10 Must-know China travel tips
For years, China was completely closed to foreign visitors and probably not a country that you would have wanted to visit, even if you could. Now, however, China is open for business and to tourists, and it makes a fascinating destination for a vacation. Be warned though, China is a very different country from what most people are used to, so read these ten travel tips, if you are thinking of taking a trip to China:
1. Learn a few phrases in Mandarin
You will be utterly amazed at how delighted local people will be of you making an attempt to talk in Mandarin. Even if it’s only a couple of words, you will be well rewarded with a big, warm smile for your efforts. (‘Ni hao’ means ‘hello’.)
2. Haggle in shops
If you look like a foreigner, then shopkeepers will often hike up the price, just for you! Expect shopkeepers to initially ask for ten times the price that they are really prepared to accept and be prepared to negotiate.
3. Take some toilet tissue with you!
When you go out shopping or sightseeing, always pack a small pack of toilet tissue in your bag. Most Chinese public toilets don’t supply it, so you will need to take your own.
4. Don’t accept gifts, straight away
When offered a gift in China, it is polite to refuse it at first. It’s a way of showing humility and your gratitude that the person has gone to the trouble of buying you a gift.
5. Be prepared for persistent street vendors
Street vendors can be quite persistent and aggressive in their efforts to get you to buy from them. Just keep walking and try to ignore them, because often the goods will be pirate DVD’s or fake watches. A good phrase to know is Bu-yao, which is pronounced “boo-yauw”, that means “no want”.
6. The internet is censored
Don’t expect to be keeping your Facebook page up to date on your Chinese holiday, because the internet is censored in China. The internet is available, but sites like Facebook, Twitter and foreign news sites are banned in China.
7. Real Chinese food is not the same as you get in Europe and the USA
Don’t expect to be able to order sweet and sour chicken and special fried rice in China! Chinese food is great, but it’s not the same as you find in Western Chinese restaurants. Also, to experience the best of Chinese cuisine, visit restaurants that the locals eat in and not those specifically set up to cater to tourists.
8. Luxury goods are very expensive
Luxury, brand named goods are extremely expensive in China, because of a Chinese luxury tax. If you want some bargains, then take a trip to Hong Kong.
9. Don’t drink the water!
Tap water is not generally fit to drink in China, so always buy bottled water for drinking. Also, China is an extremely busy place and, with many people, both locals and visitors from other countries. It’s always a good idea to pack some hand sanitizer, to keep the germs at bay.
10. Prepare yourself for a culture shock
In many cities today, you can walk outside your hotel and immediately feel at home. China is a fantastic place to visit, but the sights, sounds and the culture, is very different from many other countries.
What are your favorite China travel tips?