Beijing experiences four distinct seasons. The best weather is found from September through November when conditions are sunny and dry. Spring runs from March through May and also brings pleasant temperatures, although in the earlier months there is a chance of occasional sand clouds drifting in from Inner Mongolia. Summer sees high temperatures over 30°C (80°F), although the heat does not deter travellers and this is often the busiest time of the year. Winter can be cold with temperatures of -20°C (0°F), but seeing the Great Wall and the Summer Palace under a white cloak of snow is a magical, not to mention photogenic, experience. Rainfall is almost exclusively limited to the hotter months from June through September.
The official language of China is Mandarin, which has its origins in Beijing. Whilst the country has many distinct languages and dialects, Mandarin is the teaching medium across all schools in China. The use of English is becoming more common in Beijing’s city centre, although most street signs are in Chinese.
The national currency is the yuan or renmimbi. Major credit cards are accepted in hotels and larger establishments. Most currencies and traveller’s cheques are easy to cash. ATM machines are widely available.
Visas are required to enter, exit or transit through Chinese territories. The most common is a single entry 30-day visa. Multiple entry, 60-day and 90-day visas are also available. Passports must have a minimum of six months validity. Enquiries should be directed to the nearest Chinese embassy or consulate.
Aman at Summer Palace, Beijing can arrange a doctor 24 hours a day in case of emergencies. Beijing has some of the best hospitals in China. There are no particular immunisations required for entry into China unless the traveller is coming from a yellow fever-infected area. No vaccinations are required for travel to China, but it is advisable to check with your doctor for current information.
Electricity is 220 volts/50 cycles. Beijing, and all of China, is plus eight hours Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). During the winter months from November to March, warm clothes are required. In autumn and spring, guests should pack light woollens for early mornings and evenings, with lighter clothing for the rest of the day. During the summer months it is recommended that guests wear light, yet conservative attire. Guests should at all times travel with comfortable walking shoes and a wide-brimmed hat.