If you have never been to China before, it can be an overwhelming experience. Not only are you travelling to a country which holds more people than any other, but the culture is very different to what we would find in the western world. However, many of the preconceived notions about what life in China is actually like may well be wide of the mark.
The more prepared you are beforehand for your trip to China, the less stressful the entire experience will be. The following travel tips could come in handy for first-time visitors to China, helping you to prepare for the weird and wonderful you’ll experience in this exciting country.
Go with the flow
China is unlike anywhere else in the world. While China borders a number of other countries, it has a completely distinct cultural identity from its neighbours. Combined that with the country’s sheer size, and it seems more continental than just one nation.
With a country so big and busy, you are bound to see a lot of weird and wonderful stuff there, and while things may seem odd or different, I’d encourage you to embrace them – particularly when it comes to the food.
Take your pants off when you first use the squatter
With so much to see, do and explore in China, it is all but guaranteed that you’ll end up using a public toilet at some point. Chances are the public toilet that you end up using won’t be what you’re used to – a bowl fixed to the ground with a folding seat. Instead, you’ll likely see a squatting pan – essentially a hole in the floor that flows directly into the sewage line.
This may be a source of severe culture shock, but it is best to just bite the bullet and give it a go. Remove your pants entirely the first few times is a good idea while you work on your aim game.
Make sure you have medical insurance
You will want to make sure that you have valid medical insurance in China for the duration of your stay. Some of China’s roads, particularly in more rural areas, can be dangerous, and health and safety standards are much more relaxed in general. Much like anywhere you travel to, you should ensure you’re properly covered, mainly to avoid facing any bankrupting medical bills.
Drink tea rather than coffee
Just like in Britain, the tea in China is much better than the coffee. Tea is native to China, so they’ve been drinking it even longer than we have in the UK! What’s more, there are different types of tea for different regions of China.
For example, West Lake Dragon Well tea is said to be the best tasting green tea and can be found in Hangzhou, and when in Beijing, you should try out the different flower-scented teas on offer. If you want to get the full authentic China experience from your trip, you should definitely choose tea over coffee while you are there – that is if you are a fan of hot drinks.
Get a VPN Before You Go
Once you are inside China, you will be behind their Great Firewall. This means that everything you do online will be monitored. VPNs remain a legal gray area in China, but they aren’t going to go after foreigners who are using them during visits.
A VPN will encrypt your web traffic and make it impossible for anyone to see what you are doing on the internet – all your internet data leaves and arrives on your device encrypted. The VPN software then decrypts it for you.