Wan-Da Tour

...providing quality tours since 1997 for the young at heart and adventurous of spirit

Call T/F 888 369 2632

 

DESTINATIONS

 

INFORMATION

 

General Tour Information China and Tibet
Please always bear in mind travel takes people into new and unusual situations, so don’t expect things to be the same as home. In China you will find the way of life, points of view and patterns of conduct differ somewhat from what you may be used to. We hope you can enjoy this diversity, because that’s what travel is all about!

Clothing and Dress
Dress for comfort. Comfortable shoes are essential. Formal dress is not required, but there may be occasions when you’d like to dress up a bit, so pack one good outfit. Bring along a swimsuit as many hotels we use have swimming pools. Your clothing will depend on the season, of course, but try not to overpack.

Food
Chinese food is one aspect of Chinese culture that invariably brings raves from foreign visitors. Every region offers its own style and tastes. Rice accompanies most meals; potatoes are treated as just another vegetable. Breakfasts are buffet style with Chinese and Western menu choices. There are usually six to eight hot and cold dishes at lunches and dinners. Soup is served at the end of the meal in North China; at the beginning of the meal in South China. One drink of beer, soft drink or tea is customarily provided. Be warned Chinese bai jiu or white wine is very strong; a little goes a long way. As a standard precaution, don’t drink untreated, unboiled water or eat unwashed vegetables or fruits. Do use extreme caution with street foods.
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Water warning
Tap water should not be drunk, unless it has been boiled or treated. The hotels provide thermoses of hot water in the rooms. You can use this source without worry either for tea, or by uncapping overnight, as drinking water for daytime use. Bottled water is available everywhere, but purchase only from reputable dealers. Be wary if someone offers you bottled water or bottled orange soda for a low, low price; it could be counterfeit and unsafe to drink.

Shopping
China is famous for its silk and embroideries, tea, porcelain, lacquerware, cloisonné, pottery, carpets, cashmere, stone carvings, jade, arts and crafts, herbs and natural medicines. The large government stores, department stores and factory outlets generally sell at a fixed price. In the free markets and smaller shops you’ll be able to test your bargaining skills. Always bear in mind, though, you generally get precisely what you pay for. Top

Hotels
We strive to select hotels that are centrally located and well positioned for travelers to get the most out of their stay. Most of the hotels are 5-star or 4-star, although there may be instances when this standard is not met, especially when visiting smaller, out-of-the-way places that do not have high-quality accommodations available. All accommodations are two-sharing, unless we advise otherwise. Room upgrades may be arranged on an as-available basis. Contact us for details.
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Laundry
Practically all hotels provide laundry services. Irons are available, as well, either in your room or through hotel housekeeping.
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Reading sources
The number of books on China has been increasing exponentially in recent years. There was a time when a handful of references would suffice; today the choices are boundless. When choosing a book on China, look at the date when it was first published. To get current conditions you'll need timely publications. We have a book list available for registered guests. We welcome all recommendations. Here are some suggestions for travel guides: A favorite is the Lonely Planet series China, A Survival Kit. Packed with information, maps, photos and useful tips, this guide provides some of the most entertaining passages you're likely to come across on what's to see and do in China. While it is geared more for the individual traveler, group members can benefit from perusing the sections on the places where our tours go. Another excellent guide about the same size and shape is Rough Guide's China. The China Guidebook by Fredric M. Kaplan is a comprehensive repository of information. Fodor's appeals more to upscale travelers. But the definitive guide on China is Nagel, a mini encyclopedia translated from the French original. It's excellent, although it comes in a weird size, sort of like a three-inch thick pocketbook, but that's its only off-putting feature.
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Health
No vaccinations or inoculations are required, but consult with your physician if you have any concerns. Hepatitis A and B are generally recommended. If you decide to have these shots, give yourself plenty of time in case you have a reaction. Western medicines are available in China, but for your own convenience bring along a supply of basic medicines you may need. Many hotels have fitness centres and health parlors, providing massage, sauna and even acupuncture treatment. Most have doctors on call if not resident in the hotel. The best way to prevent catching a disease is good hygiene practice. Wash hands frequently, bring along some antiseptic wipes. Don't bring the liquid soap as it may be seized by airline authorities if packed in your carry-on. For up-to-date information visit Health Canada or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States. Top

Toilets
Commonly the biggest dread first-time travelers have of China is dealing with Asian toilets. This used to be well founded, but with the development of tourism in China in recent years, and the country's massive modernizations, this is no longer the case. Western-style facilities are the norm in all the hotels we use, and are found at just about all the sites we visit, too. Seasoned travelers realize that no matter where you go in the world you may have to deal with unpleasant situations. This is as true in taking a trip across North America as it is across China or Indochina or Africa. It's a good practice to pack tissues and sanitary wipes when you go on any outing.
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Jet lag/Dealing with long flights
Everyone deals with long flights in their own way but here are some tips to make it easier on yourself. Cut back caffeine and alcohol, drink lots of liquids, and rest as much as you can. Try to avoid sleep on the outbound flight across the Pacific. The reason for this is the flight departs around noon to 1 pm, arriving in China 11 hours later. This is normally a period of wakefulness so sleep may affect the body rhythm or circadian cycle. Make it an early night for the first night, and you should be right to go the next day. On the flight home, the departure is late afternoon, so you should try to sleep on that flight as best you can. Melatonin works for some people, but not all.
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High Altitude
Several tours, notably those to Tibet and Western Yunnan, take travelers above 10,000 feet elevation, where some discomfort may be experienced as the body adjusts to the more rarefied atmosphere. Usually the discomfort passes in a day or two and is not a serious hindrance. Travelers can make it easier on themselves by avoiding strenuous activity, drinking lots of liquids to keep the body well hydrated and curtailing consumption of alcoholic beverages. Some medicines and folk remedies like drinking hot ginger spiced tea may help but there is no panacea. If you have worries, talk to your doctor.
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Money matters
The currency is called renminbi (RMB). The unit of exchange is the yuan.  There are 10 mao in one yuan and 10 fen in one mao. Think of the mao as a dime and the fen as a penny. Foreign currencies are readily converted at banks and designated hotels, shops and at airports. Travelers’ cheques earn a slightly better return than cash in China. Canadian travelers’ cheques are accepted, so there is no need for Canadians to convert their money into American dollars. Keep your exchange receipts; you’ll need them when you leave to convert Chinese currency back into dollars. Major credit cards are accepted at most hotels and designated restaurants and shops. IBMs are found in the larger cities, but be aware you’ll be charged a premium by the bank or credit card should you use them. For current rates go to http://www.xe.com/ucc
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Measurement
China uses the metric system. The standard weight is called a jin; it is divided into 10 liang.  Two jin equal one kilogram or 2.2 pounds. Top

Electricity
Electricity in China is 220 volts, 50 cycles. Hotels have outlets for electric razors. If you bring small appliances or a computer you’ll need a converter kit and international plug set, which can be obtained at most travel shops or electronic stores. Most hotels have hair dyers, irons and special outlets for computers in the room.
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Postal System
While postal services worldwide have suffered greatly with the advent of email, China still retains a vast postal network and offers wonderful stamps for collectors. Philately is big business. When Chinese write the address on the envelope, they do everything backwards from the West, putting the name of the country first, then city, then district, street address, and finally the name of the recipient at the bottom. A collection of stamps makes an interesting souvenir.
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Language
The language of China is Mandarin, not Cantonese. While the writing is the same, the words are pronounced very differently. Your tour guide will help you learn some words or phrases. The standard greeting is Ni Hao (knee how), which translates as You, Good, and means Hello. Thank you is Xie Xie (shay-shay). Beer is pi jiu (pee Jioe). Don’t be shy about trying the speak a few words. You’re guaranteed to draw some laughs, but you’ll also make some friends in the process.
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Security
Illegal drugs or politically or sexually explicit material are strictly taboo. Be guarded against prostitution; the consequences can be severe and can lead to expulsion form the country. Take standard precautions to protect your belongings, especially when you are out shopping. Lock your luggage. Don’t change money on the street, no matter how tempting the deal may seem. Leave you passport, air ticket and money in a safe in your room or in the hotel’s security box.
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Restricted articles
You may bring into China the following without being charged duty: 400 cigarettes, 100 cigars, 500 grams tobacco, or 2 bottles liquor (less than 1.5 litres)
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Luggage
Your suitcase  should not exceed 62 inches (sum of height, width and length), or weigh more than 44 pounds (20 kilos). And your carry-on should not weigh more than 5 kilos or exceed 22 inches by 14 inches by nine inches in size. You are allowed two check-in pieces of luggage on international flights, but only one on China’s domestic flights. The weight and number are strictly adhered to. If you are over the limit you may have to pay a surcharge. Please note that while we provide baggage handling as much as we can, there may be instances when porter services are not available. For that reason do make sure you are able to carry your bag for short distances.
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Tipping
Tipping is part of travel no matter where you go. Service providers depend on the income to support themselves and their families, so it is important not to overlook the accepted practice. We recommend you budget $8 per day for guides and drivers. If a Yangtze cruise is part of your tour, budget an additional $25 for the ship's crew. We collect the tips in group-tour situations, and the tour manager then makes the disbursements as required. Very small groups and independent travelers will have to do this on their own. We'll provide guidelines. The tour manager tip is separate from any others. The normal per diem tip in his or her case is $3 to $5 per day.
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For Reservations contact Wan-Da Tour at 888.369 2632 or email us at wanda@pacificcoast.net
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Wan-Da Tour, 3346 Haida Drive, Victoria, BC CANADA V9C 3P1 TEL: 888-369 2632 or 250 384 0858