8 tips for your first trip to China
As the world’s most populous country and second-largest economy, China can be a daunting place to visit. I’ve seen plenty of veteran New York City residents whose heads start to spin as they get caught up in the fast pace of Shanghai or Beijing. Yet by the same token, visiting China is one of the most rewarding things you can do. I’ve lived in Shanghai for a year and a half now, and I’ve loved learning about one of the world’s oldest cultures and seeing the ways in which modern Chinese are changing their country and the world.To get more news about Shanghai travel tips, you can visit shine news official website.
Really, Anthony Bourdain said it best when he brought his hit series “Parts Unknown” to Shanghai: “The one thing I know for sure about China is I will never know China,” he said. “It’s too big, too old, too diverse, too deep. There’s simply not enough time. That’s, for me, the joy of China — facing a learning curve that impossibly steep.”
I try hard to channel this humility when I’m traveling around China, knowing I’ll never be able to see or understand it all, but also knowing I have to try. Whether you’re planning your first trip to China or are a repeat visitor, here are a few tips to help you get the most out of your time in the Middle Kingdom.
Official estimates put the population of China around 1.4 billion people, and growing every year. Between native Chinese traveling around their country and foreigners flocking here for work or vacation, the crowds can get overwhelming. This is especially true at major tourist attractions, such as the terra cotta warriors in Xi’an or the Chengdu panda research base.
While you can’t control the size of the crowds on any given day, you can do your best to beat them. When my girlfriend and I were traveling around China this past summer, we made a point to show up to every attraction the minute it opened in the morning. We were able to enjoy an hour of relative peace and quiet in the panda base with no more than approximately 200 other guests, before all the school and tour groups began rolling in. By the time we left the park around 11 a.m., the place was a complete zoo (no pun intended), and a wildly different experience for anyone just arriving. I’m normally not a morning person, but we realized early on that our trip would be materially better if we woke up a bit earlier to try and beat the crowds.
2. Know your cardinal directions
You can get by traveling in China without speaking the language — more on that later — but there are a few words that I think are especially important to know beyond the simple phrases (please, thank you and where’s the bathroom?).
3. Learning one phrase can make your entire trip
My Chinese lessons have been progressing at an embarrassingly slow pace over the last few months, but before setting out on my big summer trip I learned one single phrase that resulted in some of the most authentic and memorable experiences:
If, like me, you can’t read those characters, the phrase translates as Nǐmen yǒu shé me hào chī de, or simply put: What’s good here?
Asia as a whole is known for having some of the world’s best and most affordable street food, and China is no exception. But you’ll also find thousands of small restaurants (stalls would probably be a more apt description) with no English menu, where the locals go for the really good stuff. I’ve found that most translation apps don’t work well with the overload of text you’ll find on a menu, so simply walk in and ask the lǎobǎn (shopkeeper) or Fúwùyuán (waiter) what’s good on the menu, and he or she will be happy to take care of you.
4. Cash is for tourists
China is one of the most technologically-advanced countries in the world, but tourists can’t take advantage of some of the biggest time-saving inventions. Chinese use mobile payment systems like WeChat Pay and AliPay for almost everything, from rent to groceries. The process is simple: Scan your merchant’s QR code, type in the amount to pay them, and then use FaceID, TouchID or a passcode to complete the transaction. For more trusted merchants like chain stores, you can also show them a code on your phone which they scan to debit your payment account.
5. Leave the big cities
Most people traveling to China for the first time (especially if they’re coming for work) will plan an itinerary centered around the big cities including Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu and Xi’an. I’m by no means advocating you skip these stops, but you should spend just as much time in nature as you do in the cities.Go out west, for example, and visit the rainbow mountains (and make sure to get there for sunrise when the deepest colors are prominent).