China Travel Tips

Reflections on Travel in China

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Language Problems?

Yes, there is a bit of a language problem depending on what you are doing and where you go as well as how you go.  If you are on a tour your guide will speak English while on the tour.  The drivers seldom if ever speak English.  Taxi cab drivers almost never speak English.  At the train station few if any speak English.  The airport of course there are many connected with the airlines and airport that speak excellent English.  In most hotels, front desk people as well as some others speak English in the major hotels.  I myself after 26 years of travel in China found it much too difficult to learn Chinese with so many dialects.  Each area has its own dialect besides Mandarin which is spoken in most areas of the country with different accents.  I gave up years ago.  Shanghai people have a special dialect which most other Chinese do not understand as well as Sichuan people as examples.  They all try to speak Mandarin to communicate but again with different accents or some are unable to speak other than their own local language.  There are also 57 different minority peoples with sub cultures also with their own individual languages outside the large cities.  One tip I tell my clients is to have a map in your pocket if you get lost.  Take it out as if to study it and usually someone steps out of the crowd who speaks English and will help you.  If you wish to take a taxi some place, write out in English where you want to go and have someone in the hotel write it in Chinese so you can give it to the Taxi Driver.  Be sure to take a hotel card with you too so you will be able to get back to your hotel.  For more tips on language you are welcome to contact me with your questions at   You won't be put on any mailing list or pushed to book a tour with us. 

Friday, June 12, 2015

Customs & Security Checks in China

First of all there is rarely a Customs check entering or leaving China unless you have something to declare.  You fill out a form on your international flight before you arrive so that you just give it to Security along with your passport check.  For internal flights it is similar to the U.S.  There is a security check to go through and the usual items that you do not pack in your carry-on or suitcase anything that is considered dangerous or not allowed.  You will see the list of things posted that are not allowed.  For some reason they will take away the hand sanitizers if you have them in your carry on luggage.  Better to put these items in your checked luggage.  Rules are enforced or sometimes not depending on the airport.  They limit the carry on luggage by size which is about the size of a thick brief case.  Not always enforced as you will see.  The weight limit for checked luggage per bag is 44 lbs.  If you are overweight you have a choice to pay a Fee which can be very high or remove something from your luggage to make weight.  If you choose to pay the Fee, you must go to a special desk or window to pay the fee and return to the check-in.  Best is to be below 44 lbs. rather than have to go through all that.   Leaving China again you will fill out a departure form and these days they do not seem to care how much you take out of the  country unless it is obvious.  For more information on Customs and Security feel free to contact me with your questions without any pressure to book a tour with me or receive any spam mail.  My friends call me ChinaDave   Contact me either by email or telephone.  Email:   Tel. 206-368-9074   You will find me very helpful with any information on China or Tibet.  After 26 years I  have learned a lot first hand with my very curious mind.

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