I traveled to China this summer and I had the most amazing time of my entire life, I tried so many new things, met so many incredible people, and ate some amazing food (I can’t stress enough how good the food was). Before we get started I want to thank my obsessive teenage self who was determined to learn how to use chop sticks while I would eat my store bought ramen when I would watch Korean dramas because it definitely came in handy.
I traveled to Shanghai and Beijing during the summer and I definitely noticed and learned a-lot of differences and tips that definitely helped me out to know and I know would help you out who is reading. These differences is what I think will save anyone wanting to travel to China because I know it saved my life. When traveling to a different country that represents a different life style, cultural, and traditional upbringing you never want to be disrespectful in any way. I found so many historical and traditional aspects so incredibly fascinating during my travels. I learned so much about Chinese culture and history, and took it upon my self to do my best to be fully engaged in their culture and language and trying my best to learn as much as I could before I felt. As visitors that is one thing we can do to show our respect for the country and those who live in China. With that being said lets begin…
When I say paper what I really mean is toilet paper. Something that I think everyone should know and this is probably the biggest one in my opinion is that in China there is no law or regulation that restaurants or other places are required to have toilet paper or restrooms for that matter. Bringing “paper” with you was a big thing because you never know when you would find a restroom and if you did there was a 99% chance there was no toilet paper or even soap. It was definitely an adventure trying to find a restroom with toilet paper and soap or even a restroom that had the western toilets. Most restrooms in China had the sit down toilets that I am definitely familiar with because of my travels to Kurdistan. Biggest tip bring a lot of hand sanitizer and those travel size tissues because these products definitely came in handy.
I don’t know for a fact how accurate this information is because I’ve heard mixed thoughts, but in any case the next piece of information is on the topic of water. Yes you heard it right, being more cautious of what type of water you’re drinking is key when traveling to China. This is because the water filtration in China is different from what I have in Canada, I was told to be cautious of drinking the tap water because your body is not use to it and you can get sick. We were told to use water bottles, brushing our teeth would consist of us pouring water from a water bottle into a paper cup and using that to brush our teeth, using water bottles to wash fruits (and even then having to peel the fruit before eating, which I think was definitely overboard if you ask me). However, understanding the extra caution to something that we necessarily don’t need to think about (depending where we live) I think this is definitely an important one to share with all of you.
This is another piece of information that I think people need to know before traveling to China. The WeChat app is such a big part of the Chinese society and lifestyle in China, I personally love the app. It provides people with an app where you can chat with people as long as you add them by scanning their code, you can post photos just like instagram (China blocked Instagram) , and you can use it as a payment method for various things. I love how multi purpose this app is and it is such a popular app that everyone I met asked if I had before seeing their surprised face when I told them I did. If you are traveling or even planning on living there for whatever reason WeChat is the first thing you should download. What I found WeChat useful for is it has an option of translating things into English, if you take a photo of a poster and it has written language you aren’t familiar with it will translate it to English. This sometimes came in handy when traveling to China, but the translations were sometimes off. Nonetheless WeChat is amazing, an app that is a purpose app is something that we need.
I definitely never heard about VPN before learning about I was traveling to China, but anyone traveling there definitely needs to get VPN. If you’re unfamiliar with VPN it is basically a virtual private network, which allows people to use to access certain apps or websites that might be blocked. In China there are various websites and apps that are blocked from the public internet and so VPN allows you to access them. I was able to get access to Instagram, Viber, Snapchat, Whatsapp and any other social media app while I was there because I purchased VPN before I left, which was super cheap.
For some reason I had a lot of surprised faces and reactions when I told people how incredibly nice, and sweet people were in China no matter where I went with the group of people I was with. The Chinese hospitality is so real and true, I felt so comfortable and safe in the cities I was in because of all the nice people I met. I never once felt unsafe or uncomfortable being in China, which made the trip much more amazing for me. The hospitality of these people were out of this world that it reminded me of Kurdish hospitality. Being in China reminded me of Kurdistan so much it was very weird for me, but I loved every second of it. If you’re someone who is sceptical about traveling to China because you heard that they aren’t nice, please do because that couldn’t be further from the truth. I made some amazing relationships with people and I was only there for a short period of time.
I wanted to include this because money is probably one of the most important aspects when traveling. Theres a lot of things I learned in China in regards to money and how it works there. In relation with eating out and trying different restaurants in China going with a group of people is always the best option because you can split the cost. Paying for food with a group of 7 girls I would sometimes only spend around $10 CAD on food, which was amazing for me. The best part about traveling is trying out different foods and knowing that you can buy food for super cheap is a great. I definitely recommend trying their sticky rice (OUT OF THIS WORLD) I ate a lot of it, and duck (if you are up for it and aren’t Vegan). The food there is often times super cheap anyway and you get a lot for what you’re paying for so just going with a group of people can be an added decrease to the amount of money you would pay for it. Another important part when talking about money is the fact that there is no such thing as tipping in China compared a lot of places in western countries. This can easily help you save the bank when you are going out to eat.
I know I’m probably forgetting something, but these are just ones that I’ve remembered and if I remembered then they got to be important. I hope this somehow helps anyone who is thinking of traveling to China. If you have any specific questions comment them down below and I can try my best to answer them for you.
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