Here are some questions that are frequently asked for the tour in Beijing and other cities. If you have more further problems or questions, please email us for details, thanks
Do we need a Chinese visa ?
When and how to Apply for a Tourist Visa
If you stay in China for more than 72 hours, you should apply a visa to enter China, we can also provide invitation letter for your visa application, pls let us know everyone’s full name, birth date, passport expire dates and travel dates cities in China.
The single-entry tourist visa normally has a validity period of three months so it’s best to apply for a China tourist visa 30 to 60 days before your intended date of entry. If you apply too far in advance, the visa may expire.
Unless you are traveling as part of a group, you will need to arrange your own visa. You normally need one photograph, a completed application form for each person, and a bank check or credit card. Fedex or another courier can handle the transfer and return. Search on the internet for the Chinese embassy or consulate nearest to you. You can also apply for Chinese visas outside of your home country, just make sure that you fulfill the application requirements.
Some countries have visa agents but this adds substantially to the cost. If you can go straight to the embassy/consulate it will be cheaper.
Visa applications are normally processed within three to four working days but you can choose to pay an extra amount to rush it. If you go to the visa office you may be able to get a visa on the same day for a fee.
When applying for China tourist visas, the procedures, requirements, issue time, and fee may vary from country to country. Details and application forms can be found on the website of the Chinese embassy in your country.
Make sure your passport is valid for at least six months at the time of arrival in China.
72-hour visa-free entry
If you’re going to stay in China less 72 hours and meet with the following conditions then you don’t need apply for Chinese visa .
Travelers passing through Beijing Capital Airport, Shanghai Pudong and Hongqiao Airports, Guangzhou, Chengdu, Chongqing, Shenyang, Dalian, Harbin, Xian, Guilin, Kunming, Hangzhou, Wuhan, Tianjin, Qingdao, Nanjing, Changsha, and Xiamen for less than 72 hours may be eligible for visa-free entry (check below if your nationality is on the list). If you are in possession of a valid third country visa and confirmed onward plane ticket, you may apply for a transit without visa permit (TWOV) at the port of entry.
This will allow you to enter China without a visa for up to 72 hours. Your 72 hours will be counted from the moment you receive your TWOV permit at the Exit and Entry Administration desk at each of the above-mentioned airports.
This 72-hour permit only allows you to remain in the city you entered through (for example, if you fly into Shanghai Pudong or Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport, you are not allowed to leave the city of Shanghai).
List of countries eligible for the 72-hour visa-free transit program:
Schengen Agreement countries: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland
Other European countries: Russia, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Cyprus, Bulgaria, Romania, Ukraine, Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro, Macedonia (FYROM), and Albania
The Americas: Canada, United States, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, and Chile.
Asia: Korea, Japan, Singapore, Brunei, United Arab Emirates, and Qatar.
Oceania: Australia and New Zealand
For more details, please check with your local Chinese Consulate or Embassy.
How to meet the driver at the railway station in Beijing, Xi’an and Shanghai?
How to pick up at the Beijing South Railway station?
While as there are two exits (each train will come out two different gates one is in an odd number and one is in an even number) at the railway station and the driver can’t get to the platform to pick your guys up and we suggest our driver can wait for you at the fixed arrival gate at Arrival Gate 6 and whatever gates you get out then go to the arrival gate 6 to find the driver and he will hold a sign with your name on it so you can easily recognize him then.
If you couldn’t find the driver when you are there pls wait there and don’t move and our driver will find you or give us a call at 8618612452188 or 86-18551151099.
How to pick up at the Beijing West Railway station?
While the Beijing West Railway station is a big railway station and there are 4 exits in the railway station. So mostly for the high speedy train will get out of South 1 or South 2 exit and for the normal overnight Z or T train will get out of North 1 or North 2 exit.
So if you take the high speedy train pls go to the South 2 Exit to find the driver.
If you take the Z or T train pls go to the North 2 Exit to find the driver.
If you couldn’t find the driver when you get out of the exit pls wait there and don’t move and our driver will find you or give us a call at 8618612452188 or 86-18551151099.
How to pick up at the Shanghai Hongqiao Railway station?
If you take the high speedy train from Beijing to Shanghai and suppose to arrive at the Shanghai Hongqiao railway station pls get out of the South Exit as there are two exits (the other one is in north exit). Our driver will hold a sign with your name on it so you can easily recognize him then.
How to pick up at the Shanghai Railway station?
If you take the Z or D overnight train from either Beijing or Xi’an then you will arrive at the Shanghai Railway station and there are 4 exits in this railway station. We will pick you up Southwest Exit.
How to pick up at the Xi’an North Railway station: (High speedy train )
The driver will hold a welcome sign with your name on it to meet you at the Information Desk under the Big Screen, which is at the end of arrival hall. If you couldn’t find the driver pls don’t move and give a call to the local Xi’an tour guide then.
Do you have the English speaking driver for the airport pick up service ?
Catherine Lu Tours doesn’t have English speaking driver in our company and the driver only can speak Mandarin with very limited English like “hello” “goodbye”. We will forward the detailed information to the driver in advance then according to your flight information, the driver will track the flight in advance and pick you up in the airport on time and transfer to the right hotel then.
Upon your arrival the driver can meet you at the airport holding a piece of paper with your name on it so you can easily recognize him. It’s right inside the airport after you reclaim your luggage and clear the customs and many people are waiting to pick up their clients. It normally takes one hour to get out of the customers.
If you have any problems finding us go to the information desk opposite the terminal exit (staff there speak English and are always ready to help), and ask the staff to make a phone and call us at 86-18612452188 or 86-18551151099 for emergency.
Do you have group tours ?
Catherine Lu Tours conducts only private tours for individuals, families, friends and organization but not group tours. If you’re alone then it will be just yourself and we won’t mix you with others!
Is it safe to take taxi in Beijing or other cities ?
It’s safe to take the legal taxis in these cities, but we do have some illegal taxis ( black car ) which will charge you more money. They won’t charge you in meters and ask high price for certain distance. Sometimes they even change the fake 100 yuan with you under the excuse of that your money is not good. Pls prepare small money for taking a taxi on your own. Pls also ask the receipt from the taxi driver. Most of the illegal taxis always at around the airport or tourist sights area. please be attention about it!
Hotels recommendation in Beijing, Xi’an, Shanghai and Guilin / Yangshuo
We have worked with a few hotels in Beijing, Xi’an & Shanghai mostly 4-5 star hotels. If you need our help to book those hotels we can arrange it for you but we will pay for the hotel reservation full amount 1 week in advance.
About the accommodation in Beijing, we suggest that you should stay the area near the Wangfujing Street such as:
Hilton hotel at the Wangfujing Street
The Regent Hotel
Marriott at the Wangfujing Street
Crown Plaza Hotel at the Wangfujing Street
Novetal Peace at the Wangfujing street
Novetal Xinqiao at the Chongwenmen
3- Star Hotel:
Days Inn Forbidden City
The Imperial Mansion, Beijing Marriott Executive Apartments
Lee Garden Apartment
Hotel nearby the airport for layover tour
Beijing Hilton Airport ( 5 star )
Beijing Langham Place Beijing Capital Airport
Crowne Plaza Beijing International Airport
CITIC Hotel Beijing Airport
Xi’an Hotels: (the best location should be at the area near the south gate of the city wall)
Sofitel Xian on Renmin Square (5 star)
Grand Mercure Xian on Renmin Square (5 star)
Hilton Hotel (5 star)
Mercure Xian on Renmin Square (4 star)
Citadines Central Xi’an (4 star)
Shanghai Hotels: (the best location is at the People’s Square, or Nanjing Pedestrain road or near the Bund)
Les Suite Orienta Hotel
Fairmont Peace Hotel Shanghai
Renaissance Shanghai Yu Garden Hotel
Marriott Hotel City Centre
Guilin hotels as below :
Shangri-La hotel ( 5 star )
Guilin hotel ( 4 star )
Ron Inn ( 3 star )
Yangshuo hotels in the city area as below :
Green Lotus Hotel ( 5 star )
New century hotel ( 4 star ) ( nearby the local park )
Bamboo House Resort ( 4 star )
Rosewood Hotel ( 4 star )
Yangshuo hotels in the countryside area as below :
Banyan Tree Hotel ( 5 star )
Yangshuo Mountain Retreat ( 4 star )
Phoenix Pagoda Fonglou Retreat ( 3 star )
We work with the hotels below and can book the hotels for you if you choose the following ones:
Beijing: The Regent Hotel; Park Plaza hotel; Beijing Hilton Wangfujing hotel
Xi’an: Sofitel Xian on Renmin Square; Hilton Hotel; Grand Mercure Xian on Renmin Square
Shanghai: Les Suite Orienta Hotel
Guilin: Shangri-La hotel
How much should we gratitude to the driver and guide ?
For tipping, its not compulsory but a kind of encouragement for providing good service for both the drivers and guides.
If you are a group for 1-4 and are happy with our service you can tip the driver (for tours) 80CNY to 100CNY per day and the guide could be twice as much as the driver; if you are a group of 5- 8 people and you can tip the driver for 100CNY-180CNY per day and the guide can be twice as much as the driver; If you are over 10 people and are happy with our service you can tip the driver ( for tours ) 200CNY to 250CNY per-day and the guide could be twice as much as the driver .
It’s quite flexible and you can tip more or less and it’s up to you.
Can we exchange money in the airport?
Yes, there’s a Bank of China in the airport, you can exchange the money there. Please note, there are pickpockets in the airport, please be careful if you want to exchange the money in the airport then! The exchange rate at the airport will be slight lower than that in the bank.
If you won’t exchange huge amount money, you may also can exchange the money in the hotel, the exchange rate is not big different with bank !
Do we have the same guide and driver for the whole trip ?
Normally, I will arrange the same tour guide for your stay in one city but if you book the tour at the last minutes or during the tourist season ,maybe we’ll arrange 2 different tour guide for you according to your request .
The driver mostly will be almost the same, but as the traffic is very bad in Beijing, the government controls the number of the license plate by limiting once a week driving on the street. If that happens we will arrange another transportation for you.
Does Catherine Lu guide us personally ?
I am so sorry to say that Catherine Lu won’t be able to take any tours personally as she needs to stay in the office and reply all the emails and deal with all the emergency and make things in order! All the tour guides recruited by Catherine Lu Tours are strictly based on service attitude ,language skill ,knowledge and personality ,when you assigning a tour guide to a tour group ,besides the tour guide’s competency we also look into the match of the characteristics between the tour guide and members of the group .
How much time do we need to be the airport for the international flight or domestic flight ?
Normally we’ll suggest 2 – 3 hours earlier to be the airport for the international flight and 1.5 – 2 hours earlier to be the airport for the domestic flight .
Can we use credit card in restaurant and shops in China and where is the best place to withdraw or exchange currency?
China is still a largely cash-based society, especially in smaller cities and away from tourist areas. So make sure you have enough money on you whenever you’re out and about as many foreign credit and debit cards may not be accepted everywhere. You can exchange your home currency for Renminbi (RMB, Chinese Yuan) before you leave for China or exchange money at your hotel or take out cash from ATM machine after you arrive in China. We don’t really recommend exchanging money at the bank in China, as you will be wait for quite long time
It is easy and quick to get cash on arrival at any Chinese international airport. There are cash machines in the baggage areas and after exiting customs at both the arrival and departure floor. There are also specific counters where traveler checks can be exchanged.
Using a debit card to take money out of an ATM or cash machine may prove to be the easiest and most convenient way to get Chinese currency in China 24-hour ATMs are common in all big cities and most smaller towns, and you can choose to operate in English.
Not every card works at every machine, so it’s best to stick with major banks such as Bank of China, HSBC, ICBC, or China Construction Bank and look for machines with your card system’s logo.
More and more places in China, including hotels, fancy restaurants, and foreign brand name stores, accept international credit cards such as Visa, American Express and Master Card, so it’s still worth bringing your credit card with you.
Using foreign credit cards in China will seemingly always incur a foreign currency exchange fee from the issuing bank which can be expensive and add up fast, but it is easier to use them for big payments, like hotels, tours and major shopping.
The best thing to do is to exchange some money before arriving in China, bring at least one credit card and one debit card, and prepare to exchange more money upon arrival. Please note that you should let your bank back home know that you will be using your card in China.
How about the internet in China?
Wi-Fi access is ubiquitous in China, even in the remotest of locations. Many are free, particularly in cafes and restaurants. Almost all hotels provide wifi access either free or at a cost. Check when booking as it is sometimes expensive in high end hotels.
If you want to get internet everywhere you can buy a 4G card. You can purchase the SIM card at the airport or the mobile phone shops if necessary, please bring your passport when you sign up
Surfing the Web from behind The Great Firewall:
The internet in China is censored. This means many popular websites, including Google, Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat, are blocked. If you must do Facebook while in China then you need to sign up for a VPN (virtual private network).
Can you tell us something abut the Chinese toilet?
Almost all of China’s major tourist sights have new toilets and an attendant who practically lives there to keep them clean. But Chinese tourists would prefer the Chinese style toilets so there are more Chinese Squatting Style toilets and one 1 or 2 western style put in
However, that doesn’t mean you won’t have the chance to use an old style toilet while traveling in China. Many parts of China are still developing and the type and cleanliness of the toilets aren’t completely uniform. That means if you go to a non-touristy place or travel on the road, you may encounter very public old toilets
Chinese toilets are normally the squat style, which admittedly takes some getting used to but on the other hand, you don’t touch anything and thus it has an advantage when it comes to hygiene.
Some public restrooms in the big cities do have at least one western style toilet seat, and even toilet paper and soap. All quality hotels have Western style toilets so you can rest assured that once you are back in your own private room you will have a throne to relax on.
How can I contact you ?
Email Address: email@example.com
Catherine Lu’s MB/Wechat/Whatsapp: 86-18612452188
Our assistant: Jenna’s contact number: 86-18551151099.
We’ll reply you within 24 hours by e-mail .
How can I book and cancel the tour ？
If you like the sample itinerary shown exactly on our website then you can click book and fill the necessary booking information and pay for the deposit respectively. The deposit can be paid via paypal or credit card. If you book the tours only then the deposit will be either 100US dollar or 200 US dollar. If we need to book the domestic flight or train tickets for your guys the deposit will be more.
If some emergency happens, then you have to cancel the trip with us and if it’s one week before the trip then we return the payment to you only charge 4% out of the deposit as this is the service fee charged by paypal for receiving money.
If you cancel the trip within one week then you will loose the deposit.
Beijing travel tips
When is the best time to visit Beijing ?
The best time to visit Beijing is Spring and Autumn ,as it’s humidly hot in Summer and it’s windy and cold in the winter time .
But just kindly let you know as there’re some holidays in May ( Labor’s Day ) & October ( National Holiday ) as well as the Spring Festival during the New Year period ,if you want to enjoy the vacation then please try to avoid these period during the holidays since there will be loads of congestion ,the sights must be very crowds that we can not avoid it ,hope you can understand !
Avoid every single public Chinese holiday. This is a little bit tricky since some of them follow the lunar calendar, and vary from year to year. However, they’re still around the same months so we can roughly estimate them.
The first date to avoid is the Spring Festival, also known as Chinese New Year and Chunjie. This is China’s most important holiday, with millions of Chinese on the move taking billions of trips.
Getting a flight ticket will be more expensive, finding a train ticket nearly impossible, and touristic places will be packed with tourists visiting from all over China. So for those travelers seeking to take their time at China’s landmarks, Chinese New Year is definitely not the time for a trip in the country.
While many big shops and chains remain open in the big cities such as Beijing and Shanghai, other places in China do close for at least a couple days or even a week. So there will be many missed opportunities to sit at a small Chinese eatery, and other more traditional venues.
Chinese New Year normally happens around mid to late January or early to mid February. While many Chinese people take Spring Festival as an opportunity for an overseas trip, most of the traveling takes place within the country, and results in the biggest mass migration in the whole world.
Another time when is best not to visit China is the National Day, or Golden Week, which always takes place from the 1st to the 7th of October. While the amount of people on the go is lower than during the Chinese New Year, “lower” is still a high number for China.
If traveling around these dates is unavoidable, it’s best to book everything well in advance; we’re talking at least a month before, and be prepared to pay extra for pretty much everything.
How to get from the airport to Beijing downtown area ?
If this is your first time in Beijing, you will have no idea on where to head to when getting out the airport and you may be tired after a long flight then the taxi is the easiest way to get to Beijing except for rush hours (morning 8:00am -9:00am and evening about 17:00pm -19:30pm ). Follow the signs of the arrival to go downstairs and you will see all of the taxis standing in a line.
( PS:You may be approached by illegal taxis or limo drivers who will offer rides to the city center usually double price than legit taxis. This can happen to the first timers who are wandering around looking for the taxi line after a long flight. Avoid this as these are unsafe, unlicensed, uninsured and illegal and you put yourself in danger if you use these services. Make sure the meter gets turned on before getting inside)
If you don’t want to waste time queued up for a taxi then we’re happy to arrange the private airport pick up service ,please e-mail us to confirm the price with us directly then.
How difficult is it to hike from Jiankou to Mutianyu Section Great Wall ?
The majority of Jiankou hikers are here for the first time, this hike is suitable for all age groups with average fitness. Children under ten to senior citizens, have successfully hiked from Jiankou towards Mutianyu. The difficulty of the hike a moderate, with some elevation changes. You don’t need ropes or climbing gear. No previous hiking / backpacking experience is required. However, weather conditions can make the hike a lot tougher than what you have expected. For example, in hot summer, you will feel much more difficult due to the heat and humidity. Mental attitude and adequate water consumption are the two most important factors in the success of Jiankou to Mutianyu hike. In winter, frozen snow and ice make the Wall difficult to walk through.
Don’t plan on doing anything very strenuous that evening or the next day – your legs won’t let you. Depending on your level of fitness and how used to walking up and down steep slopes you are, you may find it takes a few days before you can easily tackle even the gentlest of inclines again.
PS : The entire hike from Jiankou to Mutianyu covers 3 – 5 hours, over approx 8 km. Start height 600m, finish height 318m, highest point 1,044m (the tower on Ox-Horn Ridge). Total climbing up approx. 580m, total climbing down approx. 980m. The elevation of Zhengbeilou is 991 meters (3250 feet).
Do you offer car seat and booster seat for the kids during the tour in Beijing?
In China it’s not compulsory that children need to sit at the baby car seats or boost seats in the vehicle. For your customers if you need one we can rent one for you. But if you don’t request for this we won’t provide those baby car seats or boost seats.
It’s not free to provide either baby car seats or boost seats. The rental fee for either is 50CNY per-day. Pls inform us if you need it so we can prepare in advance!
How far from the Beijing city to the Great Wall ?
City Center to Mutianyu Wall: 82 kilometers 1 hour 45mins
City Center to Huanghuacheng Wall: 70 kilometers 1 hour 45mins
City Center to Jiankou section wall: 110 kilometers 2.5 hours
City Center to Jingshanling Wall: 150 kilometers 3 hours
What’s kind of restaurant do you provide for lunch during the tour in Beijing and Xi’an?
For the lunch, it’s quit flexible and we won’t have fixed lunch and will take you to the authentic Chinese local restaurant catering for the locals. the guide will help you to order the dishes according to your own taste and If you prefer to take a lunch in a fancy restaurant or order the dishes above our budget then you can just cover the cost difference above our budget!
The budget is 100CNY per-person based on the group of 1, it’s 75CNY per-person based on the group of 2 and 60CNY per-person based on the group more than 3 persons ( included 3 persons )
Does the wheelchair available on the Great Wall ?
Most section of the Great Wall are not available for wheelchair. Some section has cable car up and down the wall such as the Mutianyu Wall but from the parking lot to the cable car you still need to walk around 10mins and you can’t ride the wheelchair. If you are not good at walking, our suggestion is that you can visit Juyongguan Section Great Wall, the driver will just drop you off at the parking lot of the bottom of the Wall ,you could see the Great Wall without climb the steps ,it’s more convenience for you!
Which section of the Great Wall do you recommend in Beijing ?
There are many different sections of the wall that you can visit in Beijing depending on your physical level.
If you are not adventurous tourists and just want to visit easy less touristy section then we suggest you can do the Mutianyu section Wall http://staging.catherinelutours.com/itinerary/great-wall-at-the-mutianyu-section/ which is only less than 2 hours ride from the city center. You can either take the cable car up and cable car down the wall or chairlift up and toboggan down the wall.
If you want to do the more adventurous sections and you are physical in good condition then you can choosing following routs:
Hiking from Jiankou to Mutianyu section: http://staging.catherinelutours.com/itinerary/hiking-from-jiankou-to-mutianyu-great-wall/
Hiking from Jingshanling West to Jingshanling East: http://staging.catherinelutours.com/itinerary/hiking-from-jingshanling-to-simatai-great-wall/
Note: From 1st June 2017, Jinshanling will closed for about 8 month. You can visit the Simatai Wall or Gubeikou Wall instead.
Hiking from Huanghuacheng to Xishuiyu Wall section: http://staging.catherinelutours.com/itinerary/huanghuacheng-xishuiyu-hiking-1-day-tour-8km5miles/
You can read at our website and choose the sections that you are mostly interested. We can also customize the tours for your guys.
What do we need for the layover tour in Beijing ?
If you fly from one country to another country and stop over Beijing for less than 72 hours. As soon as you get out off the plane, please running to the 72-hour free visa counter as there’re only 2 counters in the 72-hour free visa counter center and the queue is always very long. If you can get there 5 minutes earlier then you can get the passport stamped 1 hour earlier, otherwise you will waste long time there. Quickest that you can get out for 1 hour but sometimes you might need to take 2-3 hours.
If you take the tour with us then we will meet you at the starbucks at the arrival terminal 3 or KFC at the terminal 2. For the terminal 3, when you get out of customers just turn left then you will see there is only one starbucks at the terminal 3. And the KFC is right opposite to the terminal 2 exit.
While there are many black drivers who can speak some English and they are waiting at the terminal exit for those tourists for layover tour and they tried to take them away and many clients will be cheated by following them and pay another fee to them without confirmation for the tour that they’ve already booked with us. Be careful with those people. They normally cut the tour short and charge more and make sure once you meet the right driver who have the correct name and company that you’ve originally booked with.
Why the transportation is expensive from Tianjin Port to Beijing ?
It’s very far from Tianjin Port to Beijing ,it’s takes around 180 kilometers ( around 112 miles ) for one way transfer and the driver needs overnight at Tianjin city and pick you up at the Tianjin Port next morning . hope you can understand !
Can you help with dinner recommendations in Beijing?
There are many restaurants in Beijing that you can choose:
Perking Duck is famous in Beijing:
Recommended restaurant “ Dadong “（大董） duck restaurant
If you would like to have Peking duck dinner then you can eat at “ Dadong “（大董） duck restaurant;
Branch 1: in NanXinCang Ad:1-2 Nanxincang Guoji Dasha, 22A Dongsishitiao +86 10 5169 032
Branch 2: Jinbao Place, No.88 Jinbao Street, Dongcheng District
+86 10 8522 1111
Hot Pot Restaurants:
” Beijing Haidilao ” ( 海底捞）in 8/F, In 88 Shopping Mall, No.88 Wangfujing Main Street
Tel: +86 10 5762 0153
Dim Sum restaurant:
Ding Tai Feng ( 鼎泰丰）dim sum restaurant
6/F, Beijing APM Shopping Mall, No.138 Wangfujing M
Tel: +86 10 6512 8019
Mr. Shi’s Dumplings
74 Baochao Hutong | Gulou East Street, Beijing
Tel: +86 10 8405 0399
Where can I get the Chinese SIM card in Beijing?
Now the policy is becoming more and more strict ,it’s very hard to buy the SIM card in the local shops ,you only can get the SIM card in the Mobile Corporation shops with your passport information ,so for my suggestion ,you can just buy the SIM card in the airport ,it will be more convince for you !
I heard that there’re 2 places that you can buy the SIM card in the airport in the terminal 3 ,there is a Self-service machine nearby the place where you’re waiting for the luggage and another Self-service machine is next to the exit B ( the exit for the international flight ) , If you have any problems please go to the information desk opposite the terminal exit (staff there speak English and are always ready to help), the airport stuff will show you how to find it ! thanks !
How is the pollution in Beijing ? Do we need bring the masks during the tour ?
It’s hard to tell the air quality in Beijing city and you’d better check it 2-3 days before the tour , if the air quality is very bad then you can purchase the masks in the convenience store once you’re in Beijing will be okay ,thanks !