FLIGHT TIMES: 11.5 hours direct from London Heathrow to Shanghai.
TIME DIFFERENCE: +7 hours in summer time / +8 hours in winter time (BST).
CURRENCY: Chinese Yuan (official name Ren Min Bi) £1 = approx. 9 CYN.
MONEY: You can take Sterling cash with you and exchange in China – hotels and banks all provide a currency exchange service. Credit cards are widely accepted and there are ATM machines for withdrawing cash in local currency.
TIPPING: Tipping is at your own discretion. We recommended £5 (approx. 45 CYN) per day for your tour guide but it’s entirely up to you based on how good you think your guide and driver are.
VISA: All visitors to China are required to apply for a Chinese visa in advance of travel. Upon booking Emperor Tours will provide visa forms and detailed instructions explaining the application process.
LANGUAGE: The official language spoken in China is standard Mandarin (Pu Tong Hua).
BEST TIMES TO VISIT: Generally Spring and Autumn months – end of March to early June and September to early November.
FESTIVALS: Here are the main Chinese festivals and what you will expect to see and experience during these festivities…
Chinese New Year – 1st-15th of the first lunar month
Scrolls and paper-cut pictures, firecrackers and fireworks, New Year visits to family and friends, eating celebratory dishes.
Lantern Festival – 15th day of the first lunar month
Lanterns and fireworks, guessing lantern riddles, folk dances and eating celebratory dishes.
Qingming Festival – April 4th or 5th of the solar calendar
Tomb sweeping, Spring outings and kite flying.
Dragon Boat Festival – 5th day of the 5th lunar month
Dragon boat racing, eating celebratory dishes and tying five-colour silk thread.
Double Seventh Festival – 7th day of seventh lunar month
Praying for skillful hands, appreciating the stars, and eating noodles, and wontons.
Mid-autumn Festival – 15th day of the 8th lunar month
Appreciating and offering sacrifice to the moonlight and eating moon cakes.
Chongyang Festival – 9th day of the 9th lunar month
Eating Chongyang cake, drinking chrysanthemum wine, climbing mountains and appreciating beautiful chrysanthemums.
Winter Solstice – Dec. 21st, 22nd or 23rd in solar calendar
Eating dumplings in Northern areas and sticky puddings in Southern areas.
Laba Festival – 8th day of the 12th lunar month
Eating laba rice porridge.
NOTE: A lunar month is the time between two successive syzygies (new moons or full moons).
FOOD & DRINK: Our China Group Tours include most meals however if you are venturing out to eat on your own all our hotels are in city centres so it’s very easy to find local restaurants. Your guides will be more than happy to recommend restaurants of various cuisines to you. It’s not expensive to eat out in China – a simple meal in a local restaurant costs around £10 per person.
It’s advisable not to use the minibar in your hotel room as it can be very expensive, and you can find cheap soft drinks, beer and wine in supermarkets. Emperor Tours provide bottled water for guests and your hotel will also provide free bottled water in your room.
SOCIAL ETIQUETTE: China is a fairly relaxed country regarding etiquette, but there are a few things to be aware of:
Greetings and goodbyes – shake hands but never kiss someone’s cheek.
Religion – dress sensitively when visiting Buddhist (especially in Tibet) and Taoist temples, churches and mosques.? You should avoid touching monks, especially women.
Eating and drinking – its polite to help fill your neighbour’s plate at the dinner table and toast the host and others at the table. At the start of dinner, wait until toasting starts before drinking from your glass.
Gestures – don’t use too many hand movements or excessive body language.
HEALTH ADVICE: Before you travel, please make sure that you have obtained appropriate medical / travel insurance. There is no compulsory requirement for vaccination – the common recommendations are Hepatitis A and Typhoid and Malaria tablets are required if you travel to Yunnan Province or Hainan Island.
If travelling in Summer months, please bring sunscreen, mosquito repellent etc.
It is not safe to drink tap water in China – please drink boiled water or bottled water only.