China is definitely an adventure park for travellers. These 10 things are based on my experience, and will provide you with some very general information that you need to take notes when you are travelling in China. Also, if you are only going to big cities like Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou, it might be an entirely different story. However, China is a very interesting place to travel, it is always highly recommended to be prepared if you are planning to leave the front door of your 5-star hotels.
Take care of your belongings. Do not leave your bags on the table while you are going to get the bill, there might be some security cameras, but it would be hard for you to get your stuff back.
Vegetarian( Be mindful about what are you actually eating, Chinese use a lot of broths for cooking)
Do some research before you get here about the functional VPNs. Most of the western social media platforms are blocked by the government.(Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat.) Uber was purchased by a Chinese company in 2016, so your Uber App won’t work either! There is a Chinese version of Uber, but you need to link it with your WeChat or Alipay.
Express VPN; Fast and reliable. The Hong Kong server was very fast. The price is slightly higher than other service providers.
Astrill(Rumour has it, they have associated with the Chinese government and your data will be monitored. However, it is still the most popular one)
Google is blocked as well, be mindful when you use VPN, the information on Google map is not accurate, I tried, and failed hard once again. The best solution would be using some local services: Baidu, or Gaode. Taxi here is not pricey, but the drivers normally don't speak any foreign languages and don't know or pretend to not knowing your hotel. Best way to do this would be book hotel that is closer to public transports or call you front desk, ask them to direct.
Don't drink tap water! Buy bottle water, the good ones! Also, try to use ottled water when you brush your teeth!
It is always good to bring a mate. Caucasian means "Rich" here, and learning how to bargain is quite critical if you don’t want to be ripped off! I once brought a mate with me when we went shopping, the salesperson tried to convince me to rip my mate off. True frigging story!
The alkaway tactic. Try to avoid the “Foreigners Only” markets, that is where you know you would be ripped off 100%, but if you have to get something from there, try to lower the price to 30% of the original price, or ever lower. If they are not selling, try to “Walkaway”, they will stop you and negotiate more! Try it, it is super fun!
The pedestrian way is not what it is: the drivers won't give away. Rent a car would be a very bad idea in China. I’ve witnessed some C-turn, U-turn, and O-turns in three days. No one gives a crap about the rules, and the funniest thing was: every time When I tried to buckle up, the taxi drivers would stop me, and tell me it is alright to leave it there, no one would notice that I didn’t fasten my seat belt...I felt I was being disrespectful when I insist on wearing seat belt.
Don’t expect too much personal space here. I tried and failed really hard: as long as I leave enough space in front of me when I queue, there will be someone cut through and stand in front of you like there was no lineup. You are supposed to stand, drive and walk on the right-hand side. However, no fucks given here, you can walk in the middle, opposite way or use your imagination!
Bring tissue or toilet paper with you. There is no toilet paper in public toilets, and I don’t suggest you use them either. Practise your “Asian Squat” at home, it might be handy in public toilets. (Simply don't use public toilets, trust me...)
Don’t always take planes when you travel in China. Not only it could be fun to take train rides, but also it would be more trustable( Almost no delay or cancel). I was told by people who work in between in Beijing and Shanghai, they never take planes because the train only takes about 6 hours in total, pretty much equivalent to the plane travel time plus waiting and transit. Flights between Beijing and Shanghai have a very high rate of cancellation. If you have to take the plane, make sure you purchase insurance and have a backup plan.( I didn't, I had to go back to the city and book another hotel at very last minute)
Be aware of the fake alcohol when you drink out, I had a disastrous night out in Shanghai because of the fake alcohol. The safe way is to drink some local beers, Tsingtao is always the safe choice.
Also, if you are in Beijing and crave for some good wine, cosy and classy venue to drink out, go check out Pop-up, a homeware, antiques, furnishing and interiors design and lifestyle store, operated by two Kiwis. It is located in the centre of south Sanlitun(this area should be on top of your Beijing-night-out list. ) It also comes with a fair collection of wines and I was amazed by some of the delicious local craft beers.
I love a good quality cup of coffee every morning, so I always travel with my own coffee supply, I use Aeropress and buy ground beans from Campos. Drinking coffee here is regarded as a luxurious experience, and the most popular “cafes” are Starbucks...For one small Long black, you have to pay about $8, it tastes absolutely flavourless and disgusting.
Overall, travelling is China would be very exciting and adventurous, I would suggest you do sufficient research before you book your flights and hotels. These things might sound crazy, but it is definitely one of my favourite places in terms of travelling destinations, yet there are so much to be discovered in china.
If you have any questions about travelling in China, please feel free to shoot me a message here or email me.