One of China’s leading ports, Shanghai is also one of the busiest ports as well as the center for industry and commerce. The dynamics of Shanghai changed a bit after 1949 when the new Communist government was established, modern Shanghai is a bustling center of business.
A top shopping spot in Shanghai is Nanjing Road, but there are many other streets and areas with tourist attractions and shops. In addition to having great shopping, Shanghai is also a fabulous place for gourmet food. With Chinese food alone, there are restaurants catering to sixteen different styles ranging from Beijing to Fujian.
Shanghai’s people are open and welcoming to those visiting from around the world, which is necessary to continue making Shanghai into a successful international force.
China is a cash-based society, and local currency, the Renminbi or RMB, is needed to transact most daily business. You can change foreign currency and travelers checks to RMB at most hotels and major banks. Changing it on “the street” is discouraged for two reasons…it’s illegal and you run the risk of receiving counterfeit money.
Although Shanghai has been designated as the financial center for China, and many foreign banks have branches or representative offices here, their services are limited by Chinese law to businesses. At larger banks, such as the Bank of China and CITIC, you may open a US$ account and a RMB account with a passport and residency card. Even if you open an account with a local bank, you may wish to keep most of your funds in a foreign currency account, since it is difficult to exchange large amounts of RMB into a foreign currency (which you will have to do when you eventually leave China).
To cash a foreign check at one of the main branches of the Bank of China, bring a current credit card with you. The bank will use your credit line on the card as collateral. The amount you can cash depends on the type of card – between $400 US and $1,000 US every ten to twenty days; however, the fee for cashing the check may be as high as 4%.
For convenience, many expatriates open an account outside of China, and cash can be readily accessed via ATMs. ATM machines can be found at most bank offices and department stores. You can withdraw RMB amounts from international accounts if the ATM displays either a Visa or MasterCard sign. Keep in mind that many ATM machines are closed during the evenings, on Sundays and during holidays.
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