Tips & Tricks

7 Things To Know Before You Travel To China

Rich, ancient culture, incredible cuisine, and unbelievable geographical variety - China is unlike any other country in the world. But this spectacular country can get a little overwhelming for foreign tourists. If you're planning a trip to China, it’s important to know the customs of this unique culture. We've put together a list of things that you should know before crossing into this wonderful country!

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1. How to Eat with Chopsticks

Many restaurants in China have forks, but asking your waiter to bring you one will definitely make you stand out as a tourist. Practice mastering your chopsticks before you travel, and learn basic etiquette when dining. For example, did you know it's considered improper to place your chopsticks upright into your rice when not using them?

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2. Don’t expect to use your credit card.

Any time you travel to a foreign country there's a chance your plastic won't work. China is no different, especially if you're planning on traveling outside the major cities. Plan ahead and try to keep some cash with you, and change money before heading out to rural areas.

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3. The distance between cities is huge.

China is a massive country. To put it into perspective, a train ride from Chengdu to Siping is approximately 44 hours! So don't expect to see Shanghai, Beijing, and Hong Kong all in one weekend. This is where careful planning comes in handy. Be sure to check distances when booking your trip and give yourself enough time to see everything you want.

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4. Toilet paper is not guaranteed.

Toilets in China can be very different from what you're used to, so be prepared to squat. Carrying some toilet paper or tissues around is also a good idea, as often bathrooms in more rural areas won't supply it. Try these compact rolls which are perfect for carrying around with you.

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5. Chinese people don't speak "Chinese."

"Chinese" is not a single, unified language. It's composed of many different dialects, the most common of which include Mandarin and Cantonese. But even within these languages there are several dialects and variations. Read up on the local language before you travel, and consider buying more than one language guide.

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6. You cannot see the Great Wall of China from space.

Contrary to popular belief, you can’t see the Great Wall from space. The pictures that exist of the monument from space are usually taken with professional zoom lens cameras. You can see the Great Wall up close and personal from several different points throughout Northern China. But remember, not all parts of the Great Wall are the same. This massive architectural wonder stretches over 13,170.696 miles (21,196.18 km), into various types of terrain, and is in varying states of wear and tear. Some parts of the wall are climbable while others are not. So do your research ahead of time to figure out where you want to experience this incredible landmark.

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7. Facebook? Instagram? Google? Not in China.

China’s internet is pretty heavily censored so if you want to access a lot of the websites you use at home, make sure you download a VPN before arriving. This will let you post that perfect Instagram shot of you on the Great Wall while you’re still within the country. Otherwise, save the posting until you get home and download WeChat, the most popular social media app in China. This app is especially helpful if you make local friends during your trip.