GETTING THERE: China’s major international gateway for flights from the U.S. is Beijing Capital International Airport, located 16 miles to the northeast of Beijing city center. Carriers with direct flights to China include Continental Airlines (Newark) and United Airlines (Chicago-O’Hare, San Francisco, Washington-Dulles). This past year, China and the U.S. officially signed a landmark aviation agreement to expand air services between the two countries. The agreement will double the number of commercial passenger departures by 2012.
ENTRY REQUIREMENTS: U.S. citizens need a visa to enter China. The fee is $50 for a single-entry visa. A visa should be applied for one month before the applicant departs from the U.S.
CURRENCY: Yuan. At press time the rate was $1 to 7.54 yuan.
LANGUAGE: Mandarin is commonly used in modern China.
ELECTRICITY: 220 volt is used throughout China, although four- and five-star hotels are wired for 110-volt appliances.
DEPARTURE TAX: Departing China, there is a 90 yuan (around $12) departure tax. Departure tax on all domestic flights is 50 yuan (around $6.50).
TOUR OPERATORS: A partial list of tour operators with programs to China includes
* GTS Globotours (800-988-4833)
* Uniworld Grand River Cruises (800-733-7820)
* Viking River Cruises (888-505-7984)