These FAQs are designed to help answer the “most frequently asked questions” before you register for the tour and during the early stages of trip preparation. The FAQs are NOT designed to answer all the questions that you may have about the trip. Real China also provides a detailed “China Trip Survival Guide” for the purpose of fully preparing you for your trip. The guide addresses even more issues that you may encounter during the trip, such as water, clothing, safety, etc. The survival guide is available once you have registered for any of our tours.

Useful Links:

  1. Health information for travelers to China (From CDC) 
  2. Information on China’s Visas
  3. US State department information on China

If you have enjoyed our services and would like to refer us to any groups going to China, such as MBA’s in other schools, you would qualify for a referral fee of $20/person for the first 10 people and $10/person for each person after that. For example, introducing a group of 60 people would qualify for $20*10+$10*50=$700 referral fee. We will pay out the referral fee promptly upon the end of the group’s China trip. Please contact us for details.

The Tibetan climate is not as harsh as many people imagine it to be. Travel to Tibet is suitable from April to the beginning of November, and the best time is August and September. But if you only stay in Lhasa, you can go there anytime of the year.

Sun radiation is extremely strong in Tibet. The sunlight in Lhasa is so intense that the city is called “Sunlight City”. The thin air can neither block nor retain heat, so temperature extremes can be met in daytime and the same night respectively. May, June and September are the high season for tourism in Tibet.

Most annual rainfall comes in the rainy season that starts from July to September. Usually it rains at night in Lhasa, Shigatse and Chamdo area. The rainfall may block roads and make travel difficult but the scenery at that time will be the best.

Yes, you do need a permit to go to Tibet, but we will arrange to get the permit for you.

In China, good buys are silk, tea, antiques, paintings and calligraphy, Chinese medicines, handicrafts such as cloisonné, paper-cutting, replicas of terra-cotta horses and warriors, jade and pearls.

Yes, you will have the chance to shop for souvenirs while traveling in China. You can shop in the department stores, friendship stores or free markets. Sometimes our tour guides will take you to factories and workshops where local specialties are produced and sold.

China is a vast country with different climates, but generally speaking, spring is from April to June, summer is from June to September, fall is from September to October, while winter is from October to March. Usually it is colder and drier in the north in winter, and hotter and more humid in the south in summer.

May, September and October are the best months for you to travel to China when the weather is the most pleasant all over China.

High season refers to the part of a year when the weather conditions and other factors are the best for traveling. Usually there are more people traveling in the high season, so it’s always the busiest time for the hotels, airlines, and travel agencies. Thus the price of hotel, air tickets, etc. is comparatively higher than in other seasons.

High season, shoulder season and low season are commonly defined as:
High season: April, May, Sep, Oct
Shoulder season: June, July, Aug, Nov
Low season: Dec, Jan, Feb, March

There are slight differences of definition of this between different hotels, airlines, and travel agencies in different regions.

Note: If you plan to travel during the high season, we suggest that you make reservations several months prior to your departure date.

REFUND/CHANGE/CANCELLATION POLICY: Upon approval of itinerary, a guarantee of payment is required in order to confirm reservations. Reservations will not be confirmed without this guarantee. Any voluntary changes after reservations have been confirmed will incur a minimum of a $50 change fee, plus any penalties assessed by the suppliers of your travel arrangements. Cancellations after reservations have been confirmed will incur a minimum 30% fee, plus any penalties assessed by the suppliers of your travel arrangements. Upon confirmation, a minimum 30% deposit will be required and is NON-REFUNDABLE. If reservations are confirmed within 45 days of your trip departure, full payment is required. Once reservations are paid in full, entire package is NON-REFUNDABLE. For reservations made within 6 weeks of travel dates, additional late booking fees may apply.

We accept personal checks, bank checks and money orders only, unless stated otherwise.

We strongly recommend that you purchase a travel insurance policy.

We recommend Allianze Travel Insurance.

Click on the logo below to learn about their services:



A local guide escorts the group within a specific city or area and provides most of the guiding on local sightseeing.  During a tour, local guides are different for each city/area.  A national guide escorts the group throughout the whole trip, and may play the role of the local guide in one of the cities which he is based in.

Our guides are friendly, knowledgeable and experienced.  They are experts in communicating with people, organizing tour logistics, and dealing with unexpected situations and difficulties.  They are all fluent in both Chinese and English.

We always carefully select restaurants and hotels that are clean and safe in order to provide you with a safe and healthy environment.

Please check the CDC website for recommendations for vaccines and other health information for travelers to China.  We also recommend that you see a local travel doctor 4-8 weeks before you leave because some vaccines or medications need to be started 4 or more weeks prior to departure.  You should also check the CDC website and talk to your doctor about any other countries you might be visiting before or after the China tour if you are extending your stay in Asia.

CDC China website:

We suggest you take some common medicines with you that you use at home, such as medicines for flu, sore throat, cough, diarrhea, etc.

1) For check-in luggage, passengers holding an adult fare or half fare ticket are entitled to a free baggage allowance of 40kg (88 pounds) for first class, 30kg (66pounds) for business class, and 20kg (44 pounds) for economy class.  If your luggage is over the limitation, you will need to pay for the excess weight, and some of the airports in China are quite strict with this.

Tip: If you are traveling together in group, you can use your allowance together. For example, if you have 35kg and your friend has only 5kg, it will be fine as long as you two check in together. This method also applies to 3, 4, 5 or even more people within one group, as long as you are checking in at the same time at the airport counter.

2) For carry-on luggage, total weight of carry-on baggage for each passenger may not exceed 5kg (11 pounds).  First class passengers may carry up to 2 pieces.  All other passengers may carry on only one piece. The size may not exceed 20x40x55cm.  Carry-on baggage in excess of the limit is subject to an excess baggage fee and must be carried as checked baggage.

Usually, Chinese trains carry four classes of accommodation: soft-sleeper, soft-seat, hard-sleeper and hard-seat.  We normally book soft-sleepers which have comfortable 4-berth (2 upper &2 lower) compartments with full bedding provided.   Each car has two restrooms at both ends of it, with a separate room beside it for you to clean your hands and face. Hot water will be provided from water boilers at both ends of compartment free of charge. Meals and drinks can be purchased in the train’s dining car which is in the middle of the train, and staff with pushcarts may sell things like drinks, meal boxes, fruit, etc. from one compartment to another.

During the “free time” of the tour, taxis are the most convenient transportation in most cities.  They are affordable and wide available.  Instructions on taking taxis can be found in our “survival guide”.

Private deluxe coaches with air-conditioning will be provided for your group.  Tours include one group airport pickup upon your arrival and one group airport drop-off upon your departure, in each city.

Tipping for tour guides and drivers in recognition of their good service has become a common practice. Hotel bellboys expect tips as well. Other than that, it is not customary to leave tips at hotels or local restaurants.

No, the quotation we offer normally does not include tipping unless noted otherwise.

You can exchange traveler’s checks or cash at most banks and most four or five star hotels in the cities. The exchange rate in the hotels is generally the same as that in the banks. To change money, you have to have your passport with you.

The rate is approximately 6.2 Yuan to 1 US dollar, but the rate is, of course, always subject to change.

The official currency in mainland China is the Renminbi (RMB). The basic unit is the yuan (also known as ‘kuai’), which equals 10 jiao (or ‘mao’), which is then divided into 10 fen.

Ratings on the Internet are inherently arbitrary, as there is no system of standardization in place. A review on one website might label a certain hotel as 3-star; another website might label the same hotel as 4-star. We go by the CNTA (China National Tourism Administration) star rating system, as this is a standardized system in place throughout China.

Another factor to take into account when viewing Internet ratings is that hotels change ownership and management more frequently in China than they do in the US. Thus, a particular hotel may be in poor physical shape and poorly run and garner bad reviews, but in a matter of months new management renovates it and improves the quality of service, turning it into an excellent place to stay.

Real China’s staff in China frequently visits the hotels we use to make sure they adhere to high standards. We base our choice of hotels both on our personal inspections and on the feedback we get from guests who stay in the hotels.

Also, when you look at hotels on the Internet, please bear in mind that booking over the Internet doesn’t allow you to select rooms based on their location. We know the layouts of the hotels we use thoroughly and we book rooks with optimal locations based on their views, noise levels and privacy levels.

For all 5-star hotels, the receptionists at the front desk can speak English, and most of the other staff (room service, restaurant servants, etc) can speak some English. For most of the 3 star and 4 star hotels, especially the hotels we select, many hotel staff can understand English and some can speak English well.

Yes, most of the Chinese branded hotels are just as nice as the western brands.  We carefully select our hotels that both are cost-effective and provide high quality standards.

Generally speaking, the services and facilities offered by the 4-star and 5-star Chinese hotels we use are very similar to those in the US.  Please be aware that the same western brand in China usually carries a higher quality standard.  For example, Howard Johnson in the US may be 3 star but in China often 5 star.

Yes. If you have any special dietary requirements, please let us know on your registration form so that we can inform the restaurants beforehand to meet your needs.

We are happy to arrange vegetarian dining options.

All breakfasts are western style, most of which will be buffets. Lunch and dinner consist of Chinese food.  Unlike most the other cookie cutter China tours, we carefully select some of the best local cuisines that are unique and best represent the local food tastes.

If you are traveling as an individual, or you cannot submit the visa application to us as part of a group, please contact our visa agent, Visa Express, and process your visa directly with them. (then click “visa” on the left)


Phone: (800) 884-7579

If you want to process your visa as part of a Real China group, please download and carefully read the following visa application instructions and visa application form:

Visa Application Instructions

Visa Application Form