China: Trip Preparation & Destination Information

About China


China, officially known as the People's Republic of China, is the world's most populous country and the third-largest in terms of land area. With a rich history dating back thousands of years, China has made significant contributions to art, philosophy, science, and technology. In recent decades, it has undergone remarkable economic development, becoming the world's second-largest economy. China's vast and diverse geography encompasses a wide range of landscapes, from the towering peaks of the Himalayas in the southwest to the expansive Gobi Desert in the north. The country is also crisscrossed by major rivers, including the Yangtze and Yellow Rivers, which have played a pivotal role in shaping China's history and supporting its agricultural development. China is a popular tourist destination known for its rich cultural heritage, iconic landmarks such as the Great Wall and the Forbidden City, as well as its stunning natural landscapes, drawing millions of visitors each year.


Capital City: Beijing

Population: 1.54 billion (2024 est.)

Currency: Chinese yuan renminbi. China is mostly cashless with WeChat Pay and Alipay as their dominant mobile payment forms. Travelers can link their foreign credit cards including Visa, Mastercard, and Discover.

Time Zone:  China has one official time zone, China Standard Time (CST), UTC+8; China observes China Standard Time all year. There are no Daylight Saving Time clock changes.

Emergency Number: 119

Outlet: Type A, type C and type I. The standard voltage is 220 V at a frequency of 50 Hz.

The Terracotta Army in Xi'an, China.
Xiao Long Bao Dumplings

Packing List

Speak the Language

Hello: 你好 (nǐ hǎo)

Good morning: 早上好 (zǎoshang hǎo)

Good afternoon: 下午好 (xiàwǔ hǎo)

Good night: 晚安 (wǎn'ān)

How are you?: 你好吗?(nǐ hǎo ma?)

Thank you: 谢谢 (xièxiè)

You're welcome: 不客气 (bù kèqì)

Excuse me / I'm sorry: 对不起 (duìbuqǐ)

I'm sorry: 我很抱歉 (wǒ hěn bàoqiàn)

Please: 请 (qǐng)

My name is...: 我的名字是... (wǒ de míngzì shì...)

How much does it cost?: 多少钱?(duōshǎo qián?)

Where is the bathroom?: 厕所在哪里?(cèsuǒ zài nǎlǐ?)

Can I help you?: 我能帮你吗?(wǒ néng bāng nǐ ma?)

Do you speak English?: 你会说英语吗?(nǐ huì shuō Yīngyǔ ma?)

Goodbye: 再见 (zàijiàn)

See you later: 回头见 (huítóu jiàn)

See you tomorrow: 明天见 (míngtiān jiàn)

Google Translate: Download the Google Translate app or click here 

The Forbidden City in Beijing, China.

Fast Facts

  • Longest Wall in the World: The Great Wall of China, one of the most iconic symbols of the country, is the longest wall in the world, stretching over 13,000 miles. It was built over several dynasties to protect against invasions.

  • Four Great Inventions: China is credited with the invention of the Four Great Inventions, which are papermaking, printing, gunpowder, and the compass. These innovations had a profound impact on the world.

  • Panda Diplomacy: China engages in "panda diplomacy" by lending pandas to other countries as a sign of goodwill and strengthening diplomatic ties. The practice began in the 20th century and has continued with the loaning of pandas to various nations.

  • Xi'an, one of the oldest cities in China, is home to the world-famous Terracotta Army. Discovered in 1974 by local farmers, this archaeological marvel consists of thousands of life-sized clay soldiers and horses buried with China's first emperor, Qin Shi Huang, over 2,000 years ago. The Terracotta Army is considered one of the most significant archaeological finds of the 20th century and is a UNESCO World Heritage site, drawing millions of visitors from around the world to marvel at its historical and artistic significance.

  • One interesting fact about food in China is the regional diversity and the concept of "eight major cuisines." China is renowned for its diverse culinary traditions, and the country is often categorized into eight major regional cuisines: Shandong, Sichuan, Guangdong (Cantonese), Hunan, Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Fujian, and Anhui. Each cuisine has its own distinctive flavors, ingredients, and cooking techniques, reflecting the diverse geography and cultural influences across the vast country.


  • Tour Guides and Excursions: If you participate in guided tours or excursions, tipping the Guide is a nice gesture, particularly if you enjoyed the experience. Usually around $10-$20 per day for the main Guide who accompanies you throughout the trip. For excursion Guides, 5-10% of the tour cost is a common guideline. Note that for tips you want to tip discretely and put in an envelope if you can.
  • Tour Driver: Around $5/day is standard. Note that for tips you want to tip discretely and put in an envelope if you can.
  • In taxis, small inns, hostels, cafes, food stalls, and bars, your tipping largesse is unnecessary—gratuities are likely to be refused in all those scenarios. In fact, many businesses have official no-tipping policies.
  • At some upscale urban restaurants, a service charge of 10%–15% may appear on your bill. That fee goes toward workers’ salaries. You can tip servers an additional ¥5–15 (US $1–2) if you’re happy with their work, but it’s not required.
  • At expensive hotels, give the same amount (¥5–15) to room attendants and bellhops who help with your luggage. The hotel may charge a 10%–15% service fee, too.
Guides USD $10-20 per main Guide/per day or 5-10% for excursion Guides
Drivers USD $5 per person/per day
Restaurant Servers  USD $1–2  additional on top of service charge at upscale urban restaurants
Hotel attendants  USD $1–2 per person for room attendants/bellhops



Where can I find information on travel safety? Check out the US Department of State's website for the most up to date information on safety while traveling.


Is the water safe to drink? While water quality is improving, drinking tap water still isn't recommended in China due to the presence of pollution and natural contamination of water supplies.


Do I need a Visa? For Visa information, visit click here and here. Make sure your passport is valid for at least six months after you return home and has two or more blank pages. Otherwise, some countries may not let you enter.


What about vaccines? For vaccination information, click here


Do you recommend travel insurance? While not required, we highly recommend all Travelers get travel insurance for their trip to protect themselves from the unknown! 


How much should I pack? As we will be using shared transfers and spaces throughout our tour we recommend all Travelers pack as lightly as possible. Please review our luggage restrictions below.

Luggage Restrictions

Luggage Restrictions purple
Luggage restrictions purple – mobile – 1

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