Planning a holiday to China isn’t just about choosing the best dim sum restaurant and getting excited about seeing pandas in the flesh…or is it? This handy guide includes all essential China travel advice and information in one place, so you can focus less on researching which currency to bring and more on which of China’s ancient sights, bucolic villages and Shanghai rooftop bars take your fancy.

Time difference

China’s time zone is GMT+8, meaning it’s eight hours ahead of the UK, and seven hours ahead of the UK when we’re on British Summer Time.


China’s official currency is Renminbi (¥‎), one of the world’s most traded currencies, which also goes by the name of Chinese Yuan (CNY). This is the currency for mainland China, but in Hong Kong you will need Hong Kong Dollars, and in Macau the currency is Macanese Pataca. Credit cards aren’t always accepted outside major cities, and you might struggle to find ATMs in rural areas, so bring plenty of cash. Avoid exchanging money with currency traders outside banks – this is illegal. 

Electricity and plugs

The voltage in China is more or less the same as in the UK, so your electrical appliances should work fine without a voltage converter. There are two main plug types in China: types A and I. The type A plug will also take type C plugs (the type commonly used in Europe). Remember that Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macau have their own plug types, so make sure to buy the right adaptor depending on where you’re going.

Local amenities

Most businesses are open Monday to Friday from 8am to 5pm or 6pm, with a break over lunch for a siesta. Shops open every day at around 9am and don’t close until at least 8pm. Depending on the size of the city, some don’t close until 10.30pm. Restaurants are open until at least 10pm, but in major cities many are open late into the night or even 24 hours.


The mass media in China are no longer exclusively state run, but they do have to follow certain guidelines set by regulatory agencies. The internet is under the direct supervision of the Chinese government and ruling party, so you won’t be able to access many online English news websites. BBC programmes are no longer available in China, but China Radio International broadcasts national and world news, current affairs and music programmes in English on 846 AM. There are several English daily newspapers on offer: China Daily, Shenzhen Daily and Beijing Today. There are also over 2,000 TV channels, but only one local English language channel run by Chinese Central Television (CCTV). Depending on where you’re staying, you may be able to access international channels such as CNN.


Post offices are open Monday to Saturday from 9am to 5pm, and you can usually find a post office in your hotel. If you want to send postcards about your fabulous holiday to friends and family, consider bringing a small glue stick, as Chinese stamps don’t stick very well. It should take between three and ten days for your letter to reach home.


To call the UK from China, dial 00 44 before dialling the regular number (without the initial 0). Because of the high cost of calling abroad, you might prefer to use internet apps to reach your loved ones such as Zoom, Skype and Facetime (WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger are not available). Alternatively, you can purchase a Chinese SIM card, but bear in mind that you will need to complete proof of identification with your passport to do this.


Internet connection is good in most of China’s major cities, and free WiFi is available in hotels as well as many restaurants and cafés. Some WiFi connections require you to have a Chinese SIM card, so you might want to consider purchasing one for ease of using the internet. As you might expect, in smaller towns and rural areas it’s more difficult to find WiFi. Parts of China have 5G, and the majority of the country has strong 4G coverage. Websites like Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and WhatsApp are all banned by the authorities, and can only be accessed using a VPN.

Mobile Phone Coverage

China has some of the best mobile phone coverage in the world, so you shouldn’t run into any problems getting signal for calls and texts.

Contact one of our China specialists