- China does not offer visas on arrival, so you will need to apply for a visa well in advance. You will need a valid return flight and proof of accommodations.
- While China is a safe country, misfortune or mishap happen. A good travel insurance will protect you and your belongings. Read more on How to choose the right travel insurance.
- Make a copy of all the important documents - passport, visa, travel insurance - and save them in the cloud.
- There are no compulsory vaccinations for travel to China but the government of China requires proof of yellow fever vaccination if you are arriving from a country with risk of yellow fever.
- Be prepared to see a lot of Chinese people spitting. The Chinese do not use tissues to clear their noses. Just watch out for your feet.
- Bring antibiotics and your First-aid kit.
- Download the top must-have Chinese apps. A good example is WeChat. EVERYONE uses it throughout the country.
- Eat at restaurants with picture menus. Picture menus are great because you can see what you’re getting but try to be adventurous sometimes. You could be surprised.
- Instal a VPN on your laptop and smartphone. The China’s ‘Great Firewall’ censures most top sites such as Gmail, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. Read more about The best VPNS for China.
- Always carry a business card of the hotel where you are staying. Most hostels and hotels have a card at the front desk. This card should have the address in romanised Chinese and Chinese characters. If you get lost, it will be handy to find your way back.
Let's Start With the First 10 Tips for China First-Timers
- Chopsticks can be difficult to learn to use, so practice. Did you know Chinese chopsticks are longer and thicker that their Korean or Japanese siblings? They're long because Chinese food is famously served on rotating tray - or Lazy Susan, and you need that extra length to grab that piece of Peking duck that your friends are hogging. By the way, don't stick chopsticks straight up in your rice, it's incredibly taboo and will bring bad luck.
- Learn basic numbers - It's useful when buying train tickets or bargaining. Did you know that the number 4 is considered unlucky when 8 is very welcome among Chinese? It’s not a coincidence the Olympic opening ceremony was held on the 08/08/2008 at 8pm.
- Buy non-alcohol hand sanitizer as hand washing is not a customary Chinese habit.
- Always carry with you some toilet paper. This is especially true on Chinese trains.
- Don't tip. Tipping is not part of the Chinese culture. In fact offering a gratuity may be considered rude and it used to be illegal. The only exception to the rule is for the tour guides as they rely on your generosity.
- Get to the airport three hours early for international flights to China and two hours early for domestic.
- Always drink name-brand bottled water. Make sure that the cap cracks as you open the bottle.
- Don’t forget to tell your bank you’re visiting China or you might get stuck abroad with useless credit cards.
- Keep your passport with you at all time. It's a legal requirement in China. Plus, you will need it for the Forbidden City in Beijing, to get into airports or train stations, and for entrance in some major museums.
- Bring some cash. ATMs are common is medium or large size cities but less if you venture off the beaten path.
10 More Tips For Travellers to China
- Make sure the taxi driver uses the meter or negotiate the price beforehand.
- You may need to take prescription medicine before, during, and after your trip to prevent malaria.
- Casual dress is the most appropriate clothing through China.
- The electrical supply in China is 220 volts, but don't forget to pack a universal electrical adapter.
- Carry a list of local doctors and hospitals at your destination.
- Learn to haggle and be prepared to walk away. Haggling is a big part of shopping in China for street vendors, open-air markets and smaller independent shops. Don't be surprised if the vendor seems offended when you are lowering the prices.
- Learn a few words: Knee-how (hello); Shay Shay (thank you); Gum Bye (cheers); Dui Bootse (sorry); How (yes/okay); Boo (no).
- Eat in street food stands and hole-in-the-wall restaurants, it's delicious. If you are concern about food poisoning, pick the one where local people - of all ages - are queuing.
- If you are a young caucasian lady with long blonde hair, be prepared to have your picture taken a lot in villages.
- Stop waiting in line. Chineses do not queue as westerners. If you want to get on a bus or grab some food, you will need to be more assertive.
Visiting China can be stressful but preparing beforehand should cut down some of the culture shock. We hope those 30 tips will help any first-timers in China. Feel free to leave your comments and share those tips with your friends.
Last Tips for Your First Time in China
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