China is producing more and more importance and the commercial hub of many international business travelers. However, the trip can be disheartening for inexperienced travelers, because it presents unique struggles and opportunities in comparison to work-related visits to Western countries.
Here are some important tips to ensure a pleasant business trip in China:
When "Yes" means "No"
In general, the Chinese do not like to come across as negative - especially when talking with strangers. So you'll tend to hear "yes" more than "no."
It is not necessary to speak Mandarin to travel comfortably in China - especially in large cities where there are a lot of English tongue speakers. However, learning the basic terms of the conversation can go a long way to show your genuine interest in Chinese culture that will make a positive impression on those you meet.
Personal Relationships ("guanxi")
Personal relationships, connections and introductions are very important in China. Whenever possible, get an introduction to your prospect or customer through a trusted intermediary.
Passport and Visa
Your passport must have at least one blank page and visa valid for six months or more. Americans need a visa when traveling in mainland China, but not Hong Kong. If you enter China more than once for the duration of your trip, such as going to and from Hong Kong, a request for multiple entry visa.
Eighty-percent of hotels in China are not brand names that most Westerners recognize. The country offers a wide range of hotels that compare very favorably with the options found in Western countries.
Chinese service workers do not expect to gain tips. When you obtain your restaurant bill or taxi, the amount printed is the amount you pay.
Tele-communications and Internet Access
Even if it is actually possible to use your existing cell phone and carrier, while in China, such use can be more expensive due to high roaming expense. Check your operator's rates for China before traveling. If you have a appropriate phone with China SIM card (call your network to check), you can easily buy a prepaid SIM card to replace your current SIM card. A more expensive option is to buy prepaid service calling cards that are sold through out China and can be used from most phones.
High-speed Internet access is reachable in most hotels with business customers. WiFi is fast progressing to being more common throughout China and can be used free of charge in many cafes and restaurants. And while some U.S. sites such as Facebook and Twitter are blocked, internet access and use of the Internet in China will appear quite familiar to most. However, if you have a go at to use Google and do not understand Chinese, you will probably be frustrated because searches are routed through Google Hong Kong and buttons appear in Chinese characters.
Money and Credit Cards
Arrival with cash on hand therefore, that you can exchange against the local currency you need for incidental expenses such as taxis and other means of transport. Money is easily exchanged at the airport and most hotels. American ATM cards connected to large networks work in most Chinese cities. Hotels, restaurants, tour operators and shops in major cities accept most credit cards, but it is wise to make two different types such as Visa and MasterCard to be safe. Also, be aware that many companies charge more for the use of foreign credit cards and to pay cash can provide cost savings.
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