Traveling in China, while absolutely AMAZING, can be a difficult task at times. The tourism industry here, while growing rapidly, is not like that of Europe where everything has already been laid out for you and they’ve crossed all the t’s and dotted all the i’s and lower case j’s. In China, you’re lucky if the t has been crossed. And so, you have to go in with an open mind. You have to enjoy what it is and not what it is.
1.Language Barriers: Very few people speak English in China. Of course, it does depend partially on where you go. If you’re visiting Hong Kong you won’t have a problem. If you’re visiting Beijing it can be quite difficult as only a small percentage of the population speak english and foreigners are scarce to ask (especially in the winter months). If you’re in Shanghai it is a bit easier than Beijing as there are a lot more foreigners there and the city is much more modern. If you’re out in the countryside or even in a city like Xi’an (Where the Terracotta Warriors are) be prepared to use sign language and draw pictures. Not being able to speak the language will make your trip a bit more difficult, but it is part of the experience!
2.Subways: They are very very very very crowded…and at the most random times during the day too. If you’re in Beijing, Shanghai, or Hong Kong be prepared to cuddle with the guy or girl standing next to you on the subway train. At first you might be angry that everyone is pushing you in and shoving you to the side, but after awhile you get used to it. Its just part of the daily grind here. Of course, you can hire a taxi for cheap, but if you want the REAL experience, take a subway in Beijing from Guomao station on line 1 at 6:30 PM. You won’t forget it.
2.Restaurant Food: If you’re coming from the US you’ll find that the Chinese food you get there is nothing like that here. Of course, you can still get your Kung Pow Chicken (Pronounced Gung Pow Chiden here), but even that can be hard to find. The Food is Delicious! Each province in Beijing is known for different styles of cooking and many restaurants here specialize in these certain styles.
2.Street Food: While its great to be open to new opportunities and try new things, don’t be too open to all the street food. There are a lot of problems with being getting food poisoning here. And the food poisoning here isn’t regular food poisoning. You’ll be out for weeks. So, for all you foodies out there, don’t let it stop you, but try not to have dinner this way every single night.
2.Bargaining: Make sure you stand your ground and bargain at any of the outside markets! If not, you will get ripped off. For instance, if you’re looking to buy a knock-off Dolce & Gabbana purse pay no more than 120 RMB for it MAX. The seller will attempt to start off with a price of something like 800RMB. Don’t give in. Stand your ground! Usually if at last you walk away they’ll call you back and agree with your price.
And so my friends, there you have it. There is a lot more to think about when traveling to China, and this is just the tip of the iceburg. It is an amazing, beautiful country that you have to see! Whether the country side or the busy city, it will open your mind to think you never knew.