China is one of the world’s most interesting destinations for tourists and business travelers alike, even if it is a little off the beaten path compared to, say, Italy or France.
The cultural opportunities abound in China and vary within its provinces. And with its millennia-long history, numerous attractions, and diverse cuisine, there are plenty of reasons why you may wish to travel to China.
With that said, China does have some unique challenges—and opportunities. If you want to mitigate any of these potential issues and take advantage of the best that China has to offer, you’ll definitely benefit from some helpful pointers in the right direction.
Here are your top ten tips for anyone traveling in China:
1. You’ll want to look at street food with careful consideration
Although the street carts in China’s bustling metropolises offer some delicious-looking options, careful consideration and local knowledge is a must since outsiders are not accustomed to the food biologically.
Unfortunately, it’s common in China for street food to be left out for hours without consistent temperature regulation, leading to spoilage and other possible health concerns. You’ll also want to avoid eating anything raw or that hasn’t been proven to be properly washed.
2. You’ll probably want to stick to bottled water
The tap water in China’s major cities is highly chlorinated, which ensures that it is safe to drink. However, some may find its taste less than ideal if you’re not used to drinking chlorinated water.
If you’re heading into the rural parts of China, you absolutely do not want to drink the water since the quality is far less regulated. Save yourself the challenge and just stick to bottled water and you’ll be fine no matter where your travels take you.
3. You’ll need to pay close attention to your cybersecurity
This is true anywhere in the world: If able, leave your cell phone off until outside of any international airports, as many are scanning cell phone data. Play it safe and keep your phone off. Similarly, you’ll want to be careful when connecting to Wi-Fi anywhere in China.
If the Wi-Fi network isn’t secured, find one that is or forgo the Internet. While inconvenient, both options are far better than having your data breached.
4. You’ll want to avoid using your debit card
When in China, it’s highly recommended that you stick to using credit cards or payment apps rather than your debit card. Credit cards offer a degree of protection from fraudulent purchases.
And even more importantly, if breached, all you would need to do is alert your credit card company and freeze your card. If your debit card is breached by someone who may view you as a target, the damage could end up being far worse.
5. You’ll want to avoid large crowds
China prioritizes public order, and as such, they take a hard line on anti-government protests or any other large gatherings that could easily spiral out of control. As a foreigner, you may be perceived as having an ulterior motive if you stumble into one of these events and decide to linger. This can cause an array of challenges. Avoid scenarios that are locally focused.
6. You’ll want to guard your tongue
In some countries, there are guarantees protecting speech rights, including speech that’s critical of the government. That is not necessarily the case in China. You may have some negative perceptions about the Chinese government, but keep them to yourself.
Verbalizing your thoughts could draw unwanted attention and, depending on various factors, potentially lead to challenges you’d certainly rather not add to your itinerary.
7. You’ll want to explore some of China’s amazing deals
If you’re looking for fun, great, and unique products at an incredibly low price, China is a dream come true. There are many places in every large Chinese city where you can find ridiculously low deals for attire, perfume, trinkets, and other items that would cost much more in many other parts of East Asia, as well as in North America, Australia, and Western Europe. Happy shopping!
8. You’ll want to explore foods by region
China is a vast country in terms of landmass and, as with any country of this size, there are significant regional differences. Each province of China specializes in culturally-specific food types. Do a little research before you visit China on the differences in types of meals by province. And if you haven’t set an itinerary yet and have some leeway, you may even want to design your trip around your regional food preferences.
9. You’ll want to get acquainted with local mass transit options
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Public transit is an affordable, safe, and convenient way to travel within China. Furthermore, it’s a quick glimpse of the culture. When riding on mass transit, you have the opportunity to familiarize yourself with how the locals operate, their typical demeanor, differences in customs, and the general mood.
Careful observation can help you better understand the local culture and have an easier and more fruitful experience in China.
10. You’ll want to take some time out for the flowers
Even if you’d never choose the word “horticulturist” to describe yourself or your interests, you’ll still want to check out some of the incredible flower markets throughout China.
They’re typically huge, with a cacophony of color from the display of numerous types of flowers. It’s a remarkable scene! And if you’re traveling with a partner, it’s a great way to show your love.
Bonus Tip when visiting China
You’ll want to observe all the standard rules of international travel. Just as if you were traveling anywhere else in the world, you’ll want to make sure that you have a copy of your visa and your passport in a different location than where you normally keep it.
Additionally, you should notify your embassy about your traveling plans, just in case anything goes awry.
Following these ten useful tips will help you get the most out of exploring this fascinating country. Enjoy!
By Peter Zaccagnino, CEO of Park City Aviators