2017 Travel Destinations: Best of China for Expats & Visitors

Top Travel Destinations for Visitors & Expats in China

With roughly 5000 years of history, China has a vibrant heritage to see and explore. In this article, we have listed for you the top 10 travel destinations of 2017 for expats and short-term visitors to China:

1. The Great Wall of China

The Great Wall of China is the longest wall in the world. It spans across several provinces such as Beijing, Liaoning, Hebei, Tianjin, Shanxi, Shaanxi, Ningxia, Gansu and Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. This is because the Great Wall was built through different dynasties by different emperors. The Great Wall has been coined as one of the “New Seven Wonders of the World” and is one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in China. Having visited the Great Wall of China in 1982, this is the most impressive structure in China and is a must-see for any expat.

2. The Forbidden City in Beijing

The famous Forbidden City, was a palace from the Ming dynasty to the Qing dynasty, crossing the years 1420 to 1921. It served as the home of kings and their queens, as well as the political and ceremonial center of Chinese government. You will see a wide range of artwork collections in the museum. The palace was built with whole logs of precious wood. If you are in Beijing, you should definitely visit this important site.

3. Taishan Mountain 

Taishan Mountain is one of the most famous mountains of China and is considered to be of exceptional historical and cultural value. For instance, the ancient Taoist tradition started there. Located in Shandong to the west, Taishan Mountain covers an area of 426 square kilometres and it 5,029 ft high above sea level. From ancient dynasties, many famous poems were based on the beautiful scenery of Taishan.

4. West Lake in Hangzhou

There is an old saying in Chinese “Paradise in Heaven; Suzhou and Hangzhou on earth.” Many famous traditional love stories took place in West Lake, Hangzhou. It has also been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site and is a must visit for expatriates in China. It owns many garden-style parks, traditional bridges, and hills.

In recent years, Hangzhou has become a technological and economic center of China. Moreover, as one of the most important tourist cities in China, Hangzhou is attracting more and more visitors and expats from all over the world.

5. Guilin – Li River 

In North Guangxi, Guilin is one of the best-known tourist destinations in China. There are a lot of rivers in Guilin, including the most famous Li River – with its length around 437 kilometres. America’s National Geographic magazine has rated Li river as one of the world’s top 10 aqueous wonders. Visitors and expats can cruise in boats on the Li river. Despite the beautiful sights, there is a small but wonderful town called Yangshuo near Guilin city  with many expats and tourists residing there. It is not surprising to see western cafes and restaurants on West Street in Yangshuo. This is also a great place for hiking and cycling.

6. The Terracotta Army

Also known as The Terracotta Warriors, it is a collection of terracotta sculptures portraying the armies of Qin Shi Huang, the first emperor of China. The army served to protect the king in his afterlife. There are horses and chariots included in the army, as well as musicians and officials. Estimates show that the Terracotta Army is made up of approximately 8,000 soldiers, 520 horses contain in the Terracotta Army. Experts estimate that there could be more buried inside Qin’s tomb. Visitors and expats can go to the exhibition constructed right above the Terracotta Army.

7. Luoyang

Luoyang is one of the oldest imperial capital cities in China and is quite popular with tourists in China. There are many important historical sites in Luoyang: Shaolin Temple, the origin and home to Kung Fu, and the Longmen Grottoes, one of the UNESCO World Heritage Site in China. Other popular travel destinations include White Horse Pagoda, Museum of Ancient Tombs, etc. Luoyang has pleasant weather all year round.

8. Danxia landscape 

The Danxia national park is located in northwestern Gansu Province in China. The landscape has numerous red rocks, most of which are several hundreds of meters high. The best time to visit the Danxia landscape is from June to September. Expats and visitors may want to contact local tour guides to make sure you visit all of the most desirable locations.

9. Zhangjiajie 

Zhangjiajie is well-known for its towering sandstone pillars, very suitable for outdoor activity lovers and adventurous people. Zhangjiajie National Forest Park is a great place for hiking and photography. Within the park, Tianzi Mountain is famous for its mists and clouds, and Gold Whip Stream is the ideal spot for a relaxing walk. The ideal times to visit are from April to June, and September to October.

Bring International Health Insurance With You

As you can see from our list above, there are lots of excellent natural and cultural sites for expats and tourists in China. However, medical care can be very expensive in China. It is highly suggested that you obtain quality expat health insurance before departure or travel medical insurance for short visits. Medical facilities in many areas are very primitive, especially in the countryside. Even in many major cities where satisfactory public healthcare for expats exists, the methods of payment and the quality of medical treatment may be inadequate. For the popular choice of foreign-run hospitals, expats are usually required to make payment in advance before receiving medical treatment. It can be very expensive for emergency treatment and medications in most of the international hospitals.

For long-term stays in China, it is recommended that you obtain a comprehensive expat health insurance plan, which should cover you for medical expenses, hospitalization and treatments, medicines and emergency evacuations – which are all you need to stay in China. Some Chinese embassies require proof of health insurance before issuing visas, especially if you are a foreign student.

Expat Financial offers excellent service before and after you purchase your international health insurance plan. Our dynamic firm is also very experienced in sourcing group plans for multinational firms with expats in China.

 

Learning the local language is crucial for expatriates on overseas assignments

Learning the local language is crucial for expatriates on overseas assignments – Language Tips for Expats

According to a recent survey that was carried out by Rosetta Stone, approximately three-fifths of global mobility experts believe that learning the local language is crucial to a successful expat assignment. Indeed, if an expat employee can communicate with the local business team and partners, then it definitely helps when building the bridge between local business leaders, expats, and the head office. In this article, we will discuss how expats can make learning their host country’s language easier.

Most Spoken Languages in the World

Out of the most popular languages, Chinese Mandarin is often seen as the most important language for expat employees, especially if residing in China, which is one of the largest economies in the world. Other common languages include Spanish, Hindi, Portuguese, French, Arabic, Russian and Japanese. Spanish is the primary language of Central America and South AmericaCuba and parts of the U.S. French is also widely spoken in varies countries, including Canada, Belgium, and Haiti. Arabic is mostly spoken in the Middle East and Egypt. It is the sixth official language of the United Nations. For expatriates planning to live and work abroad, it is recommended to have a working knowledge of your destination’s foreign language. Learning the local language can advance your career by giving you have a much better chance to start a conversation with locals and employees.

How to Learn a Foreign Language

  • Join a language learning group or attend a course: There are usually many language learning groups available in major cities across popular expat host nations. Try to find a local colleague or friend who would be willing to help you learn the language. If you can not find anyone who speaks the language or there are no language learning groups, try to apply and attend a language learning course. Many language learning schools provide modern language teaching techniques and updated learning materials in a small classroom setting. Some of them even offer expat students the chance to take part in local cultural activities. For busy expats, taking private language lessons can be more suitable than taking group lessons. Private language lessons are flexible, with options to specify different fields, such as business communication. Another popular choice is to take an online language learning course, as they are flexible and location independent.
  • Employer-Sponsored: It is recommended that the expat employer provide some language courses both before and during the expat assignment. Even just learning a few words and phrases can help your expat employees better integrate into their new surroundings.
  • Self-studying: Some expats will try to learn a new language themselves by spending a couple of hours each week and using a dictionary to enlarge your vocabulary. According to scientific research, language learning is based on repetition. If you spend some time every day to study the foreign language, you are more likely to grasp it within a few months. A dictionary is a handy tool for you to consult when you are finding the necessary words. Expats can use either an actual dictionary or a translator app. There are also lots of great online courses, such as ones offered by Babel and Rosetta Stone.

  • Immerse yourself in the language: Being immersed in a foreign language means that you are interacting, listening and speaking in the language daily. There are many conversation examples and lessons on Youtube and live stream radio on websites. And these are all free to access. Reading the local language can be very difficult for expats, but try to start with local magazines or newspapers. Read a short article in the beginning, and look up any words that you don’t understand. This will allow you to recognize commonly used words and phrases.
  • Embrace making mistakes: The best way to learn a new language is by practicing. Don’t worry about making mistakes. Focus on the practicing process other than on perfection. The more you speak, the better chance you will get to the ideal level.
  • Learn important vocabulary: One of the most important things about learning a new language is vocabulary. Even if you don’t understand a whole paragraph or a sentence, knowledge about some keywords will help you to understand the general meaning of a conversation. It is better for expats to focus on learning the most common words, and figure out which category of vocabulary is most relevant to you. It is also key to carry the correct vocabulary to assist you in a medical emergency. In the case you do need medical assistance, you want to be able to describe your condition to medical staff.
  • Don’t Forget About Dependents: If you are an expat with a partner or children living abroad, it is also critical to assist them in their new language endeavours. Check if the neighborhood school will provide lessons in the local language, and suggest that your spouse enrolls in some courses as well.

Don’t Forget Your International Health Insurance 

Learning a new language and living abroad is a wonderful experience within reach of you and your family. That new language will assist you should you require medical care from a facility or doctor who doesn’t speak your language. A great medical plan will also provide medical insurance support in all of the major languages. Expat Financial offers several different international health insurance plans for expatriates of any nationality across the world who are about to move abroad or already there. In addition, we offer excellent service before and after you purchase your international health insurance plan. If you have any questions regarding our international medical insurance plans or you want to discuss your needs and produce a customized quote, please contact us or complete the quote form.

Insurance options for companies with only one expat employee

Our firm has worked with many companies and organizations with hundreds and even thousands of employees that have only one or two expatriate employees posted abroad. These firms are not able to adequately cover their expat employee and his or her dependents under their domestic plan and should not try for a variety of reasons. The human resource manager is often faced with a dilemma of where to find adequate insurance for the lone expat employee and may have limited experience or understanding of expat insurance, not to mention no expat insurance contacts. So what is a company or non-profit with only one or two expat employees to do? Let’s learn more.

What to do when you have only one or two expat employees?

Attracting and retaining expat talent for your firm’s global operations is not easy. Finding the right person to help grow your sales or run operations abroad is both challenging and rewarding. If you want to attract the best person for your expat position, it is vital that you offer him or her the best global insurance coverage possible. It may not be easy to match your existing domestic benefit plan coverage for an expat position, but it is possible to gather coverage that will meet your duty of care obligations and adequately cover that employee and any dependents who will also live abroad. There are many insurance coverage requirements if you are hiring an expat employee, but we will deal with the three most important ones: Life, Disability & Global Medical Insurance. Note that all individual policies are medically underwritten, unlike most international group insurance plans, so keep this in mind if you are sending an individual expat abroad. Also, there are significant pitfalls in covering your expat employees on domestic plans in the new country location that we have described in a separate article.

Global Life Insurance for Individual Expat Employees

Your company’s existing domestic benefit plan will most likely offer a multiple of annual income in the local currency, but most expatriates will be paid in USD or Euro and will expect to be covered for 1 or 2 times annual income if he/she should die from an accident or illness. There are not a lot of global life insurance options for individual expats, but our firm does have access to some excellent life insurance plans that can cover most expats around the world. The premiums will, of course, depend on the age, occupation, and location of the employee. An employee being posted to a high-risk country such as Afghanistan will most likely have to obtain Accidental Death & Dismemberment (AD&D) coverage, which may also be an adjunct to the life insurance for some expats in more “safe” countries. The typical plans will exclude war and terrorism, but it may be possible to quote AD&D cover including war risk depending on the location of the policy and employer. Final premiums will depend on the health, age, location, occupation of the employee. Unlike a group plan that we can offer, it is possible that the employee won’t qualify for coverage.

Finally, in regards to that “consultant” that you are hiring or who is only working for you, it may be tempting to have him or her secure insurance coverage on their own, but many companies who employ consultants abroad are taking a risk. That consultant may be viewed as an employee should they only work for your firm and should they become sick, injured, or deseased while being posted abroad, your company may be held responsible regardless.

Expat Disability Insurance for Individual Expat Employees

One of the most important parts of your expat employee responsibilities is securing adequate disability coverage should he or she become sick or have an accident that will make it impossible for him or her to work. However, global disability coverage is often not secured by expat employers, and domestic workers compensation plans will generally not extend beyond the national borders. Unfortunately, the risk of a disability is extremely high for most persons under age 65, and this represents a huge liability and risk for both the employer and employee. Part of your duty of care is to help the employee secure global disability coverage. Expat Financial offers an excellent individual expat disability insurance plan from William Russell that can provide income protection after 3 or 6 months waiting period. The longer the waiting period, the lower the premium. We can secure individual short-term disability, but this can easily be self-insured by most employers. A long-term disability can not.

Individual International Health Insurance Options for Expat Employers

Many expat employers will have their domestic employees covered by private or public health insurance schemes or a combination of the two. However, most human resource professionals and their advisors will have limited, or no experience in the unique challenges associated with covering expat employees posted abroad with or without their family members. Some will keep the employee on the domestic health plan which almost certainly will not adequately cover the employee overseas to save costs or merely a lack of understanding of the domestic policy and requirements for healthcare while living abroad.

That is why it is vital for HR professionals to provide a comprehensive international health insurance coverage that will meet your duty of care and other employment responsibilities. We have seen too many expat employers ask the employee to obtain his or her health coverage on his or her own, but you as the employer will be responsible should that coverage not be adequate. This can lead to a failed expat assignment, large unfunded medical claim or your prospective expat employee seeks a job with another employer. If the expat employer has more than 2 or 3 employees, Expat Financial can probably source a group plan, but under three most expat employers will want to secure an individual plan for that expat employee.

Most global medical insurance plans will cover hospital, out-patient care, wellness and evacuation & repatriation. Some expat employers will also want to secure dental and vision coverage. If the employee has a spouse who may become pregnant, it is vital that you include full maternity coverage – however individual plans will have a 9 or 12 month waiting period. While it may be tempting to obtain the least expensive plan, you do get what you pay for, and we recommend that expat employers secure the best possible coverage with or without a deductible to help lower the premiums. As noted above, the employee or their dependent’s health may impact the approval or coverage that is secured. Rates will depend on the ages, citizenships, health statuses, plan options, deductibles and country location of the expat employee and any dependents. Most American expats will want a plan that adequately covers treatment in the USA, but this will mean a higher premium. If you have an expat employee posted in the USA or a nearby region, you will want to make sure it covers treatment in the United States. We have an excellent global health plan from Cigna where you or your employee can get a quote and even apply or expat health insurance.

Obtaining Individual Expat Insurance for that Lone Expat Employee

While you may want to turn to your domestic consulting firm or broker for the above coverage, it is very likely his or her firm will have insufficient experience in global life, disability, and health insurance – this is even the case with the large insurance consulting houses. Like most things in life, it pays to talk to an expat specialist firm, and that is where Expat Financial and its parent company TFG Global can be of assistance in understanding your organization’s international insurance requirements. Additionally, we do not charge a consulting fee as we are compensated by the insurer with the same rates regardless. We also have long established insurance provider relationships and excellent service and support. We may be able to assist on other insurance matters related to your expat employees, such as kidnap & ransom and even business travel insurance for domestic employees who travel abroad. To learn more, contact us today if you are sending one, two or a hundred expat employees overseas to expand your global fortunes. We look forward to being part of your international relocation efforts.

5 Tips for expats to live like a local when moving abroad

In this article, you will learn about how expatriates can adjust to their new county by learning about the local culture, making friends and adapting to their new surroundings. We have put together five tips for expatriates who want to learn how to live abroad like the locals.

  • Learning the Language

Expatriates will find that learning the local language is crucial when trying to immerse themselves in another country and culture. Once you start to speak the local language, the locals will begin to open up to you. It is not just a way of communication; it shows your respect for the local culture. Don’t struggle to become fluent, try to start with some basic greeting expressions. You can get assistance with learning a language from a variety of online resources, such as Babel. Others will take language classes before and after moving abroad. However, there is no substitute for diving right in when you move to your new location. The less you use your native language, the sooner you will be conversing with the locals over a cup of espresso. Finally, it is important to learn the local customs of your destination country to avoid embarrassment and better integrate into the culture.

  • Making Connections

Many expatriates may tend to make friends with expats of similar backgrounds, especially if they are going to local expat pubs and gatherings. However, it is a good idea to try to make some local friends as well. It may be difficult at first, but having a few trusted local friends will enrich your expat experience and will help you adapt the cultural differences. Don’t expect to feel immediately accepted and comfortable in your new environment, but try to be open and friendly.

  • Immerse Yourself in the Local Culture

There could be many elements to make you feel that you are a foreigner, no matter in your daily life or at work. To get involved in the local culture, expatriates are encouraged to go out and attend local events such as a colleagues’ party, or high tea with your new neighbor,. These important social interactions will make you want to explore the new culture and keep the curiosity about the destination country.

  • Integrate Into Local Community

Some expat experts recommend that you try to live like the locals and integrate into local communities. As an expatriate, you have a lot to contribute such as volunteering and sharing your skills and experience at local educational institutions. It is also encouraged for expats to keep up their hobbies while living abroad. If you are fond of painting, then join a local artist club; If you love sports, you can join a sports team. Once you obtain local connections and a group of friends, you will start to enjoy the expat life.

  • Eat Like the Locals 

Enjoying food with new friends is one of the best ways to break the ice. That’s why we recommend that you try the authentic local cuisine at restaurants. If possible, avoid the familiar chain restaurants that you visit in your home country. When shopping at local grocery stores, try to imitate the shopping list locals make and buy locally produced food.

How to Handle Health Care When Living Abroad

To stay healthy and fit while living and working abroad, there are many health risks that you want to avoid. To better plan and prepare a safe and rewarding journey before departure, one of the most important considerations is international health insuranceExpat Financial offers independent advice, solutions and excellent service and support to clients around the world and we have extensive experience in sourcing medical cover for individual expats.

Six tips for planning an international relocation

Moving abroad requires a great deal of preparation, especially for those who are planning for a long-term assignment, travel or retiring abroad. If you are planning an international move, you will find the process can longer than you think it will. To better assist you during the transition, we will discuss six quick tips on how to plan an international relocation for future expatriates.

  • Making Decision and Check All Important Documentations

It is critical that future expatriates should make a decision as early as possible. Once you have firmly decided to relocate overseas, you can move forward and make plans. Getting started a year or 10 months in advance will provide you with enough time to plan and react.

Another important reason for making an early decision is due to the processing time of work permit or visas required in your destination country. In some countries, it can take up to a year to process and approve a visa. Therefore, it is suggested that future expatriates apply and submit the required documentation as soon as possible. Make sure that your official documents, such as passport, birth certificate, ID card, driver’s license, etc… are all valid. Please check to see if your family member’s documents are in order as well if they are moving with you. In general, entry into any countries for tourism or business trip requires that your passport be valid for at least three months. If you are planning a long-term relocation abroad, it is better to have your passport with at least six months’ validity remaining.

Obtain other required documentation such as your children’s school report card, which is vital if enrolling in a new school in your destination country; and all legal documents that you plan to take with you: birth certificate, marriage certificate, medical records, bank drafts, medical insurance documents, etc.

  • Arrange for Necessary Vaccinations 

As international travellers, they may face many potential health risks and diseases. According to a new study published recently in the Annals of Internal Medicine, more than half of the international travellers in the USA did not get vaccinated between 2009 and 2014. This may result in severe infection in countries where many diseases are prevalent. It is critical to arrange for necessary vaccinations before departure. For example, if you are moving to Hong Kong, suggested vaccines to consider are: Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Influenza, Japanese encephalitis, Measles and Yellow Fever.

It is important to note that each country may have different vaccination entry requirements. It is recommended that future expatriates contact their doctors to verify additional vaccinations requirements of the destination country or region.

  • Job Search 

Another consideration is obtaining a job overseas. Most expats will want to start researching employment opportunities in your destination country long before leaving. It is essential to know whether you need any additional certifications or training, such as TOEFL/IELTS certification of English proficiency, research abstract (for early-stage researchers), teaching portfolio, a complete list of publications, second language skills, etc. We encourage future expatriates to apply for a job as soon as possible due to the processing time of work permit application.

For younger people who haven’t found a job but decided to move abroad, many countries offer a special programme to provide them with work opportunities. For example, in Canada, The International Experience Canada provides young people aged 18 – 35 from all over the world to work and travel in Canada. Future expatriates should try to do research and participate in this kind of programs and gain valuable working experience. Please keep in mind that in some countries there might be age restrictions. Please check carefully before you apply.

  • Financial Assessment

Before moving overseas, it is suggested that expats have a full financial accounting and take into account the cost of living in your destination country, including apartment rental rates, property purchase cost, school tuition fees, meals and more. Try not to forget any moving expenses such as boxes and packing materials fees, transportation of furniture. If you are lucky, your employer may provide some assistance and subsidies for your expat assignment. All future expats should also look into your expat tax obligations in both your home country and your destination country. Check out our links page for some great expat tax accountants. Contact your bank and get a global account for internet banking. If you have mortgage or loan payments in your home country, please also set up a direct payment account with your bank while you are away.

  • Language Training 

Communication is crucial for expatriates who want to live and work overseas. If expats are relocating to a destination country with language barriers, the interaction could be complicated for their integration and even career. This is especially true if expats are in dangerous situations or medical emergencies. Therefore, it is recommended that future expats receive basic local language training before departure. It will also accelerate the adjustment of foreign expatriates.

expat healthcare if critical

  • Obtain International Health Insurance 

International health insurance coverage is a necessity and should be the top consideration of future expats. Make sure you and your family are covered by a comprehensive medical plan in your destination country. Expat Financial offers a wide range of expatriate health insurance plans designed specifically for any expatriates of any nationality around much of the world. With expat health insurance plans, you and your family’s health are protected through an appropriate level of expat insurance. It is quite easy for expats to obtain a quote for one of our comprehensive international health plans. For more information and to review the plans that we offer, contact our office or visit our international health insurance page. You can still purchase global medical coverage if you have already moved abroad.