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Travel Essentials (6)

Post and Telecommunication

Domestic mail delivery is exceedingly fast and cheap. Within some cities, there is often same-day delivery; between large cities, delivery is usually overnight. International mail, too, is efficient. Postal services are usually provided at hotel desks. Large hotels have mailboxes and sell stamps for letters, post cards and parcels. Post offices, with eye-catching green emblems, are usually found on main streets, at railway stations, the airport and major scenic spots. They are open seven days a week from 9:00-17:00. DHL, UPS, EMS, TNT and FedEx provide express mail services for urgent documents, parcels and other items to more than 10,000 cities in 170 countries and regions. EMS is the only official one in China that can handle private letters and has particular advantage handling mail within China. Many express delivery services have offices in major hotels and office buildings. Check the building directory in the lobby for their locations.

Local calls in the hotels are usually free of charge. Direct long-distance dials (DDD) can be made from most hotels to some 2,000 localities throughout China. International calls made from hotels typically have high surcharges, from 10 to 20 percent, added to the already high IDD rates. Alternatively, you may look for roadside kiosks with the IDD and DDD sign. Most post offices provide the IDD and DDD service. If your call between 24:00 and 07:00 the next morning, it is just half the daytime price. Country code for China is 86. To call abroad, dial 00, then the country code and telephone number. Like many nations expanding their domestic telephone networks, China's telephone numbers can change without too much fanfare. If you hear a funny ringing sound on the line and can't get through, the number may have changed.

Road Names

Street names may have suffixes to indicate north, south, east or west, and additionally, to indicate the middle section. The middle section is called zhong; nan means south; bei, north; dong, east and xi, west. A main road is lu or dao, smaller is jie. A small lane is named xiang.

Special Information

Children: Since the Chinese are fond of children, traveling with children in China is not difficult. If with toddlers or babies, note that disposable nappies and baby food in jars are not readily available. Big hotels offer childcare for a fee. On trains and planes, children travel at reduced cost.

Disabled: In recent years the needs of disabled people begin to receive attention in China. In general, towns, institutions, public transport and sights offer little accessibility for the disabled. Modern hotels are well equipped; airlines and airports have made efforts to improve their facilities, and wheelchairs are available. Information about special trips for the disabled is offered by the China National Tourist Offices.

Students: Since the student cards of foreign students studying in China are usually recognized, students studying in China may travel at a reduced cost. Other international students will not benefit from the student card when traveling in China

Tipping

In China, tipping is now accepted by tourist guides and bus drivers. Hotel porters will usually happily accept a tip. Tipping is still not accepted in most restaurants and hotels, although it is common in the top-class hotels and restaurants. So ask the guide whether a tip is necessary and how much. Sometimes it may be part of the ritual that any gift or tip will, at first, be firmly rejected.

Travel to Tibet

You can arrange your travel to Tibet from outside of China. Once in China, travelers wishing to visit Tibet must join a group. The Chinese government requires foreigners wishing to visit Tibet to apply in advance for approval from the Tourist Administration of the Tibetan Autonomous Region. More information is available through the Chinese Embassy. In China, you may refer to the foreign Embassy for further information. Tour to Tibet makes particularly high demands on the health. In Tibet because of the high altitude, heart disease and high blood pressure can lead to serious problems.

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