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I’ve traveled around Asia quite a lot in the recent years, but China somehow differs from the rest of the countries I’ve been to. Now in no way I’ve spent enough time there or been to each and every city this huge country has to offer. Nevertheless I still think I got a pretty good impression of it. So here are a few things that might help you navigate through China with greater ease.

You might also want to read: Beijing anf Shanghai

Language

The language barrier is the number one hurdle to overcome for a foreigner when traveling to China. China has two major languages, Mandarin and Cantonese (spoken mostly in Hong Kong). While English is slowly becoming universal, especially in the cities, many Chinese people still can not speak it. Lucky for us, we were there to learn Chinese anyways eventhough hand gestures and broken English were our go-tos, when it came to communicating with the locals.
google translate
no smaking china

Cenzorship

The Chinese government censors everything from media to the internet, which means you will be unable to access sites like Facebook, Instagram, Google, Youtube and many others. So unless you’re planning to visit China and do a modern day social media detox at the same time, make sure to get a VPN on your phone and computer before your departure. (VPN= virtual private network that acts like a tunnel to secure your internet connection on wifi and protect your data – to put it simply, it allows you to access your favourite sites). I have an android and the apps I found to be most useful are Turbo VPN and Secure VPN. Apps like Wechat (Whatsapp knock-off) and Didi (Chinese Uber) can be quite helpful too.
Shopping
When it comes to street vendors, it is perfectly acceptable and highly recommendable to negotiate prices. There is a sort of an unspoken rule that you should not pay much more that a 1/3 of an original price if you use your hagging skills well. That being said, if you are not planning to buy anything, do not ask about the price, because if you do the vendors might follow you around for a bit. When in China, visiting fake markets, such as Silk Market in Beijing and AP Plaza at Shanghai Science & Technology Museum Station in Shanghai are a must.
AP Plaza
Givenchy original
East Nanjing Road

Food

Eventhough I’m a huge advocate for trying local foods while traveling, be careful when trying the street food. The best way to avoid stomach bugs is by making sure that either the food is prepared right in front of you and is still hot. If you see a queue, it’s likely to be a safer bet as well. Sometimes ordering food even in restaurants is a gamble in China, since it is very common for all kinds of animal anatomy to make it onto your plate. The two places I recommed you visit are Wangfujing Night Street Food Market and Quanjude Roast Duck in Beijing.

Roast Duck
dont know what that is
dumplings
where we were eating almost every day for 14 days
Safety
In general, Chinese people have a favorable opinion of Westerners, so crimes against foreigners are quite rare. As with any big city, the risk of pickpocketing still exists, so take extra care of your valuables. Especially when being exposed to larger crowds, which is basically all the time in the most populated country in the world.
Other tips and tricks
  • Bring hand soap or hand sanitizer
  • Always drink botteled water
  • Like  most  other Asian countries, China is also a bring-your-own-toilet-paper kind of a place
  • Get to the airport early, delays in China are not uncommon
  • Download translator apps on your phone
  • Cash is prefered, unless you manage to pay with your WeChat app (yes, you can do that too)
  • China recognises only its own currency, so they won’t accept any other, that includes US and Hong Kong dollars too
insane crowds