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Top 10 Tips for your travel to China




1. Have a vpn service ready


As you may heard of, most of the apps or websites, like google, facebook, twitter are not accessible for the most of the time.


What’s more, if you are using an android phone, then google play store is also not available either, which means that you can NOT download or update your apps.


In this case, you need a VPN(Virtual Private Network) to overcome the situation. How to select a best VPN service provider while you are in China? Read this post.


2. Get a discover credit card


Thinking of bring your favourite american express, visa or mastercard with you? Some of them may say give you 5% cash back while your travel with no international transaction fee and looks like this is a great deal?


Well – the reality is: majority merchants will NOT accept them, except major hotels, airports etc. In china the dominant payment network by credit card is called “UnionPay”.


Even for some local merchants that they can accept visa/master card network, they are reluctant to accept your card due to higher transaction fee compared to China Union. So they are more likely to ask you pay cash, which is not that convenient.


Fortunately, discover has a partner relationship with China UnionPay and you can use your discover card in China freely. Most of the time they will not charge your international transaction fee and the exchange rate is pretty reasonable. Discover card can be applied from this link


Read this post to get the details on how to use Discover Card in China.


3. Get a debit card that is working in ATMs in China cheaply


Most likely you can get your local cash(RMB, stands for RenMinBi) from ATM; but most of the time they will charge you a fair amount of transaction fees. Try to avoid that?


You can apply a few debit cards that are ATM fee free and use it in China. What to know the details? Read this post.


4. Prepare to order a local sim card


If you are using major wireless carrier in US, such as At&T, T-mobile, Verizon or Sprint, then most likely you can get the internet access.


T-mobile’s plans can also offer free data roaming service in China (but restricted to 128K per second which is around 2G speed). To apply a T-moblie’s plan, click here.


Why bother to have a local sim card?


Well – the answer is; it will save you money as well as make your trip much easier.


First of all, the wireless plan is very cheap. For example, you can easily get 2G data for less than 10 USD; and calls are as cheap as less than 2 US cents.


Second, which is more important, is that most service you are getting requires a SMS confirmation. For example, if you are in the airports in China, you can get free wifi; but they need you to input a SMS confirmation and most of the time, they can only send SMS to a local sim card.


Similar thing applies for the starbucks, shopping malls etc.


How to get a local SIM card? Read this post.


5. Install popular apps that are used in china


Get used to your favorite apps, such as Uber, Yelp, Paypay, Amazon and wondering how to get around while you are in China? There are other apps that can be alternative. Sometimes, they provide even better service when you are in China as they are highly localized. Here are a few:


  1. Baidu Ditu – the “google map” in China
  2. WeChat – the “facebook messenger” or “whats app” + “paypal” + … Must to have
  3. DiDi – the “uber” in china
  4. Meituan – the “yelp” + “open table” + … in China
  5. AliPay – the “paypal”
  6. Taobao and Tmall – the “amazon” + “ebay” in China
  7. elema – the “uber eat” in China
  8. ofo – a new thing. Try to experience this while your stay.


To get a detail list, read this post.

6. Purchase your travel insurances


In case of an emergency, your health insurance provider may not cover some items while your stay in China. Having a good travel insurance plan will eliminate those troubles.

How to choose a good travel insurance? We have this post for you to get more info.


7. Know your contact embassy info


Most likely, you don’t need them. But, as we say, just in case, those contact information are critical.

For US citizens, the contact informations are in this post.


8. Purchase products that can help to overcome jet lag


For people from US or Europe, the jet leg will be normal. Especially for people in the east coast of US, the time difference is around 12 hours, which is completely day and night shift. Having those products will help you sleep well during your jet leg periods.

Here are a few recommendations:

  • Melatonin – You can find this in most of the drug stores 
  • Jet Lag Pills – You can search this from amazon and there are quite a few choices.

If you are travel with a family, consider to purchase more as you may need the when you are back. For more details, read this post.


9. Book a car service in advance


We do not recommend you to rent a car in your day 1 when you arriva, especially for the first time. You may have a lot of luggages, and not familiar with the airport or the languages.


Arrange a car service instead of take a taxi will make your first experience much better.


10. Double check your paper work: passport, visa, air ticket, hotel address, and other contacts


Print all your hotel address, contact information, airline info etc in to multiple copies, with both English and Chinese version. 


In case your phone is out of battery or not working due to no internet connections in a different country; which both cases are quite normal while you are in travel. Some times your taxi driver may not understand English, so have a Chinese copy will be very useful.


For detail info on how to apply visas, choose airlines, book train tickets etc, we will have a post soon to introduce this topic.



Final words

Stay calm and explore your new adventure. China is a unique country with a lot of things that are different from what you have earlier. Enjoy your trip!

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