China Travel Tips

Reflections on Travel in China

Friday, August 30, 2013

Need a China Visa?

A visa is needed to enter China and should be applied for about 6 weeks in advance for a single entry but double entries can be made too which extends over a year long period.  Each entry is for 30 days which starts on the day you enter China.  For multiple entries you must leave the country between each entry.  An extension can be applied for when in China should you need a few extra days in most large cities at central police stations.  The Visa becomes valid the day it is issued and your entry to China must be made within 90 days to remain valid   You may apply directly at one of the six Chinese Consulates or use a Visa service. Consulates are located in six different cities:  Washington D.C., New York, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles and San Francisco.  Most people apply by sending in their applications by Fedex, UPS or USPS  through a Visa Service since you must enclose your passport. The application form is 4 pages long and may  require other documents to be sent in with it.  For a copy of the visa application and instructions you may go on line or request that I send you via email an official visa application and instructions to apply yourself  or through a Visa Service.    Please email Dave at  I will be glad to answer any questions.  

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Breakfast in China

Meals are all quite large in China.  Breakfast in most large city hotels have a large selection of western and Chinese food for you to choose from Buffet style.  Eggs may be cooked as you watch the way you like them.   The cost in most hotels is included in the cost of the hotel room.   When booking hotels be sure to check to see if the breakfast is included or you may be surprised when you check out and find that the cost has been added to your bill.  In the remote areas or non-tourist areas most likely only a Chinese breakfast will be available but usually does include eggs, fruits, breads and rice gruel.   Breakfast as we know it is not usually available outside hotels in restaurants; however a simple Chinese breakfast can be had in small local restaurants or on the street.   You can always buy foods in the markets too especially if you are going on trains or travelling in remote areas where restaurants may not be available.   I can tell many stories of my experiences with restaurants and vendors during my 25 years of travel throughout China.  For more information please feel free to contact me at    My name is Dave

Laundry in China

This is one thing you should be aware of before going to China.  At this time there are no laundries as we know them.   Hotels have this service and usually can be done in one day or less.  In the closet or in the desk drawer is a laundry list with prices.   The more expensive the hotel; the more expensive the laundry.   A bag is furnished to put dirty clothes in along with copies of your list.  You keep the top copy.  You can either call housekeeping or leave the laundry bag in the hallway.  Laundry will be back in the evening.  You can ask it to be on hangers or to be folded. These days some hotels are just washing the clothes and adding a charge if you want them pressed.  Just pressing or dry cleaning can also be done.  These costs can add up so you might think about clothes that are of quick drying materials that may be washed in your room, rolled up in a towel to get the water out and hung up to dry.  There is a cord that can be strung above the tub in the bathroom.  Leaving the fan on will speed up the drying process too.  If you are in the countryside or a remote area they still have laundry service in the hotels but don't expect it back for right away depending on the weather!  They have no dryers and hang it out to dry!  :-)   The first time it happened to me was a shock as I put two very damp shirts in a plastic bag and left.    For more tips on Travel in China, let my 25+ years of travel through out China you may contact me with your questions at   My friends call me ChinaDave.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Visiting Monasteries of China

Visiting Monasteries and Temples of China might be similar to visiting Churches in Europe.   You can only visit so many before they all start to look alike.  There are many monasteries and temples in China and some special ones that I like to show people during a tour if they are interested.   Some are empty today; but many exist that are special.  The one pictured here is in the remote area of the Sichuan mountains seldom visited by  foreigners.  This is a new one trimmed in 24 ct. gold worth a reported 6 million dollars.  at 12,000 feet above sea level it can be seen from miles around reflecting the sun.   The monks in this monastery preferred not to be photographed; however another monastery not far away, the monks liked to be photographed and were very hospitable and friendly.  Each monastery has its own rules and culture and you can inquire to your guide to ask what is and what is not proper.  I have had some rare experiences including visiting a secret library in one monastery that is locked and forbidden to enter by anyone other than a monk.  The books were hand written and many hundreds of years old.   China is a wealth of sights and experiences and in my 25 years of travelling through out China, I have had many of them.  I hope I will be able to share some of the same experiences with you on a tour too.

                 Click on the photo for a full screen view.

10 Day Sichuan Mountains Tour

So many people ask me to put together a custom private tour to more remote areas of China rather than just the large cities.  Most of the requests come from people who have been to China in the past.  The mountains of Sichuan province mostly inhabited by Tibetans is one of my favorite areas.  Fresh mountain air, flowers, birds, small quaint villages and friendly people make up this area including some wonderful Monasteries that you can visit.  One has curved peaks on it with 24 ct. gold that shines in the sun for miles around.  If you want to stay with a family, there are family guest houses to experience real Tibetan hospitality.   There are some national parks, Pandas, Hot Springs and many other sights to enjoy in this area.  I call it the Danba Loop also known as the Tea Horse Road. In the old days, tea which was more valuable than gold was transported by horses and on the backs of porters through the mountains to Tibet. History, beauty, fresh air and culture is all part of this 10 day tour that can be fit into any other tours or as an extension to other tours.  My 25 years of experience in China will insure a great tour to your special interests.
                         Click on the photos for a full screen view!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Taking a Taxi in China

You would think taking a taxi one would not have any difficulties except perhaps language.  Language is one problem as 99% of taxi drivers do not speak English.  When you wish to go some place, write down where you want to go in English and have someone in the hotel write it in Chinese to hand to the taxi driver.  A taxi taken from the hotel will usually be very honest and run the meter.  After you obtain your luggage at the airport you will leave through some doors to a waiting crowd of people....some of which may be people asking you if you want a taxi.  DO NOT go with them.  They charge whatever they can get and are usually private cars who do not wait in the taxi line and are illegal.   On the street when wanting a taxi you put your arm up and wave your hand up and down as if to wave goodbye.  Do not put a single index finger pointing up.   Most taxi drivers only know an area within 3 miles of where you are and do not like to go outside this area since they also can make more money on short hauls rather than long distance into areas that they are not familiar with and may have to stop on the street and ask people for directions. Taxis on the street do not like to go to the airport as they must sit in line for sometimes hours to get a fare.  Taxis are compact cars mostly Volkswagons holding three people at the most and limited space for luggage.  If you have more than three people you will need to take two taxis.   Taxi drivers make a very good income and it is not necessary to tip them other than to round off the meter to the next higher yuan if less than 1 yuan. Example:  5.20 yuan fare you should give them 6 yuan.  Coming from the airport there is a  toll fee which will be added to the meter fare.   For more information on China infrastructure differences contact us at    My name is Dave and have traveled China for 25 years throughout the country.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Attending a Tibetan Wedding

In my years of travel in China I never get use to the fact that we are often invited to attend wedding receptions in the countryside.  Here you see a Tibetan Wedding couple celebrating their wedding reception.  Just walking down the street I have often have been invited to come in and attend the reception including a great meal.  I think it must be an honor to have a foreigner at their celebrations.  Do not expect this in large cities however where foreigners are common.  It has happened in mostly remote countryside villages and towns.  In one village I and a friend were invited off the street to attend the celebration. A few spoke English and wanted to sit with us.  They asked about weddings in the U.S. and I was giving them examples of what we do and many were interested until I mentioned that we can kiss the bride too.  They all laughed and said that the men would all take me and throw me out in the street if I did such a thing there.  In China a couple is not considered married UNTIL the banquet reception is held.  Couples must save up money to have the banquet as it is expensive; however it is also the custom for people to give money in a red or gold envelope rather than presents.  So the cost is not so great then.  The closer one is to the couple or family the more money is expected.  One young lady told me she must give half of her monthly salary to the couple since she was a worker with the new wife.   Customs are always interesting and in China you can often be invited to observe and participate in local celebrations of many kinds. Click on photo for full screen view!