China covers a land area of 9.6 million square kilometers and currently consists of four municipalities (Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin and Chongqing), 23 provinces, five autonomous regions (Tibet, Xinjiang, Inner Mongolia, Ningxia, and Guangxi) directly under the Central Government, and two special administrative regions (Hong Kong and Macau).

Beijing is the capital of China, as well as the political, economic and cultural center of the country. Beijing serves as a hub for both land and air transportation and plays an important role in the contexts of both domestic and international communications. As of 2015, the population of Beijing stood at approximately 21,705,000. Beijing covers a land area of 16,400 square kilometers, which is divided into 14 districts (including Xicheng, Dongcheng, Chaoyang, Haidian, etc.) and two counties.

Weather

China spans over a vast geographic area. Local weather varies considerably from one location to another. Latest weather information of different regions can be found at the website of China Meteorological Administration: http://www.cma.gov.cn/en/

Beijing is located in warm temperate zone which is characterized by the sub-humid continental monsoon climate. Each of the four seasons also carries distinct features. Spring and fall are short while summer and winter are relatively long. Summer is usually hot with an annual precipitation at approximately 720.6mm, concentrating in the months of June, July, and August. Beijing has lower relative humidity, which is around 57% on average (annual) and may drop to 46% or below from time to time. Beijing's winter can be dry and cold where the daily 1 average temperature can fall below 0℃. Visitors to Beijing in winter are advised to bring proper moisturizing products such as shower gel and lotions and appropriate warm clothing such as hats, scarf, gloves, thick trousers, warm shoes, etc. There will be adequate indoor heating in most places, but this will be lead to dryness.

Air Quality

Beijing had been affected by smog frequently.  The concentration of PM 2.5 particulates is an important indicator of air quality.  Monitoring agencies convert the concentration of PM 2.5 particulates into an air quality index (AQI) to reflect the air quality.  According to the Technical Regulation on Ambient Air Quality Index (on trial) released by the Ministry of Environmental Protection (MoEP) of the People’s Republic of China (Announcement [2012] No.8), AQI in the range from 0-50 indicates good air quality; AQI in the range from 51-100 indicates moderate air quality; AQI in the range from 101-150 indicates light air pollution; AQI in the range from 151-200 indicates medium air pollution; and AQI in the range from 201-300 indicates heavy air pollution; while AQI in the range from 301-500 indicates serious air pollution.  MoEP suggests that if AQI exceeds 200, people with heart or lung diseases, the elderly and children should consider refraining from outdoor activities and taking precautionary measures such as wearing face masks when going out and installing air purifiers indoors.

Beijing Municipal Environmental Monitoring Center forecasts the air quality in Beijing on a daily basis and issues alerts in case of heavy air pollution. In terms of level and duration of pollution, there are four levels of alerts: Blue (Level 4), Yellow (Level 3), Orange (Level 2) and Red (Level 1), with Red being the highest level of alert.  People travelling and living in Beijing should pay attention to announcements on air quality in Beijing and the related precautionary measures by other relevant institutions or organizations.

For more information about AQI in Beijing, please visit the following websites:

Emergency Plan for Heavy Air Pollution in Beijing(Chinese Version Only):
http://zhengwu.beijing.gov.cn/yjgl/yjya/t1384974.htm

Beijing Municipal Environmental Monitoring Center(Chinese Version Only):

http://www.bjmemc.com.cn/
http://zx.bjmemc.com.cn/

Currency

China's official currency is Renminbi (RMB), commonly known as Yuan. Paper bill includes 1, 5, 10, 20, 50,100 Yuan and 1, 2, 5 Jiao, and coins include 1, 5 Jiao and 1 Yuan. Currency exchange service is available at Beijing Capital International Airport, banks and major hotels.

Besides cash, banking service is also available for Hong Kong residents living in China. In general, basic documents required for opening bank accounts include, but are not limited to, the following:

  1. Identification Document, e.g. passport, Mainland Travel Permit for Hong Kong and Macao resident (commonly known as "Home Visit Permit")
  2. Statement with residential address

Please check with specific banks for detailed application process and related information if necessary.

Voltage

As with most other countries, China adopts the metric measurement system. Household voltage is 220 volts in the Mainland, which is the same as Hong Kong. No voltage conversion is needed if travelers want to use electrical appliance purchased from Hong Kong. However, the power plug is different from those commonly used in Hong Kong and thus a plug adapter may be required. The typical shapes of power plugs in the Mainland are shown in the pictures below.

3-legged power plug in China 2-legged power plug in China

Transportation

Overview

All automotive vehicles, non-automotive vehicles and pedestrians should keep to the right side of the road in the Mainland, which differs from the practice of keeping to the left in Hong Kong.

Besides, the traffic rules also differ. In the Mainland, vehicles may take right turn even if the red light is on, but this would only be applicable where no disturbance is made to cars or pedestrians passing by (however, if the red light signaling right turn is an arrow instead of a round shape, vehicles would be prohibited from taking the right turn until the light turns green). In Hong Kong, on the other hand, no vehicles may take the right turn whenever the red light is on.

Pedestrians and drivers of automotive vehicles and non-automotive vehicles should observe all traffic rules applicable in the Mainland. Besides, Beijing municipal has also promulgated and implemented specific local rules. For more information, please refer to the website of Beijing Traffic Management Bureau: http://www.bjjtgl.gov.cn/jgj/jgj_PAGE_KEY/index.html

Public Transportation in Beijing

Subway

Currently, there are over 10 subway lines operating in Beijing. From 28 December 2014, fares for all subway lines (except the airport express) have been adjusted with one-way fare starting from RMB 3. Pricing is on a sliding basis and passengers are entitled for certain discounts when their accumulated expenditures for the month reach a certain amount. The airport express to Beijing Capital Airport has a flat fare of RMB 25.

For more detailed information, please refer to the website of Beijing Mass Transit Railway Operation Corporation Limited(Chinese Version Only) and eBeijing, the Official Website of the Beijing Government:
http://www.bjsubway.com/
http://www.beijing.gov.cn/

Taxi

Taxi stands are often found in public areas such as hotels, business centers, hospitals and residential quarters. Passengers may also book taxis over the phone or through the internet or mobile applications. The service hotline of Beijing taxi is 96106. For more detailed information, please refer to (Chinese Version Only): http://www.96106.com.cn

Beijing taxies implement a unified fare charge policy, i.e. RMB 13 for the first 3 kilometers and RMB 2.3 per kilometer thereafter. There are also surcharges to the fare, namely fuel surcharge, low-speed surcharge, tarry fee, night charge and appointment fee etc.

Buses

Beijing has a bus network that basically covers the whole city. From 28 December 2014, bus fares have been adjusted to RMB 2 within 10 kilometers (inclusive), and RMB 1 for each 5 kilometers after the first 10 kilometers. Bus Pass holders can enjoy a 50% discount, i.e., reducing the starting fare to RMB 1 (RMB 0.5 for local students). For more information, please visit the website of the Beijing Public Transport Holdings Limited and eBeijing, the Official Website of the Beijing Government:  
http://www.bjbus.com/home/index.php
http://www.beijing.gov.cn/

Railway

Beijing is the center of China's railway network which spans across the whole country, including the rail line from Beijing to the Kowloon Station of Hong Kong. There are five railway stations located in the urban area of Beijing, namely Beijing railway station, Beijing East railway station, Beijing West railway station, Beijing South railway station and Beijing North railway station. Beijing is well connected to many mainland cities through various intercity routes (with high-speed train services for certain routes).

For purchase of railway tickets, passengers would be required to provide valid travel documents containing the passengers' names and other identification information (Home Visit Permit for Hong Kong and Macao residents, applicable and valid passports etc.). Passengers may, based on their preferences, choose their desired travel date, time and seats. In order to purchase train tickets, passengers may visit the ticketing offices located at relevant railway stations, via ticketing hotlines (8610-9510505), or purchase online via website (Please refer to the website of China Railway Customer Service Center below).

For further information, please refer to the website of the China Railway's Customer Service Center: http://www.12306.cn/mormhweb/

Air

The Beijing Capital International Airport (BCIA) is located in the Shunyi district. BCIA is about 20 kilometers away from the Central Business District (CBD) area in Chaoyang district. The majority of the domestic and international flights to and from Beijing land in or depart from the BCIA. BCIA is connected to downtown by airport express (around 30-minute ride between Dongzhimen and Terminal 2). There is another airport, Nanyuan Airport, in Fengtai district, which is 13 kilometers away from Tiananmen Square. Nanyuan Airport was transformed from military airport to civilian airport and serves exclusively the China United Airlines.

Travelers can purchase air tickets through the websites and telephone hotlines of airlines. They can also make the purchases online through the websites of booking agents, which usually provide airfare discounts.

Public bicycle rental

Beijing provides public bicycle rental service. Currently, there are 7 districts where public bicycle rental service stations could be found. All those who work, study, travel or conduct business in Beijing and meet necessary conditions, i.e., aged between 18 and 65 years old, with height of 130cm or above, in good physical health / conditions, may apply for public bicycle rental card. Bicycles are generally provided to qualified users for free within the first hour, while a RMB 1 per hour would be charged after the first hour. A ceiling on the rental charges is also set at RMB 10 for 24-hour usage.

For more detailed information, please visit the website of the Public Bicycle in Beijing (Chinese Version Only): http://www.bjjtw.gov.cn/bjggzxc/Home_index_1_1.html

Self driving

Driving License

Hong Kong residents are required to obtain valid driving licenses if they wish to drive in the Mainland. Drivers should carry their driving licenses while driving. Hong Kong residents who meet relevant conditions promulgated by the Ministry of Public Security (including requirements in age and physical and other conditions, etc.) could apply for driving licenses from traffic management departments.

Hong Kong residents who hold driving licenses issued by relevant authorities of Hong Kong, Macao, Taiwan or other foreign countries could apply for Chinese driving licenses after meeting certain requirements by the Ministry of Public Security (including age, physical and other conditions) and passing the corresponding examination. Moreover, Hong Kong residents who have overseas driving licenses can apply for temporary driving permission from traffic management department of the Ministry of Public Security if they need to drive in the Mainland for a period not exceeding three months.

For more detailed information with respect to applications of driving licenses and temporary driving permissions, please refer to the website of Beijing Traffic Management Bureau: http://www.bjjtgl.gov.cn/

Renting cars

If Hong Kong people would like to drive in Beijing, they can rent a car from the local car leasing companies. Generally, Hong Kong people are required to provide their photocopies of Home Visit Permit and driving license as well as intended leasing period to the car leasing companies when entering into car rental contracts. For more information, please visit the website of the car leasing companies.

Buying vehicles

Beijing has put in place control measures over the number of passenger cars. There is a quota system for the purchase of vehicles through a pool / draw system. Once permission for purchase is obtained, qualified individuals could then proceed with necessary vehicle registration. If Hong Kong residents wish to apply for license plates, they should meet the requirements below:

  1. No passenger cars being held / owned under his/her name in Beijing, whether or not the vehicle(s) is subject to de-registration or scrapping; and he / she should hold a valid driving licenses.
  2. Hold a Home Visit Permit for Hong Kong and Macao residents with a validity period of ten years. Have a Temporary Residence Registration Certificate in Beijing for over a year.

For detailed information about the application for license plates, please refer to the website of Beijing Passenger Cars Indicators Regulation Management Office (Chinese Version Only): http://www.bjhjyd.gov.cn/

Traffic management measure for automotive vehicles

In order to reduce the pollutant emissions and maintain a smooth flow of traffic, Beijing has adopted traffic management measures on automotive vehicles since October 2008, and the same measures are still in force to date. According to the measures, vehicles with car plate ending with a specific number would be prohibited on the roads between 7:00 and 20:00 on a certain day during weekdays; restricted areas include any roads within the Fifth Ring Road, not including the Fifth Ring Road.

For information on relevant measures and road traffic, please refer to the website of the Beijing Traffic Management Bureau: http://www.bjjtgl.gov.cn/publish/portal1/