Bank of China machines accept most international cards.

Exchange rates and fees are controlled and the same everywhere within China, so usually it is the easiest way to change money at the airport or in your hotel.

Money changers in the business halls of banks in China charges no commission fees, but they only work for you from Monday to Friday, 09:00- 16:00. A commission is charged by the ATMs and hotels for money exchange, but they work for you 24 hours any day.

Note that many areas of China and smaller cities do not accept credit cards nor travelers checks and will only accept RMB. So do have some cash around with you.

International calls can be made directly from hotel rooms with IDD phones. Just dial the international prefix 00, plus country code, area code and number. You can also go to some large post offices or roadside kiosks with the IDD sign.

For the Sim Card, there are two companies in China in which you can get the Chinese Sim card from: : China Unicom and China Mobile, also the largest in the world.

Your phone would have to work in China, GSM phones should have 900 and 1800 Mhz frequencies or bands. When you buy a SIM card, make sure the number is working by testing it out on the spot.

Wifi can be found easily in china, no matter at internet cafes or hotel providing the wifi access. Do take note of the Wifi logo around.

Google will not be accessible in China. Due to this, there will be some problems encounter even with having a SIM card with internet access. Google Maps would be inaccessible unless you have a good VPN on your phone or computer.

Electricity and Voltage
China's electricity supply uses 220 volts 50Hz AC, which works for 220 or 240V equipment. If your gadgets require 110V, you will need a voltage adapter that can be bought locally. Sockets used are 'international' type.

Traveling around Beijing is fairly convenient, with a variety of options to suit your tastes and budget.

Traveling by train in Beijing is very convenient with over seven-hundred trains running to and fro, linking the city with almost every corner of the country every day. Look out for a blue sign marked with '北京地铁 (Beijing Subway) which is an indication that there is a subway station nearby.

Beijing Buses of various types travel along multitudinous lines with a much improved transport system. The public bus and the trolleybus are the main bus types which are reasonably optimized. There are urban lines, night buses, suburban lines, air-conditioned buses, double-decker buses and tourist buses that travel along special lines taking in the many scenic spots.

Rickshaws are less common but can still be seen (both cycle-powered and motorized versions), especially around major tourist attractions. That being said, we don't advise using them- they're more expensive than other modes like taxis, and tourists have a tendency to get overcharged.

Beijing taxis are a good way to get around. The flagdown fare is 10Y and a further 2.0Y or 1.6Y/km thereafter is charged depending on the type of taxi. A sticker in the back window indicates the rates, which go up 20% at night. Important to note: taxi drivers are legally obliged to use the meter for taxi rides.

There are often taxi ranks near bus stops but flagging a taxi anywhere except at junctions is permitted. Though all Beijing taxi drivers are required to pass an English exam, we recommend getting either a Chinese friend or the hotel receptionist to write your destination down in Chinese and show it to the driver. Carrying a hotel namecard with you for the journey back will also be very useful.

A traditional mode of transport, bicycles remain a good way to get around, with flat roads and well-marked bicycle lanes throughout the city. Should you decide to cycle around Beijing, cycling through a hutong (a traditional narrow alley or street) would indeed be an enchanting, unforgettable experience.

Bicycles can be hired from most budget hotels and bike lots (sometimes with an attendant) are readily available, with prices ranging from 10-50Y for a day’s hire. Do park your bike away from the roadside but in clear sight. Bike lights and crash helmets are uncommon, and we strongly recommend bringing your own. Other safety tips include wearing bright clothing, and being extremely careful at junctions, where cars turn regardless of the traffic direction.

The official language in China is Mandarin Chinese, a northern dialect which is also what the people in Beijing speak.

There are hundreds of different dialects in China, with many of them sounding like different languages with different people from different regions separated by rivers and mountains. However, they all come together into the category “Chinese”.

If the Chinese is not your main language, most hotel staff can speak English, so you can always seek help from them. If you are going to take a taxi, it would be best to get someone to write down the address of your destination in Chinese to show the driver. For simple directions and help, you can most likely get help from a younger person as nowadays, most young people are studying English.

Do remember when you are addressing someone in China, the surname comes before the given name. So for example if a woman is called Shu Shimei, you should call her Ms Shu.

Necessities Guide
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