Things You Know Before Visiting China – Mix with the Locals

When you plan to visit China, what do you have in mind? Is it a business trip or a leisure holiday? Regardless of the reason, you visit China. There are always things you know before visiting China.

China has a culture that is completely different from the rest of the world. The place is diverse in its culture, people, climatic condition, topography, cuisine, and more.

In fact, every aspect of China is unique and interesting in its own way. One of the biggest problems you face when you are in China is the language. It is quite difficult to mix in the crowd because of this language barrier. But, if you know the place in and out, getting around can be a lot easier than you think.

Here is Important Things You Know Before Visiting China

This article is a detailed guide on things that you need to be aware of while you are in China.

The Chinese culture – one of the primary things you know before visiting China

China is well known to the world as the best hub for both tourism and business. But this is modern China. Though trading is an ancient culture of the place, tourism is comparatively new.

For centuries, China has been ruled by fine dynasties. Naturally, apart from the metropolitan areas, people still lead their traditional lifestyle of farming.

Different regions of China have different cultures. There is diversification in language, dressing, social norms, gourmet, and culture.

In short, grasping the culture of China as a whole can be very difficult. Don’t worry, nobody expects you to know all about China in a go. But here are a few quick things you know before visiting China.

The Language

One of the most important things you know before visiting China is the fact that the majority of Chinese people don’t speak English. Neither do they speak the language, nor do they understand it. Not even a bit. So, communicating with people can be really difficult here.

If you think you can learn the language, that is not a possibility as well. There are almost 13 variations of Chinese languages in the country.

Out of these, 3 that are majorly used are-Mandarin, Cantonese or Yue, and Wu or Shanghainese.

Languages vary with region, so it’s difficult to say who speaks what language.

However, nowadays the Government has started English in the primary education system, so kids might understand you.

How to communicate and go about under such a situation? The easiest thing you can do is hire a tour guide or a translator.

But if you want to travel solo, you can always access the internet with a VPN connection and use Google Translate to get along the crowd.

The people

The Chinese people respect their culture and you might want to do the same.

Whenever you are in public be respectful toward the old and monks. Also, if you want to real China, you need to go beyond the boundaries of the cities.

Chinese is more than just Shanghai and Beijing. You can get the real culture of China in the rural areas. If you know the way of life, you can mix better with the locals. But to do that, you need to know the people first.

Here are a few things you need to know about the Chinese-

  • Not everyone over here speaks English, especially the elders. You might want to use the gesture language to express yourself.
  • The majority of Chinese lead a simple lifestyle and they are very courteous towards their guests.
  • The Chinese don’t really respect personal space. Unlike European or American culture, these people like to stay close and get friendly in the crowd. Don’t freak out if you someone sticking by your side.
  • Rural Chinese people follow traditional lifestyles.
  • The Chinese people don’t like waiting in the line, so be prepared to get along queue breakers.
  • People in China appreciate clicking photos in the public. They love getting selfies.
  • When you are in public, be prepared to see people farting or spitting in public. It is not at all impolite in their culture. They appreciate it as a natural behavior.
  • Tanning is not a common trend in China. People like to cover themselves in bright sunlight and carry umbrellas.

The social gestures

As mentioned before, the culture in China is very different from the rest of the world. Here are a few things you know before visiting China about the gestures over here.

  • Nodding is the best way to greet a person during the busy time of the day.
  • Handshake is a gesture used to great friends and colleagues.
  • The goodbye is very similar to Western Culture and is expressed by waving your hands.
  • Public hugging is not acceptable as a way of greeting each other as per the Chinese culture. You need to be careful while you hug someone, they might take it offensively.
  • Don’t ever tip in a local Chinese restaurant. It is considered impolite in the local culture.
  • If you want to offer gratitude with money, consider presenting the money to the person by holding it in both hands. This gesture is appreciable.
  • Chinese people are used to bargaining. If you want to secure a product at just value, you need to bargain.

The cuisine

Chinese cuisine varies from one region to another. Here are a few things you need to know about the food here in China

Cuisine variant – things you know before visiting China

China has 8 distinct cuisines based on provinces. So, if you are looking for a local delight, you might want to try something special in each of these provinces-

  1. The Cantonese or Guangdong Cuisine: This cuisine from Shanghai with international fame, is known for its seafood, rice, and mild flavors.
  2. Sichuan Cuisine: This one is known for its hot and spicy numbing flavors from the Sichuan peppercorn.
  3. Jiangsu Cuisine: The cuisine is known for its perfect blend of aroma, sweetness, and salty flavors. They are known for healthy food.
  4. Zhejiang Cuisine: Food here is very similar to Cantonese. They are known for their almost raw gourmet delights. They like to keep it seasonal, fresh, and crispy.
  5. Fujian Cuisine: These delights are known for their mild sweet and sour flavors. They are into soups, seafood, exotic dishes.
  6. Hunan Cuisine: This cuisine is known for its use of their spices, sour and hot food. They are the masters of stir-frying, smoking, sauteing, and steaming.
  7. Anhui Cuisine: This is also called the mountain peasant food as they use wild herbs, animals and prepare food with unusual flavors.
  8. Shandong Cuisine: They are the masters of using vinegar in food and preparing noodles. They are known for their crispy, salty, and well-braised pork and seafood.

Chinese food of China is nothing like Chinese food in other parts of the world

When you go to try Chinese food in China, the first thing to keep in mind is the fact that it will not taste like the Chinese food you eat at home.

Chinese people like to use many ingredients that are not very common elsewhere.

They like to use different types of fungi and plants in their food. They eat all kinds of seafood. If you try food in a local restaurant, be prepared to have food prepared with fish oil and fish sauce.

Some common items you find only in Chinese dishes are-

  • Tofu
  • Bok choi
  • Bamboo shoot
  • Lotus pods
  • Bitter melon
  • Mung beans

Things you know before visiting China about street food here

If you want to explore Chinese cuisine, savoring street food is the best way to do it. However, I must warn you, there are places in the Chinese street food market that are not meant for faint-hearted or animal lovers.

The Chinese people are well known for considering various animal meats as their delicacies. Many of the street vendors slaughter their animals in front of customers to prove the freshness. Sometimes animals are burnt alive or boiled in front of you. Common animals that face these fate are cats, dogs, bats, snakes, rats, etc.

But there are many touristic street markets here as well where you can try some Chinese delights without witnessing any of these. Some gourmet delights of China you might like to try-

  • Shark fin soup
  • Birds nest
  • Peking duck
  • Braised Pork
  • Dumplings
  • Kung Pao Chicken
  • Ma Po Tofu
  • Wontons and Spring Rolls

Tourism things you know before visiting China

Even if you here in China for business purposes, keep a few days free to explore the highlights of China. These tourism inputs are helpful for both leisure and business travelers.

Tourism basics

  • Every national need Visa to enter China
  • China Eastern flights offer the cheapest deal for flying to China.
  • Travel insurance is a must when you travel to China.
  • Always carry your passport wherever you go in the country
  • Chinese markets are prone to fraudulent sales. Beware of counterfeit goods when you purchase something from the bargain places.
  • The local currency of China is Yuan. They also accept US dollars in the country. But local vendors and public transport require you to carry Yuan. If you don’t have enough change don’t forget to get some at the airport.
  • Credit card users are not very common in China. You need to withdraw money from the ATM or bank if you are out of local currency.
  • The moment you step in China, the Firewall protection cuts you off your social media access like Whatsapp, Facebook, Instagram, etc. You can use their alternative social media platform, i.e, WeChat.
  • To access your social media logins, you need to download VPN like NordVPN or ExpressVPN before you set foot in the country.
  • China Unicom and China Telecom are the best network providers in the country for your mobile.
  • Water is not potable in China. You need to buy bottled water everywhere to be on the safer side.
  • Yunani and herbal medicines are the most common in China. If you want pharma medicines, you need to look around for some time in the market.
  • Pollution is high in China and they experience high smog in cities. You might want to carry your masks on tour.
  • Carry toilet rolls everywhere. You might encounter restrooms with floor-level toilets instead of a WC.

Local transportation

If you are not here on a conducted tour, you want to use public transportation here instead of a cab. Chinese metro and suburban railway system is well-developed and easy to use. Some tips about public transportation here-

  • Taxis with Chinese drivers are very cheap. But the ones with English speaking chauffeurs are expensive.
  • For long-distance journeys, you can try the high-speed bullet trains in China. Book the tickets online form China Ticket Online.
  • The subway connection in major cities is great.
  • There are times when airfares come cheaper than bullet trains.
  • The bus ride gives a rustic experience here.

Important places to see in China

There are many places to see in China when on a tour. Top 5 must-see sightseeing points-

  • The Great Wall of China and Tiananmen Square, Beijing
  • Terracotta Warriors, Xian
  • Stone Forest, Kunming
  • The Jade Buddha Temple, Shanghai
  • The Shaolin Temple, Zhengzhou

Business Etiquette

If you are in China on business, you need to follow the business or formal etiquette, the same way you follow the social norms here.

  • Small talks are appreciated in corporate meetings.
  • The Chinese bargain while making a deal, even for deadlines. Be firm in decision-making.
  • You can’t crack a deal in China without making personal relationships here.
  • You must always enter a meeting according to the hierarchical structure.
  • 12 noon to 2 PM is considered as a breaktime in China.
  • April, May, June, September, and October are considered the best month of international trade in China.
  • Handshake is the best formal way to greet people at work.
  • Avoid topics related to Chinese politics, communism, way of treating animals, Tibet or Taiwan, and human rights when you are in public.
  • The best way to start a discussion in China is by talking about the culture, natural beauty, and art.
  • When the Chinese traders say “Not a big issue”, they usually mean there is a problem at work.
  • Don’t use negative statements while dealing with Chinese traders. You can try alternatives like “maybe” or “we’ll see”.
  • Punctuality is essential for meetings.
  • Choose conservative suits for your business meetings. Avoid bright colors.
  • While a meeting is over, you need to leave the conference before your Chinese counterparts.
  • The golden color is considered prestigious in China. So, if you want their attention, print business cards in gold letters.
  • Never ever handover gifts to your Chinese traders or colleagues or boss. Gifting is considered as bribery here.

Know China before you visit

We have covered a huge chunk of information one needs before visiting China. Ignore the language barriers of China and set forth to explore the country.

If you know the basics of moving around and blending with people here, traveling in China is a piece of cake.

Knowing the standard formal etiquette will make your life easier while cracking business deals. So what are you waiting for? Make your travel plans to China today.

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