Miscellaneous Travel Information

Miscellaneous Travel Information

Registration with the Embassy
For your safety and protection, register with the embassy here.
Vaccination

If you need a series of shots you will need to plan in advance. Tianjin, Shanghai and Shenzhen all are clean and modern cities but if you plan to venture into the countryside, you may need to get immunized.

General Travel Information
This is meant to be a guide for personal trips taken while in China. Please keep in mind that traveling in groups is safest and usually more fun. Use common sense when you are planning on visiting unfamiliar places and keep emergency contact information on hand at all times. Also, be aware of culturally sensitive topics and don’t antagonize the locals!
Trains

There are several train websites that will prove invaluable if you wish to travel on the weekend. The train services in China are extensive and, if you are riding on a bullet or overnight train, very reliable. They are usually the most simple and cheapest source of transportation.

China Travel Guide, China Train Guide, and Ctrip will all have varying degrees of availability of seats at approximately the same price (including fees)

Please note that large cities will have more than one train station. It is highly recommended that you pay close attention to which train station you are arriving at and departing from, especially if you are transferring trains.

  • Local trains and bullet trains usually depart from different stations
    • local trains can be a unique experience but can be delayed by several hours
  • Subways can be easily used to get between different train stations
Subways

All major cities have a subway network. It is usually a few yuan (less than a dollar) to make it across the city. Tickets can be bought electronically at the station (in English!) but you may need certain denominations of cash at smaller stations (like a 5 yuan bill). Money can usually be exchanged in stations. They also screen your bags before they let you into the ticketed area.

  • It is convenient to keep a metro map of the city you are in saved to your phone
  • If you are subwaying to Hong Kong from Shenzhen, it is considerably more expensive across the Hong Kong border
    • Exchange Hong Kong dollars before-hand to avoid being ripped off at the border crossing 
    • Oyster cards may be purchased and loaded with cash to facilitate subway travel in Shenzhen and Hong Kong
      • Purchasing the correct Oyster card will allow for use in both cities
      • Oyster cards can also be used as money at other establishments in Hong Kong
  • Double check what time the subways close before planning a trip out on the town (some close earlier than you would expect)
Other Transportation

Local cities have rapid bus transportation; however, signage in English is hit or miss. It isn’t a problem if you keep track of the stops or use google maps (with a VPN) or some other nav. app. Traveling with a Chinese speaker for in city bus transportation is recommended though. 

Using buses between cities is also very simple. Bus tickets can usually be bought the day of, and only knowing how to say the name of the city you want to go to is actually sufficient for ticket purchase. Easy to use, just make sure if there are multiple stops that you get off at the correct one.

It is recommended that you minimize your taxi use. Traffic is horrendous in China, and taxis can be expensive.  Legal cabs turn into “black cabs” at night and try to rip off tourists with absurd price hikes. If you do need to use a taxi it's recommended that you:

  • Carpool with others to split the cost of the ride (and increase safety)
  • Always make sure the driver is using his meter
    • This will be difficult to enforce if you are in a smaller town
  • Have the name of your destination written in Chinese somewhere
    • It can also be convenient to know how to say it as there is a small possibility your taxi driver may be unable to read
      • Keep in mind that the name in Chinese could be very different from in English (especially for something like a hotel)

General Notes


  • It is HIGHLY recommended that you always have a copy of the address of the hotel at which you are staying
  • Try to plan out your travel route at least the day before
  • Book tickets together if you want to share seats on a train
    • This is particularly important if you’d like to share a room on an overnight train
  • Use your common sense
    • Have a plan and meeting point for if your group gets separated somehow
  • Keep in mind that your GT ID will get you a student discount at several (usually smaller) attractions
  • Tipping is not expected anywhere in China (including on most tours)
  • Keep in mind that hostels are not as wide spread in China as they are in Europe and other places, but many still exist
    • Hotels are also very cheap if you purchase wisely
    • Make sure wherever you stay that they can process passports and accept foreign guests
    • If staying at a hostel please make sure to watch out for limitations on gendered rooms!
      • (also, be aware that they like to tack on fees for random things, like towels or locks)
  • Buy souvenirs later on during your travels so you aren’t lugging them with you everywhere
    • Keep in mind that restrictions on carry on and checked baggage are very different in China – look up the specific regulations for the airlines you are using
Independent Travel

Many past program students have visited these places on their own (students self-organize the weekend trips, after arriving in China). Click a city name below to find advice on these cities directly from CSP alumni; click on a picture to be linked to a travel guide website:

 

Beijing                                Suzhou              Hangzhou​

Xi'an                                                                            Hong Kong                           Yellow Mountain (or Mount Huang)

 

Guilin                               Guangzhou     Yangshuo​

 

Huashan                                               Xitang & Water Towns        Shaolin Monastery​

yurts in Inner Mongolia          Zhangjiajie Park

Inner Mongolia                                          Nanjing                              Zhangjiajie and Hunan​
Additional Chinese Travel Information

You have the option of staying in China after the program has ended to travel some more. Necessary resources:

Travel China Tianjin Shanghai Shenzen
Hostel World & Travel Reservations  Map of China Frommers Guide Frommers Guide Frommers Guide
Train Schedule & Domestic Flights World Heritage Sites in China Lonely Planet Guide Lonely Planet Guide Lonely Planet Guide
In case of a travel emergency Travel China & Lonely Planet Guide  Wiki Travel Wiki Travel Wiki Travel