Travel China like a Pro
by Matt Fox
Here are some tips and insights that will help you get more out of your China experience. You can click on each one to learn more.
1. A little Mandarin goes a long way. Even if you only get a couple of the basic words under your belt you’ll get a great reaction from locals.
2.If possible, avoid traveling during Chinese holidays. Things get busy and prices go up. Their dates vary year on year but you can find a list of the major holidays here.
3. Always carry a pack of tissues. You’ll never know when you need to go, but you can be certain there’s a good chance there won’t be any paper when you do.
4. Always carry some cash. The smaller or more remote the place, the more important this is. Most places have ATMs which accept foreign bank cards but not all businesses will accept payment by card, so be prepared.
5.Stay connected. If you’re in China for a longer period it might be worth getting a local SIM card. Although wifi coverage is increasing and you can use this for international apps like Whatsapp, Skype, WeChat and Viber, it’s not total and the quality is patchy.
6.If you’re at all dependent on Gmail, Facebook, or Twitter, get a VPN for your phone or laptop. It’s the only way you can access these sites from the Mainland. Get this sorted before you come to China as the VPN sites themselves are blocked here also.
7.Taxi drivers can’t speak English. Whenever possible, have your destination address available in Chinese characters to show them.
8.Don’t drink the tap water. Bottled water is cheap and available everywhere.
9.It’s worth carrying a pollution mask. Pollution levels vary considerably from day to day and levels can rise suddenly and unexpectedly. Be prepared in case they do.
10.Brace yourself for an invasion of body space. Direct questions about age and income are not taboo either. And try not to get too mad when (not if!) someone pushes in front of you. They’re simply trying to get away with it - if you call them out or push back they’ll normally back down.
11.There’s no tipping the staff in restaurants, so don’t worry about that. And don’t be alarmed if people you are sat with put food on your plate, it’s well-intentioned. If a Chinese person invites you to dinner they will very likely pick up the tab. Bills are rarely split in China.