China Travel Notes

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Australian Embassy in China

21 Dongzhimenwai Dajie, 
Sanlitun,Beijing 100600, 
Peoples Republic of China
Tel: +8610 5140 4111
Fax: +8610 6532 6718
Email: embassy.beijing@dfat.gov.au


The Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade website has advice for travellers.

Time Zones

China is 8 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time  making them 2 hours behind Australian Eastern Standard Time. To obtain the current local time and date in cities and countries in all time zones.

Voltages and Plugs

China use 220 volts. Plugs are genreally of the two-round-pronged European or Japanese type.


To obtain the most up-to-date exchange rate you may wish to visit

The currency of China is the YUAN (CNY), which is called Renminbi locally.

People get regularly confused about what to call Chinese money. In English you can refer to the Chinese dollar. In Chinese it has 3 common names and 2 symbols in use:

Renminbi 人民币 means People’s Currency and is abbreviated RMB (Renminbi). Yuan 元 means Dollar and is abbreviated CNY (Chinese Yuan). You will commonly hear people say “kuai” , pronounced kwai, which is a more local word for Yuan and still means dollar. You can write CNY 1000 or RMB 1000 and both refer to 1000 Chinese dollars, there is no difference. To further confuse you there are two names for 1/10th of a Chinese dollar. It can be called one “mao” or “jiao”. Both refer to the same thing. 1/10 of a dollar. 

The Yuan comes in notes for ¥100, ¥50, ¥20, ¥10, ¥5, ¥2, and ¥1. The ¥1. also appears as a coin.

The most useful note is the ¥10, so keep a good stock.

Credit Cards and ATM machines

ATMs are the easiest way to access your money. They are common in all tourist towns and cities. Most accept Visa, MasterCard, Electron, Cirrus, Maestro and InterBank cards. ATMs sometimes run dry on weekends in smaller towns.

Unfortunately, while there are many ATMs in China, some won’t accept foreign cards, and those that do tend to have a maximum limit of between ¥1,000 and ¥2,500 per transaction, but often allow a second transaction the same day. Bank of China ATMs accept Visa, MasterCard, Cirrus and Maestro. Beijing and Shanghai are both fairly well served, and have additional Citibank and HSBC machines, which take just about any card..

Please note that using a credit card in foreign countries usually requires a “chip-and-pin” credit card with an embedded microchip and an associated PIN number (the PIN is specific to each credit card). If you have questions about using your credit card in a foreign country, please contact your bank prior to departure from Australia. Check with your credit card company for details of merchant acceptability and other services which may be available.


Currency can be exchanged at banks and exchange bureaux however expect long delays and lauguage may be an issue, you may get a better exchange rate at the ATMs.
Travelers Cheques are NO longer accepted.

Telephone & Communication

Mobile telephones
Most mobile telephones work in China and coverage is good. Check with your local provider that your phone can switch on ‘Global Roaming’ and that your provider has coverage in the places you are visiting. Mobile phones can be very useful for SMSing  (especially if you get lost!). International calls are often expensive, as is checking your message bank as calls have to be routed through Australia.

Should you choose to purchase a local sim card please check with your local provider prior to departure to make sure your phone is unlocked and will accept another sim card.

Internet access is widespread and available throughout China. Many hotels and cafes now offer access, some you need to pay while others have free Wi-fi zones.

If you have Web access while traveling, you might consider a broadband-based telephone service (in technical terms, Voice over Internet Protocol, or VoIP) such as Skype or Vonage, which allows you to make free international calls between online computers and phones, and cheap international calls if you’re calling a normal phone number. Most cybercafes throughout the country will be using these programs already, complete with headset, microphone, and webcam.
www.skype.com    www.vonage.com

Business Hours in China

Offices  08.30/09.30 – 16.30/18.30 Monday to Friday.
Banks   08.30/09.30 – 16.30/18.30 Monday to Friday.
Shops   08.30 – 21.00 Daily including public holidays. Opening hours may vary in smaller towns.

Personal Safety
  • We strongly recommend the use of a money belt to keep your cash, cards and travel documents safe. This should be kept under your clothes at all times. This is a precaution that should be taken anywhere due to the difficulties that can be experienced in trying to replace stolen items.
  • Take photocopies of all important documents (passport, credit cards, airline tickets, insurance) and keep one copy securely in your luggage and leave another copy at home.
  • It is generally helpful to take a business card from the hotel you are staying at. This can assist hugely if you get lost. If you also have a key card for your hotel, make sure you keep these two cards separate or you run the risk of allowing a thief access to your room
  • Take extra care in crowded places and try not to ‘advertise’ the fact that you may be carrying valuables by having something like an expensive camera over your shoulder. Put it in your bag or under your coat. And men, try to avoid keeping your wallet in your hip pocket. Petty theft and scams are becoming more common.
  • Trafic is a hazzard please be vary careful of cars and bikes as they do not always obey the traffic lights.
What to Pack

Clothing (general)
The time of the year you visit this destination will dictate the type of clothing it is appropriate to bring. It would always be advisable to take a rain coat or a water proof windbreaker. For daytime activities, we suggest a wardrobe that is versatile, casual and comfortable. It is recommended that “layered” clothing might offer the best comfort in a variety of conditions. Always expect the weather to be changeable.

Beyond the normal wardrobe we suggest

  • comfortable walking shoes (very important)
  • sunglasses, sunscreen and a hat
  • folding umbrella and/or light raincoat
  • ladies should have a scarf with them at all times in case it is required to cover shoulders or head when entering religious sites
  • prescription medicines for the full duration of your time away and a written copy of your prescriptions including what they are for, provided by your doctor
  • extra prescription eyeglasses (if required)

No attempt should be made to photograph anything remotely connected with the armed forces or in the vicinity of defence installations. Many people do not like being photographed. Always ask before photographing someone, they may try to obtain money from you.

Clothing (Churches, Mosques and Monasteries)
Although ‘foreigners’ do not have to adhere to a strict dress rules, women should wear a head covering (ie a scarf) in active churches. Men must remember to remove their hats in religious buildings. In churches it is polite to stand around the edges of the building, rather than in the centre. It is acceptable for foreigners to light candles.

Useful websites

China Tourist Board


We suggest that prior to departure you check the weather forecast for the most up-to-date information.

China is the third largest country in the world (9.5 million square kilometres). It is bordered by 14 countries, from the Mongolian-Siberian north, to the large mountain ranges in the West, and India, Nepal and Myanmar directly south. China’s eastern coast meets the Pacific Ocean, and it is along this coastline that most of the population is found, with two-thirds of all Chinese living in the low-lying south-east.

Average minimum/maximum Temperatures (˚C)

City Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Beijing -9/2 -5/6 1/13 8/21 14/27 19/31 22/32 21/31 15/26 7/20 -1/10 -6/4
Shanghai 1/8 3/10 7/14 12/20 17/25 22/28 26/32 26/32 21/28 15/23 10/17 3/11