Language:

Mandarin

Passport and Visas:

• UK and Irish passport holders need a visa to travel to China.
• You can get your visa from Kuoni’s Visa Travel Service – make sure you apply for it at least six weeks before you’re travelling - or direct from the Chinese Embassy (call 0891 880 808).

Events & Festivals:

January
Laba Festival
Join the crowds at Yonghegong Lama Temple to celebrate the start of the lunar new year, tucking into steaming bowls of ‘lucky porridge’ given out by the temple’s lamas to mark the occasion.

February
Chinese New Year
Enjoy the celebrations in Beijing, with fireworks and vibrant dragon dances.

April
Art Beijing and Photo Beijing
These artistic fairs showcase pieces from galleries all over the world.

May
International Labour Day
Get up early and head to Tiananmen Square for the flag-raising ceremony.

Midi Music Festival
Join the crowds in Haidian Park to see performances from guitar, electronic, jazz and rap artists.

June
Dragon Boat Festival
Remembering the death of ancient poet Qu Yuan, try zongzi (rice dumplings wrapped in bamboo) and watch dragon boats race on lakes.

Beijing Park Festival
During this three-month festival, the stages of Beijing’s parks come alive with traditional dancers, music using classical Chinese instruments and other cultural performances.

August
Beijing 798 Biennale
During this three-month event, contemporary artists showcase their work.

September
Beijing Fringe Festival
Watch performances including plays and concerts in theatres across Beijing.

November
International Student Film & Video Festival
Head to Beijing Film Academy’s campus during this week-long event to see films, documentaries and cartoons created by students from across the globe.

Eating / Drinking:

Food
• Hotels usually serve western-style breakfast, a Chinese table d’hôte lunch and dinner.
• Western-style food is rarely available in local restaurants. You’ll usually be seated at a large, round table seating up to 10 people, and knives and forks are rarely provided.
• Vegetarians beware - ‘vegetarian’ dishes can be cooked in meat juices.

Drink
• Avoid tap water and ice – stick to bottled water.

Shopping:

• Browse department stores and small shops selling souvenirs and clothes.
• Friendship shops sell goods including silk fabric, handicrafts, clothing and electrical goods.
• Barter for handicrafts and wicker goods at the free markets, and clothes from street traders.
• When buying antiques, make sure they sport the shop’s official red seal or you may run into problems when leaving the country.

Good to know:

Dialling code
+86 10

Religion
Buddhism, Taoism, Islam and Christianity

Tipping:

Tipping is officially discouraged – even frowned upon. However, it’s becoming more readily accepted in top hotels and restaurants, and is even expected by Chinese guides and bus drivers on tours.

Museums:

Beijing is home to over 100 fascinating museums. Wander around intricate exhibits and art galleries to discover the city’s culture and history.

Religion:

Buddhism, Taoism, Islam and Christianity