China Travel Guide
A real life Central Perk, the cafe where Rachel, Ross, Monica, Phoebe, Joey, and Chandler hung out on Friends, has finally openedbut not where you'd expect.
A replica of the famous '90s coffee shop has been constructed in a Beijing apartment complex by Friends super-fan Du Xin (aka "Gunther" to his friends) who says, “for me, it’s like a religion. It’s my life.”
The third and final installment of An Idiot Abroad ended with Karl Pilkington and Warwick Davis making their way to China where they dressed in panda costumes, sampled local cuisine, and took a side trip to Macao.
Their Chinese journey started with a Yangtze River Cruise which Karl loathed, calling it "misty" and describing the boat as having "turds everywhere." Not exactly the rave recommendation the Yangtze River tourism board was probably hoping for.
In order to visit China as a US citizen, you've got to apply, pay, and be approved for a visa. In order to apply for that visa, you've already got to have a China trip booked, including round-trip ticket. It's a true Catch-22, because what if you're denied for some reason or make some small mistake in the application process?
Luckily for all who want to quickly cross China off their bucket list, both Beijing and Shanghai have just cut the need for visas completely for visitors on the ground for 72 hours or less.
Essentially you'll be "in transit," but 72 hours is much more than a sneeze in Shanghai's direction; 72 hours is 2-3 nights in town, meals, museums, gardens and perhaps a little shopping. All in all, moving quickly could mean a very good taste of one of these two metropoli before committing to a longer trip and the headache of getting one of those compulsory visas.
The only clincher to the new 72-hour, visa-free policy? Well, you've got to eventually continue on, and you have those 72 hours or less to do it. It's just a transit visa, after all, which you can apply for and be instantly approved at immigration.
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Earlier this month, we gave you a exclusive look at traveling on the high speed train that zips between Beijing and Shanghai. While we still think that line is super cool, China has given everyone even more train porn to drool over.
Just this week, the nation's newest and longest HSR (high-speed rail) line opened up between Beijing and Guangzhou cutting travel time between the two cities to a fraction.
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During a trip to China earlier this year, we had to make our way from Beijing to Shanghai. Always keen to try out new modes of transport, we opted to forego our usual choice of flying and took the bullet train instead. Since this Jaunted writer lives in Europe, rail traveleven the high-speed kindis something we’ve done many times, but we were still pretty excited to try this and would definitely recommend it as one of the best ways to travel between these two cities.
Running between Beijing South Railway Station and Shanghai HongQiao, the fastest service takes roughly 4 hours and 45 minutes, with a top speed of 190 miles per hour (300+ km/h). China is a land of contrasts, and you see this clearly as the landscape zips by outside your window. Before we tell you more about the journey itself, a few words on booking a ticket.
In some of the more bizarre airline news we've come across, Hainan Airlines has begun the recruitment of a whole crew of fresh pilots to take their planes, including their Dreamliners, up into the sky. That's not the bizarre part. A crucial step in the recruitment process is a body-odor check. Yep, a recruiter smells the pits of potential pilots; boy, that's the pits.
After an extensive assessment process of technical skills and personality interviews, the flight deck hopefuls have to get their underarms smelled for potential offensive body odor. Since the airline's pilots do interact with passengers, it makes sense to ensure that no interaction turns sour because of a little foul smell. A recruiter has even noted the parallel to the on-the-job duties by saying, "If they can keep their cool in this test, they aren't going to sweat in the cockpit."
If you can't get enough of San Diego Zoo's newly-named, 15-week-old giant panda cub Xiao Liwu, there is a voluntourism program that helps panda lovers like you make a real difference in these animals lives.
Pandas are cute, but they're also endangered as their Chinese habitats shrink and they are hunted by poachers. IFRE Volunteers Abroad, which has worked to make voluntourism more affordable and accessible for everyone, has partnered with the Ya’an Panda Conservation Center near the city of Chengdu in Sichuan Province, China to allow volunteers to assist with their panda conservation efforts.
Kitty cats. They rule the internet and, whether we realize it or not, pretty much the world too. Ever noticed how cats sometimes stake out the coolest spots in a city? This new featureTravel Catfocuses on exactly that. Submit a photo to be featured by tweeting or Instagramming it to us (details below).
Travel Cat spotted in: Beijing, China.
This week's Travel Cat comes from reader Lisa Sun, who says of these three:
Isn't it just the worst when you've taken a chunk out of your day and money out of the ATM to head on over to the Chinese consulate to get your Chinese Visa paperwork submitted, and then find out you've filled out the wrong form? #worldtravelerproblems
Even if this hasn't happened to you, it most likely will at some point because scoring that necessary visa for travel to China is only getting more convoluted with the addition of extra documentation.
Up until recently, Americans with China travel on the horizon needed only to complete a form, turn in their passport (valid for at least another 6 months), turn in a 2x2" passport photo and $140, then make it over to China within 90 days of the issuing of the Tourist Visa to keep it valid for the year. On August 1, new requirements came into effect and now you'll not only have to be ready with all of the above, but also provide the following:
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United Airlines Flight 88 is a direct, 12.5 hour Beijing-PEK to Newark-EWR flight flown by a Boeing 777-200. Seatguru says that United's particular 777-200 configuration has 8 First Class Suites, 40 new Business class flatbed seats, and a 3-3-3 configuration in economy. So far it just sounds like your average trans-Pacific flight, right? There's comfy accommodations in first and business class, and an economy cabin where people wake up 8 hours into the trip, realize they've still got 1/3 of the flight to go, and want to kill themselves.
But last Saturday this very route became a focus of international attention. It was boarded just before takeoff by blind Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng (in a wheelchair), plus his wife and their two children. The family had been driven across the tarmac by Chinese officials and deposited into an elevator, which took them up to the skywalk and onto the plane.
The mini-drama marked the beginning of the end of a standoff between American and Chinese diplomats, stretching back to last month when Chen escaped the Chinese guards who were keeping him under house arrestas China likes to do with "dissidents"and fled to the U.S. embassy.
Tax Refund Vacations / China Travel / Beijing Travel / PEK / Shanghai Travel / PVG / Food Travel / → All Tags
Tax day has arrived, and your happy not because you may have stand in line at the post office, but because you're probably getting a fat refund. Probably. The economy may be on it's way back up, but you should try to stretch that tax refund as far as you can...like with a little "you did a great job last year" trip.
By now, you will probably know what type of refund you will getting back from Uncle Sam. This post is devoted to those refunds that are on the larger side. If you want to completely splurge and use your entire check to see more parts of the world, China is your destination.
By now you've all heard the story of the family with two toddlers kicked off a JetBlue flight from Turks and Caicos and, regardless of where you stand on the incident (for the parents or against), it's clear that flying the so-called friendly skies with little ones is not an enviable journey.
Our first thought when we heard about the family getting kicked off was, "Dear God, we hope that never happens to us." Our second thought was actually about this little playground we saw at the Beijing International Airport back in China.