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 the Mainland
Most foreign nationals require a visa to enter the Mainland. 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 the Mainland. 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 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:
*Travellers must enter and exit via the same port.
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, and subject to change without prior notice.
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
Group as well as individual travellers from the following 59 countries can enjoy visa-free 30-day access to China’s Hainan province upon registering passport details and round-trip flight ticket information with a Hainan travel agency 48 hours before arrival: Albania, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Brunei, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Holland, Hungary, Iceland, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malta, Malaysia, Mexico, Monaco, Montenegro, New Zealand, Norway, the Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Ukraine, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
See details here.
Visitors to Macao Special Administrative Region are required to possess a valid passport and entry permit or visa for entry. Nationals of 76 countries and regions are exempted in accordance with the written instruction of the chief executive of Macao. Please see further details here.
Visitors entering the Mainland 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 the Mainland and Macao.
There are frequent daily flights between Hong Kong and major cities in the Mainland. 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 high speed rail services to the Mainland, connecting Hong Kong to 58 Mainland stations without interchange. Travellers clear both Hong Kong and China immigration at Hong Kong West Kowloon Station. Other than high speed rail, the MTR also runs through-train intercity services to Beijing, Shanghai and Guangdong. The through-train terminus is Hung Hom Station in Kowloon, where travellers pass through Hong Kong immigration.
There are fast ferries to and from Macao and destinations along the coast of the Mainland. 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 and Tuen Mun Ferry Terminal in New Territories.
Ferry services to and from Macao are provided by:
Ferry services to and from the Mainland are provided by:
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.
The standard electrical voltage in the Mainland 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.