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Things You Should Know Before Your Trip to Beijing

Jun 30, 2008
Ask the most seasoned traveler to share his or her experiences or to discuss some of the most spectacular places he or she has been, and Beijing is likely to be at the head of the list. Not only is Beijing rich in culture, it is certainly one of the most unique places in the world for a traveler to visit. In fact, all you have to do is take a look at some interesting facts about Beijing and you will want to see it for yourself.

The Center of It All

Did you know that Beijing is the center of China's political and educational establishments? You will find that the city is also the cultural cornerstone of China, which is why you can submerge yourself so deeply in the culture when you visit the area. Whether you want to get a peak at the every day lifestyle or if you want to get a better feel for China's political system, Beijing is a good place to start.

Getting Money From an ATM

The money used in Beijing is the RMB, which is called 'Kuai' in Beijing. The exchange rate for the U.S. Dollar is 8 Kuai per 1 US dollar, so the prices you see on goods in Beijing will appear to be more costly than you thought. You might also be surprised to find that you can use your foreign credit cards in many of Beijing ATM machines. Still, you should be prepared for the possibility of not being able to use your card when you visit.

For the best chance of using an ATM card, keep your eye out for a Bank of China ATM, as these ATMs are more likely to accept your card than any other. There are ATM machines located throughout Beijing and you should not have a problem finding a machine that will work for you. If you try to withdraw money from a Bank of China ATM and you are unsuccessful, you might want to try again. Although the country is known for its technology, the ability to connect to an international line is sometimes unavailable. As a result, you may receive a declined transaction the first time around.

Haggle for a Great Deal

When shopping in Beijing, you should also remember to haggle over the price of pretty much everything available from local merchants. Merchants in Beijing expect their shoppers to haggle over the price and getting involved in a price debate is a great way to really experience the Beijing culture. Of course, it can also help you get a cheaper price. Understanding this cultural difference of opinion is something you should think of as an event rather than an argument of price.

Beyond the price of goods, you should also be aware that there are counterfeit goods readily available in China. If you want to be sure you are getting the designer purse, hat or eyeglasses you wanted, you need to use extreme care. Otherwise, you might get a lot less than you expected. Still, whether you are looking for designer brands or not, you will be amazed by the multitude of offerings and the number of individual shops and vendors lining the streets in Beijing.

Finding the Facilities

After a day of shopping, you will likely find yourself needing to use the restroom. Have no fear! Finding public facilities in Beijing is relatively simply and the toilets are generally kept quite clean. Keep in mind that the English symbol for rest room is WC, so keep your eye out for this symbol when looking for a place to go to the bathroom. You can generally find a free bathroom to use in restaurants, supermarkets, Internet bars, and most public locations. If you find you need to use one of the moveable versions along the road, however, expect to be charged a small fee for the convenience.

The Night Life

With a day of shopping at the market behind you, you might now be ready to look into what Beijing has to offer at night. Disco is still king in China. Therefore, in Beijing, you can find the type of disco atmosphere you're looking for if you are ready to dance. Here, you will find every type of Beijing resident relaxing and having a good time. The crowd will likely be a mix of party lovers and friends who come to dance and enjoy the evening.

To find some of the best nightlife in Beijing, you'll want to look for a place called Banana Spicy for a great night of disco. If disco isn't your thing, and you want to see another aspect of Beijing's nightlife activities, grab a Chinese friend and go Karaoke. Though you won't find many English songs to choose from, this is entertainment in its purest form. Watching the Beijing residents who come and explode their voices to tunes that you cannot understand, is a lot of fun while also showing you that Beijing is a lot like home.
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