First time to China?
China can appear daunting for the first time traveler. At first glance, the highways, skyscrapers, and streets lined with various shops and restaurants invoke recognizable home comforts, but the cultural and linguistic differences can catch you off guard. WildChina has put together these China travel tips that will help to prepare you for a smooth-sailing first time experience in China.
Food & drink
One of the highlights of any China trip will undoubtedly be the food. Though WildChina only takes clients to top restaurants throughout our journeys, if you are seeking a taste of Chinese local life and authenticity, street food vendors and small local restaurants are a popular stop, even if tried only once. Bear in mind: food from these vendors may look, smell and taste delicious, but western stomachs may not be so hasty to agree. We would recommend bringing some medications from home to sooth an upset stomach, just in case.
In China, tap water is not safe to drink. Bottled water is provided throughout our journeys, both in the hotels and our own vehicles. Water is also widely available from shops, restaurants, and street vendors.
There is a tendency for drinks to be served hot in China. Water, milk and even beer are commonly enjoyed warm! If you like cold drinks, try adding bing (ice) before the name of your drink when ordering. Helpful words: bing shui (cold water) bing piju (cold beer).
Outside the comfort of 5-star hotels and restaurants, you are more than likely to encounter a Chinese squat toilet, which, for no prizes, involves a hole in the floor that you squat over. Squat toilets can be found in local bars, restaurants, and at many attractions. At first glance you might not like these toilets, but next to the Western sit-down toilets, they can be seen as a more hygienic experience because you don’t have to touch anything in a squat toilet. Note: Toilet paper and hand soap are not always provided in toilets, so always have some tissues and hand sanitizer handy.
Cash vs. Card
While major shopping malls, restaurants and hotels accept foreign credit/bank cards, smaller establishments and stalls will prefer cash. Actually, China is traditionally a cash society so it is advisable to ensure there is always a comfortable amount of cash on hand for drinks, snacks, and small souvenirs.
Certain websites and social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Google (including Gmail) are blocked in China. If you need to access any of these during your trip, you will need to set up a virtual private network (VPN). VPNs redirect Internet connection to allow access to blocked sites. They are easy to set up and can be downloaded from the web and app stores for free or for a small price.
Have a safe first trip in China! If you need more China travel tips, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.