So you're planning to visit China, it's crucial that you know your stuff. Without a solid knowledge of the places you are exploring, the country can be challenging to navigate.
So here are some things that you should know before traveling to China:
Note that not many people, even in touristy areas, speak English. Therefore, you have to learn common Chinese phrases like, "Cesuo zai nali", which literally means, "Where is the toilet?". These phrases can be handy especially if you're traveling in the more remote areas of the country. It’s because locals may speak very little, or no English at all, and communication can be tricky. You can always try downloading apps like Google translator, Memrise or Pleco to help you around.
Another tip – make sure that you translate your hotel name in written Chinese characters to avoid any form of miscommunication with your taxi driver.
You have to be mindful of the Chinese culture. If you're having a bowl of soup, you can try to be polite by making a slurping sound. Doing so shows a sign of satisfaction, and complimenting the cooking of your host. On the other hand, silence while having your soup means you're insulting them.
Moreover, sticking up your chopsticks straight up in a bowl or rice or ramen is considered taboo. Symbolizing stabbing or death, the action is believed to be a bad omen in their culture.
Most of your visits will not be related to the tour itself and more on selling products. So be wary of these as most of it are scams trying to rip you off. Always check the tour company, the itinerary and the reviews before signing up. Do your research carefully as there are many complaints about tours like these before.
Bottom-line – you want to spend more time on the location itself, and less time in a factory.
Have you ever heard of the great firewall of China? As much as there is Wi-Fi everywhere, know that Google and your favorite social media sites like Facebook and Instagram cannot be accessed due to Chinese government's internet censorship.
That's why it is incredibly crucial using a VPN in China before your arrival so that you can still access and enjoy your favorite sites while traveling.
They say that every city as a soul. If you really want to get to know China from a local's perspective, soak in the country's culture and traditions, try exploring cafes, and various watering holes. Also, meet the locals themselves, and try the various street food.
As much as the food is good here, take into consideration that the country has different food regulations and there is a possibility that you can get sick. That's why it's crucial that you still choose the place carefully before eating.
While most hotels and homes already have western toilets, restrooms, such as those in public and touristy areas are still holes in the ground. So be prepared to squat and bring your own toilet paper every time you need to go.
China is a fascinating country, and you will probably learn a lot from it. Although most people find traveling here a bit intimidating, if you plan ahead, you'd be surprised that you’d find the comfort of new friends, culture, and breathtaking sights.