Global Volunteers began working in China in 1996 to support Chinese leaders' desire to educate the nation's students in the language of commerce, technology and opportunity. Working in partnership with local people on long-term service projects is foundational to our sustained relationship with host organizations worldwide. Our investments of volunteer service, program support and international recognition are hallmarks of our commitment to this partnership.
When should I arrive in and depart from the the host country?
For Xian programs, plan your flight to arrive in Xi'an, China (airport code XIY) anytime before 4:00PM on the first day of your service program. Plan your departure from Xi'an anytime after 8:00AM on the final day of your service program. For Kunming programs, plan your flight to arrive in Kunming, China (airport code KMG) anytime before 5:00PM on the first day of your service program. Plan your departure from Kunming anytime after 8:00AM on the final day of your service program. Global Volunteers official service program commences on the first Saturday of your service program with the evening meal. Any expenses that occur before the evening meal, other than airport pick-up within the window of arrival, are that of the volunteer.
Will someone meet me at the airport?
Yes, provided you send your flight itinerary to Global Volunteers at least two weeks in advance of the service program arrival date. Your team leader will meet you within the prescribed arrival window, and will be displaying a Global Volunteers logo sign in the public area outside of Customs.
What should I do if my flight is delayed?
Please notify Global Volunteers as soon as you learn of your new arrival plans so that we can inform your team leader, who will work to arrange your transportation to the program site. If you make last-minute changes to your itinerary, or if you don't inform us of your flight plans, you must likewise make your own transportation arrangements to the host community.
If I am delayed, how late can I arrive in the host community?
Our team orientation sessions are a critical component of the preparation for your assignments. If circumstances beyond your control prevent you from reaching the program on the opening day of the program, we ask you to arrive no later than 9:00 AM on the following day.
What should I do if I arrive before the scheduled arrival date?
If you choose to spend time in country before the service program begins, please plan to meet your team at the designated airport within the specified arrival window on the first day of the program in order to be transported to the host community.
If I am arriving early, where can I stay?
We recommend that you check the numerous guidebooks available to find a hotel in the gateway city that fits your needs. Several are available by shuttle from the airport.
FOOD AND LODGING
What type of lodging is provided?
You'll stay in comfortable tourist-class hotels, double occupancy, with single rooms available for an additional fee. The rooms are air-conditioned and generally feature two twin beds, a desk and chair, closet, small dresser, safety deposit box, mini refrigerator, television and telephone. Single rooms are available for an extra fee.
What are the laundry arrangements?
The hotels provide one-day laundry service for a reasonable charge. Or, you can bring your clothes to be laundered at a local cleaner.
What is the electrical power?
The electrical power is 220V. You will need both a converter and a set of "universal" adapters, as these cannot be purchased locally. Most outlets in China use two round prong plugs or two angled flat prong plugs.
What is the local cuisine?
The variety, quantity, unique recipes and presentation of the food are remarkable. The menu consists mostly of stir-fried dishes, which includes vegetables, sweet & sour pork, Chinese dumplings, chicken & mushrooms and fried rice.
Can special diets be accommodated?
Vegetarian diets can generally be accommodated. Many foods are cooked in vegetable oil. However, special low fat diets and low sodium diets are difficult to accommodate. Vegans can also be accommodated, but be prepared for a lack of variety in meals. Uncooked fruit and vegetables should be avoided.
Will potable drinking water be provided?
In Xi'an, every volunteer is provided bottled water. Iin Kunming, a water dispenser is available in each hotel room. Volunteers must supply their own water bottles.
What are the principal health risks?
There are standard health risks in all developing countries. In the city, traffic is dangerous and the smog can cause respiratory problems. However, if you are careful and attentive to your surroundings, you can reduce the risks substantially.
What health precautions should I take?
We strongly recommend you consult your own physician, public health clinic and/or travel clinic for detailed travel health information.
For general recommendations, consult the following sources:
Centers for Disease Control
Health Canada Online
Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade
Travel Health Online
Is the water safe to drink?
No. Please do not drink the tap water or even use it to brush your teeth. Global Volunteers will provide plenty of bottled water for drinking and brushing teeth.
Is it safe to eat food purchased from street vendors?
No. You should avoid all food sold by street vendors as well as uncooked vegetables, unpeeled fruit and dairy products that are not pasteurized.
What type of insurance do you recommend?
We strongly recommend medical insurance that covers you while you are outside your home country, and trip cancellation insurance. Your travel agent can refer you to travel insurance providers. Global Volunteers will provide you with emergency medical evacuation insurance.
What is the local currency?
The local currency is the Chinese yuan (CNY).
What is the current exchange rate?
Where do I exchange money?
There are opportunities to exchange currency in the Beijing and Xi'an airports, as well as at your hotel or at neaby banks.
Can I use cash, credit cards or checks?
Credit Cards are widely used in tourist centers, but may not be accepted in local areas and small stores and restaurants. ATMs are common in the urban areas. Travelers Checks are safe, but may not be widely accepted in rural areas. American Express is the most readily accepted traveller's check brand. Barclays', Citibank, and Thomas Cook are less widely recognized. Cash is definitely the easiest option. Please note that banks and exchange offices do not exchange torn, worn, or defaced bills. US$100 bills are the most commonly exchanged denomination.
How much money should I bring with me?
Your service program fee covers most of your daily expenses. Your free-time budget depends on your spending habits and whether you want to go on weekend excursions and/or evening events. A good rule of thumb is to plan for US$200 to $300 per day for tour packages. Your souvenir budget is entirely up to you!
How can my family contact me while I am in China?
In the event of an emergency, your family should refer to the Emergency Contact Sheet with Global Volunteers' after-hours numbers and in-country contacts you receive about a month prior to your departure. Please leave a copy with all who may need to reach you.
Can I make international phone calls?
Yes, international calls can be made and received in your hotel room.
Is internet service available?
Internet access is widely available throughout China. A broadband connection and cables are available in your hotel room. You may also access the internet through the hotel business center for approximately $4/hour.