The electricity supply in China is 220 volts 50Hz AC, which is fine for 220 or 240V equipment. If your gadgets require 110V, you will need a voltage adapter (transformer). Sockets are 'international' type. If you need a plug adapter, these can be bought locally. Visitors from the UK with their unique 'chunky plugs' should take an adapter with them.
The whole of China is on Beijing time - that is, 8 hours ahead of GMT (and therefore of London). There is no daylight savings time ('summer time'), so you may need to subtract 1 hour in the summer.
Wear whatever you find comfortable. Both informal and business attire is similar to that of the West. For most visitors, opportunities to dress formally are few, and there are no restaurants or hotels absolutely requiring jacket or tie.
Taking taxis is cheaper and easier. Cars can be rented from your hotel or through a travel agency that come with drivers, which might be just what you want. For self-drive you will need an international driving license. Check one of the what's on listing magazines or with your hotel to find a self-drive car hire company.
Prices in China vary from just 10% of what one would expect in the west to about the same. Most basics, such as food, are priced nearer to the 10% end of this scale. This is a fact usually 'overlooked' when commentators talk about low wages in China.
At the top end of the luxury market, prices can be as extravagant as anywhere in the west.
If you purchase antiques in China, you must obtain a certificate of authenticity. You need this certificate to avoid trouble when departing. Present this form when going through customs to avoid having your antique declared a 'cultural relic' and confiscated.
Only items dating from Jia Qing's reign (1797-1820) of the Qing Dynasty can be legally offered for sale and cleared for export. They should bear a small red seal or have one affixed by the Cultural Relics Bureau in order to pass through customs. Keep all purchase receipts. The bureau has an office in the furniture hall of the Friendship Store which opens on Mondays and Fridays from 1:30 pm to 4:30 pm to appraise antiques.
Good buys in Beijing are porcelain (especially blue-and-white porcelain), calligraphy, paintings, jewellery and jade, old costumes and furniture.
In mainland China, as in many other countries, there is no tipping, despite what tour companies may tell you (although if you have a tour leader who accompanies you from home, home rules apply). Until recently, tipping was expressly forbidden, and some hotels still carry signs requesting you not to tip. In China, the listed price, or the price bargained for, is the price you pay, and that's that.
Offices are generally open 9am to 6pm and closed Saturday and Sunday. All shops, sights, restaurants and transport systems offer the same service 7 days a week. Shops are typically open at least 8am to 8pm, sometimes till 9pm and sometimes till 10. Occasionally, before major holidays, shopping centers may stay open until 2am! Bank opening hours vary.