Educating Yourself on the Currency and Culture of China Ahead of Your Trip

Rick GarsonPrior to venturing to the highly-populated land of the People’s Republic of China, or simply China, there are some things you should know. For one, China saw a period of rapid growth during the 1970s, which lead to modernization, western amenities, and an influx visitors ARE drawn to the subtropical forests, forest steppes, deserts, and mountain ranges. China is an incredible destination, with an undivided opportunity to jet-setters –just be prepared for the visit.

For one, when using money in China, understand that cash is preferred. While a growing number of businesses in the area, particularly high-end restaurants and hotel chains, accept Mastercard, Visa, and Union Pay. China’s official currency, the yuan (also known as RMB or ‘quai’) is the only recognized currency in the nation. The yuan notes are available for 1RMB, 10RMB, 20RMB, 50RMB, and 100RMB –also the 1RMB is available in the coin form. Chinese business will not accept foreign currency, this rule also applies even to the Hong Kong and U.S. dollar.

Seek out ATMs to exchange your foreign currency. Chinese banks don’t tend to accept foreign cards, but larger banks, such as Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, will allow foreign visitors to withdraw local currency from foreign banking institutions. This is a better alternative than using Travelex, which has a much higher exchange rate. Be sure to notify your bank before you board the plane to China. Rather than waiting until you arrive before informing your bank, communicate with your bank before so that your card isn’t canceled on you, leading to difficulty during travel. Also, in the nation of China, tipping is not customary. The Chinese don’t tip and you aren’t expected to do so either.

Some other important insights: China does not offer visas on arrival, you’ll need to have arranged for yourself before your arrival. In order to apply for a tourist visa, you’ll need a letter of invitation from a Chinese friend or you’ll have to provide a detailed itinerary of your trip, which includes information about your hotel bookings and flight information. Many use sites, such as C-Trip and Booking.com when booking hotel rooms in China.

Be sure that you’re caring for yourself when you’re in China. Drink water, find a doctor, locate the pharmacies, cope with the air pollution, bring toilet paper, and carry hand sanitizer. Also, arrive at airports early, expect delays, try out the high-speed G-trains, make use of local booking sites, and drive in China. Moreover, immerse yourself in the local culture: eat the street food, take photos, bear with the crowds, mind the spitting, and enjoy the local fare. Browse the local marketplaces, but be aware that shopkeepers generally start at 10X what you should counteroffer. Also, food merchants increase prices for foreigners, so be aware that you’ll always need to bargain. Or, ask a local to purchase items for you.

Be ready to have fun. Greet with a warm, broad smile, and make attempts to speak Mandarin or other local languages. Stay vigilant and alert, and visit the Chinese garden, the Great Wall, or landscape scenery.

Learn more about what to do before you arrive in China here.


Rick Garson is driven by the possibility of innovation and growth in the entertainment industry every day. He has been at the helm of groundbreaking projects, including the famed Billboard Music Awards. Interested in learning more about Rick Garson, entertainment, travel, and entrepreneurship? Please visit RickGarson.com and RickGarson.net!