A trip to China offers an amazing unique experience. Be prepared to be amazed. I undoubtedly recommend you go, but please consider the following 8 China travel tips.
8 China Travel Tips Take Before You Go
China covers a vast landmass, exciting travelers with diverse cultures and 5,000 years of history. Although it occupies the same landmass as the USA, it covers three times the population. With 1.3 billion people and six cities larger than New York City (some are five times the size of New York) be prepared for the colossal crowds. The economy booms but in some ways the Chinese society requires some maturity.
China Travel Tips #1. Go with a Guide if it’s Your First Time to China.
China is an immense, intimidating place with a totally different culture. You really need someone you can trust to help you navigate. Booking tours and transport is going to be that much easier.
Traveling in China can also be unforgiving. Allan and I had a few free hours in Shanghai and decided to take a taxi. The driver got lost, took us in the wrong direction and then dropped us off in the middle of nowhere and still demanded money. I refused and then spent the next 30 minutes unsuccessfully hailing another one. It was the first time I had felt so rattled while abroad. Finally I got into a parked taxi and refused to get out till he delivered us to our hotel.
China Travel Tips #2. Carry With You the Address and Phone Number of Your Hotel and Guide in Both English and Mandarin.
Many Chinese don’t speak English. Navigating with the language barrier challenges most. If you take a taxi or if you get lost, it’s going to be very difficult returning to your hotel without this information. When in doubt look for someone younger who may speak English and may have a cell phone. Ask them to call your hotel and/or guide.
China Travel Tips #3. When in Doubt Go to the Nearest Hotel.
Hotels make your life easier. You can save a lot of time hailing a taxi, getting reoriented or relaxing from all the crowds.
China Travel Tips #4. Take the Metro or an Authorized Official Taxi
Save money by using the inexpensive and efficient subways. Although crowds abound, getting around is that much easier. When Allan and I first landed in Shanghai someone dressed in an airport outfit convinced us to hire a driver to downtown, claiming it was an official taxi. At 3am and in a moment of weakness we took the private driver, unaware the price skyrocketed to five times a normal taxi fare. We arrived with no issues but were stunned later to discover we were scammed. Yes, even seasoned travelers fall victim to scams.
China Travel Tips #5. Pay Attention to the Air Quality Index (AQI).
Smog overwhelms in some areas of China, especially in big cities. Avoid strenuous outdoor activity when the pollution levels are marked as dangerous/high. Unlike me you can avoid a respiratory infection. Just search the web for the China AQI or ask at your hotel. Use a face mask when necessary.
China Travel Tips #6. Do Not Jay Walk
Traffic will not move out of the way. In Beijing traffic almost ran me over – twice while jay walking. Traffic didn’t even bother to swerve out of the way or even slow down.
China Travel Tips #7. Do See Beijing, Xi’an and Shanghai.
Beijing boasts Great Wall, Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square. These are musts. Certainly these cities offer more sights, but these are the highlights. The Shanghai skyline amazes with the Oriental Pearl Tower and the Shanghai Tower. And in Xi’an the Terracotta Warriors comprise a fundamental part of any visit to China.
China Travel Tips #8. Get Your Visa.
You cannot get into China without a special visa. I recommend using Gen Visa www.genvisa.com. Give yourself at least 6 weeks leeway.
Do you have any interesting travel tips for China?
Please let me know in the comments.