Thursday, 14 October 2010

Preparing for the trip to Beijing: Visa, Money & SIM card

Getting the visa from the Chinese Embassy was really easy. In Bangkok the agent fee for bringing the passports to the Embassy, filling out the application form and collecting the passport after 4 days was just 600 Baht (15 Euro). An Express Visa issued by the Chinese Embassy within 2 days was an extra 800 Baht (20 Euro).

So that's done.

Now, when we will arrive at the airport, I will change some money into the Chinese Currency. But you need to know that with an European Cash card (EC card) you can collect money at every ATM machine in Beijing. Not sure about the American ATM cards, but should be the same easy.

It just costs you the usual fee that you would pay in your hometown when not using the ATM machine of your bank. And of course credit cards are widely accepted. In the markets however, only when you have bigger amounts to pay. Not all boutiques and stands do have the facility and if they go, they like to charge 3-5 % on top for using a credit card. I recommend to have local cash when shopping in the markets. And evey market has several ATM machines to refill your wallet...

What to do when you are running late or got lost? Or book to book a massage or a table at a restaurant? Best thing is to have a Chinese prepaid SIM card to be more independent. Nowadays this is so easy. They sell the SIM cards upon arrival at the airport. So that's what I plan to do.

My friend in Beijing actually told me, he would have a SIM card for me. This is a very, very special and useful welcome service, that everyone who lives abroad in a country where you can buy prepaid phone cards could provide for their visitors. In that way you can make sure your family or friends do not get lost.

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