Business Travel in China – Know More

The People’s Republic of China (PRC), known as China, has increasingly been engaging in the world’s economy. Businessmen from around the world travel to this land to trade and boost their business. Here are a few helpful tips for your business travel to China.

Accommodations

There are many hotels dotting all the major and minor cities of China, ranging from luxurious 5-star hotels to the budget hotels. A wide range of facilities are offered at these places of accommodation. Some of the hotels that you can stay at are:

• Beijing:

Ascott Hotel (5-Star)

Wangfujing Grand Hotel (5-Star)

China World Hotel (4-Star)

• Guangzhou:

Hotel Pullman Guangzhou Baiyun Airport (5-Star)

White Swan Hotel (4-Star)

Donlord International Hotel (3-Star)

• Shanghai:

Crowne Plaza Hotel Shanghai Pudong (5-Star)

Howard Johnson Plaza Hotel (4-Star)

Fairmont Peace Hotel (3-Star)

• Xian:

Grand Park Xian Hotel (4-Star)

Sheraton Xian Hotel (4-Star)

The amenities offered in these hotels in each room (3-Star and above) are:

• Central air-conditioning

• Television

• Refrigerator (especially in the 4- and 5-Star hotels)

• Private bathroom with round-the-clock hot water

• Towels, glasses, toothbrushes, toothpaste, bathing soap, shampoo, bath lotion, toilet paper

• Wardrobe with dressing table

• Ceiling and bedside lamps

• 24-hour room service

• Electrical water boiler (if one is not provided, you can request boiled water by room service)

• Business center (fax, Internet facility and telephone service is available)

• Western and Chinese restaurants, bars, coffee shops

• Conference rooms, banqueting halls, multi-function halls, ballrooms

• Beauty parlors, massage rooms

While staying in a hotel, there are a few things to take note of:

• Water: Do not drink tap water from the hotels, as it is not drinkable. An electrical water boiler will be provided for safe-drinking water. If one is not provided, you can request boiled water by room service. Bottled water is also available and can be bought for $0.25 to $0.75 per bottle. Steamed or mineral water is also easily available.

• Laundry Service: Laundry bags are provided in hotel rooms. Clothes given for washing in the morning are usually returned the next day. However, if you need them immediately, extra charge may be incurred. Public laundries are available on the streets.

• Mail Service: Sending mail from your hotel is convenient. Stamps are available at the front desk. To send a postcard, stamps of amount RMB 4.50 to 6 will be needed. For a normal weight letter, stamps worth RMB 6 to 7 are required. You can leave your letters or postcards at reception, who will give them to the postman.

• Electric Current: 220 volt/50 cycles are used throughout the country. So, if your electrical appliances require to be operated at 110 volts, you will need a Converter. Most hotels provide two- and three-phase sockets. You may have to use an adapter as well. If you don’t have one, ask the housekeeper for one.

Communication: Cell Phone, Phone Cards & Long Distance Calling, Internet Access

While on your business tour, it will be necessary to keep in touch with business partners and colleagues back home. In this fast-moving world, staying connected is an easy task. From cell phones and phone cards to the Internet, there are ample options to select from.

• Phone Cards And Long Distance Calling: Most hotels provide the facility of IDD (International Direct Dialing) from the room itself and from phone cards from the post office located in the hotel. Besides this, phone cards, IC and IP being the most popular, are available in newsstands. These cards are available in only particular provinces, so it is recommended that you check that the card has not expired.

IC cards: IC telephones allow you to call home instantly. International calls can be made from IC telephone cards (a product of China Telecom). These cards are quite expensive and are available for more than 10 RMB/M. When purchasing an IC card, you need to use a telephone, which can be found either at a public booth, hotel, airport or restaurant. The card needs to be inserted into the phone. Once inserted, you need to follow the vocal instructions.

IP cards: Companies like China Netcom, China Unicom, China Jitong and China Telecom issue these cards. Calling rates differ from company to company. China Unicom charges an amount of 1.5 RMB/M for calls made to Macau, Hong Kong and Taiwan, 2.6 RMB/M to Canada and America and 3.6 RMB/M to the rest of the world. The other telecom service providers either charge more or less than China Unicom. To make a call, you can use the telephone in your hotel, though a charge might be issued for using the phone.

Country codes: Listed below are codes for some countries.

USA and Canada: 1

UK: 44

Australia: 61

Austria: 43

Switzerland: 41

Hong Kong: 852

Italy: 39

Holland: 31

New Zealand: 64

Making a call: To make an international call, dial the following:

00+country code + regional code + telephone number

• Cell Phones: Both GSM and CDMA networks operate in China, run by China Mobile and China Unicom, respectively. So, you can use either a dual- or tri-band cell phone, or simply use a COSMOTE card. If however, you want to cut costs, you can purchase a GSM SIM card.

You have two options to choose from: Shenzhouxing and Ruyitong, issued by China Mobile and China Unicom, respectively. These are prepaid connections, so there is no need to provide any kind of documents. Charging cards of 50 RMB and 100 RMB are available in newsstands, post offices and stores.

• Internet Access: Some hotels provide Internet access in the rooms, as well as their business center. So staying connected is easy. The other option is visiting a cyber café.

Transportation: Airways, Trains, Taxis, Coaches

Taking your business to the corners of China requires immense travel. There are ample options for transportation to get around the country. From airways and trains to taxis and coaches, China has it all.

• Coach: Coaches are available aplenty. They are clean, air-conditioned and comfortable. The drivers are well-experienced, so you can be assured of a safe journey.

• Train: The best way to experience China and view the countryside is to travel by train. The berths are comfortable for travel. Choose the “soft seats” for traveling short distances and “soft sleepers” for long-distance travel.

The soft sleeper cars comprise four-berths: two upper and two lower berths. Complete bedding is provided. In every soft sleeper car there is a public washroom, though a shower is not available. It is recommended that you carry your own toiletries like face towel, face wash, soap, and toilet paper, among others. A thermos bottle containing hot water is provided to every passenger.

Ensure to book your train ticket 10 days prior to your departure. Getting a ticket, especially during the holidays, can be quite difficult.

Once you have boarded the train, make sure that your ticket is kept safely, because you will need to show it to the ticket-checker on board, as well as at the station of your destination. The conductor will replace your ticket with a “magcard” so as to inform you of your arrival. Ensure to change it back to your ticket on your arrival.

In terms of dining, you can either eat at the dining car, which is adjacent to the soft sleeper car, or simply purchase a boxed meal that is carried in a trolley during meal times and costs approximately USD $2-3 per meal. Chinese cuisine is usually on the menu.

• Taxi: There are innumerable taxis available to take you around, especially if you want to tour the cities on your own. Taxis are brightly colored in yellow, red or green. The fares vary from one city to another, but whichever the city, ensure that the taximeter is being used. This avoids you from getting cheated. Rates of the taxi are usually marked on the window.

In Shanghai, the four prominent taxi companies are Blue’ish Turquoise, Taxis, Blue and Oro Blanco. Besides, after 11 pm, taxi drivers tend to charge more. If your bargaining skills are good, you can ask for a 20% discount, which ultimately ensures that you are paying at the same rate, that is, the amount that is charged before 11 pm.

Take note of the name of the taxi driver and his registration number, which are displayed in the taxi. Also, do not forget to take a receipt as it contains the details of your trip. This receipt allows you to call the taxi company, if you have left your belongings in the taxi, or you need its services again.

The drivers do not speak in English, so make sure that you either have your destination written in Chinese or carry a guide that translates English to Chinese.

• Airway: Traveling by air from one city to another is quick and less exhaustive. Some of the airlines that are operative are China Eastern Airlines, Dragon Air, Air China, Hainan Airlines and China Southern Airlines.