Practical Tips

General Comments

If this is your first trip to China, it is recommended that you purchase a Travel Guide or research travel information on the Internet to prepare yourself for your trip. This page will highlight helpful information/tips about your trip, but your own personal research is encouraged.

You will receive a conference bag at registration that can be used to carry your belongings between locations on the BNU campus.

Climate and Clothing

Weather will be warm in Beijing, with the possibility of rain showers. Temperatures range from lows of 22°C/72°F to highs of 31°C/88°F. Since the conference includes an excursion to The Great Wall and Summer Palace, bring comfortable clothing, an umbrella/rain poncho, and walking shoes.

Business casual attire is suggested for the conference. We recommend bringing a sweater or a jacket to campus each day, as the meeting rooms are kept at a cool temperature. Getting to and from hotels and session rooms will require short walks. Comfortable shoes and clothing will make your time at the conference more enjoyable. Not that it is fine to wear casual clothing at the conference.

Click here for more information about the weather.

Air pollution can be a problem, and those with health problems may want to seek medical advice before traveling. The US Embassy provides information on current levels of air pollution (also on Twitter @beijingair).

Food and Drink

There are many restaurants near the conference site, including Chinese, American and Italian restaurants. A list of local restaurants will be provided in the conference packet and can be downloaded here. Lunches on July 13-15 and the banquet on July 15 are included in the registration fees. You will receive tickets for each of these meals with your registration materials.

The Holiday Inn, Jingshi Hotel and Garden Hotel all offer complimentary breakfast.

Tap water is generally not drinkable – this includes ice-cubes. It is recommended to drink bottled water that may be purchased in many local stores and on the Beijing Normal University campus. Hotels typically provide some free bottled water daily. During the conference days (July 13-15), bottled water and other drinks will be provided for the morning and afternoon breaks and lunches.

Internet and News

Many hotels offer complimentary Wi-Fi. All conference participants will also be offered Wi-Fi accounts at the conference site. The Holiday Inn Beijing Deshengmen has a Business Center that is staffed between 6:00am and 10:00pm.

Yahoo and Baidu are the most popular Internet search engines in China (Google may not be available).

You may want to consider subscribing to the international plan provided by your mobile phone (cell phone) company. Alternatively, you can purchase a SIM card for approximately $30 to obtain 3G with a small data plan for Internet usage.

Safety and Security

China is generally a safe country. However, hang on tight to your wallet in crowded tourist sites and avoid people pestering tourists. Be wary of scams such as being invited to a Tea House.

See here for more safety tips.

Health and Exercise

As for all international travel, travel insurance (including health insurance) is highly recommended.

You might consider taking an anti-diarrheal or anti-nausea medication starting a few days before arriving in Beijing to prevent stomach upset from unfamiliar foods.

If you have any health or security concerns during the conference, please go to the registration desk at the Jingshi Hotel and speak to the registration staff.

See here for some information about MERS for IMPS attendees.

Places to exercise include Rendinghu Park near the Holiday Inn and Shuangxiu Park near the Garden Hotel.  The Holiday Inn and Garden Hotel have well-equipped fitness centers. The Garden Hotel also has a sauna complex where guests can relax, get a massage, pedicure and other salon treatments.  There is a swimming pool on the BNU campus. Don’t forget your swimsuit!

If you need a prescription filled, the closest pharmacies to the BNU campus are:

Xin Xing De Sheng Pharmacy (Xueyuan South Road site)

First Floor, Xin Rong Quan Property Building
No.4 Xueyuan South Road
Haidian District, Beijing
Phone: +86-10-62266977
Hours:  24 hours

De Wei Zhi Pharmacy (Bei Tai Ping Zhuang site)

No.8  Xinjiekouwai Street, Xicheng District (across the street from the east gate of BNU).
Phone: +86-10-62023278, +86-10-62022268
Hours:  24 hours

Language and Communication

While most hotel registration staff and most people on the Beijing Normal University campus speak English, this is not true of the general population.

For example, taxi drivers generally do not speak English. It is important to be well prepared and bring along maps with Chinese instructions for getting to your hotel and to the conference site. PDF documents with Chinese instructions for the taxi driver to take you from Beijing Capital Airport to each of the conference hotels are available for download here. See also here for useful Chinese sayings.

Street and subway signs in Beijing are generally both in Chinese characters and Pinyin (phonetic transcription in Roman letters).

There are cell-phone apps for translating between Chinese and English (and other languages). Many of these rely on an Internet connection.

An inexpensive way to communicate with family and friends back home while you are in China is by making use of free Wi-Fi and using apps like Skype, FaceTime or similar applications.


Key Pinyin Phrases:

Here is a list of key Pinyin phrases that will ensure respectful communication:

Pinyin Pronunciation Guide: There are four tones, which are indicated by numbers or directional lines: 1 (flat), 2 (rising), 3 (dipping then rising), and 4 (falling).

"Q" is pronounced "ch"
"Qu" is pronounced "chree"
"X" is pronounced "sh"
"Zh" is pronounced "dj"
"Sh" is pronounced "ss" with your tongue curled toward the roof of your mouth
"I" is pronounced "ee"
"ao" is pronounced "ow"
"uo" is pronounced "aw"
"ie" is pronounced "eeyeh"
"ian" is pronounced "eeyen"
"ai" is pronounced like the letter "I"
"ei" is pronounced like the letter "a"

Pinyin Pleasantries:

Nihao or Nihao ma: Hello or How are you? Universal greeting
Xie Xie: Thank you
Fu Wu Ren: Server. You might also hear "Xiao Jie," meaning waitress.
Man Zhou: Literally: Walk slowly. Said in parting, i.e. safe travels
Shi Fu: Literally: Teacher. Used colloquially to mean "sir"
Zai Jian: Goodbye

To learn more key Pinyin phrases, visit this website: National Geographic- Beijing Cultural Tips