So how do you manage your money and foreign exchange during your trip to China?
When I was younger, travelers checks were the way to go. You kept the little numbers separate from the checks themselves and you didn't have to worry. You could spend them anywhere - even after you arrived back home if you didn't use them during your trip. Easy.
These days, with the global network, ATMs and credit cards, travelers checks are no longer a necessity.
Read below to understand all you'll need to know about money during your trip to China.
Changing Your Money
You need some cash but you don't know how much. You don't know if you should change some at the airport. Surely taxis take credit cards? Find out all about how to change your money into Renminbi, the currency of the People's Republic of China. It's actually quite easy and you don't need to be worried about being taken advantage of - exchange rates are fixed.
Understand what you need to know about changing your money in China.
Using Your ATM and Credit Card
China has become much more of an ATM and credit card country than it was over a decade ago when I arrived. In those days, you could hardly find an ATM machine that carried international symbols. Nowadays, they are just about everywhere. The only problem you will likely encounter is exceeding your bank's daily withdrawal amount.
Understand what to expect when using an ATM or credit card in Mainland China.
Chinese Currency - the RMB
RMB, kuai, yuan, CNY, Renminbi - it all means the People's Money or the official currency of the People's Republic of China. You'll get used to seeing Chairman Mao's face as you buy your treasures during your travels in China. Here you'll find a description of all the denominations of Mainland China's currency.
Banking Hours and Holidays
It's rather amazing how convenient public services in China can be. One can find a bank branch (or post office) open on almost any given day. But there are holidays where the banks are indeed closed - thank goodness, everyone needs a holiday once in a while.
Find out what days the banks are closed in China.
Tipping in China
No. The answer is no! You do not have to tip in China. Not anywhere. Not to service people, not to bellboys, not to chamber maids. Not at Starbucks even though they have a jar out!
Service fees are tacked on. Of course it's nice and if you're a non-Chinese looking person and you're staying in a big fancy hotel, then leaving a tip won't surprise anyone.
But tipping is not required nor expected (except on tours! Read below.)
Tipping During Organized Tours
Aha! Tipping is expected on organized tours! I don't know why this came to be but there you have it. Tipping drivers and guides is actually expected and they'll feel like they did a bad job if you don't leave a tip. Although, if they did do a bad job, then that's your prerogative.
A tipping guide for guides and drivers on organized tours.
A Bargaining Guide to Shopping in China
Just by stepping foot into one of the big tourist or "fake" markets in China puts every price up. For a lot of these things there is no set price so the vendor is going to take all he or she can get. It is your job to get the best - and lowest - price possible. So practice your bargaining skills on lower priced items that you don't really care too much about and then get busy with the big ticket treasures. See this link for more tips on bargaining in China.
Here are eight rules and two myths about bargaining and shopping in China.