China International Travel Service (CITS)

The word “International” is somewhat odd in the title of this company as it is “sort of” international. Mind you, I had to deal with them the other day. I went to the CITS Office upstairs at the Beijing International Hotel to buy a train ticket from Beijing to Ulaanbaatar. This went well and when tendering my International VISA Card I was told that 4% would be added to cover the fee. “OK” says I. I am used to that from a number of places now and whilst I would normally use cash as much as possible, I did not have the CNY 999.00 with me at the time.

The staff in the office calculated the 4% as follows:

999 yuan divide by 0.96 equals 1040.63 yuan – which was what was billed to my credit card.

I told the staff “but that is 4.17% added, not 4%”! From my point of view, if you add 4%, then the following calculation is performed:

999 yuan multiplied by 1.04 equals 1038.96 yuan.

They replied that dividing by 0.96 was the way that their Head Office had explained that they do it. Maybe mathematics works differently here.

I did have a few days spare though so thought I would slip down to Hong Kong for a couple of days. There is a train from Beijing to Kowloon in Hong Kong. “Can I buy a ticket for the train to Hong Kong here?” I asked. “No” was the answer. “You need to buy that from either Beijing Station or West Station”.

More on that matter in another blog entry.

So, I returned to the hotel with my train ticket to Ulaanbaatar. There is a CITS office in my hotel as well so I thought I would ask about the train to Hong Kong. After an original “yes we can” that changed to a “no, you need to get that from the train station”. More on the train station later.

“Fly me to Hong Kong” I said. CITS organised my ticket. I whipped out my International VISA Card (see earlier in this entry).

” I am sorry sir, we cannot take international VISA cards here, only local cards – this is our company policy. Can you pay cash please?”


So I went and got a fist full of dollars (sorry, yuan) from the bank and came back and paid for my ticket.

So, one branch of CITS selling train tickets can use international VISA cards adding 4.17% on, whilst another branch of CITS cannot.

Seems China has this only half done. It will be fun when there are a flood of Olympic Visitors in 835 days time to China, especially as VISA is a sponsor (I think) of the Olympics.

5 thoughts on “China International Travel Service (CITS)

  1. roeland 30 November 1999 / 8:00 am

    You are right: Visa is one the main sponsors of the Olympics. In the official Olympic store in Torino you could pay cash or use Visa. Other credit cards where not accepted.


  2. 七七。 30 November 1999 / 8:00 am

    i`m a high school student in China,sorry to know about this,but,it`s true.

    it`s really smart of u to discover the calculation trick! and u r right,it was not the mathematics that works differently,it`s just a trick,indeed.i feel ashamed about it!and..from your passages i can see that you don`t like China at all,right?but we can understand..Currently,China is not a good place to live in.perhaps it`s due to something that China suffered,it ruined our moral.have u ever heard of the"10-year cultcure revolution"?


  3. thomo the lost 30 November 1999 / 8:00 am

    Actually, to be honest, I quite like China. Some parts of the countryside are beautiful. At the same time, I wish I could read Chinese characters as at the moment I can only appreciate 2/3rds of Chinese Art. I can appreciate the picture and the beauty of the calligraphy, but not the poem. But like all places in the world, there are good and bad and some of the bad in China comes from folks chasing money. Most of the Chinese I have met have generally been helpful and courteous to me. I have heard of the cultural revolution 無產階級文化大革命 which lasted from 1966 to 1976. I was a child and young adult through this period on Australia. If you feel the Cultural revolution was hard on China, spare a thought for Cambodia which suffered even more under its own Cultural Revolution. Er, and no, I cannot read or write Chinese Characters 😦


  4. 七七。 30 November 1999 / 8:00 am

    how did u type"無產階級文化大革命"??!admiring~~~

    yes,the calligraphy is great,but maybe poem is the most quintessential part of Chinese culture.actually most foreigners cannot make sense of it,Chinese poems lose their rhythms after being translated into other language.

    i think u have a great deal of knowledge! China,it seems to be few people after 40 operating a space or a blog..i wonder why..

    i saw this link"Richard Wright: The Chinese Steam Navy 1862-1945"

    sorry to have not heard of this Steam Navy..I`m studying history as my speciality.Pherhaps it`s 北洋海军(北洋海軍) in Chinese?


  5. thomo the lost 30 November 1999 / 8:00 am

    The book is about the Chinese Navy from around 1862 onwards. It is called the Steam Navy as, of course, China had very large fleets of sail powered vessels (junks) but this book deals with the steam vessels and ports as China started to modernise her ( – is China a 'she' or a 'he'???) fleets. Looks at the ports (Wei Hai Wei, Foochow and so on), the vessels (the Rendel gunboats, Tsing Yuen etc) and the battles (with the French at Foochow, the Japanese at the Yalu and so on). If you are at all interested in China's Naval History, then this is a great book, especially as it is in English 🙂

    I am sure there must be lots of works available in Chinese on the History of the Navy.

    As for the Chinese characters, I cheated 🙂

    As for maintaining a blog at my age … as I told my daughter, girls grow up to be women, boys grow up to be big boys. I am just a big boy.


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