Feb 8th, 2006, 05:15 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 19

do you need a visa to enter china? can you travel freely on your own or is it best to use a private car and guide?
jaspar is offline  
Feb 8th, 2006, 05:29 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 28,943
depends on where you are from but from most places, yes you need a visa which you must get in advance....

you can travel on your own and whether you use a car and driver is your own preference
rhkkmk is offline  
Feb 8th, 2006, 01:59 PM
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 17
I am from Canada and we needed Visa to enter China in Beijing but going to Hong Kong we didn't. So best to check Chinese consulate website, Google and punch in Chinese visas.
dhsundbe is offline  
Feb 8th, 2006, 02:43 PM
Join Date: Aug 2003
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If you're American you will definitely need a tourist visa.

Yes, you can definitely travel independently in China and many people do. The degree of difficulty varies depending on where you're going and your mode of travel, air travel being the easiest by a fair margin, as you can be assured of finding someone who speaks English.

Within major cities there's really no need for a guide - in fact we enjoyed the freedom of being able to walk around and explore at our own pace. Tourist maps are easily obtained and they and (increasingly) major street and tourist attraction signs are increasingly written in both Chinese characters and pinyin (Latin alphabet).

Taxis are easy to find and inexpensive (make sure you don't end up in a dodgy unlicenced cab - the best way to do this is just to flag one down in the street). Always take the precaution of having your destination written in Chinese for the driver's guidance. I'm prepared to believe that an English-speaking cabbie exists in China, but we never found him. English is not widely spoken, but mostly we didn't find this too much of a problem.

In Beijing it's possible to take a public bus to the Great Wall, but this was one occasion on which we broke our no-tours rule - we just got lazy, and we didn't regret it. Other major attractions are easily reached by cab.

I should add that we didn't travel by train but did take a few long-distance bus trips. As for part of the time we were travelling with our China-resident daughters, who speak some Mandarin, we had only minor problems, but it would have been more frustrating otherwise.

My daughters, who've travelled extensively in China, advise that you always get your hotel or hostel to book your travel. Armed with tickets, the worst that will happen as a rule will be that you'll have to engage in a little sign language to board your train or bus. Just about any 3*-and-up hotel will have someone with reasonable English.

The more pre-reading and planning you do, within reason, the better. You could start with a good travel guide, and also use the search function on this forum to research particular destinations and topics.
Neil_Oz is offline  
Feb 8th, 2006, 03:01 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 1,638
Train travel is a lot of fun, in China.

There is an excellent rail service from Hong Kong to Shanghai & Beijing. Easy to buy tickets at Hung Hom station, or from an agent on the net, board the train & off you go. The cabins are comfy, we travelled soft sleeper with just us two in our own compartment, no-one spoke English on our train so we just improvised & had a ball!

If you're resourceful & have some common sense it's easy to travel in China independently. If you want your hand held, then hire a travel agent.
Have fun!
Lyndie is offline  
Feb 8th, 2006, 03:27 PM
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 246
when paying for a sleeper make sure its a soft sleeper. Let me say that again .. make sure its a soft sleeper. just because they say yes doesn't mean your getting one. It could just mean that they didn;t understand the request properly and said yes because, well because.

Tour guides are good for a laugh (i'm skeptical about the truth of what I hear at times).

I paid 70 yuan for one at terracotta warriors lest year and sure i got value for my money (its not much money) but ultimately be aware that they will try to encourage you top spend a lot more on souvies that you didn't plan on buying.

generally you don't need a guide but hey they don't cost much and nor does a driver.
bhuty is offline  
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