Fast Facts: China

Below are some of the most common questions from our travelers.

Do I need a passport? What is required for entry?

U.S. citizens must have a passport which is valid for at least eight months after your return date, though we recommend at least a year.

U.S. passport holders must have a visa to enter China, obtained no more than 180 days prior to arrival. (A visa is not required to enter Hong Kong, which has different entry requirements.) For U.S. passport holders only, we recommend obtaining your visa through our preferred provider, CITS USA. Children under 18 may need a copy of their birth certificate and copies of the information pages of both parents' signed passports to obtain a visa. Consult the Embassy of the People's Republic of China or the U.S. Dept. of State website for more information.

Booked on one of our packages with Scheduled Dates? We will send a visa support letter and instructions for U.S. passport holders to obtain your visa through CITS USA, after you have completed your registration form and made your final payment, approximately 60 days prior to departure. Please apply for your visa only after receiving this letter.

If you hold a passport from another country, you are responsible for obtaining any necessary visas and meeting all entry requirements.

More information about passports & visas.

What is the weather like?

Northern China is best seen in September and October, and southern China is best seen in November and December. Winters range from extremely cold in the north to moderate in the south.

Check out the current weather conditions in China

Are there any health precautions I should take?

According to the Center for Disease Control, there are no requirements for travel to China, but immunization against polio, tetanus, typhoid and hepatitis are recommended. Also ask your doctor about malaria suppressants if you will be visiting Hainan Island and areas close to the Laotian and Myanmar borders. Be sure to take insect repellant!

A note on blood and transfusions: RH negative and type O bloods are not commonly stored in China. There have also been problems with HIV contaminated blood supplies.

Center for Disease Control
World Health Organization

What is the currency?

In China, the national currency is the Yuan. Please review the current exchange rate for the Yuan.

ATMs are not always hooked up to international banking networks. Machines accepting foreign ATM cards have CIRRUS or MAESTRO logos. It is preferable to take along cash, travelers checks or credit cards.

Are tips & service charges customary?

A small gratuity to your guides and drivers in China will be greatly appreciated by them. It is customary to collect group tips and distribute them among the guides in each city by your China National Guide. The recommended amount for your China National guide is $6-$8 per person per day, $4-5 per person, per day for the local guide, and $2-3 per person per day for the driver. It is also customary to tip the hotel staff. Our recommended amount is $1 per person per day for housekeeping. The same amount is recommended for restaurant staff. As always, gratuities are an individual expression of thanks and should be based on the level of service provided.

What are the best items to shop for?

The best shopping is often at public markets. Shop for carpets, chops (ink seals), stone and jade carvings, wood-block prints, cloisonne, patent medicines, embroidered linens, reproductions of old art, glass items, silk, handpainted snuff bottles, musical instruments, and ethnic tribal crafts.

What are the voltage requirements?

220 volts. Plugs A, I & G. You will need a voltage converter and plug adapter in order to use U.S. appliances. We recommend getting a universal adapter and converter kit before your tour to China. View more information about electrical standards around the world.

Can I take my cell phone?

See our blog post on using your cell phone abroad.