This is blog post is written by our partners in China, Catherine Lu Tours, the BEST tour company in China.
Banking: China’s banking services and facilities are improving, but they are probably unlike what you are used to. Patience will go a long way to get what you need to accomplish. In some places you’ll need to stand in line; in others you take a number and wait to be called. Expect only limited service in English.
Exchanging Money: Sixteen currencies can be converted into RMB at the exchange rate quoted on the foreign exchange market for that day. Only the Bank of China, several outlets of which can be found at the Capital International Airport, can convert all of them. The highest amount once can cash out per day is USD 5,000. But it’s better to do so in small amounts, so as to avoid having to convert any RMB back to your original currency. When converting foreign currency into RMB at an authorized location, they will give you an exchange slip, which you should keep safe as you’ll have to show it should you change your RMB back to foreign currency. Many large hotels are also approved for currency exchange, but the service is often reserved for guests. Passport identification is compulsory for all currency conversions, so be sure to bring it with you.
Credit Cards: Credit cards are not as universally accepted in China as in the West. Major foreign credit cards likely to be accepted here are MasterCard, Visa, American Express, JCB and Diners. They can be used at most star hotels and some department stores. Paying by foreign credit card may entail a 4% service fee
ATMs: Beijing is quite an ATM-friendly city. Almost all banks have ATMs and many accept main foreign credit cards and bankcards connected to Cirrus, Plus, Amex, Visa and MasterCard. Check the logos posted at the ATM to see if it will accept your card. The top daily limit on withdrawals ranges RMB 3,000-5,000. Transaction fees will be deducted by your bank according to its exchange rate and policy prevailing at the time of transaction.
Good Manners and Bad Luck: Friendly, warm and pretty informal, Chinese people are usually easy to deal with. Sometimes though, cultural differences can give rise to difficulties. Keep in mind these taboos of which foreigners may be unaware: 1. If you need to use a toothpick after eating, cover your mouth with your other hand. Chinese people think it’s gross and impolite to reveal this activity to others 2. Most Chinese are very conservative and don’t go in for hugging, so stick to shaking hands when greeting to avoid giving offense. 3. Don’t tap your chopsticks on your bowl; not only is it an impolite sign of impatience, beggars do this in the street to attract attention. 4. Don’t plant your chopsticks into your rice bowl pointing straight upward, unless you want your fellow diners to think you wish them dead. Why? Because pairs of incense sticks are placed like this nest to graves. 5. Try not to let the spout of the teapot face anyone. It’s considered impolite to do this, so remember to point it toward an empty spot, or toward yourself. 6. The Chinese word “Clock” has the same pronunciation as the word for “death”, so don’t ever give a Chinese a clock, even if it’s a really nice one. 7. In China, “green hat” often refers to a man whose wife is cheating on him. In the unlikely event of you wanting to give your Chinese friend a hat, steer clear of green. 8. Don’t offer to share your pear. “分梨“ (share pear) sounds the same as “分离” （Parting), a sad occurrence to be avoided as much as possible. 9. The Chinese word for “8″ sounds similar to a word for prosperity, whilst the number “4″ shares the same sound as death. This is why people are willing to pay more for cell phone numbers and auto plates containing a lot of 8s and why most residential buildings don’t have a fourth or 14th floor.
Scams to Avoid:
Friendly students with an agenda. When walking in Wangfujing, and other shopping areas popular with foreigners, you may be approached by a local “student” who starts chatting with you. They will often speak very good English and even help you shop or show you around “just to practice English.” After a while comes the suggestion of a lovely tea house nearby to rest a bit. You’ll be served nice tea in a pleasant atmosphere and no one will mention the price until the bill comes. When it does arrive the amount will be ridiculous. Or they may bring you to an art gallery featuring works by their “art professor” or “fellow students” where you will be hit with a really hard-sell. Never eat, drink or buy anything without knowing the price first. Taxi scam. Jumping into a taxi from the airport, your driver may try to tell you that your hotel is pretty far and that the price will be high This kindly gent will offer to turn off his meter for an agreed upon “flat rate,” but you’ll probably wind up agreeing to more than twice the metered fare. Stay with the meter and keep the receipt ( automatically generated) in case you feel you have been taken advantage of.