Viking China (Part 2)


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UK
25 Posts
Joined Oct 2012
My wife and I are on the Imperial Jewels of China tour startingin Beijing on 25th April. Weare really looking forward to the combination of a land program and a cruiseelement. Although regular ocean cruisers,this will be our first river cruise. Having read through this thread I am impressed by how Viking ( via theirtour guides ) seem to have most things down to a “T”. Thanks also to the many contributors on thisthread. It has been very helpful.

I have a few questions which I appreciate have been askedbefore, but this thread goes back 7 years and I would be interested in anyfeedback from more recent travellers.

Luggage
We propose trying to travel a bit lighter than usual given the number oftransfers and also the internal checked limit of 20kg ( so much for the 2 x32kg long haul allowance ;-) ). However, the carry on limit of 5kg suggests using our small roller casesa waste as they would be almost empty to remain within limit. Is it better to avoid roller cases forcarryon and stick with a small back pack ? Also, does the one item include my wife’s handbag / purse ?

For the internal transfers from hotel – airport or ship etc, is the luggagecollected on checkout or collected the evening before ?



Money
We will probably pay on board tips on our account, but regards the Tour Guide ,is it OK to tip entirely in US dollars, and if so are larger bills a problem? I think we may take fair chunk of dollarsand set this aside for the tour guide tip and change more to Yuan for localuse. We have a two day extension onShanghai after we disembark so want to hold on to some local currency.


For local use, what typical denomination of Yuan would yousuggest ?



First afternoon / evening in Beijing
We arrive Beijing early afternoon. Arethere any activities that evening, or are we left to ourselves ?



Dining Onboard
I read that although we are in groups, you can dine with anyone onboard. On our cruises we always look to share atable at dinner and meet new people. Howdo they deal with the seating as we all arrive for dinner, or have peopleeffectively sorted out their table guests at pre dinner drinks ? We wouldn’twant to offend anyone in our group nor would we want to cause a problem if wewere imposing on someone else. Not sureI have explained that very well, but I am sure you get the idea.

Medications
Unfortunately I need to carry some meds. The guide from Viking says these need to be in their originalcontainers. For trips I usually carrymeds in there metal strips ie they are all marked with their names and brandand dosage. I just dispense with the carton/ box and leaflets that usually tell you all nasty things these drugs also doto you !! Makes it less bulky.



All feedback appreciated.





League City, TX
42,034 Posts
Joined Sep 2005
Originally posted by zimmer46
My wife and I are on the Imperial Jewels of China tour startingin Beijing on 25th April. Weare really looking forward to the combination of a land program and a cruiseelement. Although regular ocean cruisers,this will be our first river cruise. Having read through this thread I am impressed by how Viking ( via theirtour guides ) seem to have most things down to a “T”. Thanks also to the many contributors on thisthread. It has been very helpful.

I have a few questions which I appreciate have been askedbefore, but this thread goes back 7 years and I would be interested in anyfeedback from more recent travellers.

Luggage
We propose trying to travel a bit lighter than usual given the number oftransfers and also the internal checked limit of 20kg ( so much for the 2 x32kg long haul allowance ;-) ). However, the carry on limit of 5kg suggests using our small roller casesa waste as they would be almost empty to remain within limit. Is it better to avoid roller cases forcarryon and stick with a small back pack ? Also, does the one item include my wife’s handbag / purse ?

For the internal transfers from hotel – airport or ship etc, is the luggagecollected on checkout or collected the evening before ? In the morning.



Money
We will probably pay on board tips on our account, but regards the Tour Guide ,is it OK to tip entirely in US dollars, and if so are larger bills a problem? I think we may take fair chunk of dollarsand set this aside for the tour guide tip and change more to Yuan for localuse. We have a two day extension onShanghai after we disembark so want to hold on to some local currency. We did our tip to the main guide as a combination of US $ and Yuan. Larger bills not a problem. For the tips to local guides, Yuan is best as they do not all have easy access to conversion from US $ to Yuan.


For local use, what typical denomination of Yuan would you suggest ?



First afternoon / evening in Beijing
We arrive Beijing early afternoon. Arethere any activities that evening, or are we left to ourselves ?

When we did it, this was the description. We were on our own (and plenty tired from the trip there).

Day 1 Beijing
Welcome to Beijing, China’s former imperial capital whose rich history dates back more than 3,000 years. We will meet you at the airport and transfer you to your hotel.* After check-in, you have free time to relax or explore.



Dining Onboard
I read that although we are in groups, you can dine with anyone onboard. On our cruises we always look to share atable at dinner and meet new people. How do they deal with the seating as we all arrive for dinner, or have people effectively sorted out their table guests at pre dinner drinks ? We wouldn’twant to offend anyone in our group nor would we want to cause a problem if wewere imposing on someone else. Not sureI have explained that very well, but I am sure you get the idea. You pick who you want to eat with and can change if you so want at every meal. On the tour, you are in a group of about 30 people. At dinner on the ship, people tended to sit with members of their group, but it was not required. Basically, you walk in and choose where to sit. Usually people tended to sit in the same area each evening. Breakfast, unlike dinner, was more of a come anytime between x and y, so unlike dinner you did not all come in at the same time and thus might sit with different people where seating was available.

Medications
Unfortunately I need to carry some meds. The guide from Viking says these need to be in their originalcontainers. For trips I usually carrymeds in there metal strips ie they are all marked with their names and brandand dosage. I just dispense with the carton/ box and leaflets that usually tell you all nasty things these drugs also doto you !! Makes it less bulky. This is for Chinese customs, and although our meds were never inspected, it is best to be properly prepared in case then want to inspect them. The original containers prove it is a prescription for you. Over the counter meds could be carried the way you describe.



All feedback appreciated.




see red above
Massachusetts
92 Posts
Joined Sep 2016
Originally posted by zimmer46
Luggage
Is it better to avoid roller cases forcarryon and stick with a small back pack ? Also, does the one item include my wife’s handbag / purse ?
We were only allowed two checked bags, but we were able to carry on a small bag each. The purse didn't count.

Originally posted by zimmer46
Money
For local use, what typical denomination of Yuan would yousuggest ?
Credit cards are accepted everywhere except maybe street vendors or the occasional tip. That's where Yuans came in handy. But they do take US dollars as well.

Originally posted by zimmer46
First afternoon / evening in Beijing
We arrive Beijing early afternoon. Arethere any activities that evening, or are we left to ourselves ?
As mentioned above, on your own. But we did book a private dinner/night lake cruise. Pickup and drop off at the hotel. It was great to see Beijing at night.

You'll be taking lots of pictures and they are fussy about external battery packs at the airports. If you pack one, check the capacity beforehand or you'll lose it.

Laundry services are cheap on the ship. We could have packed less and had more of our laundry done.

Food and water on board and in the hotel restaurants is safe. But we used bottled water from any sink (hotel or ship).

You'll be assigned a tour guide and group on the first tour day, and you'll lunch together at a restaurant that day. You'll be with that group and guide until the end of the trip. You probably will be joining many of your group mates for lunch and dinner going forward.

We went with Viking on this trip early May 2017. Weather was great.
League City, TX
42,034 Posts
Joined Sep 2005
Originally posted by Mitina



Credit cards are accepted everywhere except maybe street vendors or the occasional tip. That's where Yuans came in handy. But they do take US dollars as well. Our experience is that some street vendors (mainly not in Beijing or Shanghai) only wanted Yuan and some only US $ (mainly in Beijing and Shanghai).


You'll be taking lots of pictures and they are fussy about external battery packs at the airports. If you pack one, check the capacity beforehand or you'll lose it. Fussy doesn't begin to describe it. Our experience with a group in Beijing last year was any battery storage device used to charge devices was confiscated no matter what the capacity. It does not matter what the sign at security says. They confiscated the battery packs and you could not discuss it with them as they spoke only Chinese. Also these are not supposed to be in checked luggage. By the way, no loose batteries in checked luggage.


see red above
UK
25 Posts
Joined Oct 2012
Thank you for the helpful responses Caribill and Mitina.
Regards the external battery packs. Is this referring to the fairly substantial external packs that some DSLR cameras use ? I just carry a small pocket Lumix camera but was planning taking a spare battery ie the small internal battery.
League City, TX
42,034 Posts
Joined Sep 2005
Originally posted by zimmer46
Thank you for the helpful responses Caribill and Mitina.
Regards the external battery packs. Is this referring to the fairly substantial external packs that some DSLR cameras use ? I just carry a small pocket Lumix camera but was planning taking a spare battery ie the small internal battery.
The spare small internal batteries are OK.


What they do not like are portable batter charger packs such as the ones shown here https://www.frys.com/search?query_st...nlanding040118
Ohio
65 Posts
Joined Mar 2012
We were on the Undiscovered China tour in October of 2017.

This is what we experienced:

No External Battery CHARGERS (like the ones in the link above) were allowed through security. The ones that plug into the wall to recharge your camera batteries are ok.

NO LIQUIDS IN CARRYONS. All liquids need to go into checked baggage. Take wipes instead of hand sanitizer for flight days.

NO BATTERIES IN CHECKED BAGS. All batteries need to be in your carryons. They x-ray checked luggage and if they find a battery or cell phone in them they will call you and have you remove it.

On our internal China flights we were only allowed ONE checked bag.

We were allowed a personal item (purse) and one carryon. I carried on a pretty large purse and a backpack without issue. My husband had a camera roller bag.

The entire trip is amazing and Viking does a very nice job. Beijing had tons of interesting things to see.

Enjoy!
UK
25 Posts
Joined Oct 2012
Thanks again for the information. I think we will make do with our one checked case each, and a small backpack as carry on plus my wife's hand bag.

However, one other question about liquids. OK I understand all liquids are to be in your checked bag. What about a liquid medication ? I carry a small GTN spray ( maybe 25ml ) due to a heart problem some years ago. It's prescribed as a precaution and never had to use it, but sods law if I do and it's in the hold ! It occurs to me that I could talk to my pharmacist and get a tablet form for this one trip, but I can't be the first person to travel inside China with such medication. It's never been an issue as anywhere else operates a 100ml liquid contain limit ( or similar ) in carry on.
Texas
756 Posts
Joined Jun 2009
zimmer46, you should be fine and you are advised to bring all medications in your carry on. This is interesting and may give some clarification. Hope the link works

http://traveltips.usatoday.com/rules...ne-102553.html

Safe travels and enjoy!


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5.2011 Viking Emerald/China
2.2011 Carnival Triumph/Mexico
9.2009 Uniworld River Ambassador/Rhine
12.2008 Grand Circle Provence/Saone
12.2006 Grand Circle River Rhapsody/Danube
10.2005 Louis Hellenic Perla/Greece & Turkey
12.2003 M/S World/Egypt
Boston MA
7,638 Posts
Joined Dec 2006
Originally posted by zimmer46
Thanks again for the information. I think we will make do with our one checked case each, and a small backpack as carry on plus my wife's hand bag.

However, one other question about liquids. OK I understand all liquids are to be in your checked bag. What about a liquid medication ? I carry a small GTN spray ( maybe 25ml ) due to a heart problem some years ago. It's prescribed as a precaution and never had to use it, but sods law if I do and it's in the hold ! It occurs to me that I could talk to my pharmacist and get a tablet form for this one trip, but I can't be the first person to travel inside China with such medication. It's never been an issue as anywhere else operates a 100ml liquid contain limit ( or similar ) in carry on.
Don't mess around with second hand information. Contact Viking before you leave and discuss it with them. [email protected]--include your booking number and a phone number in the e-mail and they will call you. When you arrive in China, discuss your meds with your group escort and ask him how he wants you to handle it on the airplanes.You may feel more comfortable if you arrange to go through screening with your escort at your side.
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League City, TX
42,034 Posts
Joined Sep 2005
Originally posted by suspaul
zimmer46, you should be fine and you are advised to bring all medications in your carry on. This is interesting and may give some clarification. Hope the link works

http://traveltips.usatoday.com/rules...ne-102553.html

Safe travels and enjoy!
Yes, the link works, but TSA rules do not apply in China. They have their own set of more restrictive rules. For example, even if you buy a bottle of water after going through security, it cannot be taken onto a plane.
Texas
756 Posts
Joined Jun 2009
Granted we did this trip/cruise a few years ago but I don’t recall having a problem with any meds in our carry on luggage and 25ml is a small amount. Hope all works out well and there are no problems.


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5.2011 Viking Emerald/China
2.2011 Carnival Triumph/Mexico
9.2009 Uniworld River Ambassador/Rhine
12.2008 Grand Circle Provence/Saone
12.2006 Grand Circle River Rhapsody/Danube
10.2005 Louis Hellenic Perla/Greece & Turkey
12.2003 M/S World/Egypt
127 Posts
Joined Feb 2011
It seems like, just like TSA rules here, the rules in China change quickly.

We were on the Imperial Jewels tour in July 2017 and had no issues carrying our battery packs through security.

We did the Shanghai to Beijing route and the only airport where we saw the liquid restrictions was in Beijing on our way out of China. It must have been new there, too. They had a small sheet in the ticket jacket that explained you couldn't carry on any liquids (besides the small bottles that were approved through the security line). Even in the duty free shop, where they sold bottles of liquor, there were no signs telling you that, while you could buy all you wanted, you wouldn't be able to take it on the plane.
UK
25 Posts
Joined Oct 2012
Thanks to all for the feedback. It seems the "rules" are fluid, if you will forgive the pun ;-)
It's quite likely I could carry the small amount of liquid and not have a problem, but we all see inconsistencies in the enforcement of these rules, so with three internal flights, it's a high risk and could end up with the med being confiscated. Decided to play safe and the doc has given me the tablet form for this trip.

Now that that's sorted, looking forward to a great trip and experience, and I will report back here with anything I can update.
Washington state
185 Posts
Joined Mar 2011
We just returned from independent travel in China after about a month. Upon arrival in Shanghai on 4/28/18 we were fingerprinted and photographed as we passed through customs. I don't know if this is a new policy in China or just at Shanghai because I was not fingerprinted flying into Beijing in November of 2017. We took 5 internal flights in China on various Chinese airlines from Shanghai, Zhengzhou, Lijiang, Kunming, Zhangjiajie, and Changsha. At each airport, our battery chargers were checked for their ratings but never confiscated. Absolutely no batteries were allowed in our checked luggage including AA or AAA batteries. We did the same thing with liquids as we do in the US and had no issues carrying small quantities of hand sanitizer and the like. We found the biggest advantage of traveling in China independently is the western toilets are always open since the Chinese refuse to use them except in an emergency.
England
6 Posts
Joined Jan 2018
I thought this may be of help to any Brits travelling to China. I was shocked at the price that the visa company recommended by Viking was going to charge so I used www.travel-direct.com/visas/china instead. Their price was only a bit more than what the Chinese embassy charges for its postal service with the peace of mind that someone will check your forms through before they submit them. Once I informed Viking that I was getting my visa independently they sent me through a FAQ sheet which basically walked me through the visa form step by step, including all the hotel addresses for our stay. Travel-direct also had a FAQ sheet to double check my answers and the process was quite easy. I chose the 5 day processing and exactly one week from sending my forms off I received my visa. I was very happy with their service and I hope this helps someone.
2,047 Posts
Joined Sep 2009
Originally posted by BoostieBoo
Once I informed Viking that I was getting my visa independently they sent me through a FAQ sheet which basically walked me through the visa form step by step, including all the hotel addresses for our stay.
Once you have the sheet from Viking it really is very easy to complete the visa process without further help.
Staffordshire, UK
242 Posts
Joined Aug 2013
Originally posted by BoostieBoo
I thought this may be of help to any Brits travelling to China. I was shocked at the price that the visa company recommended by Viking was going to charge so I used www.travel-direct.com/visas/china instead. Their price was only a bit more than what the Chinese embassy charges for its postal service with the peace of mind that someone will check your forms through before they submit them. Once I informed Viking that I was getting my visa independently they sent me through a FAQ sheet which basically walked me through the visa form step by step, including all the hotel addresses for our stay. Travel-direct also had a FAQ sheet to double check my answers and the process was quite easy. I chose the 5 day processing and exactly one week from sending my forms off I received my visa. I was very happy with their service and I hope this helps someone.
Thanks for this. Wet helpful, could you share with me your cost comparison. We are travelling next May it’s on my to do list but not quite at the top!
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England
6 Posts
Joined Jan 2018
Originally posted by NeilP57
Thanks for this. Wet helpful, could you share with me your cost comparison. We are travelling next May it’s on my to do list but not quite at the top!
We were charged £175 each which is roughly £5 more than the price the Chinese Embassy charges for its postal service. I still had to pay for recorded delivery there and for the return too but I assume I would need to pay for at least half of it going direct. The visa company that Viking recommended charges roughly £260 each plus a postage fee.

We were told to apply for our visa between 2 and 3 months prior to our trip. I was quite anxious but it went smoothly even though the forms are quite daunting. We even took our photos on our iPad and used a free program to make them the correct size for the visa.