10 Things to Know Before You Visit China

10 Things to Know Before You Visit China

Aug 5, 2015|Traveler Resources| by Ginny Annable

Traveling abroad is a new and exciting experience. Each place offers amazing destinations and interesting cultures, and China is one place with a culture unlike any other. While the beautiful cities and incredible countryside excite and amaze, it may be more of a culture shock than most popular tourist countries. Prior to your journey, check out these 10 things to know before you go.

1. Burping is acceptable.
While burping during a sit down meal, or any time in public is often seen as an obscene gesture in the U.S., in most parts of China it is acceptable. When eating out at a restaurant, burping after a meal is a sign of enjoyment and is a compliment to the chef. The same goes for slurping up soup and noodles, so don’t be surprised if this is a common occurrence, and feel free to join in!

2. There is more than one language.
One common misconception about China is the language. We often refer to one overall language “Chinese” when in fact there are seven different distinct languages across the enormous country. Each one varies in sounds and meanings, so be sure to check which dialect is used where you visit.

3. Don’t expect the Chinese food you’re used to.
Craving Chinese food? Don’t expect the same meals you eat in America. Our version of Chinese food has been modified for our tastes. But don’t fret, the traditional dishes you’ll experience across China will blow your taste buds away, and leave you so satisfied you might even burp in public.

4. Don’t let the public restrooms scare you.
When traveling beyond our front door step, we know not to expect the luxury of our own bathrooms, but the quality of a public toilet in China may surprise you. When touring cities and monuments, prepare for long lines and different types of toilets. You also may want to pack your own toilet paper, as public restrooms often don’t have any. Don’t let this scare you, and know hotel bathrooms will be up to par with our standards.

5. Staring is normal.
It’s important to remember that you are out of place when you tour China. Depending on where you go, you may stick out from the crowd, and people may stare. Luckily, staring is seen as a sign of genuine interest and is acceptable in China.

6. Bargain in markets.
When you’re shopping in local markets and small shops, prepare yourself to haggle. Often when shop owners recognize a tourist, they raise the price of their goods as high as 10 times what you should pay, so be ready to work for your bargains. If you don’t want to haggle, get a friend who will to buy for you.

7. It’s polite to refuse gifts, offerings and compliments before accepting.
When offered a compliment, a gift, or an offering of food/drink, it is polite to refuse a few times before accepting. You will notice that locals will do this to you as well, so always insist on your offer more than once.

8. Don’t expect to be understood.
Often when traveling abroad, knowing only English is acceptable and you will be able to communicate with locals, but don’t expect this in China. While children are now being taught English from a young age, it is still not common for locals to know English. Try to learn some words and phrases before you go, or ask your guide while you’re there!

9. Crossing the street is different.
When you cross the street at a light or cross walk in America, you expect the cars to stop. In China, this concept is not one you should rely on. With so many pedestrians in the big cities, drivers tend to just keep driving, even if it means a potential collision.

10. Expect to be overwhelmed.
China is a big country, with an even bigger population, meaning big crowds, busy streets, and loud groups. While you’re there, you might be overwhelmed by the amount of people around you, the language barrier and the stress of traveling, but this feeling is all a part of the true China experience. Amidst the beautiful scenery, interesting history, and unique architecture the hustle and bustle of China will only make your trip one to remember.

With these basic etiquette and culture tips in mind, enjoy a trip of a lifetime in one of the most culturing astounding countries in the world.