Mandarin is the official language of China and is spoken by most of its population. While most hotels in the country employ staff who are fluent in other languages, visitors cannot count on communicating in English with people they meet outside of tourist facilities. It’s advisable to have addresses or instructions written down in Chinese to show to taxi drivers. All major streets have signposts in pinyin (the Romanisation system for Chinese characters), which make it easier to get around with the help of a map.
Many people in China, especially young people, study English and welcome the opportunity to practise with foreigners. Don't be afraid to ask for directions in English from people on the street. You’ll usually be rewarded with a polite and often heroic attempt to help.
Visas to Mainland China
Most foreign nationals require a visa to enter Mainland China. Visas should be obtained from the Embassy or Consulate General of the People's Republic of China in the applicant’s country before departing to Mainland China. A standard China tourist visa is good for sightseeing and visiting friends and relatives, and can be obtained for a single entry, double entries or multiple entries. Other visas such as business visas or working visas are also available. For details, please contact your nearest Chinese embassy or consulate.
144-hour Convenient Visa to the Pearl River Delta, Guangdong Province
Foreign nationals in Hong Kong can visit China’s Guangdong province for a maximum of 144 hours (six days) via entry ports in Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Foshan, Dongguan, Zhongshan, Jiangmen, Zhaoqing, Huizhou and Shantou using the 144-hour Convenient Visa.
To be eligible for the 144-hour Convenient Visa, visitors:
- Must join a tour organised by a registered Hong Kong travel agent.
- Must travel in a group consisting of a minimum of two persons and a maximum of 40 persons.
- Can have a choice of ports of entry or exit in Guangdong province.
- Must enter and leave the areas together in their group via the ports of entry stated above.
At the ports of entry and exit in Guangdong province, immigration officers will examine passports and the list of names in the group. Group members will not need to fill in any immigration cards for passport stamping.
The above policy is applicable to ordinary passport holders of nations with diplomatic relations with China.
You may contact your hotel concierge or tour operator in Hong Kong to find out about the application procedure and related service charges.
Hainan province - visa-free policy for 26 countries
Visitors from 26 countries can enjoy visa-free access to China’s Hainan province upon meeting certain conditions. Citizens of Japan, Malaysia, the USA, Singapore, Thailand, the UK, Canada, France, Australia, Indonesia, Sweden, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland, Austria, the Philippines, New Zealand, Finland, Denmark, Norway, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan, can enjoy 15-day stays visa-free when travelling in groups of five or more people. The minimum size requirement of tour groups from Russia, the Republic of Korea and Germany is two people, while the maximum duration of stay for citizens of these three countries is up to 21 days. (Information last updated on 12 August 2010.)
Visas to Macau
Visitors to Macau Special Administrative Region are required to possess a valid passport and entry permit or visa for entry. Nationals of 68 countries and regions are exempted in accordance with the written instruction of the chief executive of Macau. Please see further details here.
Visitors entering Mainland China must follow the regulations of the General Administration of Customs of the People’s Republic of China. For details, please check the China National Tourism Administration website.
There is a whole host of transport options connecting Hong Kong to Mainland China and Macau.
There are frequent daily flights between Hong Kong and major cities in Mainland China. Please check with your local airline for details, or you can find contact information for multiple airlines by using our search service.
The MTR runs regular through-train intercity services to Mainland China’s Guangdong province, as well as Beijing and Shanghai. The through-train terminus is Hung Hom Station in Kowloon, where travellers pass through Hong Kong immigration control.
There are fast ferries to and from Macau and destinations along the coast of Mainland China. These services operate from the Hong Kong–Macau Ferry Terminal in Sheung Wan on Hong Kong Island; the China ferry terminal in Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon.
Ferry services to and from Macau are provided by:
Ferry services to and from Mainland China are provided by:
China’s enormous size means vast differences in regional climates. Be prepared for your trip by checking out the weather forecast for Mainland Chinese cities before you depart.
The currency in China is the Renminbi (RMB), the primary unit of which is the yuan. The smaller units are the jiao and the fen. 1 yuan is equivalent to 10 jiao and 1 jiao equals 10 fen.
The banknotes available are 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 yuan; and 1 and 5 jiao. Coins available are 1 yuan; and 1 and 5 jiao.
Power and electricity
The standard electrical voltage in Mainland China is 220 volts AC, 50Hz, so you will need an adaptor for 100-volt appliances.
The whole of China is set at GMT/UTC plus eight hours. The country does not observe daylight saving time.