You’ve booked your ticket, made your hotel reservations and you’re ready to enjoy the glorious combination of unspoiled natural beauty, lively cities, and cultural history that await the fortunate travelers to China. However, before packing your suitcase and jetting off to this exotic and mysterious country, there are a few things that you should know to ensure a smooth vacation. Here are the 10 things you should know before taking off for your China vacation:
In China, the currency used is the Yuan Renminbi which is symbolized as ¥ and more commonly called yuan. one yuan is equal to approximately $0.16 USD, or the inverse, $1 USD is equal to 6.36 yuan. You may also hear locals refer to a yuan as a ‘kuai’ which is a nickname but still refers to a dollar. While you may hear all these terms used when talking about money, rest assured because Renminbi, Yuan and Kuai all mean the same thing, referring to the Chinese dollar.
9. Power Conversion
Throughout China, the standard outlet used is 220 volts, though some four and five-star hotel properties are wired with the 110-volt outlets common throughout North America. Either way, it is a good idea to purchase a power converter so that you can use your own electronics like chargers and personal appliances during your vacation.
A common question for travelers is “when should I tip?” and the answer depends on the establishment. If you receive good service in a westernized place like a hotel, it is common and much appreciated to tip waiters, room service staff, bellhops, maids and tour guides/drivers. You are not expected to tip local taxi drivers or staff at Chinese restaurants (those not geared for westerners) and it should be mentioned that Hong Kong and Macau because of their westernization generally follow the same tipping practices as in North America.
7. Visa Requirements
With a few specific exemptions, most travelers to China will need to obtain a visa prior to their scheduled vacation. It is recommended that travelers apply for the visa at least 1 month before their departure to ensure it is processed in time. The cost of the visa depends on a few factors including what country you are from and the processing time required for your application. It’s best to do your homework on visas for China well in advance of your trip.
6. Departure Tax
Like many countries, China charges a departure tax when leaving the country by air. Thankfully this fee of 90 yuan or approximately $16 USD, is included in your air fare at the time of booking so no need to worry about saving some cash for your departure, it’s already taken care of!
5. The Internet is Restricted
The Chinese government restricts the use of the internet in this country so you may find that some of your regularly visited websites are blocked. It’s a good idea to do some research before you go, especially if you’re planning on doing any work while traveling. There are ways around the restrictions however, and many Chinese people are very tech savvy and well educated on internet use, so don’t be afraid to ask for help.
4. Don’t Learn ‘Chinese’
You won’t get very far. That’s because there is no unified language known as Chinese, instead Chinese people speak a number of different dialects depending on where they are from. If you do want to learn a few key phrases to help your communication, Mandarin and Cantonese are the 2 most popular dialects used in china.
3. Squat Toilets Are Real
There’s a good chance you’ll encounter a squat toilet at some point on your vacation, especially out in public places or attractions. Don’t worry, they’re much easier to use than they seem and they’re actually more sanitary than seated toilets since there’s no contact. Just remember to carry your own toilet paper while you’re out sightseeing.
2. Burping is Not Rude
It’s actually a sign of contentment after eating a meal, so if you feel the need to burp, there’s no need hold it in or act embarrassed if one happens to slip out. It’s also socially acceptable to stare as it means that you’re genuinely interested in the person and what they are doing. So if you’re being stared at, don’t assume it’s just because you’re a tourist!
1. Chicken Balls?
If you go to China with dreams of chicken balls and sweet and sour pork, you’re going to be in for a surprise and whether it’s a good or bad one will all depend on your perspective. The deep-fried, covered in glowing sauce kind of Chinese food we know of in North America is not what they really eat in China. Instead you’ll find many healthier vegetable and meat dishes prepared simply but none the less delicious.