Experiencing Beijing and Shanghai
Before You Leave
If you don’t already have one, get a passport. If you already have a passport, make sure it will not expire while you are overseas studying. As a precaution, it should be valid for at least six months after your travel. You should seriously consider scanning a copy of your passport and emailing it to yourself as well as someone who will NOT be traveling with you. In addition, holders of U.S. passports and holders of non-Chinese passports will need to obtain a visa through the Chinese consulate with jurisdiction over the registrant’s place of legal residence. We recommend that registrants get an F visa. We will provide a letter of invitation from the participating Chinese Universities. Visa issuance can take four to five work days, so advance planning is essential. If you have questions about the proper visa for which to apply, please contact Maria Landry.
Registrants are responsible for all travel arrangements. You should buy your plane ticket as early as possible to ensure the best price. We recommend researching a few travel search engines to find the best price.
You can join the program’s Facebook group to try to coordinate with other registrants prior to departure and once you arrive!
What to Pack
Power and Computers
As you probably know, voltage and outlets are different in China (220 Volts). You will therefore need the proper adapter to use electronics (including laptops, camera/phone chargers, shavers, etc.). If your device can run at the higher voltage (the back of the power supply will tell you how many volts it can withstand), you can use just a plug adapter; otherwise, you will need a voltage converter (sometimes called a transformer). Either can be bought at electronics or travel stores in the US or online, or at electrical and hardware stores in China. Carefully consider your needs for appliances when you travel in China, however, especially the high wattage ones. Hair dryers are a special case, as their power requirements are enormous. If you want to be a good citizen, consider leaving all hair appliances at home. Also, there is the possibility that they may get fried if you are not careful. If you can't, make sure you buy a heavy-duty converter that will handle as much as 2000 watts (2 kilowatts). It is advisable to determine which countries you'll be traveling in and then choose the adapters you'll need for those specific countries.
Although it is not necessary to bring a computer for your classes, most students do. Do not have your computer shipped to you. It will be seized by customs, and then sent back after much delay and expense. Most modern laptops will automatically sense voltage changes and adapt; you may only need a plug adapter--check your owner's manual or the back of your computer or charger. Otherwise, you will need to bring an adapter or converter, if necessary.That is applicable to all other electronic devices that you transport with you as well (cell phones and camera chargers, etc.)
Although it is not necessary to bring a computer for your classes, most registrants do. Do not have your computer shipped to you. It will be seized by customs, and then sent back after much delay and expense.
Please also note that Tulane does not offer any printing for study abroad program participants. Should you decide you need to print your outlines, notes, etc. you will have to find printing facilities at local copy shops, etc.
If you want to bring a mobile phone, you should make sure it is equipped to operate on Chinese frequencies (GSM 900 and/or GSM 1800). This is not recommended, as is it the most expensive way to communicate with the States. Ask your US phone provider what the international charges are, and carefully consider whether using your US phone in China is an appropriate expense.
You may also consider purchasing a prepaid SIM card in China to insert in your phone from the States. The main mobile phone networks in China, all with either monthly subscription or pay-as-you-go systems, are:China Mobile; China Unicom, and China Telecom.
Beijing is at the peak of summer, the rainy season and the tourist season in July. Average temperatures are about 80° F, with average highs reaching 88° F and lows at about 70° F. Average rainfall in July is about 7 inches, so prepare with rain gear for sudden rainstorms.
July is one of the hottest months in Shanghai with the average temperature at 82° F, the average low is about 77° F and average high is about 90°F, so it will be a bit hotter than Beijing.
For both cities, summer clothes (to keep you cool) are advisable. All your clothes should be breathable. On hot days it will keep you cool, on wet days, you'll dry out faster! Light-colored clothes are advisable as well, as they absorb less heat and dissipate heat faster than dark-colored ones. You may also need long-sleeved shirts as they may help you cope with frequent rains. Make sure you drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration, and bring along some sunscreen.
There are laundry services in both cities. They are reasonably priced, same-day services with good quality customer services. Pricing is based on the weight of the load.
You are advised not to bring travelers checks. Your ATM card should work in the ATMs in the city, and Visa and MasterCard are accepted almost everywhere. Check with your bank to see what sort of foreign transaction fees, if any, are charged so you can plan accordingly. If your card does not have a “chip,” you may also want to ask your bank to replace it with one that does, as this is a common added security measure and some card readers are only equipped to read this type of card. Please be advised that, as a security measure, you must call your credit card provider or ATM issuer to inform them of your summer itinerary, otherwise they may block your card.
The Chinese currency abbreviation is different whether translated from English or Chinese. From English, and for banks, Chinese currency is abbreviated CNY (this is its international banking code, like USD for the States). From Chinese, the currency will be abbreviated RMB (which stands for Ren MIN Bi translated as the People’s Money). Both of these refer to Yuan, although CNY is the more formal.
If possible, try to travel with ‘emergency’ cash in local currency (Ren MIN Bi(Yuan)) as a back-up to pay for train fares, to get to the city, food in the airport, etc.
Once You Arrive:
From the Airport to the City:
To take a taxi from Capital International Airport into the city center it will generally cost between 95 RMB to 120 RMB, depending on traffic. We strongly recommend students to take a taxi as it is more convenient for luggage transportation. Options like the shuttle or bus cannot stop at the hotel gate.
The Airport Express Line of the Subway serves the airport from Terminal 3 to Terminal 2 and then takes passengers to Dongzhimen via Sanyuanqiao. This line carries passengers from the city center to the airport in twenty minutes.
There are 11 regular airport shuttle lines operating to Beijing Airport. The Line of T3 GONG ZHUFEN (公主坟）should be chosen. The exit station is JI MEN QIAO（蓟门桥). A 20 minutes’ walk is necessary to get to the hotel. The price is 16 RMB.
Passengers can buy tickets for the shuttle at the airport or any of the stops in the downtown area. Service Hotline for Airport Shuttle Buses: 010-64573891 / 64594376 / 64594375.
The Beijing Transportation Smart Card, like the MetroCard in New York City and the Oyster Card in London, can be used on all of the subway trains, city-buses, some taxis and the Airport Express Train. People can get a 60% discounts when paying for the city-bus fare by card. What's more, the Transportation Smart Card can be used at some designated supermarkets, long-distance bus lines and the expressways in Beijing. You can apply for a smart card at over 170 points in Beijing, from metro and bus stations to supermarkets and post offices. If you pay a bus fare by smart card, you have to touch the card to the reader when you embark on the bus and then again when you disembark from the bus. There is a deposit to purchase this card, but it will be returned to you if you return the card at the end of your stay.
Around the City:
Subways are the fastest transportation in Beijing and they are a good way to avoid frequent traffic jams. Presently there are 14 subway lines plus one airport express line in operation. They connect city center stops such as Tiananmen Square, Qianmen, and the railway station with outlying areas. You can plan your route using Explore Beijing’s Explore Metro.
Bus: Currently, there are over 800 bus routes in operation in Beijing. Most buses are charged by distance, although the self-service buses are a flat rate. Generally speaking, the buses in downtown area are in operation from 05:30 until to 23:00. Some suburban lines may stop as early as around 18:00. The night lines of 201-215 serve from 23:00 to the next 04:30 or 05:00. Service Hotline for Intercity Buses: 010-64558718.
Taking a taxi is the most convenient way for newcomers to travel around a metropolis like Beijing. There are over 70,000 taxis running in every corner of the city. Most of the taxi drivers in Beijing can speak some simple English, which offers western visitors a great convenience of being able to communicate with them. During the day, flagging down a taxi will cost CNY10 for the first three kilometers, and CNY2 per kilometer for the remainder of the journey. If the journey is longer than 15 kilometers (8 miles), the charge rises to CNY3 per kilometer.
Trying to be environmentally friendly, more and more people are starting to ride bikes in Beijing. Although a bicycle rental service (with pickup and drop-off locations around the city) was started on June 16, 2012, this is currently only available to local residents. You can, however, take bicycle tours of the city, by which you can see many of the tourist areas. You can also take rickshaw tours around the city, but make sure (1) that your driver speaks English, and (2) that you bargain for an exact rate prior to climbing aboard. This will be more expensive.
Shanghai is the only Chinese city that has two international airports: Pudong International Airport and Hongqiao International Airport.
Pudong (PVG) is about 20 miles (30 km) from Shanghai’s Downtown area. Built in 1999, fifty airlines operate out of Pudong airport.
Hongqiao (SHA) is only 8 miles (13 km) from the city center. It is older than Pudong, but over 90 airlines operate out of it.
No matter what airport you arrive to, you should probably purchase an ordinary Shanghai Public Transportation Card to get around the city. This can be used on taxis, buses, tourist buses, long-distance buses, subway lines, maglev trains, ferries and trucks. Also the card can be used at some parking lots, parking meters, gas stations, toll highways and auto repairing stores. You can buy one at any subway stations, all branches of Shanghai Pudong Development (SPD) Bank, Bank of Communications, Buddies CVS, Kedi CVS, and All days Convenience Stores; some of the branches of Huaxia Bank; or some taxi and bus company ticket offices. There is a deposit to purchase this card, but it will be returned to you if you return the card at the end of your stay.
From Pudong Airport to the City:
Again, there are many options to get to the city from the airport:
There are 10 airport bus lines from Pudong into the city. Most lines run every 15 – 25 minutes, between 7 am and 11 pm. It costs about CNY30.
The second line of the subway reaches Pudong Airport. Pudong Airport Station of Subway Line 2 is located between T1 and T2. Follow the sign to get to the right terminal. It costs about CNY 8.
A taxi costs about CNY150 and takes about 50 minutes.
The Maglev train is also a transportation option from the airport. You can get on at the airport and get off at Shanghai Maglev Longyang Rd. Station, where you can transfer to Subway Line 2 and many buses which can take you to the urban area of Shanghai. A one way ticket costs CNY 50 and takes about 8 minutes. If you flew in the same day, you can get a 20% discount and pay only CNY 40. You can also buy your ticket using the Shanghai Public Transportation Card.
From Hongqiao Airport to the City:
There are 13 airport bus lines leaving from either Terminal 1 or Terminal 2 from Hongqiao to the city. Most lines run every 15 – 25 minutes, between 6 am and 11 pm. It costs between CNY1 and CNY30 depending on which line you need to take.
The second line of the subway reaches Hongqiao Airport. This costs about CNY 8.
A taxi costs about CNY45 and takes about 30 minutes.
Around the City:
Shanghai has 11 subway lines in operation. The main attractions, transportation hubs and commercial areas, such as the Bund, Nanjing Road, Huaihai Road, People's Square, Shanghai Railway Station and Xujiahui can be reached by several subway lines. There are three ticket options you can choose between: single journey ticket, Shanghai-Public-Transportation-Card-paid ticket or souvenir ticket. Ticket prices vary from CNY 2 to CNY 9 according to the mileage between your starting station and destination.
The Huangpu River running through Shanghai, divides the city into two parts - Pudong New District (east of the river) and Puxi Area (west of the river). The three islands of Chongming, Changxing, and Hengsha under the jurisdiction of Shanghai are separated from the main by the Yangtze River. As a result, ferries play a very important role in the city's transportation. At present, there are in total 19 ferry lines serving nearly 40 ferry stations along both sides of the Huangpu River, providing links between Pudong and Puxi. There is also a sightseeing ferry that you can take.
Public buses in Shanghai are a particularly convenient means of transport, with some 1,100 bus lines covering the length and breadth of the city. Ticket prices range from CNY 1 – 2, depending on the line. You can also ride the City Sightseeing for CNY 30 or any of 10 Tourist Bus lines for CNY2 – 12 for a sightseeing tour of the city.
Shanghai has approximately 45,000 taxis, operated by over 150 taxi companies. Several companies have taxis in their own colors. There are seven more popular companies - Dazhong Taxi Company with their cars in sky blue; Qiangsheng with their cars in orange; Jinjiang white; Bashi green; Haibo sapphire blue; Fanlanhong red; and Lanse Lianmeng in navy blue. Of all the taxi companies, Dazhong and Qiangsheng are most strongly recommended. Taking taxis in Shanghai is more expensive than in other cities. During the day, the price is CNY13 for the first three kilometers (1.9 miles), with an additional charge of CNY2.4 for every succeeding kilometer within 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) and CNY3.6 for every succeeding kilometer after 10 kilometers. At night, the fare starts at CNY 17 and adds CNY 3.1 per km after the first three. *CNY1 fuel surcharge should be paid per journey.
As a general note for both cities, it is suggested to ask for a card with the hotel/Guest house's name in Chinese from the receptionist. This will be very useful when directing taxi drivers or if you get lost.
The "transportation" section of this website has been developed with permission from Travel China Guide
Beijing, Jing for short, is the capital of the People's Republic of China. Being around 3,000 years old, it is one of the six ancient cities in China, one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, with about 140 million Chinese tourists and 4.4 million international visitors yearly and the nation's political and cultural epicenter. Amongst its most visited attractions are the Great Wall; the Forbidden City, which is the largest palace complex in China and the world, as well as the location of the Palace Museum with its imperial collections of Chinese art. Other areas worth visiting are traditional shopping centers like Wangfujing, Qianmen Dashilan, and Xidan, and the newly emerged Guomao, Oriental Xin Tian Di and Zhongguancun Square. Finally, a trip to the Peking Opera – a form of traditional Chinese theatre which combines music, vocal performance, mime, dance and acrobatics – should not be missed.
Shanghai, Hu for short and translated literally as “Above the Sea”, is most influential economic, financial, international trade, cultural, science and technology center in East China. With its more than 20 million people, it is popularly seen as the birthplace of everything considered modern in China. The city rivals New York or Paris in terms of modernity, and boasts a blended culture of the East and the West. Some of its main attractions are the Bund – an area of the city which gathers new finance and commercial houses as well as grand buildings built in 1930s in European architectural styles; Yuyuan Garden, with its pagodas and classic Chinese gardens; and the shopping areas of Nanjing Road – considered to be the 'No. 1 commercial street in China', with its 5.5 kilometers, and 600 shops, visited by some 1.7 million people each day. All these attractions can be reached fairly easy as the city provides a convenient variety of means of tran
Registrants will visit some of these areas as a part of the Program’s field trips. Detailed information about it will be provided to enrolled registrants.
Many museums and some services (hair salons, theatres, fast food eateries, etc.) offer a small discount with a valid student ID. Please note that many such discounts also require the student to be under a certain age (usually 26).
Differences between Beijing/Shanghai and a U.S. City:
According to Sara Naumann, an expat living in Shanghai, the following things struck her about China: people do not wait for the plane to fully land before getting their luggage; although taxi lines are respected these days, most of the lines are not. It is usual to be skipped or to add people to the line right in front of you. Traffic is crazy and there is no culture to yield to pedestrians, so be careful when crossing the street. You will be pushed and shoved. It is nothing personal; the concept of personal space is simply different. People talk to each other at a higher volume than we are used to in America. This is not seen as impolite. Pushing for a positive answer after getting a negative and bargaining is not perceived as being pushy, just a good negotiator!
Important Phone Numbers:
Foreigners: 6525 548
Beijing China Travel: 6515 8264
China International Travel Service: 6601 1122
International SOS Assistance Top: 6590 3419
Local Telephone Information: 114
Weather Information: 121
Beijing Hospital: 86-10-6513 2266
Peking Union Medical College Hospital: 86-10-6529 6114
Consumer Complaint: 12315
Tourists Complaint: 64393615
Telephone Trouble: 122
Local Telephone Number and Long-distance City Code Inquiry: 114
International City Code Inquiry: 116
Weather Forecast: 121, 221
Zip Code Inquiry: 184
Customer Service Center of Post Office: 185
Train Ticket Reservation: 63171880, 8008207890
Coach Ticket Reservation: 56630230
Hongqiao International Airport Consultation: 62688918
Pudong International Airport Consultation: 38484500
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