Tuesday, March 1, 2011

To China...What You Need To Know and Prepare

Ticket to Beijing was booked so much earlier than the travel date. It was all because Air Asia was having zero-fare promotion that I think nobody in this world couldn't afford to miss. But since the decision to go was made a little bit late (not on the first day of the promo), I had to satisfy with the cheaper-than-normal fare, not zero-fare. Note to self: prepare destination and potential dates in advance to avoid frustration of not getting much cheaper fare. A friend who bought on a first day, on the very minute the promo started got the same ticket cheaper by RM300! Procastination and undecisive mind do cost a lot.

The gap of 10 months between booking date and travel date do give me a leisure time preparing it. U see, I travel independently. With preparing, I mean I arrange my schedule, itinerary, budget, accommodation, transportation, food etc myself, without the help of travel agency. Yeah, literally it is backpacking, but since I don't carry a backpack except for mount climbing and hiking, I think independent travelling suits my style better. Whatever I call or u call it, I hope we are on the same level of understanding on this concept of travelling :')

Preparing for an independent trip can be a tedious task especially if u have no experience doing one. But that doesn't mean it is imposible for first-timer. Here, i'm gonna share some useful guideline (I hope) to those who wants a DIY trip to BEIJING, CHINA that doesn't burn a hole in your pocket and giving different perspective from your usual travel-agency trip. 


TRAVEL DATE - It's all depends on your liking of the weather as China (Beijing) is a four-season country.

Spring (April - May)
- windy, dry season with frequent sandstorm, 12-14 degree C
Summer (June - August)
- long and hot with rainfall, temperature above 24 degree C
Autumn (September - October)
- most comfortable with 10-20 degree C
Winter (November - March)
- longest winter with average temperature of 0 degree C

Legal Documents

1) Passport
With minimum 6 months validity.

2) Visa
All visitors to mainland China need to obtain visa prior arrival. There's no visa on arrival. It can be arranged at Chinese Visa Application Service Center (CVASC). I'll dedicate one separate entry for visa application.

3) Travel Insurance
This is optional but I recommend you consider it. Remember, u are on independent travelling now, EVERYTHING is on your own shoulder. 

Time Zone
Beijing time is similar to Malaysia, in fact the whole China has same time zone. 

Electricity Supply
Voltage used in Beijing is 220V 50Hz which is fine with Malaysia's 230/240V 50Hz electrical appliances. You just need an adaptor to fit in the socket. It is best to invest in international adaptor which suits most countries in the world and can normally be found in local electrical shop.

China power point socket

international adaptor

The official currency of People's Republic of China is Renminbi (CNY) with Yuan as primary unit. It is also often called Kuai as nickname. Check current rate here. *I noticed the price drop as low as RM46.3=CNY100 after Chinese New Year, it's the best deal so far.


1) Flight
The fastest way getting into Beijing :) There are many airlines offering direct flight to Beijing Capital International Airport (IATA: PEK). Air Asia however arrive at Binhai International Airport (IATA: TSN) in Tianjin, 147km from Beijing.

2) Metro
Getting around Beijing is easy with their extensive metro line (compared to Malaysia). Check map here for yourself. Most of attractions are highly accessible by metro. Metro fare is fix to 2 Yuan anywhere.

3) Taxi
Basically there are a lot of taxi everywhere and you can hail them just anywhere at the road side. All are metered and priced reasonably. Most taxis are Hyundai Elantra and Volkswagen.

4) Bus
It's the cheapest way getting around Beijing. 1 Yuan anywhere.

Chinese speaks Mandarin, Mandarin and Mandarin :') It's worth knowing few basic phrases in Mandarin to ease your travelling. But in a big city like Beijing, teenagers, students and some staffs/sellers at highly populated foreigner place do speak basic English. 

What to Pack
It's all depends on which season you're going. I'll outline a general guideline in later entry but always keep to light backpack (luggage is pretty troublesome, from my experience :') who moved a lot from one place to another).

Infos here are just a general introduction on Beijing which will give some idea when planning your trip to capital of People's Republic of China. It is also worth reading some culture, history and political background of Beijing to give more in depth understanding of the metropolis with its 22 millions population. 



Biqque said...

one more tip, u need to be very adventurous to explore by yourself as local wont help u much on the language part. even students! hehehe!

except for tourist market la, ha any language they can speak hahaha!

Traveller's Anatomy said...

betul Biqque, english susah sikit unless dekat2 ngan area foreigner tapi we survived dengan Chinese phrasebook :) Lg handy if ade someone tlg tuliskan dlm Chinese character.

RIAZ UDDIN said...

If you are looking for travel information on a specific destination, look no further then www.paradiseintheworld.com. This site will provide you with detailed information as well as the best photography on the Internet.