China has 1.2 billion people, representing 56 nationalities. However, 96% of the population is Han, whose written language is the same wherever you are, but whose spoken dialects can be more different than the languages of Portuguese and French are from each other. Putonghua--or Mandarin--can be understood in most parts of the country. Each United States dollar equals about 7.66 Chinese yuan (as of Oct. 2010). The Hong Kong dollar is pegged to the U.S. dollar at about US$1 = HK$7.8.
The Chinese electrical system operates on 220 volts. The North American standard is 110 volts. Note that you will need a converter to use appliances designed to operate at 110 volts.
The health system in major Chinese cities is sophisticated, and therefore no inoculations are required. However, if you are planning an extended stay--or are venturing to street food stands-- it is advisable to get inoculated.
There is a difference of 12 hours between standard China time and U.S. Eastern Standard Time. For example, at 10 a.m. on Oct. 5th in Beijing, it is: 10 p.m. in New York, 9 p.m. in Chicago, 8 p.m. in Denver, and 7 p.m. in Los Angeles--all on the preceding day, Oct. 4th.
The best travel times in China are spring and fall--i.e., late March, April, May, and early June, and then September, October, and early November. However, our Regent travelers have experienced perfect weather in Beijing in August and the worst flooding along the Yangtze River in September.
China is a large country, home to one of the world's oldest civilizations. For detailed information on China, please visit the China.
We hope that you will be able to experience at least a part of China and enjoy its many splendors!