I was reading a china blog the other day and travelers had a major problem purchasing train tickets in China. They did not know the language and had NO local currency just credit cards trying to buy train tickets. It was a frustrating and a scary situation for them because someone finally offered to help but again they did not understand the language and was lead down a long corridor to much their surprise was an ATM machine and they did not get robbed. They had to give a large tip for finding the ATM machine and were finally helped by the train station clerk to purchase tickets. In the US we now pay everything with an ATM/Debit card or credit card. I see customers paying for packages of gum and soda with a debit card which I think is ridiculous but it is now very common in the US. Whenever you travel to a foreign country especially with a language barrier like China your first stop after immigration, customs, and baggage claim should be the ATM machine to get local money. Another tip after the ATM machine will be to get small bills because the ATM machine will most likely only give you large bills. Stop at a store in the Airport and buy something small to break large bills. You should always have local currency before leaving the airport and if you bring cash to exchange at a bank for your travels you still need spending money outside the airport to get you to your destination. Even if the country accepts US dollars we would recommend use local currency only. When we traveled to Paris France last year our first stop was the ATM machine to get local currency. We travel to China each year but again our first stop is the ATM machine to make sure we have enough money to get us through several days before we get to a bank to exchange our US dollars. Now the blog I was reading the travelers had a scary experience and missed the train all because they did not have local currency. They did not understand that the clerk told them no credit cards were accepted. Also, do not assume your US credit card will work overseas and in some countries you need the credit card with a chip embedded in them. Their experience would have been so much better if they simple had local currency and would not miss their train.
Passionate for everything related to China travel.