China is one of the top tourist destinations in the world. In 2019, about 145 million tourists visited the country. So, if you intend to visit China you are in good company.
But when you decide to travel to China you need to be prepared in all ways. Each country in the world is unique in how it runs its business. And China is no different. Here are several China travel tips that you should know:
1. Be On the Lookout for Tensions at Some Chinese Borders
Ensuring your safety is your first China travel tip. Not only is China the most populous country in the world, but it is also one of the largest. The country shares borders with 14 nations.
You will be relatively safe in China. But where the Chinese borders with other nations are concerned, you need to be very careful. There have been tensions in the past. And there are still tensions in the present.
Sometimes the trouble tends to be on the other side of the borders that China shares with its neighbors. But the issues may end up spilling over onto the Chinese border towns and regions. For example, the Al Qaeda issue is one of the problems that spillover from Afghanistan.
Therefore, when traveling to Chinese border areas either go with a local guide or follow the instructions you receive from the authorities. Here’s another China travel tip: if you are part of a tour group, ensure that you do not separate from the other travelers. Stick close to everyone else and do what you are told.
2. Go To China and Stay Legally
It is one thing to go to China for personal or business reasons legally, and quite another to get into it illegally. You may also get into the country legally but extend your stay beyond the allowable time.
So, your second China travel tip is to ensure that you are legally in China. It doesn’t matter whether you visit the country for business, studies, or work. Just make sure your immigration paperwork is in order always.
If you are lucky, you will simply be deported for being an illegal immigrant. But chances are that you will first be detained and even fined harshly.
3. Avoid Criminal Acts
Your third China travel tip is to ensure that you follow all the rules and regulations set by the Chinese government to the letter concerning crimes. It is never a good idea to break the laws while you are in a foreign country.
You can run afoul of the law in China in many ways. For example, if you work in China, don’t dare forge documents thinking you will get away with it. You are likely to get arrested and charged. Report any scams you encounter to the police and let them deal with them.
Also, if you work for a company that takes shortcuts during production, you need to report what you see to the authorities. The Chinese government takes the welfare of its people seriously. Any attempts to endanger them may lead to you getting imprisoned.
Another criminal issue you should be careful about while in China is that involving drug trafficking. Do not agree to manufacture illegal drugs or bring them into the country. Neither should you buy or sell them. Additionally, avoid using them lest the random drug tests China police tend to conduct on foreigners turn positive.
The Chinese laws state that foreigners will be held as liable for their crimes as Chinese citizens.
As a result of these laws, you may end up receiving capital punishment for drug-related offenses. In the past few years, drug dealers from Britain, Canada, Japan, Korea, the Philippines, and France, were given death sentences.
You may be able to escape these penalties if you have diplomatic immunity. But do not tempt fate where drug issues are concerned.
Other criminal acts that you should avoid while in China include prostitution, the creation and distribution of child pornography, and human trafficking. You should avoid killing anyone if possible. Also, avoid robbery and burglary.
4. Avoid Public Displays of Affection in China
The North American region is generally relaxed concerning public displays of affection. China on the other hand is still quite conservative despite its modern outlook in other aspects. Many Asian countries are similar in their outlook on public displays of affection.
For this reason, your fourth China travel trip is all about showing your affection. You need to be respectful of the local customs in China. How you conduct yourself matters. While holding hands with your partner may not cause any objections, you should refrain from going beyond that while out in public. Save your caresses, groping, and kisses for the privacy of your hotel room.
5. Prepare For the Culture Shock
Your fifth China travel trip is to get ready for the culture shock that will hit you while in China. Everything is probably going to be different from what you are used to.
Something as simple as eating can become quite difficult if you have no idea of how to use chopsticks. You may also encounter ethnic cuisines that consist of foods you would not eat in your home country. These include unusual foods such as bird’s nest soup, sheep’s penis, and snake soup among other things.
Also bear in mind that eating in China is often eating is often a communal affair and you will share some of the dishes with other people. And many people use a lot of chili pepper in their food.
Another thing that could cause culture shock to your system is the squat toilet. Most toilets in China will need you to squat to use them. It will probably take you a while to get used to using the toilets this way.
Spitting and burping in public is also common. The former is considered a way for the body to get the cleansing it needs. Burping, on the other hand, is a way of expressing your satisfaction concerning your meal.
Chefs and cooks consider it a compliment to their cooking abilities. So, while you may consider it rude to see people doing these things, remember that they are perfectly normal in China. Don’t take offense or offend others by saying something nasty.
You should also be prepared for smoking. One-third of all smokers in the world are in China. Cigarettes are such a part of Chinese culture that people offer them while greeting one another. It is a sign of friendship.
Additionally, tobacco is a perfectly acceptable gift for all occasions. And while there has been increasing support for smoke-free indoor facilities, you will still encounter plenty of people smoking indoors in public places.
Privacy and the concept of personal space have no place in China. After all, this is the most populous country in the world. So, when you travel across the country, be prepared to give up your privacy and personal space. Take this China travel tip seriously.
You will find yourself in a packed train right against other people. When you are standing in the queue others will likely stand very close behind you and even peep at what you are doing on your mobile devices. Some may bump into you as you walk. Therefore, when someone stands very close to you as you talk, don’t step back. Staying close is a normal aspect of social interaction in China. Just go with the flow.
Another China travel tip concerns racial differences. If you are a foreigner, especially a person of color, don’t be surprised to see everyone looking at you. After all, China is an Asian region that is dominated by people of Chinese or Asian origin.
Many people have probably never seen someone of your race. And those that have may have only seen people like you on rare occasions. So, some may stand and stare. Others may want to take photos with you. Only you can decide whether to say yes or no to those requests. You can graciously indulge some of them. And decline other requests. Try to see it from their perspective and you may just enjoy being a local celebrity.
6. Brace Yourself for the Language Barrier
Your sixth In China, the most common language is Mandarin. This is the Chinese dialect that is even taught in school. If you have no idea how to speak Chinese, then you need to brace yourself for the language barrier. That’s your sixth China travel trip.
Here’s a China travel tip that can help you: You could try and learn a few basic Chinese words and sentences before you travel to China. Take the time to research the Chinese language classes in your locale for starters. You can also request help from any native speaker of the language. Another option is for you to enroll in an online-based Chinese language course from platforms such as Duolingo.
The other option would be for you to travel to China without having any knowledge of Chinese and take your chances. If you opt for this course of action, then you must have a strategy for overcoming the language barriers while you vacation or do business in China.
Hiring a Chinese translator is always an option. This is something you should think about seriously especially if you intend to do business in China. The other option is for you to improvise. Try to find accommodation facilities where some of the employees speak some English. Ensure that your hosts help you write down your address in both English and using Chinese characters. If you get lost while sightseeing, then use that piece of paper or notebook to ask for directions.
This particular China travel tip would not be complete without pointing out that the young people of China are a great resource of information. They are more likely to speak and write both Chinese and English languages. So, try to approach the younger people when you need to ask for directions or instructions that will help you out.
7. Pay Attention to the Air Quality Indices
Your seventh China travel tip is all about the air that you breathe.
One of the issues that China grapples with is environmental degradation. The country has one of the highest pollution rates in the world. Because of this issue, the Chinese authority operates its air quality index. Your embassy may also have its tracker to determine pollution in China.
You need to pay close attention to these indices. When you get a warning that the pollution levels are expected to rise, prepare to battle the pollution-induced smog. You can do this by wearing masks while outdoors.
Alternatively, you can stay indoors and find some other form of entertainment for a change. Another option is to schedule your tourist visits to remote and less polluted areas of China to match the times when the major cities will have the highest smog levels.
8. Avoid Proselytizing
When you go to China, you need to ensure that you don’t proselytize. Trying to share your religious beliefs may get you in serious trouble. So, don’t pass any religious tracts on Chinese streets. And neither should you preach in public spaces.
Do take that eighth China travel tip seriously to avoid being jailed or deported.
9. Do Not Get Involved In Local Politics
Every China travel tip list must contain a warning to avoid the local politics of China no matter where in the world you are. As a foreigner, you should only observe what happens quietly. No matter how tempting it is to join local political activists, you shouldn’t do it. Avoid joining political demonstrations or online political activism. If you are a member of a social media platform that is discussing political issues on matters concerning China, don’t join in the discussions.
Neither should you make public comments about disputed areas in China like Hong Kong before visiting the country. What you say outside the Chinese borders may haunt you while you are in the country. You may even be denied entry into China because of those comments that you made.
10. Be Sure To Stay Updated Concerning Chinese Weather Forecasts
One of the China travel tips you must take seriously concerns the Chinese weather forecasts. When you travel to China you need to have some decent knowledge of the natural disasters that usually affect the country.
Some of the more common natural disasters that have hit China include typhoons and monsoons. You need to watch out for floods if you intend to visit the Coastal regions that have lower altitudes. Also, watch out for landslides and earthquakes. Mountainous regions of China, in particular, are prone to these kinds of issues.
Other natural disasters that you should stay updated about include droughts, heat waves, and sandstorms.
It helps to ask the locals about the situation. But listen to the instructions and advice that you are given by local authorities. And ensure that your stuff can be packed quickly so that you are ready to be evacuated if you see that the situation is escalating quickly.
11. Avoid Tap Water
Avoiding tap water is another China travel tip that you need to take seriously especially if you have a sensitive stomach. You can carry a bottle with its filter when you travel to China. That way, when you need to refill it at the local water fountains, it’s safe to drink.
You can also choose to boil water. But this option only works if you intend to stay in China for a lengthy period. Using water treatment tablets is also something you can do to make the regular tap water drinkable.
If you don’t feel comfortable with all these options, then buy your drinking water. Ensure the bottles of water all have their seals intact.
And when you dine out, ask for water when ordering something to eat. You could ask for water with ice. But don’t be surprised to get warm or hot water most times. Many Chinese believe that drinking cold water is not a healthy habit. So, you can ask for it early on and let it cool.
12. Be Vigilant When Eating Out
You can get food poisoning when you travel to China or any other place in the world. But there are things you can do to reduce the chances of this happening. If you want fruit, either wash it yourself or find something like a banana that has its cover. That’s a China travel tip you should pay attention to.
If the food you want to eat doesn’t look fresh, don’t eat it. And if the environment you are in looks dirty, then find another eating establishment. Also, if the food doesn’t look well cooked, then you are likely to have a stomach upset later when you choose to eat it. Being watchful will save you from some of these problems.
Here’s another food-related China travel tip: you may be better off eating Chinese street food because it is usually prepared as you watch. If you choose to eat it, line up in a street food stall that has many people and long queues. That is an indicator that the food vendor has a good reputation. Most people would avoid buying from someone who sells anything that has given them food poisoning in the past, right?
13. Carry Your Toilet Paper
Carrying your toilet paper is one of the important China travel tips you should remember. Public toilets in China usually don’t provide this important item. And the last thing you want is to need toilet paper and not be able to access it. It would be very embarrassing to have to deal with the aftermath, don’t you think?
14. Observe the Rules on Photography
In some areas of China, taking photographs is prohibited. These may include certain historical, religious, and military sites. Please observe this China travel tip and don’t think you can get away with disregarding these rules. You may find yourself being viewed as a security threat and trouble will follow.
15. Authenticate Public Documents
When you travel to China ensure that you obtain legal Chinese authentication services for relevant documents you may need. These include birth and death certificates, power of attorney documents, etc.
The reason for this China travel tip is that the country is not a member of the Apostille Treaty, which governs foreign public documents. So, if your documents originate from a member country, you must still have them authenticated in China for the country to consider them legal. Without that seal, some of the Chinese transactions that you would like to do would not be legal and can be contested.
16. Have Some Form of Identification with You at All Times
Another China travel tip concerns IDs. When you travel to China on business or for personal reasons, it would be wise for you to have some form of identification at all times. This could be your original passport or national ID.
But to safeguard these documents from getting lost or stolen, think about getting a certified or good copy of one of them. Without them, there are some business activities that you can’t do. Neither can get entry into some of the public tourist attractions in China.
17. Going to Tibet Requires Special Permission
Have you always wanted to visit Tibet? Well, here’s a China travel tip for you: get the special permission that you need in advance.
As a foreign tourist, you are more likely to be granted that permission so long as you are neither a diplomat nor a journalist. Traveling to Tibet is also easier if you use one of the authorized tour companies to get the special permit that you need.
And don’t do anything crazy while you are in Tibet. There are checkpoints and other monitoring measures in place.
18. Find Way to Bypass the Internet Censorship
You should consider downloading a robust VPN just before you travel to China. It will help you access the censored platforms that you need to use when you are online. If you ignore this China travel tip, your data would be exposed.
19. Buy a Local SIM Card
If you intend to stay in China for a while, then buying a local SIM card is a China travel tip you need to implement. You can either buy a pre-paid SIM card from a reputable store or through a third-party. Being on a pre-paid plan will help you stick to your budget if money is an issue.
If there are China travel tips that you need to pay close attention to before you travel to China, it’s those that will ensure you don’t get into trouble. You are more likely to enjoy your Chinese trip if all your paperwork is in order and you follow all the set rules and regulations.