Power Adapters and Sockets in China

Power Adapters and Sockets in China

If you are an international traveller this is one big pain in the butt, all the different types of sockets used around the world, and then the different voltages. Aggghhh!

Fortunately, with China it’s not too difficult, so let’s take a deeper look.

There are five types of sockets in use, one in Hong Kong/Macau, two in Taiwan, and the other two on mainland China.

Hong Kong Power and Macau Socket and Plug

In HK and Macau they use a UK style plug, completely different to the mainland China. If you land in HK without and adapter they can be a tad expensive from stalls in tourist areas, I found simple ones at Mong Kok computer market for 15HKD that worked a charm. read more

50+ Amazingly Unique Destinations in China that Probably Haven’t Heard of

50+ Amazingly Unique Destinations in China that Probably Haven’t Heard of

Here’s a list of over 50 unique destinations in China, from temples to remote villages, that will leave you simply amazed.

There are so many unique experiences in China. The country is so large, and so diverse, it really is like a whole collection of worlds in one. When itinerary planning for a China journey, you can shape any kind of experience that you want, it’s up to you.

For most people, they are happy to stick to the safety of standard tour-book experiences and the well developed, and well known major attractions, such as anything Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Macau or a even Yangzte River boat cruise. The slightly more adventurous will fit in Xi’an and the Terracotta Army, Chengdu Panda Base and so on. All of which are awesome and great places to get started, but, China offers so, so much more. read more

Toilets in China – Everything you didn’t want to know

Toilets in China – Everything you didn’t want to know

It’s quite amazing, one of the most asked questions on travel forums about China is about toilets. Questions such as “what are the toilets like”, or “Toilet Paper :} Is it really a problem?”, “No Western Restrooms in China! Yikes!”.

If you’re coming to China, it’s something you’re going to have to get comfortable with, the toilets are different. If you get familiar with the different style, truthfully, it’s not so bad. You can do it! read more

The Cost of Living in China – for Travelers & Expats

The Cost of Living in China – for Travelers & Expats

How much does it cost to go to China? Take a look on the travel forums and it’s one of the most common questions there is, so, let’s break it down.

Just like anywhere, there’s a big difference between holidaying and living for extended periods so let’s tackle it in two parts.

Holidaying in China: The Costs

It is a bit like how long is a piece of string, it depends on the level of comfort your seeking and where you want to go and what you’d like to see. For this example, lets’ focus on Tier One cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou. read more

Coming to China? Here’s your one page resource list

Coming to China? Here’s your one page resource list

Here’s a whole bunch of resources for China travelers and Ex-pats, enjoy.

Travel Inspiration
Trover features an easy to use pinterest style interface for perusing travel photos of China, plus map
http://www.trover.com

Travel Booking
http://english.ctrip.com (accommodation and flights – has English speaking booking service)
http://www.elong.net (accommodation and flights)

Trains
http://seat61.com loads of advice on train journeys, train types, stations, seating configurations and more.
http://www.chinahighlights.com Book China train tickets online
http://www.cnvol.com/ – searchable train schedules
http://en.wikipedia.org/../../../File:Rail_map_of_China.svg – Rail network map including High Speed Rail read more

The Top China travel destinations by month

The best months to see some of Chinas amazing destinations:

December: light color painting in Zhangjiajie

Line: Hunan Zhangjiajie-Fenghuang-jiangkou, Guizhou province

Main point: tianzi mountain snow, Tianmen mountain rime binggua, Fenghuang snow, fanjing mountain snow

January: half water, half flame

Line:-Haikou-Wenchang, Qionghai-Wanning

Main point: Wenchang Tai o, stone Park, Lake fishing, continental Islands, eastern suburb of Coconut Grove

February: Ailao string heaven

Line: Kunming-luoping County, Honghe Yuan Yang-BA-American-

Main point: Hani, luoping County read more

Hot Tip for China Visa Renewal and Info on Shenzhen VOA/Port Visa

Hot Tip for China Visa Renewal and Info on Shenzhen VOA/Port Visa

Here’s a hot tip. Don’t overstay your visa, they really don’t like it. Over the four years or so of staying in China I was always on time with renewing my visa, in which case I would travel to Hong Kong and get it renewed, or, go to the local PSB (Public Security Bureau) in the mainland and get it renewed there.

This time, through bad planning and stupidity, I had overstayed the visa by about four days, so I went down to the PSB at Louhu in Shenzhen, and was informed that I was to be given a deport notice and that I should leave the country. Dramatic! I explained that I had an apartment and other concerns to take care of, he said he would give me a 7 day visa to take care of my things. Also needing a new passport, they kindly allowed me extra time to arrange a passport replacement and then return to the PSB to get the 7 day visa pasted in. read more

Chinas Top Food Cities

Chinas Top Food Cities

Number 1: Chengdu
I will never forget Chengdu, my first food experience there was the famous spicy hotpot, my mouth and lips were on fire from the red soup of chiller and peppers! In 2010, Chengdu was designated the “Capital of the World’s Gourmet Food” by UNESCO, and renowned for hot pot cooking, spicy bean curd and Kung Pao chicken.

Number 2: Guangzhou
Cantonese cuisine has become one of my favorites, in particular Dian Xin which is such a popular breakfast outing. Also popular is Wonton, noodles and dumplings along with braised meats and just about any animal you could imagine (a part that’s maybe not so interesting to me) read more

Let’s Eat…… Snacks

Let’s Eat…… Snacks

Here’s a quick guide to some of the popular local snacks foods you’ll see on your travels around China (excuse the translations, will get to correcting the dish names):

Lijiang: delicacies include spiral dumpling, buckwheat cake, walnut meatball, champion cake, Naxi Bowl Tsai cake, millet meatloaf, spiral cake, pineapple rice pudding, purple meters Baba, fried water dragonfly, Naxi la ribs, fried egg series, jelly, beef omelet, roast breast fan.

Hangzhou Snacks: Cypress, 2 bits, 3 1 onion package butter cake, Wu Dun, 6 prawns and eel West Lake West Lake Lotus root starch, Mei Niang the snow cat ears, Hangzhou Xiao long. read more

No Google in China? Here’s Some Essential Alternatives

No Google in China? Here’s Some Essential Alternatives

Thousands of expats, returned Chinese, web developers, travelers, students and the like would hope not, but things are not so well with Googles China relationship, it would appear. Most Google services including search, at any domain (.com,.com.au,.com.hk etc..) have been returning “This web page is unavailable”. Whilst it’s not uncommon for certain searches to be unavailable, or for Google to be unavailable on weekends, its unusual that the whole of Google be out of action, the whole of the time. read more

China Blogs and News Sources – for Travelers and China Watchers

It’s really surprising just how many China blogs and news sources there now are, perhaps a reflection of China’s influence in the global scheme of things. There’s endless travelogues, personal blogs from expats, expat forums, global news agency blogs, independent news agencies along with the state owned news sources. For travelers, it really can be useful to have access to reviews, stories and guides which can help understand the whole journey ahead.

So, here’s some of my picks ( English language that are freely accessible in CN): read more

Common Scams for the China Traveler (and how to avoid them)

Human nature is the same wherever you go, so just like everywhere else, China has it’s share of good and bad. In my travels I have never had any major issues, perhaps I’m lucky, maybe just using common sense, I’m not sure. In any case, it’s best to be on the wise side by having some background knowledge of what could happen, and what has happened to others.

Like I say, I’ve been lucky, with only a few soft touches to speak of. They include having a couple of you guys opening my back pack while walking along in the city of Humen. Pretty brave these characters as it was broad daylight on a shopping street, strolling along, I could feel the zipper going on my bag, for the first few seconds I ignored it, then twisted my neck around to see a guy about to dive into my now open back pack. He split. Apart from that, there’s been a few dodgy taxi drivers and not too much else. read more

Cell Phones and Mobile Internet in China

Cell Phones and Mobile Internet in China

It goes without saying that one thing that you will definitely want to have during your travels is a mobile phone, and more than likely a smartphone . Not only for calls, it’s probably also your music player, ebook reader, map, internet connection, translator and so much more. So here’s a guide for getting going:

There are basically three networks:

China Mobile – http://www.10086.cn – is the largest carrier and offers GSM and 3G network (TD-CDMA) and wifi hotspots.  900MHz and 1800MHz GSM/1900MHz and 2000MHz TD-CDMA. And now 4G. read more

Key Travel Tips for First Time China Visitors

Key Travel Tips for First Time China Visitors

The first time in China can be an entrancing experience, put together the mysticism of Asian culture, the buzz of the staggeringly large number of people, the sheer size and scale of everything, and you’ll probably be on a starry-eyed traveler high for a while. But, undoubtedly at some point you’ll have to come back to earth, this a guide to help you to not come crashing back!

A different kind of manners – the west and east has a different style of domestication, learn to live with it, because you’re not going to change the social norms of 1 billion+ people. There’s almost an every man for themselves attitude whilst not rocking the boat approach, for example, it’s oddly OK to push in front of someone else as long as it’s done peacefully and respectfully.  This lack of orderliness and queue jumping can really infuriate western travelers, particularly tired ones who I have often seen dish out a piece of their mind, and it’s for sure got to me on occasions. Just roll with it, or stand aside and offer the way to person in a rush, likely they probably smile back and offer you the way in return. So, golden rule, it’s every man for themselves, whilst, maintaining harmony, but as a foreigner it’s best to err on the side of graciousness and offer them the way. Although, if you are in the circle of family or friends, or you are seen as an ATM, you’ll probably be shown a very high level of courtesy. read more

China Holiday Dates and When NOT to Travel

China Holiday Dates and When NOT to Travel

There are seven holiday public holidays in China lasting from 1 day to 3 days. The holidays are lengthened by people working weekends prior and after the break, holidays such as the National Day holiday/Mid Autumn Festival period can actually become 7 day breaks or longer.

New Year January 1
Chinese New Year 1st day of 1st lunar month (late January-Early February)
Qingming Festival 5th solar term (April 4 or April 5)
Labor Day May 1
Dragon Boat Festival 5th day of 5th lunar month (late June)
Mid-Autumn Festival 15th day of 8th lunar month (late September)
National Day October 1 read more

Basic Chinese for Travelers – Phrases + Links to Apps and Free Learning Tools

Basic Chinese for Travelers – Phrases + Links to Apps and Free Learning Tools

This page is intended for those people who haven’t had the luxury of doing a beginners Chinese course before having to/or choosing to step onto a plane and head for China. The page includes survival phrases, tools, apps plus links to loads of free resources for learning Mandarin Chinese.

First, for those that are completely new to the language, like myself, lets introduce a few key facts.

  • Mandarin (Putonghua) is the most common language spoken throughout China.
  • Hong Kong, and many people throughout Guangdong Province, speak Cantonese. Whilst similar to Mandarin, speakers of each will usually not understand each other.
  • Two people from different provinces, who both speak mandarin, may not understand each other due to accents. Think like, an American trying to understand to fast talking Irishman with a thick accent.
  • Pinyin is the Romanised transcription of Chinese characters perfected by a government team led by  Zhou Youguang whose story in itself is an insight into modern China.
  • Mandarin is a tone based language consisting of rising, falling, falling rising, and high level tone.

Tones can change the meaning of words, and this is possibly the trickiest part of the language especially for English speakers. For example, you could say hello in whatever pitch or tone you like, it may have a different connotation but everyone will still know what you mean. In mandarin you may pronounce the word correctly, but if the tone is incorrect, it can have a complete different meaning. For example gǒnglì is the name of an actor, gōnglǐ is also the name for kilometer, only the tones used are different. read more

Trains in China – A guide for travelers

Trains in China – A guide for travelers

China’s train network is extensive to say the least, with nearly every city and town connected via over 90,000 km or tracks. The size is set to grown with the Chinas continuing domestic growth, plus proposals for inter-continental lines that could extend from China into Russia, Germany and even to London and from China through south east Asia as far as Malaysia.

Currently train travel in China is a reasonably efficient means to get around, clean comfortable and in most cases cost effective. The train network is also going through a process of growth in terms of coverage but also in speed and quality. The new HSR (High Speed Rail) network features super-trains capable of  least 200km/h and some 380km/h. read more

Money in China – a guide to Currency, Denomination and Buying stuff

Money in China – a guide to Currency, Denomination and Buying stuff

This article sets out to explain a little about China’s currency, incredibly useful stuff if you’re travelling to China or buying from Chinese websites.

Lets take at looks at the many names used when talking money in China and the Chinese currency, which include RMB, Renminbi, ¥; CNY; also CN¥, 元 and CN元 Yuan, Kuai and Mao.

RMB is an abbreviation of Renminbi which has the meaning “people’s currency”.

Yuan (元) is a unit of the Renminbi. Just like the ‘dollar’ is a unit of the ‘Australian Dollar’, the ‘Yuan’ is a unit of the ‘Renminbi’. read more

Getting a China Visa in Hong Kong

Getting a China Visa in Hong Kong

My 30 day visa for mainland China had expired and even though I had only been in Hong Kong for a day I knew that I wanted to go back and explore more of China. So, it’s off to do a visa application for China while in Hong Kong.

There are many ways to go through the visa process while in Hong Kong including at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or via the many travel agents offering visa services, and even via some accommodation houses, particularly backpacker hostels.

I’m not sure which way is best but for my first time I went with the relative safety of the state owned travel agency, China Travel Service, commonly known as CTS. CTS have branches all over Hong Kong, so they were not to hard to find.  Hong Kong  – CTS Branch Map read more

First Step: Getting My Chinese Visa in Australia

For most people booking through travel agents this step will probably be handled by your travel agent but in my case and for many who step out there own journey its one of the things that you’ll have to take care of.

Fortunately its not to difficult. At the time of writing there are differing types of visas depending on whether you are travelling for business, working or just leisure or holidays. More info on: Chinese Visa Types.

For me, I just needed a tourist visa, or as they call it an L visa. Which was as simple as heading to the Consulate General of the Peoples Republic of China in Brisbane and filling out a fairly straightforward form and handing that over with my passport. read more