Traveling to China can be an unforgettable experience. It’s a destination that feels like you’re traveling to an entirely different planet.
When asked if I have traveled to China, I always hesitate to say yes.
I have a love-hate relationship with visiting China as it is not a convenient place to travel around.
But please, don’t let this completely deter you from your trip, it’s a good thing.
I think I love it more for that reason that it is a challenging country to travel around.
And it is precisely for this reason that I have put together this blog post to share my most important useful information before heading to China.
If I had known just these few things before leaving for my first trip to China, I would have enjoyed my first trip a lot more. It is a country that grows with you over time.
I hope this information will help you find your way around China much better right from the start.
China also offers many incredible travel destinations, such as:
– See pandas at Chengdu Giant Panda Breeding Center,
– Exploring the Forbidden City of Beijing.
– Take on the dangerous challenge of the boardwalk on Mount Hua.
– excavation of the terracotta army outside the ancient city of Xi’an,
– A walk along the Great Wall of China,
– Exploring the busy hustle and bustle of Shanghai city
– Relax in the tropical island paradise of Hainan.
Put simply, China has plenty to see and do for travelers.
After all, China is one of the most populous countries in the world. Did you know that you can find 102 cities with over 1 million inhabitants in China? That’s a lot of people.
There is nothing wrong with a challenge. In fact, I would prefer a challenge while traveling. It’s always a nice change to get lost on your own without knowing where you might end up.
Always be prepared before you travel, jump in and most of all, have fun.
However, I can give you some tips that I would have liked to see before going to China.
You will have moments during your trip to China when you can just say “oh China”! It is a special place and you will stumble across the most bizarre situations.
And a quick word of warning, health and safety is a very different ball game in China. So, be on your guard wherever you go and get reliable travel insurance before you travel to make sure you are covered.
You need to arrange a VPN before traveling to China
The great firewall of China, nothing comes in, nothing comes out.
It doesn’t bother the locals so much that everything is blocked as they have their own Chinese versions of popular services and apps.
Blocked websites in China:
– Google (Gmail, Maps, Translate)
Everything blocked! You have been warned.
I don’t need to be afraid. A quick way to get around this blocking problem is to download a popular virtual private network service called VPN.
It is important that you find a VPN that works in China and that you set it up on your laptop and mobile smartphone before you arrive.
Once it is set up, you can easily access all of the China websites blocked above. That means you can stay connected with the outside world and carry on as usual.
Do not damage your electronic devices
Make sure you have the correct voltage and adapters to charge your electronic devices. It’s a good idea to buy a plug with a surge voltage to be on the safe side. You have been warned.
Stick to tea and bottled water in China
Coffee is not a good idea in China. After all, as a nation, they are so good at creating incredibly delicious tea. Why should you drink coffee?
Cold water is not a thing; It is more likely that hot water will be offered across China as many locals either want to add tea leaves or drink it hot themselves.
Definitely avoid drinking tap water and buy sealed bottled water if necessary.
Instead, switch your coffee to tea and you won’t be disappointed.
For an emergency brew, China has Starbucks. Not that Starbucks is great coffee, it’s just available in case you need to fix your caffeine in the morning.
Otherwise, I’d have a bottle filled with hot water to add your tea leaves in the morning. Do like the locals do and enjoy the excellent tea on your trip to China.
You do not need a visa to enter China
Did you know that you don’t need a visa to enter China? I didn’t know that either, but British tourists flying direct from London to Hainan can enter 30 days visa-free.
Most trips to China require you to apply for a tourist visa.
However, there are few exceptions where UK passport holders are not required to have a visa.
Another example is an international traveler who flies through China within 72 hours. You need to reach another country within 72 hours to get the transit visa.
I used this transit visa while traveling from London to Bangkok via Beijing. Within 72 hours, I hiked along the Great Wall of China and was able to enter China without a visa.
Eat first, ask later, China will remain a mystery when it comes to food
My best advice for eating in China is to order the menu or recommended dish and then eat before asking what it is.
Eating out in China can be an adventure in itself; The best advice is not to ask what you are eating and just eat it. Eat first, then ask later.
You might be surprised at what you are eating. China is a fun culinary destination, and I’ve enjoyed some incredible dishes without even knowing what it is.
Mock food is also popular in China, such as mock duck or mock chicken, as China perfected artificial meat long before the impossible burger. This is largely down to cost, as meat can be expensive for locals and the bogus version is much cheaper and has a similar taste and texture.
If you have a dietary requirement, preference, or allergy it can be a little difficult to answer your inquiries in China.
It would be a good idea to translate these words ahead of time so that you have them on hand to clarify with the restaurant what is in the meal before you eat.
I have to warn you that if it does, you can say that the court has no subject. This is entirely due to the language barrier and the fact that the ingredient is used for a broth rather than a key ingredient.
Legal Nomad’s Jodi has put together some useful cards for those looking for gluten-free options to help with translation. I would highly recommend clarifying this before going to China.
Make sure you have cash with you when traveling around China
Most payments in China are made through QR payments with digital wallets using apps like WeChat Pay or Alipay.
It’s difficult to get a local SIM card and activate these apps. Travelers should withdraw local cash from an ATM, as card payments like American Express, Mastercard or Visa are not a common payment method. Cash is the best option, especially for smaller transactions with local providers.
I would recommend looking for an HSBC ATM to withdraw your money in China and letting your bank know in advance that you are going to China to prevent your account from being blocked.
Devouring, spitting and farting are common practices in China
Trump, Toot, Bottom Burp, One-Cheek Squeak or how about a Breezer? Fart to your heart’s content in China as the locals don’t seem to mind in public.
I don’t think I’ll ever forget the moment a local dropped a tune while standing next to me. It was like getting permission to finally allow my body to unleash the orchestral performance of my life in public without shame.
Please don’t be offended as it doesn’t fix anything. You are in China now. Get involved with local customs.
However, it was the sound of the devouring noise on almost every street corner in China that reached me. Again, it’s a fairly common practice that cannot be avoided.
Welcome to China, spitting is relatively common; You just have to get used to it.
Another custom to get used to is the art of standing in line. It doesn’t really exist; You might be waiting a long time standing in line.
A word of caution: some toilets have no doors. Always carry a packet of tissues with you because if nature calls and practices the art of crouching before your trip to China, you have to learn.
You will stumble upon a language barrier in China
Good luck trying to speak English, you must learn Chinese; After all, you’re in China now.
Even some international hotels will face language barriers. So be prepared.
I also noticed that some Chinese characters usually don’t make sense at all with English translations. You are on your own when it comes to understanding the local language.
My best advice would be to download a translation app before traveling to China. Make a note of key landmarks and the name of your hotel on your phone so that taxi drivers can see them in case you get lost.
Another idea to help you understand your destination much better would be to hire a local guide to help you bypass the language barrier and understand China much better.
Above all, Chinese locals are super friendly
I heard horror stories for the first time about how mean and not friendly the locals in China were to tourists. This just wasn’t the case in my experience.
I found China to be a friendly place to travel and found locals full of curiosity and interest in learning more about your personal China tour.
Especially in the remote areas of China where there are hardly any tourists to be seen, the locals want to know what you’re up to and stop to take a photo with you.
Embrace your visit to China, snap photos at every opportunity, learn a few key words to facilitate connection and smiles, randomly hold babies for selfies (that’s one thing!), And be nods to and friendly Smile prepared all round.
China is amazing and you have to take it for what it is. That’s China.