China Travel Tips for First-Timers: Payment, Visa, Train

Renowned for its rich culture and history, dramatic landscapes, abundant natural resources, and diverse gourmets, China is a perfect destination for everyone to have some fun. You may have no idea about how to prepare everything that needed to take when traveling to China for the first time. Here, we conclude the most useful information for you to help with your first China tour, just check it out!

First of first, you need to get a Visa to enter China. Reserve all international flight tickets and buy travel insurance in case there is any emergency circumstance. All this work needs to be done before you leave for your China tour.

Valid Passport & Visa

Get the original copy of your visa and make sure your passport is valid for at least 6 months more than your duration in China. As a suggestion, you can save a scanned copy of your important documents on digital devices.

Most travelers obtain a tourist visa (L visa) to visit China. You may need to apply for a China visa one to two months before your tour date. However, there is no requirement for a visa application to visit China for 15 days for visitors from many countries including Italy, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, Malaysia, Singapore, Switzerland, Ireland, Hungary, Austria, Belgium, and Luxembourg. This policy is valid until 31 December 2025.

Transportation Tickets

We recommend you buy your travel insurance before your trip, not only for the China tour. It protects your finances, health, and security during your China vacation. You can consult your insurance company to choose the appropriate product.

Travel Insurance

When applying for a China visa, you are required to provide information on your flight tickets to China. Return tickets are not requested. Booking your flight in advance can save money and there are many scheduled flights for you to pick from.

The official currency in China is the Renminbi (RMB), also known as the yuan, and the bank code is CNY. There are 3 units of RMB, distinguished as yuan, jiao, and fen. The denominations of notes are 100, 50, 20, 10, 5, 1 yuan, 5, 1 jiao. The denominations of coins are 1 yuan, 5, and 1 jiao. Fen is not used nowadays except for online payment. The USD to CNY exchange rate is hovering around 7 at the current level.

Cash is Not the Usual Way to Pay

As technology develops fast and quickly, e-pay in China has become the main way to pay. Cash is not that widely used in most developed cities. Some small towns and villages may use cash more frequently than cities. It is recommended to prepare some changes for your tour, in case of some special conditions.

Using e-Pay in China

WeChat Pay and Ali Pay have been the main ways to pay digitally in China in recent years. It can be used for shopping, buying tickets for museums and other attractions, and some other daily things. If you can accept creating an e-pay account for your China tour, it will be much more convenient.

Nowadays, WeChat Pay has simplified its requirement of bounding cards and payment processes for some foreign users. It needs to fill in the card number of Visa or MasterCard, valid date, and security code to bind with WeChat Pay.

Using Credit & Debit Cards in China

You can use credit cards in China but with some limitations. For larger cities and main tourist attractions, major credit cards like UnionPay, Visa, and MasterCard are widely accepted. However, remember to let your bank know that you will have a transaction abroad. If not, there is a risk that the bank may block your cards for security considerations.

Generally, it is easy to find an ATM in China, especially in cities. You can withdraw cash by ATMs, but remember there may be an ATM withdrawal fee and foreign transaction fees charged by your bank.

Unlike Western countries, the Chinese have different digital platforms to contact families and friends. Facebook, WhatsApp, and Instagram cannot be used in China. WeChat, QQ, and Weibo are most commonly used in China. If you are considering keeping in contact with your families and friends, local Chinese friends, and your tour guide, you should make some preparations.

Virtual Private Network (VPN) to Contact Home

Some Western websites are banned to use in China, such as Instagram, Facebook, and Google. You need to install a workable VPN before you leave for China to guarantee a connection to WhatsApp and other software.

China SIM Card to Contact Local Guide

You may need a China sim card to contact your guide and do some other certifications for creating a WeChat account if you have never applied for one. You can buy a SIM card in many places in China including most airports.

If you visit Hong Kong and other mainland China cities, remember the SIM card may not work for both places because they don't share a common telecom system.

Create a WeChat Account

WeChat is the most common instant contact communication tool in China. It is recommended to install WeChat and create an account to contact your tour guide and many other daily life may need it.

For example, WeChat can be used as a tool to order food in restaurants, buy tickets for museums, and pay for public transportation.

It is very easy to apply for a WeChat account, but there is a limitation for new users, which is to be certificated by an existing account. If you are experiencing this problem, feel free to contact your travel consultant or tour guide to help you cope with it.

Taking a train to get through some of the cities in China is more usual and convenient than taking a flight. It is a unique experience to travel by train to get around China. To feel the stability and speed of Chinese high-speed railways.

Buying Train Tickets

You can use your passport as a certification to buy train tickets. The tickets can be purchased in 15 days advance compared to the departure date. Remember train tickets can be hard to get during Chinese holidays such as Spring Festival, National Days, etc.

You can buy train tickets online, or go to the train stations and buy tickets at a manual counter. However, you may face a language problem because the counter staff may not speak English fluently. Travel with Odynovo, our travel expert will help you to arrange all your transportation during your China vacation, and guide you to deal with all problems you may meet during your trip.

As a reminder, there is no need for you to get paper tickets because all information has already been recorded in the system. You can use your passport to enter and leave the train station.

Get on the Train

When arriving at the train station, you will first queue for security checks and put your luggage through the scanning machine. You will be asked to open and take a sip of the liquid in your water bottle if you bring one.

Then you will get in the waiting room. You can see the train information on a large LED screen here. When your train is ready to check in, you will hear the broadcast. You will need to check in a manual gate and show your passport to the staff. The auto machine can only accept Chinese ID Cards.

You can follow the flow or the instructions in the train station to get to the right platform and get on your train. If you feel confused, don't be shy to ask a Chinese young person. Most of them can speak English and will be happy to help.

On the Train

After you get on the train, crew members may come and check your tickets and passport. Make sure you are on the right train and in the right seat. Each carriage has toilets and a place to get boiling water. Tap water on the train can be used to wash face and hands, but do not drink directly. You can buy food and beverages on the train, just ask any staff on the train to help with.

After Arrived

The high-speed train in China is always punctual, you need to get to the exit gate when 5 - 10 minutes before arriving. The train will not stop for a long time at each station, so you need to notice the time. After you arrive at the destination, follow the sign of exit to get out of the platform. Queue with the machine that has staff standing beside you, give your passport to the staff and check. Notice that the auto machine can only accept Chinese ID Card.

Platform of Fenghuang StationPlatform of Fenghuang Station

China is famous for its numerous delicacies and unique flavors of cuisines. You will find Chinese cuisine is totally different from those in Western Chinese restaurants. Be open-minded to try some new things during your Chinese tour. However, you may face some problems such as allergies and other difficulties.

Things to Prepare for Food Allergies

Compared to Western countries, being allergic to gluten food is not a common problem so you should be careful about this. Chinese food is heavily based on soy sauce, rice noodles, and rice flour. You can prepare a Chinese restaurant card as a reminder to help you eat safely. Moreover, make sure you have your medicine with you and prepare some snacks with you for some emergency.

Gluten-Free Restaurant Card in ChinaGluten-Free Restaurant Card in China

Tips for Ordering Foods in a Local Restaurant

You may worry about the language problem while ordering food in China. However, as digital menus become more and more usual in China, ordering food becomes easier than in the past. You can see the prices, chef-recommended cuisine, and the image of foods on the digital menu. You can also pay directly after ordering food if you have already activated your WeChat Pay.

Clothes Packing Tips

All essential clothes you need to pack are due to the weather of your travel date. We recommend you check the weather of the cities you will visit on your China tour before you start packing your clothes. As a reminder, make sure to bring appropriate shoes because it may be hard for you to buy a pair of new shoes in the right size in China.

If you are going to have an adventure tour including hiking, or exploring the mountains, we recommend you bring some quick-drying clothes. Dress layer when hiking to keep yourself warm and dry.

If you are going to have a summer vacation, don't forget to bring sunscreen, sunglasses, umbrellas, hats, long sleeves, and any other you can use to protect yourself from the sun.

For winter vacation, remember to wear warm if you are traveling to Northern China for it is really cold and dry.

Hygiene and Beauty Products

Remember to bring your toiletries and make-up kits with you if you are not easily accustomed to new products or have sensitive skin. However, these things may eat up the limited space of your package, so remember to bring travel size if you have to bring your own toiletries and make-up kits.

If you are planning a China tour including Beijing or other Northern parts of China, remember to bring moisturizer against the super dry weather.

Shaving essentials and hair styling products are easy to forget for male travelers, bring your products if needed. Moreover, for female travelers, you may also want to prepare your tampons. Though tampons are becoming more and more usual in Asia, there are not many brands for you to choose from.

Prepare Medications & Vitamins

It is always not that easy to buy appropriate medicine in a different country. You may need to consult your healthcare provider for your daily pills and vitamins.

Moreover, bring some commonly used emergency medicines for emergency conditions. For example, pepto-bismol, allergy pills, antibiotic cream, and some other regular medicines for kids and elderly people if you are having a family tour.

Some Useful Items You May Need

Power converter, face mask, trekking pole. These items are useful in certain circumstances but not a must to bring.

The commonplace plugs in China are three-pronged and two flat styles. It is more convenient if you prepare in advance. However, most large hotels can provide a power converter for you. Your tour guide will also be happy to help you with this condition. Some developed cities tend to have lower air quality, so bringing some face masks is a wise choice. If you are planning to visit the Great Wall, or some famous mountains such as Mount Huangshan, you will thank yourself if you bring a trekking pole.

The Great WallThe Great Wall

China Tour With Odynovo

China tour may be a little bit complicated for first-timers. If you are looking for a reliable companion with you to get around China, Odynovo must be a perfect choice. Please feel free to contact us to design your private China vacation.

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