I'm worried about the toilets in China - what should I expect?
In cities and hotels you'll find the toilets pretty much match western standards. In the more remote areas and on motorway toilet stops, the majority of toilets will be squat toilets. It's recommended that you carry your own toilet paper as this isn't always provided at toilet stops once you leave bigger cities.
Charlotte Taylor - China Operations
What is the standard of Chinese trains?
Overall, pretty good! The overnight train will be booked in first-class sleeper A/C, sleepers are four berth and bedding is provided. It's quite a common and comfortable way to travel in China and long gone are the days of the "Iron Rooster"! You can buy drinks, beer and pots of instant noodles on board but you may wish to purchase your own food prior to the journey as well.
Brendan Phelan - Customer Operations
What is the best way to take money to China?
The unit of currency in China is the Yuan, also known as Renminbi (RMB).
Exchange facilities are readily available in all the big cities, and many of the hotels that we stay in also have foreign exchange facilities that do not charge a commission as the banks do. Exchange facilities may be limited in smaller towns. Please note that if you wish to change RMB back into hard currency when you leave China, you may have to produce your exchange certificates to do this. Both Sterling cash and dollars are fine to take. You may want to get some local currency before travelling but it is not 100% necessary, as the leader will help you change some on arrival.
There are ATMs almost everywhere in China, either actually in or close by the hotels we use, in the major towns and cities. Most but not all ATMs will take British/ European style cards, but your leader will be able to advise you.
Charlotte Taylor - China Operations
Tips from staff who have been to China
I had no problems with cash, but then wasn't changing it in every city. I also had no problems changing or getting cash from ATMs.
Sometimes you do have to try a couple of banks to find one with English instructions or which will take a western card, but it's by no means impossible. There are plenty that have, you'll just have to try another.
I just changed money at an exchange desk in the airport and then in a bank in Shanghai. The lady at the counter didn't speak English but it didn't cause any difficulty!
Dollars are simply better known, but I don't think you would have any issues with sterling. I took half and half and had no problems. I also topped up with my ATM card a couple of times, which was no problem, although I did have to try a bank or two the first time to find one that accepted my card.
There was nothing special I packed which I felt was essential, just the usual. Some things which came in handy were a universal adaptor, phone charger, a sun hat, an inflatable travel pillow (just a small one), a travel wallet to keep my documents in, and after that just some music and books for entertainment!
It should be quite warm, so light clothing really. There are some items advised in the trip notes but nothing you really need to worry about, outside of normal travelling clothes.
I used free internet in a couple of the hotels and saw cafes in different places. The internet is restricted, and you may not be able to access such sites as Facebook, but you should have general access to email.
I took a normal wheelie suitcase with a handle and had no problems. You don't really carry it around anywhere, in and out of a few hotels, up and down to reception - whatever suits you best really!
I took a meter taxi from the airport. I would say tips probably aren't expected but it's up to you.
Like here, tipping is down to you but most group meals won't expect a tip. There is a list of optional excursions in all the trip notes, they are booked and paid for locally and usually in cash.
You can get different plug types but I found it was usually 2 pin straight (the first one here). If you buy a Universal Adaptor from somewhere like Boots at the airport (only about £6), then this will cover all plug types.
Diane Knight - Web Sales
Is the Chinese visa easy to get?
Regulations have recently changed, meaning you now need additional supporting documentation in order to get your visa and confirm all arrrangements.
- About 8 weeks before travel you will be sent a letter from Exodus listing all your accommodation on the trip. You will need to provide this, along with a copy of your flight details (on your invoice if booked through Exodus) when applying for your visa.
- It is essential that we also get a clear copy of the details page of your passport as early as possible. This is needed to book certain ground arrangements and must be sent as an electronic scan to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Full details of how to apply are in the Chinese Visa Information Sheet which comes with your original booking confirmation. Please read this carefully. If all your paperwork is in order, your visa normally comes back within a week or so, although you should allow up to 3 weeks to be on the safe side.
Joanna Zubr - China Operations
Exodus staff - expertise on hand to help
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