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With approximately 1.3 billion inhabitants, the Chinese population accounts for one-fifth of humanity and is consequently the largest country by population. Ninety-two percent of the population is Han Chinese, with the remaining eight percent comprised of 55 different ethnic minorities. The geographical vastness of China reveals spectacular landscapes with three principal features: the forest of the east, the steppes and deserts of the north and northwest, and the high plateaus of Tibet and Qinghai

China is a country like no other. It is a country with a written history of over 4,000 years. Its story is more astonishing than that of any other country. It also possesses the highest mountains in the world, the deepest valleys, some of the longest rivers and perhaps the most extraordinary attractions on earth. China is truly a magnificent country, endowed with a rich heritage, spectacular natural scenery and a great variety of culture and folklore. It still remains shrouded in mystery for most travelers and has become one of the most interesting places in the world to visit. China is ready to stir your imagination and ignite your passion for travel.

CLIMATE AND NATURE

China covers an area of continental magnitude and has a correspondingly great climatic variation, from tropical conditions in the south to a continental climate in the north, northeast and northwest. Rains are mostly concentrated in July and August, although the south of the country can be wet at times in the winter, leaving the north cold and dry. The topography descends toward sea level from west to east and gives rise to a variety of landforms. Mt. Everest in the Himalayan mountain range and lying on the southeast edge of China at 8,848 meters above sea level, is the world’s highest peak. The Yangtze and Yellow rivers, 6,300 kilometers and 5,464 kilometers long respectively, are the most important rivers in China and the Jinghang Canal, which stretches for 1,794 kilometers, is one of the longest artificial canals in the world. Qinghai Lake has an area of 4,583 square kilometers and is the largest inland salt water lake in China while Poyang Lake has an area of 3,583 square kilometers and is China’s largest freshwater lake. China experiences a complex and varied climate. Most parts of the country lie in the northern temperature zone and subtropical zone and belong to the eastern Asia monsoon climatic area. In winter, the climate is cold and dry and the temperature difference between the south and the north can be forty degrees centigrade, while in summer temperatures are high, it is the rainy season and temperature differences are small. However precipitation varies from 1,500 mm in the southeast to less than 50 mm in the northwest. The extremely high mountainous regions have constantly cold weather and the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau has a unique plateau climate, with a variety of mineral elements and abundant water resources.

COMMUNICATIONS & POST

Mail, incoming and outgoing, is reliable and quite fast if sent by air. The international telephone service is available in every major city and all parts of the world are reachable. E-mail is widely used in companies, major hotels and lots of Internet cafes have opened. China Telecom is offering a fast and efficient Internet service.

CURRENCY AND EXCHANGE

The Chinese currency is the Renminbi (RMB), meaning "people's money". It is also commonly known as the yuan (CNY), or in popular parlance, the kuai. One yuan is divided into 10 jiao (or mao) and into 100 fen. Coins are used in denominations of 1 yuan, 1, 2 and 5 jiao, and 1, 2, and 5 fen. Bank note denominations comprise 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 yuan. Cash and travelers cheques can be exchanged into yuan in major hotels as well as most branches of the Bank of China and the Bank of Communications. Although credit cards are accepted in major cities by larger, established businesses, cash is still the most popular form of payment in China. More and more ATM machines are available in large cities but the connection to international network can be sometimes irregular in some places.

CUSTOMS REGULATIONS

Importation of all kinds of narcotics, weapons, pornographic media and any material harmful to state interests is strictly prohibited. Antiques may only be exported with a certificate or a receipt from an officially licensed shop. Baggage may be X-rayed or inspected before departure.

ELECTRICITY

The electric current in China is 220 volts, 50 cycles. Plugs can be three-pronged angled, three-pronged round, two flat pins or two narrow round pins.

HEALTH REQUIREMENTS

No vaccinations are presently required for a visit to China (including Yunnan). Nevertheless, it is recommended that you be immunized against polio, typhoid, rabies, Japanese encephalitis, and both hepatitis A and B.

PASSPORTS & VISAS

Visas are required by all nationalities entering mainland China (visas are not needed for most western tourists visiting Hong Kong for less than 30 days), but it is usually an easy and trouble-free process. Tourist visas for individuals and group visas can be obtained directly through Chinese embassies or consulates. Your passport must have at least six months validity beyond the expiration date of your visa. Please check with the Chinese embassy or consulate in your home country before departure.

PUBLIC HOLIDAYS

In contrast to the long calendar of traditional Chinese festivals, modern China now has only four official holidays: New Year's Day (January 1), the Spring Festival (New Year's Day according to the Chinese lunar calendar, usually in between the second half of January and early February), International Labor Day (May 1), and National Day (October 1). The length of the three latter periods of holidays has been extended to around one week each.

2 to 10 February Spring Festival

1 to 3 May Labour day

6 to 8 June  Dragon Boat Festival

12 to 14 September  Fall mid-autumn festival

1 to 7 October National Day

TIME ZONE

China time is 8 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). The whole of China is set to Beijing time. Local adjustments have been made to daily life, especially in the westernmost provinces and regions of the country.

CLOTHING

Clothing should be simple and consist of layers added or removed as temperatures vary during the day. A sweater and light jacket will be useful and stout, comfortable shoes are recommended. Special items to bring to Yunnan include sunscreen lotion and sunglasses, as protection against the intense sunlight, and a hat. The high, dry plateau is likely to cause chapped lips and cracked skin; lip salve and skin cream should not be forgotten. Travel to the southern part of Yunnan Province requires light, cotton clothing suitable for the tropics.  Travelers to Dali, Lijiang or Zhongdian in the northwest of the province should take gloves and a warm coat or jacket between November and March.

RESTRICTED TRAVELLING CONDITIONS

All areas of Yunnan are now open to foreign visitors.  However, access to some border areas is still subject to government permission (like overland travel to the Tibetan Autonomous Region and into Myanmar). In such situations VIP TOUR ASIA.,JSC will assist to obtain the necessary permits, based on passport information contained in clients' booking forms; however, no guarantee can be given that permits will be granted.

TRAVELING IN THE PROVINCE

Although airlines accepts reservations in advance, confirmation with departure times and flight number will be definitely known only when tickets are purchased. Shanghai-South-Eastern Airlines has a good network, serving all major cities within the province and operating a brand new fleet of Boeing 737 and 767 planes in the country. Baggage allowance on domestic flights is limited to 20 kg.

If domestic air services and road conditions in certain areas have improved greatly over the recent years, long distance overland travels generally take longer than the traveler might expect. New roads have been opened and are being under construction. A new expressway links Kunming to Dali in 4-5 hours and continues westwards to Baoshan (2 hours). To the south, a motorway allows travelers to reach Yuxi in only over an hour, therefore reducing the time of travel of our southwards itineraries.

Long distance transportation will be provided with air-conditioned buses or vans. In remote areas however, air conditioned vehicles may not always be available and travelers should be advised that the quality of roads can range from good to bad. Many of the vehicles' back seats are not equipped with safety belts.

Train transportation is also a way to discover the country. Since 1999, a train route links Kunming to Dali daily (day and night train with soft and hard sleepers). The most famous line built by the French at the turn of the 20th century and  linking Kunming to Hanoi is not operated anymore.

FOOD & DRINK

With a history of several thousand years, China is one of the most ancient civilizations in the world.  Chinese cookery, similarly, occupies a unique place in the world's culinary art. A variety of cuisines have been formed out of different local products, climates, traditions and eating habits throughout the centuries. Like music, dance and drama, Chinese cookery is regarded as a form of art and an important part of the Chinese culture. Chinese culinary style pays special attention to the selection of ingredients and the color, smell, taste, appearance and combination of dishes.  Even the ways of eating are worth studying.

In order to give travelers a true feeling for the country and its diverse regional gastronomic variations, VIP TOUR ASIA.,JSC features interesting local restaurants whenever possible in its itineraries. These are carefully selected, for hygiene as well as gastronomic considerations. In some countryside areas, however, dining opportunities are still very limited. Travelers are advised against eating from street or market stalls, however tempting these may seem. Again, never drink tap water - purified, bottled water is available everywhere.

HOTELS

In spite of the building boom that is creating new hotels up to international standards for the first time in key tourist centers, accommodation in Yunnan will still vary in quality and, during high seasons, availability.  VIP TOUR ASIA.,JSC clients will generally receive hotel reservation priority, but VIP TOUR ASIA.,JSC cannot guarantee specific hotel requests upcountry and reserves the right to substitute accommodation of the best available alternative standard when a first-choice hotel is not available. Clients are advised that accommodations, especially in upcountry or remote locations, may not always be up to international standards.

SHOPPING

In spite of the building boom that is creating new hotels up to international standards for the first time in key tourist centers, accommodation in Yunnan will still vary in quality and, during high seasons, availability.  VIP TOUR ASIA.,JSC clients will generally receive hotel reservation priority, but VIP TOUR ASIA.,JSC cannot guarantee specific hotel requests upcountry and reserves the right to substitute accommodation of the best available alternative standard when a first-choice hotel is not available. Clients are advised that accommodations, especially in upcountry or remote locations, may not always be up to international standards.

ETHNIC GROUPS: There are 56 ethnic groups in China, among which the Han people account for 92% of the total population while the other 55 ethnic groups 8%. In addition to the Han, the other ethnic groups are: Zhuang, Hui, Uyghurs, Yi, Miao, Manchu, Tibetan, Mongols, Tujia, Buyei, Korean, Dong, Yao, Bai, Hani, Kazakh, Dai, Li, Lisu, Va, She, Lahu, Sui, Dongxiang, Nakhi, Kyrgyz, Tu, Qiang, Daur, Jingpo, Mulao, Xibe, Salar, Blang, Gelao, Maonan, Tajik, Pumi, Nu, Achang, Ewenki, Uzbeks, De’ang, Jing, Jino, Yugur, Bonan, Russian, Monba, Derung, Oroqen, Tatars, Lhoba, Gaoshan, and Hezhen.

LANGUAGES: Fifty-three ethnic groups speak their own distinct languages and 23 ethnic groups have their own writing scripts.

RELIGIONS: Religions represented in China include Buddhism, Daoism, Islam, Catholicism and other Christian groups. People are free to pursue any religion.

HISTORY: China, with a recorded history of more than 5,000 years, is one of the four ancient civilizations. From the time of the founding of Xia dynasty in the 21st century BC to the late Spring and Autumn period, with the Shang and Western Zhou dynasties in between, society was slavery based. From the time of the Warring States period of 475 BC to the early period of the Qing dynasty, with Qin, Western Han, Eastern Han, Three Kingdom, Western Jin, Eastern Jin, Southern and Northern dynasties, Sui, Tang, Five dynasties, Song, Liao, Jin, Yuan, and Ming in between, society was feudal. After the Opium War in 1840, China gradually turned into a semi-colonial and semi-feudal society as a result of imperialist invasion. In 1911, the 1911 Revolution, led by Sun Yat-sen, ended the monarchy and on October 1, 1949, the CPC, under the leadership of Mao Zedong, led the masses and established the People’s Republic of China.

SIGHTSEEING TOUR POLICY

Travelers should take adequate supplies of any prescription medicines they may need, for supplies may not be locally available. Major sightseeing highlights of Yunnan include a huge variety of religious and historic monuments, all exuding a rich cultural and artistic heritage, along with many fine museums and beautiful natural scenery.  VIP TOUR ASIA.,JSC also seeks out the less obvious attractions. These include interesting local markets, festivals, traditional handicrafts, plus the opportunity to meet local people in their own environment, sometimes even their own homes.  There are also opportunities to try regional cuisine and to see typical or traditional forms of entertainment.  VIP TOUR ASIA.,JSC includes such extra dimensions to make any visit to Yunnan a richer, more rewarding and more memorable experience.