Traveling And Money In China


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Money: The currency used in China is the Renminbi/RMB Yuan (CNY). The Yuan is divided into 10 chiao/jiao or 100 fen. RMB is not traded outside China and we still cannot exchange £ or $ into RMB easily outside of China.

You can exchange some cash in the airport you arrive.  Travellers cheques, preferably in US Dollars, and foreign cash can be exchanged in cities at the Bank of China. Banks are closed weekends. Normal banking hours are Mon-Fri 0900-1200, 1400-1700.

Import and export of local currency is limited to RMBY20000. Import of foreign currency is up to US$1000 (US$5000 for non-residents). Higher amounts should be declared upon arrival. Export of foreign currency is limited to the amount imported and declared.

The larger hotels and the special ‘Stores’ designed for foreigners will accept most western currencies for purchases. Major credit cards (e.g. visa and master cards) are accepted in the main cities at various establishments, but outside the major cities acceptance is limited. ATMs are scarce outside the main cities. So please do carry extra cash when you are traveling outside of major cities.

Although tipping is not required, gratuities may improve service. For the porters or waiters, 1 – 5 US dollars may be appropriate as the tip. However, local people rarely tip in restaurants as a 10% service charge is always included in the bill.  My rule is not to give beggars any changes as a lot of them a professional network; more beggars will appear in front of you once you start giving.

Keep money safe. Always bargain at no price listed shops, local people always quote foreigners 3-4 times more expensively.

If you are staying China for a relatively long period of time, you can open a local bank account.

Foreigners can open accounts in China and the process is fairly straight forward. Initially, it is essential that the bank account is opened with the Bank of China, and in most of larger city branches, there will be an English-speaking member of staff who can assist. A passport is required together with a small deposit. A bank book will be issued with a bank card. Deposits can be made in several currencies such as RMB, US Dollars and UK Pounds, while withdrawals must be in the same currency as the deposit.

Make sure you exchange your leftover Yuan before returning home because this currency can be exchanged only within China’s borders.

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