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Chinese money is called RMB (Renminbi)

Renminbi means "people’s money". The basic currency is the Yuan. The Yuan is divided into 100 Fen, the equivalent to 100 cents in the American dollar. The Yuan comes in bills and coins. The bills run from 100 Yuan to 50, 10, 5, 2, and 1. The coins equal different parts of one Yuan. In Xinjiang Province, people do not like to use coins, and it can be difficult to get a bus with a coin. The fare collector on the bus will accept only a paper Yuan.

Visit ChinaTour to see a list of the money used in China.

The exchange rate has been close to 8.25 Yuan for one American dollar.

The Bank of China will cash traveler’s checks, but not all hotels will do so. Everyone cashes American $100 bills. It is best to take new, crisp bills, as the Chinese do not like worn bills. It is wise to carry at least ten $100 bills to China. You may need a ready exchange of money in a difficult circumstance or an emergency.

People will generally say RMB when talking about Chinese money. Banks will refer to Chinese money as RMB. You may also hear paper money referred to as "kwuai".

Carry small bills such as 5 and 10 RMB (Yuan). You will need them for taxis. Also carry one Yuan coins for the bus (except in Xinjiang Province).

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China is 16 hours ahead of Pacific Standard Time in California, except in day light savings time when China is 15 hours ahead of California time. For example, when it is 6:00 P.M., Monday, in California, it is 10:00 A.M. Tuesday, in China. Our homepage has the current time in Beijing and California.

All of China is on Beijing time, even in the west regions. In one west region, the people make their own adjustments to the time because of the sun. In Wulumuqi (Urumqi), Xinjiang Province, the city runs two hours later than the rest of China. Work generally starts at 10:00 A.M., lunch at 2:00 P.M., and dinner at 8:00 P.M. People stay out late in the city markets in the summer until 11:00 P.M. When I was there in the summer of 1999, the sun set at around 10:30 – 10:45 P.M.

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Generally, roads and traffic regulations favor pedestrians and bicycles. Learning to negotiate traffic in the major cities requires skill. Patience and the ability to feel your way through cars, busses, trucks, bicycles, handcarts, and donkeys can be a challenge.

Don’t be offended at horn honking. It is for your safety. If there is no beep, cars and pedestrians assume it is safe.

If you cross the street, walk at a steady slow pace so that the oncoming bicycle riders can gauge their movement and avoid you. Watch for cars! If it’s going to be close, let the car pass before taking another step forward. Then proceed with forward movements again when the traffic thins.

The best way to cross a crowded street is to cross with a group of people. Vehicles will slow or stop for a group of people. Kate and Wong taught me this group method. They practice it themselves. I would stand and wait for other people to cross, then join the crowd!

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Generally, waitresses in restaurants are not allowed by management to accept tips.
I usually tip a taxi driver or bell boy 10 RMB for handling my bags, approximately $1.50 U.S.

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Toilets in China are labeled W/C. Public toilets are usually awful beyond description. Plan to use the toilet in your hotel room as much as possible. When you see a place where there is a toilet, remember its location. It may come in convenient.

Western toilets are generally only found in hotels and airports. Eastern toilets are slits in the ground over which you must stand or squat. Take toilet or tissue paper with you everywhere you go. Most places in China do not have toilet paper in the W/C.

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The principle way to get from place to place in China is by plane or train. The planes are modern planes from the U.S., Britain, and Russia. My flights in China were all on U.S. planes. The service on the planes was excellent and the attendants were courteous. In China, all the attendants on airplanes are young.

Trains keep their schedules. There is no reservation system for travel in China as yet. Train tickets can be purchased three or four days before departure in the city from which you will leave. It is a less expensive way to travel. There are two classes, “soft” and “hard”. All of the train cars have attendants.

Generally, a regular “soft” seat ticket will be either a padded bench or in an upgraded car, a padded bucket seat like in an automobile. The “hard” seat will be just that, a hard wood bench seat. The “hard” class sleeping cars have nine partitioned sections with two sets of triple-decked bunks. The “soft” class sleeping car is divided into compartments or cabins each containing four bunks with bedding and flasks filled with hot water. The “soft” class car has an eastern and sometimes a western toilet.

Long distance trains will have sleeping cars and dining cars. But, it is cheaper to take food onto the train with you.

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We encourage our participants to purchase at least a basic travel insurance. We highly recommend a policy that covers emergency evacuation due to health issues as well as family emergencies back home. The very basic travel insurance will only cover your own personal health emergency but does not take into account for the fact that you may need to return home for any other type of emergency. We also recommend that you get a policy that also covers the loss or theft of any personal belongings. This will cover you if your luggage is lost along the way or if you have the misfortune of losing an item during your stay. We have had consistently good service from Travel Guard.

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