“Travel Light” is the best advice we can give you. Baggage is at owner’s risk throughout. While traveling on domestically within China without international connecting flight, you will be allowed only 20 kilograms (44 pounds) of checked luggage. Carryon bags are restricted to one person with a combined total dimension not exceeding 45 inches. Internationally you will have two piece of checked luggage allowance per person weighing up to 50 pounds per piece. Excess baggage charge and insurance is at the owner’s responsibility. Hence, you might want to do your souvenir shopping around the end of your trip.
Baggage allowance and charges are subject to change. We strongly recommend baggage issuance as China Travel Service (U.S.A.) does not assume any responsibility for loss or damage to baggage or passenger’s belongings.
We suggest that you dress casually and comfortably throughout your trip. There are no occasions where you will be required to wear formal clothing on your tour. Comfortable and reliable walking shoes are a must to enjoy the sightseeing tours. A collapsible umbrella or raincoat is also advisable although you can purchase these items in China as well.
The electricity in mainland China is 220V, 50HZ while Hong Kong is 200V/220V and Taiwan is 110V. Over 30 countries including Japan and those in North America use a voltage of 110V~130V. If you are from one of those countries, you will need a voltage converter to operate your devices that do not accept 220 Volts at 50 Hertz.
There are three main types of voltage converter: Resistor-network converters, transformer, and a combo converter that includes both. Resistor-network converters support high-wattage appliances like hair dryers and irons (somewhere in the range of 50-1600 Watts). But they can only be used for short periods of time and are not ideal for digital devices.
Transformers have a much lower maximum Watt rating, usually 50 or 100 Watts. They can be bought in China for about 100-200 Yuan. Transformers can better for low-wattage devices like battery chargers, laptop computers, cameras and camcorders, and other small devices. However, they are heavy because of large iron rods and lots of copper wire inside it.
The resistor network and transformer combo usually come with a switch that switches between the two modes. If you absolutely need to operate both high-wattage appliances and low-wattage devices, this is the type to buy.
In addition, the plug shapes, plug holes, plug sizes and sockets you are used to in your country may be different from those in China. Refer to Electricity around the world for a complete list of voltage, frequency, and plug/socket specs for different countries. China uses A, I, G types of plug/socket.
Some shopping tips: make sure you keep receipts and try to hang on to the bag from the shop where you bought each item in case you need to return it. When returning something, be as firm as possible, as perseverance often pays off. If returning clothes, the sales tags should still be affixed. Exchanging items is easier than getting a refund.
Note that sales staffs are highly hands-on in China and will rarely leave you alone to browse.
Since foreigners are often overcharged in China, bargaining is essential. You can bargain (jidngjia) in shops, markets and hotels, but there is usually no latitude for bargaining in large shops and department stores where prices are clearly marked. Bargaining is expected in small shops and street stalls.
There is one important rule to follow when bargaining: be polite. Your goal should be to pay the Chinese price, as opposed to the foreigners' price. Keep in mind that entrepreneurs are in business to make money - they aren't going to sell anything at a loss.
There are very few antiques of real worth left in China, apart from those that remain sealed in tombs or temples, or are in private hands or museums. Most of the antiques you'll find in markets and shops are replicas. The quality of replication technology can be quite dazzling, but that Qing yellow bowl in your hands is far more likely to be a Hu Jintao-era imitation.
Only antiques that have been cleared for sale to foreigners are permitted to be taken out of the country. When you buy an item over 100 years old it will come with an official red wax seal attached. Bear in mind, however, that this seal does not necessarily indicate that the item is a genuine antique. You'll get a receipt of sale; if you don't show this to customs when you leave the country, customs will confiscate the antique. See p944 for further information.
Paintings & Scrolls
Watercolours, oils, woodblock prints, callig-raphy - there is a lot of art for sale in China. Tourist centres like Guilin, Suzhou, Beijing and Shanghai are good places to look out for paintings. Convincing imitation oils of Ningbo-born artist Chen Yifei (who died in 2005) can be found everywhere, along with copies of other contemporary artists. Don't buy these from hotel shops, however, as you will be massively ripped off.
Much calligraphy is very so-so and some is downright bad; you will have to know your subject, and don't take anybody's word for the quality of the brushwork.
Where to Shop
The place to really get to grips with local rock-bottom prices is the local markets. In street markets, all sales are final; forget about warranties. Bargain hard.
Hotel gift shops should be avoided, ex-cept for newspapers, magazines or books. Don't ever buy paintings or antiques from such shops.
It's sensible to save your shopping for im-ported electronic consumer items for Hong Kong and Macau - import duties are still high in the rest of China.
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