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Expert tip

Pass up the luxury malls in favour of local markets unless you’re travelling with an extravagant budget. Imported goods at stores like Gucci will often be more expensive in China than they are back home, the bargain buys you’re looking for are most likely located elsewhere.

ATM access

5/5 stars – there are ATMs everywhere.

Tipping

With the fitting exception of group tour guides, workers in China won’t expect tips. In fact, some taxi drivers, restaurant waiters and hotel staff will simply refuse to accept any cash you try to hand them. Attempting to tip can come across as rude in China, so it’s best to hold on to your loose change and use it to buy delicious street food instead!

Bargaining scale

4/5 stars – haggling is expected.

Outside of supermarkets, department stores and some shopping centres with clearly marked prices, shops are generally fair game for bargaining.
In fact, tourists who decline to negotiate will often get ripped off and labelled as a naïve laowai (foreigner).

Card access

Chinese establishments are generally happy to accept credit cards, so having yours handy can be very convenient.
To play it safe, however, it’s best to have some cash in your wallet at all times as well.
If you are expecting to use your debit or credit card while in China, alert your bank to your travel plans so your foreign transactions don’t sound any alarm bells.

Cost of a coffee

20-30 yuan

Transport

Public transport is both plentiful and pleasantly affordable in the main cities of China.
While buses are generally the cheapest mode of transit, trains, tuk-tuks and taxis are also useful.
Bus trips can cost as little as 1-2 yuan, depending on your route.

Pickpocket security rating

4/5 stars – theft is common.

Pickpocketing is one of the most common petty crimes in China, along with offences like snatching purses and stealing mobile phones. Exercise extra caution when using any public transport and when walking through popular districts in any major city. Avoid narrow alleys whenever possible.

Scammers and ripoffs

There is a range of scams to be on the lookout for in China. One common trick involves a local approaching you and asking you to help them practise their English over a tea. Once you’ve drunk your beverage, however, the person vanishes and you are left with an outrageous bill. Avoiding this scam (as well as several others) comes down to one simple rule: be cautious of anyone who approaches you at random.

Counterfeit money is also a problem in China. Familiarise yourself with the texture and appearance of genuine yuan so you are more likely to recognise a forgery if presented with one as change. Also be alert when making any cash transactions; some unscrupulous salespeople might do a sneaky switch and claim the 100 yuan note you handed them is a fake.

Departure tax

Passengers leaving China on an international flight must pay a departure tax of 90 yuan.

Visa costs

All foreign visitors to China are advised to apply for their visa well in advance of their arrival.

The standard single 3-month visa costs about AU$109.50 (AU$60 for the visa and AU$49.50 for the application service fee) for Australian citizens and slightly less for New Zealand nationals.

There are some exceptions for people journeying on a group tour that runs for less than 15 days – speak with your tour organiser about this if it applies to you.

Also be aware that visa and other entry conditions can change at short notice.

If you need further information, it’s recommended that you contact your nearest Chinese embassy for up-to-date details.

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