I was part of a delegation that spent 2 weeks in China last year. I
wonder how much time you have. No matter, there’s not going to be
enough. If you can arrange for an English-speaking tour guide, it
will be very helpful. Many younger Chinese have a modest acquaintance
with English, but is it limited. You’ll want to see the major
touristy things like the Great Wall and the Forbidden City in
Beijing. The Summer Palace is amazing. Shanghai looks like a space
city a la Jetsons cartoon, but there is some marvelous old
architecture on the Bund. The Yu Yuan Garden is very old and also
quite lovely. It is sited near a market place, which is fun to shop.
Our small group walked around and found small neighborhood shops.
You can bargain (and always do bargain - even in hotel and museum
stores!!) using pencil and paper with numbers. Our group also used
the subway system, but that’s where a tour guide will be useful -
it’s a crush of people and little sign age in English.
Tipping is pretty much expected, so have some small change handy.
People are generally very polite. We carried some money, although
ATMs are everywhere and credit cards are accepted in hotels. Because
of forgery, paper currency is always checked for the safety strips;
therefore, take only fresh bills that are not worn or marked up - it
makes changing currency much easier.
On a practical matter, public toilets are easy to find - just follow
your nose. I’m not kidding - and always carry toilet paper or
tissues. Here’s a kind discussion for you
You will have a wonderful trip and don’t forget to take a camera -
or purchase one there. I found electronic items to be good buys.
Memory cards were about half what they cost here. Also be sure to
take the appropriate adapters for 220 voltage. You’ll have a devil of
a time charging batteries if you don’t. That brings up another
idiosyncrasy - the hotels we used give you a card to open your door,
which is then inserted in a slot on the wall to turn on the power.
That means when you leave your room and take the key card, the power
is turned off. Plan to recharge batteries overnight while you are in
One last thing, if you have a tour guide, expect to be treated to a
tour of a pearl factory or jade carving shop, or some other like
facility. I found the pearl prices to be excessive, even as a
practiced bargainer - I do much better in Tucson. But the pearl
factory was interesting to visit.
Judy in Kansas, recalling some amazing memories