5 Must-Know Tips for Travelling in China

Travelling through China, a country with a staggering population of over 1.4 billion, presents an unparalleled adventure. The crowds, the pulsating energy of the cities, and the rich cultural and historical background behind every landmark China a unique destination. However, navigating cities like Shanghai and Beijing and making the most of your journey requires a bit of savvy planning. Here are five essential tips for travelling in China that will help you enjoy the serenity amidst the hustle and bustle, ensuring your trip is memorable for all the right reasons.

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1.  Avoid the Summer

When it comes to tips for visiting China, timing is everything. Summer months lure in hordes of both international and local tourists, transforming iconic spots like the Great Wall into bustling hubs. This season not only brings with it sweltering heat but also long lines and crowded attractions, which can detract from the enjoyment of China’s historical and cultural landmarks. Instead, travelling in the Spring is a better idea. The milder temperatures (around 15-20 degrees Celsius) and thinner crowds during these seasons offer a more relaxed atmosphere, allowing you to immerse yourself in the beauty and history of China at a leisurely pace.

2.  Guard Against Pickpockets

In densely populated areas, the risk of pickpocketing escalates. A key tip for travelling in China is to keep your valuables secure and out of sight. Opt for bags that can be fully zipped up and consider wearing your backpack in front for added security. Distributing small amounts of cash in various hiding spots on your person can also save the day in case of theft. If you find yourself a victim of a pickpocket, remember that the local police number is 110.

3.  Plan for Potential Separation

Amidst the bustling streets and crowded venues of China, getting separated from your travel companions is a real possibility. Preparation is crucial: ensure everyone has a list of group contact numbers and familiarise yourself with key phrases in the local language. If separated, try to find a visible, safe spot to wait, or if stuck in a crowd, remain calm and stay put while trying to communicate with your group. Knowing the details of your accommodation in Chinese can be a lifeline in these situations.

4.  Respect Chinese Customs and Culture

Understanding and respecting the local customs and culture is one of the most valuable tips for visiting China. This not only helps in fostering positive interactions with locals but also enriches your travel experience by giving you a deeper insight into the Chinese way of life. Some key customs to be aware of include:

  • Avoid Public Displays of Affection: In many parts of China, public displays of affection are considered inappropriate. It’s best to keep such expressions private.
  • Mind Your Manners at the Table: Chinese dining etiquette holds significant importance. Remember to not stick your chopsticks vertically into a bowl of rice, as this resembles incense sticks burned at funerals and is considered bad luck. Also, try to finish everything on your plate to show appreciation for the meal.
  • Respect Religious Sites: When visiting temples or other religious sites, dress modestly and follow any specific guidelines posted at the site. For instance, it may be required to remove your shoes before entering certain areas.

5.  Master Essential Chinese Phrases

One of the most invaluable tips for travelling in China is to arm yourself with essential Chinese Mandarin phrases. Even a modest arsenal of phrases can drastically improve your travel experience, helping you navigate through busy markets, order food, and interact with locals, enriching your cultural immersion.

In Mandarin, you might start with greetings and basic necessities:

  • Hello: 你好 (Nǐ hǎo)
  • Thank you: 谢谢 (Xièxiè)
  • Excuse me / Sorry: 对不起 (Duìbùqǐ)
  • How much is this?: 这个多少钱?(Zhège duōshǎo qián?)
  • Where is the bathroom?: 厕所在哪里?(Cèsuǒ zài nǎlǐ?)
  • I need help: 我需要帮助 (Wǒ xūyào bāngzhù)

More Tips for Travelling in China. FAQs

What should I wear while touring China?

In line with both contemporary Chinese fashion sensibilities and cultural norms, it’s advisable to dress modestly while touring China. Western fashion trends are popular, but outfits revealing excessive skin, such as low-cut tops, or clothes that leave shoulders and backs bare, are not widely accepted. When choosing what to wear, opt for modesty over exposure; for example, avoid extremely short dresses, skirts, or shorts. Dressing with respect to local customs will enhance your travel experience.

How should I plan my exploration of China?

For a comprehensive and stress-free exploration of China, consider organising your trip through a reputable travel agency. Agencies offer invaluable insights into the country’s rich tapestry, ensuring you delve into the very essence of China’s diverse culture and history. Whether you’re interested in group tours or a tailor-made itinerary, a good local operator can provide a seamless travel experience, allowing you to focus on enjoying the wonders of China without the hassle of planning every detail yourself.

Is travelling in China budget-friendly?

For budget-conscious travellers, navigating the costs of a trip to China requires some planning. A basic 2-night and 3-day stay might set you back approximately $800, though this is a ballpark figure. Actual expenses can vary based on your travel style, chosen activities, and other variables such as accommodation and dining preferences. It’s possible to travel affordably with careful planning and prioritisation of experiences.

Can I use international credit cards in China?

Using international credit cards in China can be hit or miss, especially outside major cities. While larger hotels, restaurants, and stores in urban areas may accept them, it’s wise to carry sufficient cash or have a mobile payment app set up for transactions in smaller towns and local markets. Preparing for various payment methods ensures smoother transactions throughout your travels.

What are the must-try foods in China?

Chinese cuisine is incredibly diverse and varies greatly from region to region. Must-try dishes include Peking Duck from Beijing, known for its crispy skin and succulent meat; Dim Sum from Guangdong province, offering a variety of small, flavourful dishes; and Sichuan’s famous Hot Pot, perfect for those who enjoy a spicy kick. Sampling local specialities is a delicious way to experience China’s rich cultural heritage.

The Ultimate Tip for Travelling in China: Learn Mandarin

From the ancient echoes of the Great Wall to the modern skyline of Shanghai, each step in China is a step through a history book written in the landscape and the customs of its people. By following these tips for visiting China, you’re setting yourself up for an unforgettable adventure.

As you’ve seen, mastering a few key phrases in Mandarin can greatly enhance your travel experience, breaking down barriers and allowing for a deeper connection with the local culture and people. Language is more than just words; it’s the key to unlocking the full richness of your travel experiences.

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If you’re inspired to dive deeper into the beautiful language and culture of China, we invite you to follow the most valuable tip for travelling in China and learn Mandarin with our native teachers. Whether you’re starting from scratch or looking to polish your skills, our customised language courses are designed to fit your individual needs and goals, providing a practical, enjoyable, and efficient way to learn.

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