Eight Practical Tips For Travelling Around China

Eight Practical Tips For Travelling Around China



Whether
you’re after an immersive urban experience or a trip
packed with adventures in remarkable locales, China has something
to pique everyone’s interest. Before you go, here are eight
practical tips to keep in mind for an optimal trip.

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Getting your visa

First thing’s first – getting there. With a few exceptions, most
foreigners travelling to China need to get a visa. It’s recommended
that you apply at least one month prior to your departure date. The
L visa is a tourist visa that is generally sufficient for those
with plans to take a single short-term trip to China. Citizens of
the US, UK, Canada, Israel and Argentina are eligible to apply for
a 10-year visa which allows one to enter the country multiple times
over the course of a decade without going through the application
process over and over again.

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Getting access to the internet

Chinese social media is drastically different than that of the
West due to strict regulations and government censorship. Apps like
Facebook and Instagram will be unavailable over there, along with
those especially valuable for travel, like Google Maps. Luckily,
this issue can be resolved by purchasing a Virtual Private Network
for your smartphone prior to your arrival. VPNs will allow you to
bypass the country’s firewall, have access to your favourite apps
and protect your security all at once.

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Tipping

Visitors are not expected to tip in mainland China, even after
enjoying good service. In some cases, offering a gratuity could
even be viewed as offensive and many establishments have a strict
no-tipping policy. In recent years, it has become commonplace to
offer a tip to a leader or a driver on a guided tour. Small tips
may also be accepted at upscale hotels and restaurants that cater
to a foreign crowd.

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Communicating

Over 300 languages are spoken in China today. Mandarin is the
national language and about 70 percent of Chinese citizens are
fluent in it. Don’t panic though, if travelling in big cities like
Beijing, you can survive without knowing Mandarin – restaurants in
metropolitan areas will often include English translations on the
menus. The language barrier will be much more prominent in rural
areas where tourism is less common however. No matter where you go,
it might be a good idea to brush up on a few key Mandarin phrases
before your trip. If all else fails, there’s always Google
Translate (provided you’ve got that VPN).

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Getting around

Want to take a trip from Hong
Kong
to
Shanghai
? Guangzhou to Beijing? Forget aeroplanes – high-speed
rail is the way to go. Flights into and around China often
experience delays as a result of bad weather conditions while
bullet trains are known for being punctual, fairly inexpensive and
well kept.

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Managing your money

Most major credit cards are accepted in large Chinese cities but
it’s not a bad idea to have a decent amount of cash on hand when
venturing into rural areas. Although China has a reputation of
being a relatively affordable place to visit, costs can add up.
Depending on where you go, food prices can range from super cheap
to exorbitantly expensive. Don’t be afraid to be adventurous in
your search for places to eat and things to do – it might save you
a lot of money in the end.

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Staying hydrated

Tap water is not safe for consumption anywhere in China without
being boiled first. Bottled water, on the other hand, is
inexpensive and available everywhere. Most hotels will provide free
bottled water to guests. If buying from a street vendor, make sure
to check that the bottle is completely sealed to avoid being sold
tap water.

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Looking after your health

Hazardous air pollution levels are on the rise in China due to a
number of factors, such as economic growth and overpopulation. Air
pollution is an especially critical issue in the country’s
most-visited cities. Before travelling, it’s best to speak to your
doctor if you have respiratory-related health issues. Facemasks are
commonly worn by locals and can be purchased upon arrival in
convenience stores around the country.