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China Sprout


Practical China Tips From Women Worldwide


Shopping in Beijing...
A good place to shop is in the underground. A bus #103 will take you to the Swan Hotel. There is a large underground market there and a big above-ground department store.
Carolyn, an American in China

Beijing, Xi'an and the Internet...
I travelled to Beijing and Xi'an last year and even with the low Canada versus USA's rate of exchange the eight day trip was very reasonable. The Terracotta Warriors in Xi'an were unbelievable and well worth the visit.

Beijing is amazing and the shopping is great -- especially the Silk Market located near the Embassies. Our guide was very knowledgeable and spoke English fluently. We stayed at the Marco Polo Hotel which had just opened (it wasn't far from Tianamen Square), and the service and food was fantastic. We flew Newark to Detroit where we picked up Northwest Airlines directly to Beijing. It was a wonderful flight and oh so exciting to be on the way to China. The stewards and the hostesses constantly tell you to move and exercise while on board. What a trip!
Lenora, Canada

P.S. When visiting the Great Wall during the winter months dress warmly. It was very cold and windy the day that I visited.

P.P.S. All the hotel business centers have fax machines and internet hook-up. Both are a relatively inexpensive way to stay in touch with home.

Ed. note: The internet connections in China are now only in hotels. I was told that in 2002 all internet cafes had been shut down permanently. Does anybody have further information about this? Please write to:

Hong Kong to China flights...
Here's a money saver for everybody! Did you know that flights between Hong Kong and mainland China are classed as international flights and are therefore much more expensive than a domestic flight? For a much cheaper solution, depart/arrive Shenzhen or Guangzhou, both of which are close to the border with Hong Kong, but which are classed (and priced) as domestic flights.
Julie, Brisbane, Australia

Youth hostel in Beijing....
The youth hostel in Beijing (for all ages) is highly recommended. It became my home away from home when I was there - such wonderful people! It was cheap, clean, safe and very secure. Many young Chinese women will live there while studying or working in Beijing. You can even exchange an hour of English lessons for Chinese writing lessons. Very informative and helpful!

The hostel I stayed at was in Chaoyang district - It's called the Zhaolong International Youth Hostel (behind the Zhaolong Hotel) - address from Lonely Planet is: Zhaolong Fandian Guoji Qingnian Binguan 6597 2299. It's on the corner of the third ring road and Nongzhanguan Nanlu Street. Y50 per night (about £4.50 or US$7.00). I liked staying there better than any of the Western Hotels (had a few days in the Marriott when I landed). The hostel has a kitchen if you want to make your own meals, a few tables and chairs sitting outside, and an indoor sitting room as well. They also had basic supplies you could buy - beer, tea, biscuits, etc at the main desk (on a hot July day - great to buy a beer for 10Y and sit outside at the tables with other travellers and Chinese students.) The rooms were very clean, kettles, hot showers, air conditioning, lockers for valuables, etc. And a free storage room where you could leave your large backpack for a few days - which I did regularly - and just carried my day-pack for 2-3 day trips outside Beijing. It's within walking distance to the bars/restaurants in the Chaoyang district, as well as walkable (long walk) to Pearl market, Silk Market, Tiatan park, etc.

An added bonus -- The hostel has an agreement with the Zhaolong Hotel - you could use the pool and facilities for about 3Y. The Hotel Concierge desk arranged most of my train tickets from Beijing to wherever... for a small fee of about 10Y (about £1). Much more convenient than going all the way over to the train station!
Robin, Brighton, United Kingdom

Culturally correct gifts in China...
If you are buying or bringing gifts for Chinese friends, never give a clock or white flowers as both signify death. Never offer a man any gift with a turtle design of any kind on it. A turtle is a man whose wife cheats on him. And be sure to wrap your gift in red paper or, if you don't have red, at least not white or blue.
Carolyn, an American in China

Chinese money matters...
This was my experience regarding money when I was in China. I hope it helps other JourneyWomen:
Travellers cheques are only accepted at major hotels and banks - you will actually get a higher exchange rate with travellers cheques than you will with exchanging cash.
Bank of China bank machines accepts bank cards from all over the world. They are easy to use and normally as soon as you input your bank card they will convert to English on the screen for you.
Don't carry a lot of cash around in China - as in any other place, it is not safe to do so.
If you are not American, bring along at least US$200 (in cash). US dollars are always accepted by anyone over there and if you ever run into a bind where you cannot get a cash advance or travellers cheque cashed or your own currency exchanged, you always have funds that are acceptable.
Stay away from exchanging money on the black market. These money changing guys are everywhere. They will give you a better rate than the bank however counterfeit money is quite common in China and you could get stuck with some of it.
Pauline, Cambridge, Canada

For more about packing tips, helpful websites, taxis, click here...





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