Currency: Renminbi (RMB), also: Yuan
Exchange rate: 7.94 RMB per 1.00 € (06/2020)
Time zone: UTC + 8
Country code (phone): +0086 (0)
Climate (for capital): continental
International Airport (IATA): PEK (Beijing), et al
Housing and supply
Living in China’s cities has become more and more expensive over time. In general, foreigners pay more rent than their Chinese neighbors. In cities like Beijing or Shanghai, rents of 10,000 yuan for good apartments are not uncommon. Apart from possible financial restrictions, you are free to choose your place of residence.
If you want to live “really Chinese” outside of the expensive complexes with foreigners’ apartments, it is always worthwhile to seek help from Chinese friends or colleagues. These can perhaps mediate an apartment owner or accompany you to a broker. If you have rented an apartment, you should definitely draw up the rental agreement in Chinese and English. The exact monthly rent must be recorded and a defect report must be attached. When you have found a new apartment, you have to register with the Chinese police department and present a certificate of employment or study.
According to naturegnosis, there is no need to worry about the supply of everyday goods in China’s big cities. In the Chinese supermarkets there is practically everything your heart desires. Those who do not want to do without their special organic muesli in China, have the opportunity to buy imported western products in branches of foreign supermarkets (e.g. Carrefour) in metropolises such as Beijing or Shanghai. But if you take the time to study the wide range of Chinese supermarkets carefully, you will discover many previously unknown delicacies.
The colorful and lively Chinese markets, which you can still find in side streets and in the country today, are a special experience. Action must be taken here. While electrical goods and clothing should be bargained, especially in cities, the price range for food is low. Grocers, especially in rural areas, usually charge the same prices from foreigners as from their compatriots and get into trouble when they try to bargain. For trading, it is helpful to know the finger signs for numbers.
In rural areas, both the supply and the standard of hotels, restaurants and sanitary facilities can be considerably lower. So anyone who undertakes a trip to remote areas within China should stock up on things in the city that they cannot do without.
The Federal Foreign Office provides current safety information. In general, China is a relatively safe country. However, drug-related crime is increasing due to social differences. Crowds of people, sights, markets and the like magically attract pickpockets. Some districts should be avoided at night. Locals can provide valuable tips on this.
Particular caution is required in traffic, as the Chinese-style traffic rules are usually difficult to understand for western logicians.
According to European standards, the hygienic conditions in China are certainly still in need of improvement, but compared to many other Asian countries, China is much further ahead. If you stick to a few basic rules, many people survive a stay in China without the slightest stomach upset.
It is advisable to always drink boiled or purchased water. Tap water can contain germs. Furthermore, one should always use disposable chopsticks for eating in restaurants, or bring your own chopsticks. Fruit should be eaten peeled and hands should be washed frequently. At roadside food stalls, care should be taken to ensure that the food is well heated and ice cream should be consumed with caution, as it may have become too warm on the transport routes and during storage. By the way, green tea helps to please the stomach.
Health care is quite good in the larger cities, but it can be poor in the countryside and in remote areas. The costs for medical treatment and medication always have to be paid immediately and can be very high in the metropolises on the east coast. For people who stay longer in China, it may be worthwhile to become a member of a medical organization (e.g. International SOS, Globaldoctor, etc.) which operate hospitals in various Chinese cities that are equipped according to international standards.
Depending on the time of travel, length of stay and activity, various vaccinations are recommended. In general, vaccinations against hepatitis A, diphtheria and tetanus are recommended. For people who are exposed to the simpler inland conditions, vaccinations against hepatitis B, rabies, typhoid or Japanese encephalitis can also be considered.
Telecommunications, internet, mail
In China, almost everyone has a smartphone with which they can either make phone calls, send text messages or emails, shop on the Internet, tweets on Weibo (the Chinese Twitter) or meet friends on Chinese social networks. In recent years, the WeChat software from Tencent, which combines all of the above-mentioned services in one app, has prevailed. The network coverage works almost nationwide, so that you can remain part of the digital community even in remote regions.
Using a Chinese cell phone is cheap within China. The pre-paid SIM cards sold in China can be installed in European devices brought along. SIM cards are available from the Chinese providers China Mobile and Unicom.
Since the whole of China is now carrying the Internet in their pockets, Internet cafes have also become rarer. Nevertheless, you can still find a way to go stationary on the Internet, be it in one of the noisy online gambling dens. In addition, modern cafes, bars and restaurants in large cities are increasingly offering free WiFi service. However, if you use your own computer or laptop, you should protect yourself well against viruses and Trojans and ensure that your data is backed up carefully.
The Chinese government is also trying to restrict anonymous access to foreign Internet platforms and has instructed China’s telecommunications company to completely block connections via VPN clients from 2018.
Even if Chinese life is shifting more and more to the Internet: If you want, you can still send greeting postcards by post.