Beijing Olympics Last Minute Travel Tips

If you are lucky enough to be going to the Beijing Olympics in China you might need some last minute travel tips to think about before you go. For many people it will be a strange experience as the culture and language is so different to the Western eye.With the Beijing Olympics being so important to the Chinese, a lot of things are changing quite quickly if only temporary. All the industry around Beijing is being closed down to get rid of the air pollution whilst the games are on, although with a lower profile the Para-Olympics may not have the same courtesy.Firstly, getting in, the Chinese ban anything that is detrimental to the Chinese Government, Society, Culture and all other things Chinese. This means that you should be careful of any books, magazines and possibly even music you bring in.Now you are in the country, you have to get to your hotel taking care to keep your wits about you. Although China is normally a relatively safe place, the pickpockets and others will be active at the airports as well as the markets as the sports fans arrive in their droves. The buses, trains and underground are quite adequate but you may not want to fight with the language just yet. Luckily the taxis are very reasonable and come in three different cost bands. All taxis have signs in the window saying they are for hire, they will also have the drivers details displayed prominently so if the car doesn’t have this, don’t get in. As your Chinese will probably be a bit rusty, you should already have the name and address of your hotel either printed or written out so that you can show it to the cab driver. Just to be on the safe side, show it to the driver upside down so that if he says he knows where it is without turning it around, you know that he is one of the drivers that cannot read and so you would be better off finding another cab. There has been no scientific study done but the cheaper the cab, the more likely the driver cannot read. The cheapest band of taxi should probably be avoided as they are very basic and the large hotels won’t allow them to pick up fares from them.Your hotel should be your lifeline as they will speak English and will be able to advise you on nearly anything you will need. You can change money there, which saves you from trying to work out bank opening times and trying to talk to the staff. You should be able to use your cards in most ATM machines. Finding one in the big cities should not be too much of a problem but smaller towns may pose a problem. They will also be able to write in Chinese, any destination you need to get to, remembering the taxi trick so find out which way up it is read and make a mark so that you also know which way it should be read.Trains are a good way to travel for short to medium distances, medium distances would convert to long distances anywhere else but you have to remember that China is huge, bigger than America.
When going on the longer distance it is worth booking a soft sleeper. This is a 4 berth room with sheets and blankets. There is a hard sleeper which sleeps six in hard bunks without sheets. There are also luxury soft sleepers which sleeps two. They also have two other classes, hard seat and soft seat, local trains are usually hard seat but longer distances will have both.It may be worth taking a comprehensive first aid kit with you, containing pain killers, diarrhoea tablets and re-hydration salts and whatever else you think you might need. Normal doctors are thin on the ground with everything happening in hospitals. There are, of course, the traditional herbalists, but it may be difficult to tell them the problem. Hospitals can be a hit and miss affair. Some are brilliant, whilst others are re-using disposable needles, blades, gloves and masks, so you may have to insist they are changed before they work on you. Also, you may be required to pay up front before you are treated. You may be prescribed traditional herbs as well as conventional medicine.As well as your destination and return hotel address, written in Chinese, you should also carry with you a good phrase book, bottled water at all times, lots of small denomination notes as change may be difficult, particularly with street traders and a good travel guide.You should be generally safe in China, but care should be taken in street markets, railway termini, at the Olympics, ex-pat areas where the foreigners gather and avoid the pedal taxis, particularly if you are a woman on her own, as there have been some problems. The Beijing Olympics is a big affair so many thieves will be drawn to the city from all around the world so be on your guard.It may be worth hiring a mobile phone for the duration of your visit, your hotel can advise you or it may be worth contacting your service provider before you go, to see if there are any reciprocal arrangements. Some handy numbers you can use are : Police 110, Ambulance/medical 120 or sometimes 999, fire 122, directory enquiries 114 and finally consumer protection 12315. All these numbers are free, even from your mobile phone.Finally, with the Beijing Olympics being such a big deal, you should be fairly certain that whilst you are in Beijing itself, everything will be well managed so that finding your way around will be relatively easy. Any problems will be more likely to occur when you leave the city to visit other places which are not connected to the Games and are not that used to foreign tourists. That is when you will really need that Chinese phrase book.

Comments are closed.