Practical China Travel Information

China travel tips – Useful information

Time difference: During the summertime it’s 7 hours later in China than it is in the UK. During winter time it’s 8 hours later in China.

Best time to travel: The best time to travel is during the months Aprtil through October. However, it’s best to avoid the first week of May and the first week of October. These are Chinese national holidays.

Language: Mandarin Chinese is spoken in most of China. However, countless dialects are also spoken. English is gaining popularity in China, but you still won’t find many people who speak English, especially in rural China. Bring along a Chinese pocket dictionary.

Currency: The official Chinese currency is known as the renminbi (‘peoples money’), RMB for short. The monetary unit is the Yuan. Hong Kong has its own currency – the Hong Kong Dollar. The Hong Kong Dollar is pegged to the American Dollar. It’s accepted in Guangzhou (Canton) and Shenzhen.

Tips: Tipping is customary for guides and drivers. They are generally reliant on tips for a large portion of their salaries. It’s not customary to tip in restaurants.

Visas: You’ll need a Chinese visa in order to travel in China. You’ll have to apply for your own visa at the Chinese Visa Application Service Centre (CVASC). A single entry Chinese visa will cost you around £60. This is made up of a £30 visa fee, and a £30 processing fee.

Telephone calls: Phoning home during your China trip using your mobile usually isn’t a problem, but it can be a very costly affair. Internet Phone (IP) cards are the cheapest way to phone home. You can buy these cards at kiosks and hotels in larger cities. If you want to use your own mobile phone during your trip, it’s best to buy a prepaid sim card at a Chinese phone shop.

Internet: Nearly all parts of China offer Internet access. You’ll find more and more cafés and bars that offer mobile Internet in China.

Photography: The Chinese are usually honoured if you would like to take their picture. Don’t forget to ask their permission first though. Taking pictures or shooting a video at military sites in China is highly illegal. Many museums, palaces and temples also do not allow pictures to be taken or only allow you to take pictures for a fee. It’s best to always be on the look-out for the signs posted regarding photography and to be careful.

Voltage: Electricity in China is 220 Volts, alternating at 50 cycles per second. It’s best to bring along a universal plug adaptor.

Hygiene: Using public bathrooms during your China trip will be quite an experience. The level of hygiene is commonly poor and you’ll have little privacy. Be sure to add toilet paper or tissues, anti-bacterial hand wipes and disinfectant to your China Travel Plan packing list.

Galapagos Islands and The Exumas Travel Information

Galapagos Islands, The Experience:

Only 13 main islands, out of which 5 are inhibited, form the Galapagos Archipelago situated 1000 km from the Ecuadorian mainland. The world’s top all around dive site, the top spot for best fish life, best big animal dive, best advanced diving awaits tourists who wish to pay a visit to the healthiest marine environment. Penguins swimming in the equatorial sea, iguanas eating algae meals in the saltwater, dolphins leaping in phosphorescent water are among the rare treats you can find only in Galapagos. You can expect to see amazing creatures crawling, flying or just lying off the shore line.

Adventure travel in Galapagos involves kayaking, mountain biking, riding horses or snorkeling next to the world’s most fearless wildlife. You can travel between the islands in small private planes or speedboats and enjoy spectacular wildlife encounters. Tower Island is one of the most spectacular of the islands where you can wind your way through a mangrove forest. Octopus, starfish and other sea life can be seen caught in tide pools on Santiago Island. Isabela Island offers spectacular views of lava files, a salt-water lagoon, volcanic formations and the ocean.

Bartolome island is the youngest and inhospitable for most plants and animals. Discover a moon like scenery with lava bombs, spatter cones and cinder cones while you hike through ancient lava fields, encountering prehistoric reptiles. You can explore Darwin’s laboratory, the Garden of Eden of evolution, while traveling with a luxury dive vessel.

When to go

The pleasant weather year round means there is not best time to visit Galapagos. During the hot season, the ocean temperature is warmer so you can enjoy swimming and snorkeling better.

How to get there

You can get to the islands from the main land by plane from Quito or Guayaquil airports. You can see most of the islands via a motor or sailing yacht. There is strict control on tourist access due to the effort made to protect the natural habitat and you must be accompanied by a certified tour guide.

The Exuma

The precious islands of The Exuma are a 120-mile island chain including 360 wonderful inhabited and uninhabited cays, the largest cay being the Great Exuma. This cluster of islands situated in the Bahamas enjoys tropical mild climate throughout the year and this accounts for the most gorgeous sapphire-colored water through which our vision can reach the inner depths of sand owing to its utmost clarity. The weather and water blend together in the finest way to popularize this island as amongst the best known sailing spots bundled with its rich unblemished beaches, offshore reefs and coves. The island hosts the Annual Georgetown Sailing Regatta and the Annual Family Island Regatta as the major yachting events every year. The beauty which lies in the inner depths of the islands and the incredible aquamarine waters attract a huge number of sailors, fishermen, divers, snorkelers and kayakers to this paradise and the city in every aspect is rightly called the Sailing Capital of the World.

The Ports: The Port of George Town is situated next to Elizabeth Harbor and is the main port of entry to the Exumas. The Tropic of Cancer runs through the place, hence, the climate is mixed with tropical and temperate effects, and thus becomes the unique spot famous for the yachting people.

The Marinas:

1) Emerald Bay: This marina offers a classy entry for yachts and provides extensive facilities like charters, boat dealerships and other major requirements.

2) Staniel Cay Yacht Club: This is a newly renovated and famous marina in Exumas known for its excellent full-services like electricity, water, ice and others.

The Sailing Companies:

1) Dive Exuma: This is a highly-equipped dive center with its general motto of providing the memorable diving experience keeping safety as its first priority and is the only one present on the Great Exuma.

2) Exuma Dive Center: This diving center is not merely a dive shop but provides unique opportunities to explore the clear waters and the shallow reefs allow the divers to watch the rich colorful fauna.

Caribbean Travel Guides – Are They Worth It?

As well as being a raving shopaholic, Jane Morris is also a dedicated Travel Buff. This is just one article on her many visits to the lush clear waters of the Caribbean

Imagine all the stories and films you have seen on pirates in the Caribbean, Spanish galleons laden with gold, pretty girls all around, beautiful white sandy beaches, swaying palm trees, clear blue seas, and reefs that have ripped the bottom out of many a fine sailing ship, now beautiful diving territory.

Well, this is what makes up the beauty, the mystery, and the attraction for many people as a dream holiday. In fact, there is so much to do that unless you plan your holiday carefully there is so much to miss.

That us why it is so important that you know all there is to know about the vacation destination of your dreams – that is exactly what a Caribbean travel guide offers.

But are Caribbean travel guides really godsend? Or are they just patronizing materials designed for commercial purposes?

Well, they’re probably a little of both actually. After all, the people behind Caribbean travel guides do need a source of income in order to continue to publish their guides. But a tremendous amount of research has been placed in these guides so don’t dismiss them as useless sales and promotion material.

What else is more nifty, informative and convenient than a Caribbean travel guide?

Sure, the Internet may prove more updated when it comes to information, but you can’t carry the Internet everywhere. And believe it or not, it’s always much more gratifying to pull out a Caribbean travel guide from your carry case, flip a few pages open, then slip it right back when you’re tired of reading. It sure beats having to wait in the airport, sitting bored silly and wondering whether or not your flight’s going to be delayed.

That said, don’t cling to travel guides religiously. Many travelers make that mistake. They are not the bibles that they are made out to be by some people. You should know that published materials, including travel guides, are out of date the moment they are published, because by then, there would have been new updated material that came up and it would be too late to include them.

So, how are you supposed to use Caribbean travel guides then? How would you know which information to believe and which facts are outdated? Unfortunately, there is no exact answer to that. To get the most out of your Caribbean travel guide, use them sparingly for basic orientation.

So once you have the basics right down to a tee, go out there and discover the towns and cities on your own. That is, after all, what traveling is all about – adventure and discovery of new things. At the very least, when all other signs look foreign, the information on museums and places of interest are great.

Remember where such facilities exist, always try and look for the local ‘City’ tour. I did just that on my first holiday in Cuba over 15 years ago. After a 2 hour tour on a coach, I was fully oriented with the sites, and then settled down to a delightful tour on foot – clutching my trusty travel guide of course, so I didn’t miss any of the delights that the beautiful but run-down city has to offer.

However, when it comes to hotels and restaurants, each to his own taste and budget. Remember that bargains rise in price with popularity, so there’s every bit of chance that that hot new deal in your Caribbean travel guide isn’t much of a deal anymore, considering how pricey it has become. And then sometimes, too, the places get easily full with foreigners and travelers like you, so you can’t always expect your Caribbean travel guide to point you in the right place all the time.

Then, if you do wander around on your own, you will surely find quality rooms with reasonable prices. They may be located in out-of-the-way places that Caribbean travel guide writers may not know about. Remember that because you in the destination, you are in a far better place to get what you want out of your vacation.

So to close it off, don’t be a sad type who writes to say that “it wasn’t like what you said in the book”.

Here’s a tip: open your eyes, and if the island you are on is Spanish – make sure you can speak some of the local language, as you will get such a nicer welcome from the locals in the infrequently visited spots – and make sure you take your time to explore for yourself!

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