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China - The Internet Travel Guide (FAQ) (part 3/3)

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CHINA - Peter M. Geiser's Hotel and Travel Guide


China is a superb tourist destination with a rich history and an
enormous number of sights. Home to numerous different ethnic groups,
it offers a cultural variety that is not found elsewhere. China's
major cities Beijing, Shanghai, Xian and Guangzhou are all worth a
trip alone.


Check out these exciting China tour packages at
http://www.chinahighlights.com/cgi-bin/a.pl?chinahi&1009&tours/index.htm
or plan your own China trip at
http://www.chinahighlights.com/cgi-bin/a.pl?chinahi&1009&forms/tripplanner.htm


But China is not only a giant of tourism, it is in the middle of an
economic boom that makes China one of the leading nations in the
world.


Places
 Beijing
 Chang Cheng (Great Wall)
 Chang Jiang (Yangtse)
 Changzhou
 Chengde
 Chengdu
 Chongqing
 Dali
 Dalian
 Dong Guan
 Dunhuang
 Emei
 Forbidden City
 Guangzhou (Canton)
 Guilin
 Haikou (Hainan Island)
 Hangzhou
 Hefei
 Hekou
 Huang Shan
 Jinan
 Jiuzhaigou
 Kashgar
 Khotan
 Kunming
 Lijiang
 Luoyang
 Nanjing
 Qingdao
 Shanghai
 Shaolin Monastery
 Shenzhen
 Suzhou
 Tianjin
 Urumqi
 Wuhan
 Xian
 Xiamen
 Yangshuo
 Zhengzhou


General Information
 Border Crossing
 Climate
 Embassies
 Events
 Food
 Geographical Information
 Health
 History
 Hotels
 Internet Access
 Mail
 Money
 People
 Safety
 Telephone
 Visa


Transportation
 Bicycle
 Boat
 Bus
 Flying
 Train
 
**************************************************************************

CHINA - Peter M. Geiser's Hotel and Travel Guide

Copyright (c) 1995 - 2005, Peter M. Geiser

http://www.pmgeiser.ch
http://www.pmgeiser.com
http://www.mineralwaters.org
http://www.dussy.ch

**************************************************************************

INTERNET HOTEL AND TRAVEL GUIDES

New series by Peter M. Geiser and Sibylle Dussy, with many photos:
 HONG KONG        http://www.pmgeiser.ch/hongkong
 JAPAN            http://www.pmgeiser.ch/japan
 MACAU            http://www.pmgeiser.ch/macau
 SWITZERLAND      http://www.pmgeiser.ch/schweiz

"Classics", FAQ of rec.travel.asia
 CAMBODIA         http://www.pmgeiser.ch/cambodia
 CHINA            http://www.pmgeiser.ch/china
 LAOS             http://www.pmgeiser.ch/laos
 MYANMAR (BURMA)  http://www.pmgeiser.ch/myanmar
 TIBET            http://www.pmgeiser.ch/tibet
 VIETNAM          http://www.pmgeiser.ch/vietnam

Hotel guides
 INDIA            http://www.pmgeiser.ch/india
 INDONESIA        http://www.pmgeiser.ch/indonesia
 MALAYSIA         http://www.pmgeiser.ch/malaysia
 NEPAL            http://www.pmgeiser.ch/nepal
 SINGAPORE        http://www.pmgeiser.ch/singapore
 THAILAND         http://www.pmgeiser.ch/thailand

**************************************************************************

BOOKS

For books, please have a look at the online version at
http://www.pmgeiser.ch/china

**************************************************************************

HISTORY

http://www.pmgeiser.ch/china/general/history.htm


(Thanks to Wuchun for this section)

                A brief Chinese chronology

Xia                          about 2100 b.c. -- 1600 b.c.
        *Hua Xia is used today by Chinese referring to China

Shang                        about 1600 b.c. -- 1100 b.c.
        *There is a very famous ancient book (written in Ming)
         about the end of Shang _Feng1 Shen2 Yan3 Yi4_
         (Yan Yi == historical novel)

Zhou
        Western Zhou          about 1100 b.c. -- 771 b.c.
        Eastern Zhou                 770 b.c. -- 226 b.c.
            Spring/Autumn            770 b.c. -- 476 b.c.
            Warring States           475 b.c. -- 221 b.c.
        *Western and eastern Zhou are the same dynasty, ruled by the
         same family.  The difference was eastern Zhou moved the capital
         to an eastern city.
        *Spring/Autumn time was one of the most important time in Chinese
         history.  Most Chinese philosophies developed at this time. Among
         them are: Confucianism and Taoism.
        *_Art of War_ was written at this time by Sun Zi
        *Eastern Zhou was very weak, and was divided into lots of smaller
         states (and bigger states, such as Jin, was later divided into
         several states) fighting with each other.
        *The account of this period of history was later written by
         Sima Qian of Han dynasty.  Shi3 Ji4 is one of the best Chinese
         history and literature book.  Lots of its section were in the
         literature text book.  Every Chinese is supposed to read it :)
        *Another book, "Dong Zhou Li Guo Zi" (How Eastern Zhou States
         Created), is supposed to be the text book for politicians.

Qin                            221 b.c. -- 207 b.c.
        *Perhaps the darkest time in Chinese history.  Qin was one of the
         warring state, but managed to united China again.  The worst
         thing they did was all the books were ordered to be burned.
        *Qin started building the Great Wall, although the one we see now
         was rebuilt much later in Ming.

Han
        Western Han            206 b.c. -- 24
        Eastern Han             25 -- 220
        *Again, the two are considered to be the same dynasty.  Eastern
         Han had its capital in todays Luo-yang (Luo is a river. Yang
         refers to the shadow of river bank here, which means north of
         river Luo) which is EAST of the old capital, todays Xian.
        *The so called Han Chinese used when trying to distinguish other
         minorities inside China came from here.
        *China became strong at this time, especially after Wu Di.
        *Dong Zhongsu advised Wu Di to use Confucianism as the ONLY
         philosophy.  Other novel ideas developed at eastern Zhou
         was only discouraged, but outlawed.  I list Dong most worst
         only next to Qin Shi Hunag.
        *China had many wars with Hun on north.  Wu Di started a new way
         of solving the problem: sending his daughter as wife of Hun Khan.
         [According to Jin, Wu Di stopped the custom of sending his
         daughter to the huns. He defeated them after 40 years of battle.]

Three Kingdoms
        Wei                     220 -- 265
        Shu Han                 221 -- 263
        Wu                      222 -- 280
        *Once again, the last emperor could and control the kingdom again.
         China was divided into three parts fighting to be the Son of
         Heaven.
        *Three Kingdoms is a very famous historical novel about this period.

Jin                             265 -- 420
        *The winner of the fighting was the powerful general of Wei whose
         son started Jin dynasty.

Northern/Southern Dynasties
        *Jin did not have a good contral of China either.  China was
         divided in all kind of combinations.
   Southern Dynasties:
        Song                     420 -- 479
        Qi                       479 -- 502
        Liang                    502 -- 557
        Chen                     557 -- 589
   Northern Dynasties:
        Northern Wei             386 -- 534
        Eastern Wei              534 -- 550
        Northern Qi              550 -- 577
        Western Wei              535 -- 556
        Northern Zhou            557 -- 581

        *Some kings in northern dynasties were not Han.

Sui                              581 -- 618
        *Like Qin, this is a very short dynasty ruled by very cruel
         emperors.
        *But bad reader seems like to make big things. The longest channel
         was built at this time just like Great Wall was built in Qin.

Tang                             618 -- 907
        *This is perhaps the best time in Chinese time.  The oversea
         Chinese in early days like to use Tang Shan referring to their
         homeland.
        *Many good poems were written in this time.  I believe no one 
         so far has been able to top the great poets at that time.
        *Tnag was a very liberal (perhaps most liberal) period in Chinese
         history.

Five Dynasties
        Later Liang              907 -- 923
        Later Tang               923 -- 936
        Later Jin                936 -- 946
        Later Han                947 -- 950
        Later Zhou               951 -- 960
        *Can you believe the speed of dynasty change here?

Song
        Northern Song            960 -- 1127
        Southern Song           1127 -- 1279
        *Song is the turning point of Chinese history (More actually,
         after Song Shen Zong). The society became conservative from then.
         Lots of bad Chinese traditions started from here.
        *Zu Xi carried Confucianism forward.
        *Ci2, poetry written to certain tunes with strict tonal pattern
         and rhyme schemes in fixed number of lines and words, was
         fully developed now.
        *Song was not a strong dynasty in history. It was consistently
         invaded by others from north.  Song was in war with Liao and was
         later defeated by Jin at north.  Song retreated to south of
         Yangtze. This was why northern and southern Song was named.
        *During southern Song period, north part of China was ruled
         by Jin (1115 -- 1234)

Yuan                            1271 -- 1368
        *Jin had not had the trance to win Song.  Mongolian was the 
         winner after all.
        *Chinese culture was preserved under Mongolian ruling.  It was
         Mongolian who were affected by Chinese culture.  
        *It was the time Chinese opera developed.
        *Beijing was the capital for the first time.

Ming                            1368 -- 1644
        *The Great Wall was rebuilt.  It was what we see today.
        *In literature, the novel was fully developed at this time.
         Some of the novels, such as Three Kingdoms, were the best ever.
        *In late Ming, the so called capitalism buds started in some
         developed areas such as lower Yangtze Delta.  Some quite big
         silk-making shops with one hundred some employee were recorded.

Qing                            1644 -- 1911
        *China was ruled by non-Han once again.
        *Although China started becoming conservative after Song, Qing
         made the development stopped.


**************************************************************************

HOTELS

http://www.pmgeiser.ch/china/general/hotels.htm


In China dormitories are widely known and by far the cheapest place.
They are generally ok. It is possible to get reasonable priced single
or double rooms.


There is an ever increasing number of very fine luxury hotels, with
both, the service and facilities as well as the prices being the same
as in Western countries.

Be careful with middle-class hotels. They usually are not exactly
cheap (Westerners pay quite a lot more than local Chinese), and may be
more expensive than the cheaper Western chains. On the other hand,
they are often quite dirty and there is nearly no service. Even
disregarding the price, budget hotels frequented by backpackers are
usually much better.

Reserve your hotel online at 
http://www.pmgeiser.ch/china/general/hotels.htm.

**************************************************************************

MAIL

http://www.pmgeiser.ch/china/general/mail.htm


Post offices are efficiently run and very reliable. During the three
months I was in China I mailed 11 parcels and all of them arrived,
their contents complete. One or two things were broken, but from what
I packed I expected much more damage.

First class mail overseas costs CNY 3.60. For a letter within a city
you have to pay 1 jiao, for a letter within China 2 jiao.

Air mail to Switzerland takes about one week, surface mail three to
four weeks.

Air mail to Canada takes about 10 days.

**************************************************************************

MONEY

http://www.pmgeiser.ch/china/general/money.htm


The currency is the Chinese Yuan (ISO code CNY), divided into 10 Jiao
or 100 Fen. However, money within China is called RMB (Ren Min Bi,
people's money), and people normally refer to Yuan as Kuai (piece, the
counting word for money, as in yi kuai qian = one piece of money),
Jiao as Mao and Fen as Sen.

Notes are available in denominations of 100, 50, 10, 5, 2 and 1 yuan,
5, 2 and 1 jiao, and 5, 2, and 1 fen. Coins are 1 yuan, 5, 2 and 1
jiao, and 5, 2 and 1 fen.

Note: As with most currencies, there are counterfeits. Banknotes
printed from 1990 on have a metal thread woven into their fabric.

The exchange rate is about USD 1 = 8.27 CNY (Jan 2003)
(Historical development: very stable 8.28 since 1996, 8.3 Sep 1995,
8.7 Jan 1994, 5.8 in 1993, 5.5 in 1992, 5.3 in 1991, 4.8 in 1990, 3.8
in 1989)

To get a nice small conversion table that you can put in you pocket,
look at the Currency Cheat Sheet at
http://www.oanda.com/convert/cheatsheet?user=pmgitg.

Travellers cheques will give you a better exchange rate. Travellers
cheques denominated in most major currencies are accepted by the Bank
of China. You normally get a better exchange rate than for cash. There
is a 0.75% commission.


Most larger hotels, restaurants and department stores accept credit
cards. Of course, in small shops, or markets, credit cards are not
accepted.


There is an American Express business travel center in the Swissotel
Beijing Hong Kong - Macao Center in Beijing. It is a cooperative
effort between American Express and China International Travel Service
(CITS). American Express has four other travel service offices in
Beijing, Shanghai, Xiamen and Guangzhou and 23 representative offices
throughout China.
American Express has also cash machines where you can get cash
(Chinese Yuan), provided you have a pin. There is one in the Beijing
World Trade Center Shopping Arcade.

Remember to always bargain. Chinese people are very good business
people that can smell money when it's lying around. They consider
Westerners to be living and walking money bags. Even if it is
sometimes a nuisance, they reason that even if you pay several times
the price that a local pays, you still can afford it. Always ask for
the price first, especially in restaurants. Otherwise you could end up
having ordered this 'really special soup' that costs you USD 100 (one
hundred, no typing mistake, it happened to a friend of mine!)

The FEC (Foreign Exchange Certificate) was finally abolished in
January 1994. However, it seems that still a few circulate.

The disappearance of the FEC also caused the black market to virtually
disappear. If you really want to change money on the black market,
make sure you know the exchange rates, the bank notes, and count
carefully the money you get before handing over your own money.
Changing money on the black market is illegal, there are sometimes
secret police changing, the exchange rate may be worse than in banks
and shortchangings are frequent, so it is not really advisable anymore
to change money on the black market unless you know the game quite
well.


**************************************************************************

PEOPLE

http://www.pmgeiser.ch/china/general/people.htm


Population      1247 mio (est. July 1999) (annual growth rate 0.77%)
                92% Han Chinese, many minorities including Zhuang, Uygur,
                Hui, Yi, Tibetan, Miao, Manchu, Mongol, Buyi, Korean
Life expectancy 68 years
Language        The official language within China is the Putonghua
                (Mandarin, based on the Beijing dialect.) Yue
                (Cantonese), Wu (Shanghainese), Minbei (Fuzhou), Minnan
                (Hokkien-Taiwanese), Xiang, Gan, Hakka dialects, minority
                languages
Religion        Officially, China is atheistic, but religions are (again)
                tolerated. Mostly Daoism and Buddhism, often a blend
                between the two. 2% - 3% Muslim, 1% Christian


Asian people, and Chinese don't make an exception, like to take
pictures. The most important thing is the person on the picture,
e.g. me in front of the Forbidden City, me on the Great Wall, me next
to ... They also like being photographed together with a white person.
So, if you are a white person, expect to be grabbed by locals that
want to take pictures with you.

**************************************************************************

SAFETY

http://www.pmgeiser.ch/china/general/safety.htm


China is not as safe as it used to be. The number of tourists
reporting beeing robbed, mugged, beaten, knifed and worse is
increasing. For instance, a freind of mine has been robbed in
Guangzhou while travelling with his Chinese girlfriend. So, if you
are not cautious on where you go, or even get lost, it could soon
become a problem.

Crime is worst in the big cities, and in the south.

**************************************************************************

TELEPHONE

http://www.pmgeiser.ch/china/general/telephone.htm


The international direct dial code for China is 86.

The prefix for international phone calls is 00 (e.g. Switzerland is 0041.)

Some area codes (to dial you need the prefix 0):

Anqing            556
Anshan            412
Baicheng          436
Baoan Xian        755
Baoding           312
Baoji             917
Beihai            779
Beijing            10
Bengbu            552
Cangzhou          317
Changchun         431
Changde           736
Changle          5041
Changsha          731
Changzhou         519
Chaoyang         7644
Chaozhou         7681
Chengde           314
Chengdu            28
Chongan          5098
Chongqing         811
Conghua          2092
Dagang             22
Dalian            411
Dandong           415
Daqing           4610
Deyang           8241
Dongguan         7620
Foshan            757
Fuding           5033
Fuxin             418
Fuzhou            591
Gaoming          7650
Gongzhuling       438
Guangzhou          20
Guilin            773
Guiyang           851
Gutian           5037
Haikou            750
Handan            310
Hangu              22
Hangzhou          571
Hankou             27
Harbin            451
Hefei             551
Hengshui          318
Hengyang          734
Hepu             7892
Heshan           7680
Huanggang         713
Huangshi          714
Huaxian            20
Huian            5051
Huizhou           752
Huzhou            572
Jiamusi           454
Jiangmen         7682
Jianou           5094
Jianyang          590
Jiaxing           573
Jilin             432
Jinan             531
Jinhua            579
Jining            537
Jinjiang          595
Jinzhou           416
Kaifeng           378
Kaiping          7658
Kunming           871
Langfang          316
Lanzhou           931
Lianyungang       518
Liaoyang          419
Liaoyuan          437
Lishui            578
Liuzhou           772
Longgang          755
Longhai          5062
Longyan, Fujian   597
Luoyang           379
Luzhou           8400
Maanshan          555
Mawei             591
Meizhou           753
Mianyang          816
Minqing          5046
Mudanjiang        453
Nanan            5053
Nanching          791
Nanchong          817
Nanjing            25
Nanning           771
Nanping           599
Nantong           513
Nantou            755
Nanyang           377
Ningbo            574
Ningde            593
Panjin           4271
Panyu            2096
Pingdingshan      375
Pingtan          5043
Pucheng          5091
Puning           7649
Putian            594
Qingdao           532
Qinhuangdao       335
Qinzhou           777
Quanzhou          595
Quzhou            570
Sanming           598
Sanshui          7652
Shanghai           21
Shangqiu          370
Shantou           754
Shaoguan          751
Shaowu           5096
Shaoxing          575
Shaxian          5081
Shekou            755
Shenyang           24
Shenzhen          755
Shijiazhuang      311
Shishi            595
Shuangcheng      4615
Shunde           7653
Sihui            7663
Siping            434
Suihua            455
Suxian            557
Suzhou            512
Taian             538
Taiwan              6
Taiyuan           351
Taizhou           576
Tanggu             22
Tangshan          315
Tianjin            22
Tianshui          938
Tieling           410
Tongan           5021
Tonghua           435
Urumqi            991
Weifang           536
Wenjiang          815
Wenzhou           577
Wuhan              27
Wuhu              553
Wuxi              510
Xiamen            592
Xian               29
Xiangtan          732
Xiaogan           712
Xiaolan          7654
Xiapu            5034
Xichang           834
Xikou             574
Xingtai           319
Xinhui           7656
Xining            971
Xinxiang          373
Xuchang           374
Xuzhou            516
Yanan             911
Yancheng          515
Yangzhou          514
Yanji             433
Yantai            535
Yibin             831
Yinchuan          951
Yiyang            737
Yongan           5084
Yongzhou         7401
Yueyang           730
Yulin             755
Zhangjiakou       313
Zhangpu          5063
Zhangzhou         596
Zhanjiang         759
Zhaoqing          758
Zhengzhou         371
Zhenjiang         511
Zherong          5032
Zhongshan        7654
Zhuhai            756
Zhuzhou           733
Zibo              533
Zigong            813


Some useful numbers:

Police                             110
Domestic Long Distance Operator    113
Local Phone Number Information     114
International Operator             115
Domestic Long Distance Inquiry     116
Time Inquiry                       117
Fire Emergency                     119
Ambulance                          120
Weather forecast                   121
Long Distance Business Inquiry     176

In China, telephoning is relatively easy if you adhere to certain
procedures. The best way to place a phone call is to go to the local
post office. At most places it is possible to dial directly, in other
places you have to ask the operator. In many cities there are now
public phone booths where you can make calls with a phonecard. Another
good place is the local police station.

In most hotels it is possible to phone directly either from the
reception desk or from your room. The 'better' hotels with
international standards usually add a hefty surcharge of up to 50%!
Inquire before placing a call.

Rates from China to the overseas (e.g. USA) is CNY 26 per minute.
There is another service apart from the PTT one which lets you phone
for USD 1.40 per minute, with 6 seconds billing.

**************************************************************************

VISA

http://www.pmgeiser.ch/china/general/visa.htm


There are visa of various length. I have seen visa for 30, 90 and even
120 days. You normally get a visa from the embassy.

Visa extensions are available in China from any police station, it
costs CNY 110.

Visa are not needed for visitors to Hong Kong staying less than 30
days.

In Hong Kong, go to CITS (China International Travel Service), located
in Peking Street in Tsim Sa Tsui or even better to the China Visa
Issuing Office on the island (Connaught Road, Wanchai). It takes about
24 hours and costs HKD 100 for a single entry and HKD 150 for a double
entry visa, valid for 30 days. Bring a passport photo with you. A
multiple entry business visa, valid 60 days, costs HKD 300.

It seems to be a big hassle to get a Chinese visa in the USA. If you
have enough time in an Asian city (i.e. about 2-3 days), you better
get the visa there. The visa costs USD 30, handling fee is USD 5, and
then you'll have to add for postage.

In Toronto, Canada, you can go to the Chinese consulate. There you'll
have to fill out a 1 page form, give your passport, 2 photographs and
CAD 50. One week later you can pick up your passport with a 60 day
tourist visa.

Have a look at the application form front
and back (only in the web-version, of course.


**************************************************************************

BICYCLE

http://www.pmgeiser.ch/china/transport/bicycle.htm


One of the best ways to see a place is by bicycle. Chinese cities seem
to be made for cycling. You can rent a bicycle at your hotel or at one
of the many shops. It is only a couple of yuans per day.

If you want to go beyond the city borders beware of the big roads. The
traffic on major roads between cities is just murderous. Pollution is
extreme and you are bound to become deaf from all that honking by bus
and truck drivers. Road conditions are very bad, and 'stronger'
vehicles don't take care of 'weaker' ones (e.g. you as a bicycle rider
have to move out of the way, if a truck decides that he wants to drive
on his left (your) side!), so accidents are quite usual.

There are many guarded parking lots. Of course, you will have to pay a
modest fee of about one or two miao (CNY 0.1 - 0.2).

**************************************************************************

BOAT

http://www.pmgeiser.ch/china/transport/boat.htm


Boat trips are probably the nicest way of travelling through China.

The most important route is on the Chang Jiang (Yangtse) between
Shanghai and Chung Qing.

For travellers coming from Hong Kong and travelling through Guangzhou
(Canton) to Guilin, there is a combined ticket of boat and bus,
costing CNY 77 (buy the ticket directly at the ticket booth where the
boat leaves.) The boat goes to Wuzhou, where you have to change into a
bus.

**************************************************************************

BUS

http://www.pmgeiser.ch/china/transport/bus.htm


There are two main type of busses: city busses and overland busses.
Both run frequently and are very cheap, but uncomfortable.

For a city bus you have to pay only some Jiao (less than CNY 1). Since
these busses are extremely crowded, you have to be very careful of
pickpockets. Take your bags in front of you, so that nobody can cut it
open.

The bus net is very extensive and the fares are quite low. There are
no differences between local and foreigner prices.

When going overland, try not to sit in the front of the bus. Within
the cities, I always thought that the horn was very loud, until I
travelled overland. There the honking was almost continual and
deafening.

There is a bus from Golmud to Lhasa which takes about 40 hours on a
bumpy road.

Overnight sleeper busses are more comfortable and, of course, more
expensive. The bus from Yangshuo to Guangzhou takes 18 hours and the
bus from Jinghong to Kunming 22 hours (CNY 160.)

**************************************************************************

FLYING

http://www.pmgeiser.ch/china/transport/plane.htm


Flight Times

To give an idea of flight times, here the times from Beijing:

to          time (in h:mm)
Chengdu        2:25
Guangzhou      3:00
Kunming        3:20
Nanjing        1:40
Shanghai       1:50
Tianjin        0:50
Urumqi         4:00
Wuhan          1:45
Xian           1:55


Prices

There are different prices for foreigners and local people.

Some plane prices:

Guangzhou      Guilin          CNY  600
Shanghai       Hong Kong       CNY 1450
Shanghai       Shenzen         CNY 1100

Yunnan Airlines has a flight from Kunming to Lijiang is CNY 330, plus
airport tax of CNY 50.

The flight from Dali to Kunming is CNY 300, and the airport tax CNY 50.

Silkair has two flights weekly between Kunming and Singapore. The
international departure tax is CNY 90.

There are several flights a day between Hong Kong and Guangzhou. The
flight takes about 40 minutes.

There are four flights daily from Hong Kong to Guilin (HKD 500.)


Safety

The safety of flying within China has greatly improved over the last
couple of years. Still, China's airlines are among the most dangerous
in the world, with one fatality per 100'000 domestic flights (world
average is about 1 to 1'500'000)!


Airlines

When flying, you are covered by an insurance with CNY 200'000.

Most airlines now have modern Boeing and Airbus planes (China is the
second largest market for Airbus, after France). However, not all the
spare parts that are used are original. I do not know, if this is only
true for non-critical parts, like cabin interior, or for everything.

The airlines with the best repute are China Southern Airlines,
Shanghai Airlines, Eastern and Shenzhen.

There are about 50 domestic airlines. Of these, only four are
registered with IATA. They are Air China, China Southern, China
Shanghai, and China Eastern.

Airlines in China:
Air China
China Eastern
China Shanghai
China Southern
Shanghai Airlines
Yunnan Airlines

Planes not always on time, sometimes delaying departure for hours.

**************************************************************************

TRAIN

http://www.pmgeiser.ch/china/transport/train.htm


With over 52800 km of tracks, the train is one of China's main means
of transportation. However, most of these tracks operate with diesel
or coal, only 5700 km are electrified.

There are four classes available: Soft sleeper, hard sleeper, soft
seater, and hard seater. Soft sleepers are four bed compartments with
nice sheets and generally good comfort. Hard sleepers are open six bed
niches with no door towards the corridor. Only a sheet is provided,
but generally people are much nicer (not being high communist cadres
or successful business people). Soft seaters are very comfortable.
Hard seaters are the lowest class of them all, but also the cheapest.
In contrast to the other classes, there is no limit on how many people
will travel. Even though  there are reservations one is supposed to
move together, so that as many people as possible are able to sit.

A good way to spend time on the train is to go to the dining car.
Meals are cheap and usually ok. Especially when you're travelling hard
seat, you'll be happy to have more space.

Trains are usually very punctual and safe.

There seems to be a change in the prices, they have gone up quite a
lot recently (double for hard sleeper, and triple for soft sleeper).
These prices are now valid for both, Chinese and foreigners, so there
is now no difference anymore (since about October 1995.)

At some place there is a black market for Chinese price tickets. The
worst that can happen to you is that the train personnel doesn't
believe you're a foreing student studying Chinese in China.

Tickets are sometimes quite limited, so the best thing is to book your
next ticket at the same day you arrive at some place. If you stay at
one place for a couple of days don't forget to book at least two to
three days before your planned departure.

Many stations, especially the big cities, have special booths for
foreigners. There you don't have to wait as long as at the regular
booths, but prices are more expensive, and they may only have the more
expensive tickets.

(Edmund) When you go to the booth in the train station to buy the
ticket, write down on a piece of paper the train number, time and date
of departure, destination, and number of tickets you want to buy. Show
this paper to the clerk at the booth in order to avoid a
misunderstanding (a common occurence in China).

(Edmund) A special note about the main train station in Beijing. I
wouldn't try to get a train ticket at the regular line up there! The
lineup is very long and moves very slowly. A friend explained to me
why this is so: it seems that many poor peasants come to Beijing to
make money. One way to do this is to line up for tickets at the
station (even though you are not planning to go anywhere). Once they
get near the front of the line, they can offer to buy tickets for
other people who want to buy a ticket but can't afford the time to
wait. This 'service' cost about 10 CNY for a short trip, or about
CNY 200 for a long trip (in addition to the price of the ticket
itself). You understand that this can only happen in a place where
there is large gap in income, such as China is today.  Anyway, if you
are a foreigner, go inside the train station (you will have to show
your passport to a guard at the gate to do this), go to the Foreign
guests booking office ('Wai Bing Shou Piao Chu'), and buy your ticket
there. It is best to go 3-4 days in advance of your trip to book the
ticket.

A good idea is to buy a railroad guide at one of the stations.

Timetables

Note: Some fares are only an estimate, and all prices are changing
from time to time, so check once you're there. I try to keep the
prices as accurate as possible, but things do change and I'm not from
the Chinese railway company...

From Beijing To:

DestinationTrain No.Departure TimeArrival Time
GuilinT510:5110:21+1
Hong KongT9710:0613:10+1
Hanoi (Vietnam)T510:5106:50+2
MoscowK307:4014:19+5
MoscowK1922:5017:55+6
NanjingT6520:4008:24+1
ShanghaiT1318:0808:08+1
ShanghaiT2118:0008:00+1
Ulan BatorK307:4013:15+1
Ulan BatorK2307:4013:15+1
UrumqiT6920:2019:59+2
WuhanT3718:5307:00+1
WuhanT7908:1021:02
XianT4117:1206:45+1
XianT5516:1006:16+1



From Xian to Suzhou
 192/189     9:05    9:19 (2nd day)       166.00             519.00
 108/105     9:40   11:01 (2nd day)       166.00             519.00
 178/175    13:25   13:41 (2nd day)       166.00             519.00
 140/137    20:30   20:22 (2nd day)       166.00             519.00
  54/51     23:18   21:23 (2nd day)       182.00             543.00

From Hangzhou to Guilin
     79     21:55    0:57 (3rd day)       182.00             543.00
    179     22:49    6:56 (3rd day)       166.00             519.00

From Suzhou to Hangzhou
                                      Hard seat fare     Soft seat fare
 155/158     2:06    6:26                  13.00              21.00
   87/90     4:54    9:48                  15.00              23.00
 105/108    11:01   16:37                  13.00              21.00
      31    14:44   19:16                  15.00              23.00
 Tour  5     8:22   12:45                  32.00              49.00
 Tour 11    15:25   19:56                  32.00              49.00
From Kunming to Hekou
                                      Hard seat fare     Soft seat fare
            14:45    7:00 (2nd day)                                

The train from Guangzhou to Guilin takes 17 hours.

The train from Wuxi to Beijing takes 22 to 24 hours. Hard sleeper is
CNY 173, and soft sleeper CNY 446.

From Wuxi to Zhangzhou takes only 40 minutes and costs CNY 3.

The train from Hekou to Kunming takes about 16 hours through
magnificent scenery. There are several trains daily; a direct one
leaves at 13:20. Hard sleeper is CNY 80.

Shanghai to Hangzhou takes 3 hours and costs CNY 55 for a soft seat.

Suzhou to Beijing takes 22 hours and costs CNY 170 for a hard sleeper.

Beijing to Xian takes 18 hours and costs CNY 270 for a hard sleeper.

Xian to Chengdu takes 22 hours and costs CNY 170 for a hard sleeper.

Chengdu to Jinjiang takes 17 hours and costs CNY 45 for a hard seat.

Kunming to Guilin takes 33 hours and costs CNY 285 for a soft sleeper.

Guangzhou to Shanghai takes 36 hours.

In Shanghai it is possible to book tickets up to 30 days in advance.

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CHINA - Peter M. Geiser's Hotel and Travel Guide

Copyright (c) 1995 - 2005, Peter M. Geiser

http://www.pmgeiser.ch
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