First Time Travelling to China: 6 Tips to Prepare You for the Trip
If you are not from China or anywhere near it, your first trip to this ancient nation will surprise you in more ways than one. While most of those surprises are likely to be good, it is wise to prepare ahead for some of them because things can get awkward and quite inconvenient at times. On that note, here are six tips that will help you better prepare for that upcoming, first-time visit to China.
Safe Drinking Water
Health is the first concern when it comes to traveling anywhere really, but if you are traveling from one of the western nations, there are a few things which might feel strange to you, but they are necessary precautions, nonetheless. For starters, no one should ever drink tap water in China because it’s not meant for drinking, even if a hotel or someone else insists it’s safe to drink. Stick to bottled water and you should be fine.
As far as the cuisines are concerned, the Chinese people eat a wide variety of meats, some of which may not agree with the stomach of someone who isn’t used to them. Also, some dishes can be very unhealthy as well, which could make you sick. Finally, there is the question of finding fresh food, which is trickier than it may seem, provided you are not buying and cooking your own food. Unless you are in a very well-reputed restaurant, most experienced travelers will suggest that you check out the street food in China because it is often fresher than what you would find in a low – mid-range restaurant.
Get Medical Insurance
If you are going to be in China for a long stretch of time due to work or otherwise, you will need to find a Chinese medical insurance company with a good policy and wide coverage across multiple reputed medical institutions. Do compare your options first before choosing, but choosing one is essential for expats in China.
Cash is a Must Have
This is not to say that big hotels, malls, and shops don’t accept Visa or MasterCard, but you will definitely need cash to travel in the country. Aside from those few big names that do accept plastic, everyone from the street vendors and public transport to cabbies and even government offices will expect to be paid in cash. Speaking of cash, no other currency except the Chinese Yuan (RMB) is accepted in the country. Exchange your dollars, sterling, and Euros for yuan before you get to China because most Chinese banks and ATM machines do not recognize foreign cards. Also, inform your bank regarding your trip to the Orient or they might block the card in suspicion of fraudulent transactions.
Sanitization Could be a Concern
Given that most Chinese hotels and restaurants do not have toilet paper or even soap in some cases, it is best to come prepared for the initial days with a few rolls of toilet paper and a hand sanitizer.
A Translate App May Just Save You
Normally, it is a rule of thumb to learn at least some of the words and phrases before going to any new location, but the Chinese language is so complex that it is almost impossible to learn even a small portion of it in a few days or even weeks. In the off chance that you manage to learn a bit of it, there are various dialects (over 200) other than Mandarin or Cantonese, which would make it impossible to understand anyone unless you have heard them for years. Hiring a translator is going to be expensive but it is certainly the most effective way to communicate in the country. However, a translator app is the next best thing and infinitely cheaper as well. Use your smartphone to its full extent (buy a local SIM with a data plan) and overcome the language barrier, as best as you possibly can.
As a bonus tip, we would suggest not to buy anything at the asking price because there’s always haggling room in China unless it’s an actual branded shop of course! This list of tips could be longer, depending on how long you plan to stay in China, but these should be enough for most trips.