China is commonly known as the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and is one of the world’s oldest civilizations including 56 ethnic minority groups that have long been part of China’s community.
China has a population that now exceeds 1.3 billion and a landmass area of 9.6 million square kilometres.
China, Hong Kong and Macau are 8 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT + 8 hours) and 2 hours behind Australian Eastern Standard Time (AEST).
China and Hong Kong operate on an electrical supply voltage of 220 volts 50Hz. Pictured below are the 4 main types of electrical plugs used in Mainland China and Hong Kong. Adaptors for these kinds of electrical connections are readily available in most countries, international airports and in some convenience stores and many hotels in China and Hong Kong.
Phone access and Internet
Public telephones are widely available across China. Long distance and international calls can be dialled directly from any public phone. Phone cards are a cheaper way for travellers to call overseas. Prepaid Chinese mobile sim cards can be easily purchased from any of the many mobile phone shops or corner stores. Mobile coverage is excellent in China and we advise you to check with your mobile service provider for international roaming availability and call costs prior to your departure.
Almost all hotels in China offer in-room and/or lobby access to broadband Internet — some of which is provided free of charge. Internet cafes are also readily located throughout China and are often inexpensive. In many major cities there are several coffee shops that offer free WiFi access for your laptop, tablet or smartphone.
The official language in mainland China is Mandarin, however, English is widely spoken around the main tourist destinations, hotels and amongst the younger generation.
The official language in Hong Kong is Cantonese and English. The official language in Macau is Cantonese and Portuguese. English is also taught and widely spoken in Macau.
Travel Safety and Security
China, Hong Kong and Macau are considered reasonably safe travel destinations. We encourage you to check with Smartraveller for the latest travel warnings and security updates relating to China, Hong Kong and Macau. We strongly recommend that Australian travellers register their details online before commencing any overseas travel.
We strongly recommend that you purchase Travel Insurance prior to your departure to safeguard against unforeseen events.
It is highly recommended that you seek professional medical advice regarding your fitness and suitability for overseas travel before making a booking. We also recommend that you check with your health professional to make sure that all your vaccinations are up to date. During your trip you are likely to do more walking than when at home and for this reason we advise you to maintain adequate hydration by drinking plenty of water. As a guide, we recommend a minimum of 2 litres per day. You should take all of your prescribed necessary medicines and be sure to carry an adequate supply with you for the length of your journey. Customs in Australia and overseas are on the watch for black-market trading of prescription medicines so it’s advisable to carry a letter from your doctor endorsing the various prescribed medicines you’ll be carrying.
For further information we recommend you visit the following websites to gain additional details and knowledge regarding good health practices when travelling overseas:
● The Travel Health Advisory Group;
● The Traveller’s Medical and Vaccination Centre; and
Climates differ from region to region in China due to the vast terrain and varying topography of the country. The following information only serves as a guide only and climatic fluctuations may occur.
Northern China experiences cold, dry and sunny winters and warm, short summers. Central China generally experience long and humid summers with high temperatures and cold winters.
Southern China has a typically higher rain fall each year than most parts of the country and can experience hot and humid summers and short winters.
North-western China experiences hot, dry summers and bitterly cold winters due to the vast desert landmasses – often with very little rain.
The Tibetan plateau due to its high altitude and thin air, often experiences sizable differences between day and night temperatures and also endure warm summers and cold winters.
Currency and Credit Cards
The Renminbi (RMB) also known as Chinese Yuan (CNY) is the sole legitimate currency of the People’s Republic of China. The basic unit of RMB is the Yuan with notes in denominations of 100, 50, 20, 10, 5, 2 and 1. The currency is further divided into coin denominations of Jiao and Fen, where 1 Yuan = 10 Jiao or 100 Fen coins.
In the many of China’s major cities, banks in are often open 7 days per week. Cash in Australian Dollars (AUD), US Dollars or Traveller’s Cheque can easily be exchanged for CNY at any major hotel or bank. In some remote areas, US dollars are the only excepted foreign currency. ATM machines in major Chinese cities are easy to find and accept most worldwide accepted ATM cards.
The Hong Kong Dollar (HKD) is the official currency in Hong Kong and notes are in denominations of 1000, 500, 100, 50, 20, 10. Coins are in denominations of 10, 5, 2, 1, and 50cents, 20cents and 10cents.
Renminbi (RMB) has also become more popular lately and can be widely used in Hong Kong. Traveller’s cheques and cash in most major currencies can be easily exchanged at most hotels, banks and currency exchange facilities in major tourist areas in Hong Kong. Credit cards are widely accepted in hotels, shops and restaurants.
In Macau the Pataca is the official currency. Notes are in denominations of 1000, 500, 100, 50, 20, 10. Coins are in denominations of 10, 5, 1 patacas and 50, 20, 10 avos. There is no need to exchange into Macau’s local currency if your stay is short as Hong Kong dollars are readily accepted. Hotels and restaurant rates are generally quoted in Hong Kong dollars.
Most international credit cards are accepted in China, Hong Kong and Macau – particularly at major hotels and department stores. For security purposes, we only advise you use a credit card at hotels and major department stores and never allow the card to be out of your sight during the transaction process. Please ensure that you carry your 24-hour Credit Card emergency support phone number with you in case of lost or stolen credit cards.
Passport and Visa Requirements
If you are travelling to mainland China you will need a visa for entry. There are several classes of visa, each dependent on a person’s reason for entry – for example: tourist (L visa), business (F visa), student to study (X visa), etc. Visalink offers a fast and professional online travel visa service to ensure prompt processing of your visa application.’ Please visit visalink.com.au.
There are Visa Processing Centers in Sydney, Melbourne & Brisbane. For contact details please visit visaforchina.org.
If you are an Australian resident travelling to Hong Kong, you do not require a visa if your stay is less than 90 days. For other passport holders, please check your visa and entry requirements by visiting the Immigration Department of Hong Kong for further details. If you are an Australian passport holder travelling to Macau, you do not require a visa if your stay is less than 30 days. For other passport holders, please check your visa and entry requirements by visiting the Macau Government’s tourism website.
Australian Embassy and Consulate
For a complete world-wide list of all Australian embassies, consulates and high commissions, please visit the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade website. In China, the Australian embassy is located in Beijing and there are consulates in Hong Kong, Guangzhou and Shanghai.
Australian Embassy in Beijing
Address: 21 Dongzhimenwai Dajie, Sanlitun, Beijing 100600 China
Tel: +86 10 5140 4111
Fax: +86 10 5140 4204
Australian Consulate in Hong Kong
Address: 23/F Harbour Centre, 25 Harbour Road, WanChai, Hong Kong
Tel: +85 2 2827 8881
Fax: + 85 2 2585 4457
Australian Consulate in Guangzhou
Address: 12th Floor, Development Centre, No.3 Linjiang Road, Zhujiang New City Guangzhou 510623 China
Tel: + 86 20 38140111
Fax: + 86 20 3814 0112
Australian Consulate in Shanghai
Address: Level 22, Citic Square, 1168 Nanjing West Road, Shanghai 200041 China
Tel: +86 21 5292 5500
Fax: +86 21 5292 5511
Food and Drinks
Hotel breakfasts are included in most of our tours (except ½ day or day tours) and we only use reputable restaurants for all other included meals. If you’re not on a tour and venturing on your own, there are a huge selection of restaurants, food courts, cafes and eateries in China, Hong Kong and Macau. As is the case when travelling to any overseas destination, we recommend you avoid eating raw food. As a general rule, only eat well-cooked food and choose restaurants that appear to be well patronised and clean. Tea is the most commonly served drink, with bottled water, soft drinks, local beers and wines also widely available. Tap water is not recommended for drinking in most Asian destinations and we highly recommend drinking bottled water bought from known supermarkets or stores. We also suggest you avoid ice in your drink unless it is from a hotel or trusted restaurant. As a general precaution we also advise against purchasing food, beverages and peeled fruit from street vendors whose hygiene standards are not guaranteed.
Tipping has now become widely accepted throughout China especially for Tour Guides and Drivers and when travelling on a Yangtze River Cruise. Although tipping is not mandatory, any tips are always greatly appreciated. Generally if you have been happy with a service provided to you and you would like to show your gratitude, then AU $6 -10 per person per day is currently an acceptable amount. If you do want to give someone a tip, we suggest that you offer it at the end of your tour or time with that person.
Luggage Allowances and Carry-on baggage
Although airlines vary with their luggage limits, we recommend that you restrict your single check-in luggage to no more than 20 kg. Limits are also influenced by the class of ticket you travel on so it is advisable to check with your airlines prior to departure. Due to increased airport security, there are also restrictions on what you can put in your carry-on luggage. In more recent years, there are new rules for taking liquids, aerosols and gels on flights. These new rules are needed to minimise the threat of liquid explosives. Each container of liquid, aerosol or gel in your carry-on baggage must be 100 millilitres/grams or less. All containers must be sealed in a transparent, one-litre plastic bag. You are only allowed one plastic bag. Any transparent resealable bag of one litre capacity or less is allowed. Please note these bags must be independently resealable and bags sealed with items such as sticky tape, rubber bands or ribbons will not be accepted. Travellers can seek further information in the aviation security section on the Australian Government’s Department of Infrastructure and Transport web site.
Useful Telephone Numbers In China
● Medical and Ambulance – 120
● Police – 110
● Fire Brigade – 119
● Weather Info – 121
● Directory Assistance – 114
In Hong Kong
● Emergency Service (Police, Ambulance, Fire) – 999
● Department of Health – 2527 7177
● Weather Info – 187 8066
● Directory Enquiries – 1081
● Emergency Service (Police, Ambulance, Fire) – 999