Clothes and climate
Beijing has a dry climate, especially in the summer, when the days can range from mild to very hot. Chinese dress is informal even for business, so don’t hesitate to wear light, simple clothes. Many Chinese women carry an umbrella for shade. In Winter, you will need to dress for freezing temperatures, with coat, hat and gloves. Some people may require skin moisturiser.
Dates and times
China uses the same dates and clock as most other countries. Dates are usually written in year, month and day order. 14年12月10日is the 10th of December 2014. Time is often but not always written in 24 hour format. China has one time zone, eight hours ahead of Greenwich, London. There are no summertime adjustments.
China’s electricity network provides a 50Hz 220V AC power supply. Most power outlets are designed to accept a variety of plugs. Some North American and Japanese appliances will not work at this standard voltage.
The country code for China is 86. Dial two zeros and your country code to make an international call.
Tipping is not common in Beijing and it is not expected even in hotels, taxis or in restaurants.
Both within and outside hotels, you will find mostly full-service laundries that charge per item. The service has high quality standards and will wrap everything in plastic, but expect to pay more than 100 RMB for a light load. Make sure to check your clothes will be ready for pick up the next day.
In China, motor vehicles drive on the right side of the road, but on quiet streets and at intersections they can appear from surprising directions, so keep looking around you when crossing the road. Vehicles rarely stop for pedestrians, even at zebra crossings. At every intersection, vehicles will seem to ignore both red lights and green walking signals to turn right, even when pedestrians are trying to cross.
Fortunately, pedestrian bridges and tunnels are commonplace across Beijing and many major intersections have interconnecting subway tunnels. Whenever they are available these are your best choice to cross the road. But if they are not available, take your cues from other pedestrians and stick with a group. Exercise patience and carefully take into account all the activity on the intersection before proceeding to cross.
Trips and falls
Although most of Beijing’s footpaths are well maintained, they often have unexpected steps, drainage holes and uneven pavement stones. Lift your feet when you walk and keep an eye on your path. Construction zones are often unfenced or unmarked. Keep an eye out for workers and equipment and give these zones a wide birth.
If you find yourself in a crowded street, go along with the crowd and focus on your patience. If you’re bumped, it is unintended with no chance to say sorry.
Beijing’s water supply is theoretically safe to drink but has an unpleasant taste and is not recommended. Most Beijingers drink bottled water and it’s common to be served hot water in restaurants, hotels and cafes.
Chinese restaurants vary from 5-star service to simple street food. At the lower end, there is a risk of digestive problems. The Beijing government gives restaurants cleanliness grades using an A to D rating system. When choosing a restaurant, look for an A or B rating. Avoid lower rated, unrated and street food vendors.
You will notice a strong police and security service presence throughout the city and this serves to deter most serious crimes. Unfortunately like all populous cities, petty crimes may occur in tourist areas.
All crime should be reported to the Police. Ideally, obtain the co-operation of your hotel or a Mandarin-speaking guide or friend. If you cannot obtain personal help, the Police emergency number is 110 and they have translators on standby. If your passport is taken, you must also contact your local embassy and cancel immediate travel plans.
In tourist areas, you are likely to be approached by scam artists. These are often young women who will approach you on some pretext such as wanting to practice English. You will be asked some questions about your visit to Beijing to determine whether you make a suitable target. There is no need to be completely aloof. Some innocent Chinese visiting the capital may also be curious to talk to an international tourist.
If a scammer does win your trust, they will try to invite you to a teahouse or bar and begin chatting, flirting and consuming tea or wine. The scam occurs when an exorbitant bill arrives. This part of the scam can be easily avoided by choosing a brand-name cafe to talk. Genuine Chinese are friendly but will never insist on taking you to a back-alley room. Nor would they expect a foreign visitor to pay for them.
If you are scammed, contact the Police. Be patient and co-operative and you are likely to have your money returned.
Drugs and prostitutes are known to be present in some disreputable clubs and these activities are strictly prohibited in China. Keep an eye out for trouble, drink responsibly and keep your patience. You can avoid the problem spots and move on to another scene.
The vast majority of bars and clubs in Beijing are reputable and provide quality services at reasonable prices. Nevertheless, in some student areas, authorities report cases of cheap cocktails made with poor quality alcohol not fit for consumption.
Avoid cocktails and mixed drinks at very low prices. Reputable outlets will sell cocktails for at least 40 RMB. It’s a rule that could apply to many things, including 1 RMB bottles of water sold outside parks.
Violent crime is rare in China and it is common for visitors to remark how safe they feel, pretty much everywhere. Like any modern city, the time to watch out for violence is during the late hours around Beijing’s nightlife districts. Cultural miscommunication, aggressive bouncers and cheap alcohol may all combine to spoil your night. Some bars are overcrowded, and safety standards may not be enforced.
If you do experience any violence or assault you should report it to the Police, however you will likely need the co-operation of your hotel or a Mandarin-speaking friend. The Police have many women officers who can assist female victims of crime.
The Improbable Beijing Guidebook - Sing Travel
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Copyright. All Rights Reserved. Last Update 15-Feb-2019