Beijing is the political, commercial, cultural and transportation centre for the People's Republic of China (PRC). A modern city that is gearing up to host the Beijing Olympics 2008, there is always a buzz in this city of 11 million people.
Beijing is made up of 18 districts and counties which span 27,065 sq km. The suburbs comprise Dongcheng, Xicheng, Xuanwu, Chongwen, Chaoyang, Haidian, Fengtai and Shijingshan, while the outer suburban area is made up of Fangshan, Mengtougou, Changping, Tongzhou, Shunyi, Daxing, Huairou, Miyun, Pinggu and Yanqing.
Beijing boasts a historical and cultural legacy that dates back 5,000 years. To the international community, it is perhaps best known as the home of the Great Wall of China, Tiananmen Square, Forbidden City and Ming Tombs.
Mandarin. English is used at major corporations and key places of interest.
There are three types of visas for foreigners who are residing in China for a period of time.
- ‘Z’ (Vocational) Visa
This visa is for foreigners employed by independent investment joint ventures, or foreign investment enterprises, in Beijing. Their spouse and dependents will also enter the country on this visa.
The visa is also for foreign experts working in Beijing, and their dependents.
Within 30 days of arrival, all family members must visit the Exit and Entry Administration of the Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau to process their resident applications.
- ‘X’ (Study) Visa
This visa is for foreign students entering Beijing for studies. Within 30 days of arrival, students must visit the Exit and Entry Administration of the Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau to process their resident applications.
- ‘J-1’ (Journalist) Visa
This visa is for resident correspondents/journalists based in Beijing. Within 30 days of arrival, they must visit the Exit and Entry Administration of the Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau to process their resident applications.
For more details, please visit the Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau website at www.bjgaj.gov.cn.
China uses the Renminbi (RMB), which comes in denominations of one, two, five, 10, 20, 50 and 100. Credit cards are widely accepted at bigger establishments.
Beijing is a great place to shop, with most shops and department stores operating from 9am to 9pm, even on public holidays.
Tipping is not commonly practised in China. Most hotels automatically add a 15 per cent service charge to the total bill.
- Banks and government offices:
Monday to Friday, 8.30am to 5.30 pm
Monday to Friday, 9.00am to 6.00pm
Saturday, 9.00am to 1.00pm
- Shops (hours may vary):
Generally open from 9.00am to 9.00pm every day
Beijing is a food paradise with a variety of F&B outlets and streetside stalls. Beijing roast duck is a must for every first-time visitor, while the city’s snacks are a special treat not to be missed. Try the local specialties such as douzhi (bean juice) served with fried rolls, aiwowo (steamed glutinous rice cake with sesame seeds, peach kernels, melon seeds and sugar) and guanchang (flour cakes dipped in garlic juice). Suggestion: Check with the Concierge at Fraser Residence CBD East, Beijing for the best recommendations.
The three biggest mobile telephone service providers are China Mobile, China Unicom and China Telecom.
Medical facilities in Beijing are generally of high standard.
New Year’s Day (one day), Chinese New Year or Spring Festival (three days), Labour Day (three days), National Day (three days)