World ? Asia ? China ? Guangzhou

Guangzhou: Fast Facts

Banks, Foreign Exchange and ATMs -- Most of the many branches of the Bank of China (open 9am-noon and 2-5pm) have forex services and ATMs accepting foreign cards, including the branch inside the Garden Hotel and the nearby Friendship Store. But be prepared to wait. Nearly all banks now have a ticket system like you find at a cheese counter. Just take a number and wait your turn. There's a newly opened branch of the Hongkong and Shanghai Bank at the front of the Garden Hotel on.

Consulates -- The consulate of Australia is now on the 12/F Zhujiang New City Development Centre, 3, Linjiang Lu (tel. 020/3814-0111; fax 020/3814-0112). The consulate of Canada is in Suite 801, Wing C in the China Hotel (tel. 020/8666-0569, ext. 0; fax 020/8667-2421). The U.K. consulate is on the second floor of the Guangdong International Hotel, Huan Shi Dong Lu 339 (tel. 020/8335-1354; www.uk.cn/gz). The U.S. Consulate has moved to 5/F Phase 2, Tian Yu Gardens, 136-142 Lin He Zhong Lu 1 (tel. 020/8620-8121). Onward visas for Vietnam are available on the second floor of B Building North at the Landmark Hotel, Qiaoguang Lu 8 (tel. 020/8330-5910); hours are Monday through Friday from 9am to noon and 2 to 5pm. Cambodia, Denmark, France, Italy, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, The Philippines, Poland, Thailand, and The Netherlands also have consulates in Guangzhou.

Internet Access -- There are Internet cafes everywhere, but most of them are dark, dingy places populated by sad locals. A far cleaner alternative is on the second floor of the Guangzhou library, just outside the Lieshi Lingyuan subway stop. No smoking is allowed and the keyboards are still legible -- all for just ť2 (25Ţ/15p) per hour. Deposit is (ť50/$6.50/ţ3.30); have your passport with you in case its requested. It's open Thursday to Tuesday (9am-5pm) and gets very busy on the second Monday of the month when access is free between 9am and noon; on Wednesdays, you can head to the nearby Zhongshan library (Zhongshan Lu 4) instead. Dial-up is tel. 163, or the faster tel. 96169.

Post Office -- There's a useful post office (open Mon-Sat 9am-5pm) in San Jie on Shamian if you happen to be staying in that part of town, but for sending anything bulky, try the branch outside the old railway station, where both of the packing guys are extremely helpful and speak excellent English.

Visa Extensions -- The PSB is at Jiefang Nan Lu 155 (tel. 020/8311-5808; open Mon-Fri 8:50-11:30am and 2:30-5pm) at the corner of Dade Lu. Pick up an application form upstairs on floor M1 (open 8-11:15am and 2:20-4:45pm) then continue past various travel agencies mostly selling overseas travel to Chinese (air tickets from Guangzhou and Hong Kong airports) to the fourth floor, where there can be long lines. Extensions take 5 working days to obtain.

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