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General Information

The Chinese money is called renminbi (people's money). It is commonly abbreviated to CNY. Locals often refer to the Yuan as Kuai. The Mao (or Jiao) notes or coins are denominated into 1 (brown), 2, or 5 (blue), are very small, and feature pictures of workers and farmers. 10 Mao = 1 Yuan.

Credit cards are only accepted at most hotels and some tourist shops and department stores. EXPECT TO PAY IN CASH.

The Yuan renminbi to dollar exchange rate is fixed at a rate of 6.78 Yuan renminbi to USD $1 (or 1 Yuan renminbi equals 0.147 US dollars). Most world currencies are not pegged to the dollar, so their exchange rate fluctuates daily. Click here for current exchange rates.

Banks are open daily from 8:30-9:30am to 4:00-6:00pm.  Please note that most ATMs are located inside the banks themselves, so they are not typically available 24 hours a day.

Changing Money
Changing money can be done in a number of ways. There are foreign exchange counters at most border crossings and international airports. Most hotels will have a foreign exchange service and will exchange cash and travelers checks, although, as with hotels everywhere, they charge a commission.  The bank of China will exchange money and travelers checks, but not all of the other Chinese banks do so. It is a requirement that you produce your passport to complete the transaction. Banks will only accept foreign bank notes that are undamaged. Notes that are even slightly torn will be rejected. Traveler’s checks can be a secure solution if traveling for a longer time. It is generally easier to change your money at the hotel.

The local currency is not convertible outside China, so if you have any leftover you will need to change it back before you leave, or at your departure point.  Make sure that you keep one or two of your exchange receipts, which you'll need to change it back again. You can exchange renminbi for Hong Kong dollars in Hong Kong.

Cash withdrawals from Visa and MasterCard credit/debit card are possible at the main branches of the Bank of China in each city. A small fee is charged by the bank and charges are also applied by the bank/credit card provider.

Bank of China ATM machines are compatible with cirrus and pulse; cash withdrawals are easy to complete using these machines. Only use ATM's that display the Visa and MasterCard symbols. An English menu will appear when you insert your card. The exchange rate that is applicable through ATMs is good and this can be a very convenient way to organize your money. Locations for ATMs are available from your card issuer. Limits for withdrawals on each transaction differ but US$250 per transaction is common.

Western Union is available in China although fees apply to transactions. Check the western union website for locations.

Taxes and Refunds
Tax Refund Rate
The refund rate is 11% of the invoice value. However, 2% of the rebates are charged by the rebate agency as service fee. Therefore, visitors actually enjoy a rebate rate of 9%.

Refunds = Invoice Value (VAT included) x Rebate Rate (11% - 2%)
For instance, if one spends CNY 1000 in a store, CNY 90 (CNY 1000 x 9%) will be returned.

The rebates will be given in CNY. If the amount is not beyond CNY 10,000, both cash and bank transfer rebates are allowed. Otherwise, if the amount exceeds CNY 10,000, only bank transfer is allowed.

How to Apply for Rebates

  1. Purchase goods in designated stores with the "Tax Free" sign. Ask for the sales invoice and tax refund form from the clerk.
  2. Visit the customs office at the departure port and present the refund form, invoice, passport or ID card as well as the purchased products. If nothing goes wrong, the officer will stamp on the refund form.
  3. After, go through the joint inspection, head to the refund counter, have the materials examined and have the rebates back.

More information can be found here.

Shopping Hours
Shops, department stores and supermarkets are open every day from 08:30-09:30 to 21:30, including public holidays. Restaurants and bars are always open from around 10:00 to the late night, sometimes even into the small hours or for all night.

Time Zone
UTC/GMT +8 hours
To see the time difference between your country of residence and Shanghai, please click here.

Weather in Shanghai
During November, the weather gradually turns to winter, with windy and dry conditions. There is a noticeable drop in temperature between day and night. The average low and high temperatures are 8 °C (46 °F) and 17 °C (63 °F).

Dialing Codes
00 is the international prefix used to dial outside of your country
86 is the international code used to dial to Shanghai
21 is the local area code or city code used to dial Shanghai
Making International Calls from Shanghai:
Tourist phone cards can be purchased from any China Telecom Branch.

Electrical Guide
Domestic supply is 220 volts, 50 Hz, AC. A standard socket on a wall in China has two pins on the upper part and earthed three pins on the lower part.  It is a good idea to bring an adapter with you, or buy one once you are in Shanghai. Adapters can be purchased in local supermarkets for 100-200 CNY.

Wireless Internet Access
Free Wi-Fi is accessible in most hotels and public places, but there are exceptions.  Please note that Facebook, Google+, and Twitter etc. are blocked in China, so you will need help from proxy service providers to logon.

Tipping is a lively issue among seasoned travelers to China.  Generally, no one tips anyone in China, with one large exception.

The foreigner group tour guides and drivers depend on this tip income, along with shopping stop commissions, to form the bulk of their income.  The shopping commissions come from the merchants paid to the guides and drivers in return for stopping at their establishments.  Prices are raised at these group tour shopping stops in order to pay the commissions up to 50%.   

While tour drivers many times expect tips from foreigners, taxi drivers in China will not accept them.  In most places, tipping taxi drivers is against the law, so ingrained is the Chinese culture to not tip.  Many Chinese consider tipping a remnant of the Chinese warlord and feudal system during the Empire period ending over a century ago.  

Since tipping is not a part of the culture, most establishments actually have a strict no-tipping policy. This includes almost all restaurants, massage studios, etc.  In fact, offering a gratuity may be considered impolite in certain quarters as it can be taken to imply that one's work is undervalued by the employer. The only place where a tip might be expected is at a high-end hotel catering to western tourists. And the only reason tipping may be expected there is because western tourists have conditioned the behavior of bellhops and concierges. Still, declining to tip will not offend the service worker.  And if you have someone go way above and beyond their normal duties, then a tip might be appropriate.

The Congress Secretariat and Organizers cannot accept liability for personal accidents, nor loss of or damage to private property of participants, either during or directly arising from DASIL. Participants should make their own arrangements with respect to health and travel insurance.

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