Travel tips for the first time business or leisure traveller to ChinaWritten by Ken Cheong
Travel Tips for China China is a large country at a size of 9,596,960 sq km. China was only partially open to world from 1979 onwards and has been a communist country for many decades. Although there is much progress in travel industry and infrastructure of China, there remain parts that needs to be improved before it can match level that most tourist would require.
However, much of fun remain that it is different from rest of world. China will be host nation for Olympics in Year 2008. Travel facilities and infrastructure will be improving quickly as we approach Year 2008.
Chinese is rich in culture and history. Visit Great Wall of China in Beijing, sip Chinese tea in Xiamen, dance with ethnic tribes in Yunnan, check out 19th Century European buildings in Qingdao - there are just so much to do, see and learn in China!
Below are some travel tips to make your travel in China easier:
Entry Visa China require entry visa from most countries. Apply at Chinese consulate or through your travel agent before travelling to China.
Extremely diverse; tropical in south to subarctic in north. Be prepared with right seasonal clothing.
The Chinese unit of currency is known as Remembi(RMB) or Yuan. Get some Chinese Yuan in your local country before travelling. When in China, exchange foreign currency for local currency in banks or at hotel. Banks tend to give slightly better rates than hotels. Take note that some banks close for a noon siesta between 12-2pm.
Most better class hotels and shopping centres take Credit Card or Travellers cheques. Smaller hotels and shops take cash only. Once out of bigger cities, credit card and ATM cards tend to be almost impossible to utilize. Cash is still king in Chinese business and trade.
Counterfeit notes are common in China. Check carefully before accepting change, especially if it consists mostly 100RMB notes. You can feel a texture difference where counterfeit notes is concerned.
Understanding of English
Most civil servants, custom officials, police and hotel staff and men in street do not speak English or at best a smattering of English.
Most signboards and notices will carry both English and Chinese. However, be aware that some translations can be so notorious that one can hardly understand what was it's original Chinese intention.
Do not expect hotels or shops to understand English. Only very big hotels will have staff that will understand English.
Most young people can understand basic English if you speak slowly.
Social Security China is generally a safe country. However, hang on tight to your wallet especially in crowded, popular tourist sites in tourist cities such as Beijing and Xian.
These Chinese cities that are popular with tourist also has a lot of touts in streets touting tourist from currency exchange to jewelleries to female companionships. Avoid at all cost!
Bus, train, ferries and domestic flights are quite well developed. Avoid crowd at stations and book your tickets through hotel tour desk or nearest tour agent. Prices are likely to be competitive and tickets will be delivered to your hotel room. Again, avoid ticket touts who approach you in streets.
Local buses are cheap (US$0.10 or YS$0.20) and you may want to try out. Taxis are convenient and are available at all hours. Starting fares differ from each city and may be as cheap as US$0.70 in Weihai and US$1.50 in Shenzhen.
Avoid travel during peak holiday seasons or book tickets well ahead.
New Places to Live and Retire Around the WorldWritten by Phillip Townsend
Places to Live in World: Emerging Alternatives
From Canada to Europe, Africa to Asia, it’s time for a fresh look By Phillip Townsend
The advent of fast Internet communication and inexpensive air travel makes it easier to turn any far-flung paradise into a permanent home. Which places in world have most to offer? The perfect place to live or retire, of course depends on your idea of perfection.
I’m taking a different approach for this article. Instead of giving an overview of better-known and increasingly-popular expatriate destinations around world (Mexico, Costa Rica, Belize, Panama, Nicaragua, Ecuador, France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, etc.), I’ve decided to introduce you to below 7 locales you probably don’t know much about. All offer affordability and abundant recreational and cultural opportunities.
Nova Scotia Just east of Maine, in North Atlantic, Nova Scotia’s pristine coast is slowly becoming a sought-after affordable getaway. Only two hours from New York or Boston, it feels a world away. A pleasingly crowd-free province on Canada’s Atlantic Coast, little-known Nova Scotia could just be perfect full- or part-time retreat. Halifax, capital, has been luring tourists for years. Waterfront cafes, European architecture, and spectacular seafood keep them coming back. Nova Scotia’s Cape Breton Island boasts some of best scenery in world, from picturesque highlands to picturesque Bras d'Or Lake (pronounced "bra door"), with Atlantic Ocean as a backdrop. In winter months, Gulf Stream keeps climate milder than most northern U.S. states, with area more rain showers than snow storms. Picture American East Coast a century ago, and you get a feel for what Nova Scotia is like. Almost an island, it is best known for its stunning coastline, sleepy seaside towns and friendly people. The province’s natural beauty, cheap real estate and low cost of living make it well worth a look: oceanfront lots start at $10,000, three-bedroom homes on acreage from $50,000. A lobster dinner with a bottle of good local wine set you back no more than a twenty spot. Scenes of Hollywood blockbuster Titanic were shot in Nova Scotia, and celebrities including Jack Nicholson, Demi Moore and Billy Joel maintain summer homes here.
Caribbean Almost everyone has had dreams of living a laid-back, stress-free life on a tropical island. One by one, Caribbean islands were discovered and eventually became sadly over-developed, terribly over-crowded, and ridiculously over-priced. Unfortunately, due to mass tourism, most places in Caribbean have become little more than artificial, tropical Disneylands with luxury hotels and all-inclusive resorts. But there is one place that still maintains its original charm and natural beauty. This place is quite inexpensive (by Caribbean standards) and is virtually unspoiled. Relatively undiscovered, here, you can still find ocean view lots for as little as $22,000 and have a small cottage built for prices starting at $25,000. To protect it from fate of its Caribbean cousins, I won't reveal name of this special place just yet. You can find a link to more information at end of this article. Cuba Think Cuba, and vivid images come to mind: of men in Guayabera shirts and Panama hats, tropical breezes and cool drinks, steamy Latin rhythms and sultry women. It has always been an intriguing place, steeped in truth and in fiction by novels of Ernest Hemingway. Because travel to Cuba is restricted by U.S. government, relatively few Americans visit island each year. While their counterparts from Europe, Canada and Latin America bask in warm Cuban sun, most U.S. citizens can only hope to experience this "pearl" of Caribbean after Castro is gone. Of those who do manage to get to Cuba via Mexico or Canada, few are disappointed. The largest Caribbean island (pop. 11 million), Cuba is also one of most beautiful and unspoiled. There are miles of pristine, underdeveloped beaches, tropical forests teeming with wildlife and some of best deep-sea fishing, scuba diving and snorkeling world has to offer. And there is Havana, not only capital of Cuba, but also long most important city in Caribbean. With tourism once again thriving, Havana has regained much of its past allure. Famous old bars, restaurants and hotels are enjoying a proud comeback, and stunning new places are being built. As one taxi driver put it, "We have best cigars, best rum, best music, and most beautiful women in world. What more could anyone want?"
Romania Best known for Transylvania, legendary home of Count Dracula, Romania is steeped in history, myth and folklore. Unlike other Eastern European countries with Slavic origins, Romania, whose name means 'land of Romans,' absorbed much of culture, religion, and language of Roman Empire. Bordered by Black Sea (which is being called “The Next Riviera”) and Danube River, with Transylvanian Alps and Carpathian Mountains nestled in center of country, Romania has long stretches of seacoast, mountains, forests, medieval villages and gothic castles galore, giving it all makings of a fairy-tale setting. The capital Bucharest, a former communist citadel, has a growing number of discos, while restaurants at most major hotels double as nightclubs, there are several Parisian-style cafés, and cheap wines and plum brandy flow freely everywhere. Due to its wide boulevards, sidewalk cafés, and Triumphal Arch, Bucharest, was known as "Paris of Balkans" prior to World War II. Today city’s 19th century neoclassical architecture and numerous tree-lined streets still maintain its charm. A sizable enclave of foreigners (Germans, Jews, Turks, Russians, Ukrainians, Serbs, Croats, and Gypsies) live in Romania. French is most widely-spoken second language and English is spoken by many of younger generation. The real estate prices are some of lowest in all Europe (the country’s economic woes spells opportunity for you).