Travel Guides

Home > Travel Guides

12 Things To Expect When You Visit China

Are you planning on visiting China in the near future? China is a huge, varied and magnificent country but it’s also very different than the western world so it’s a good idea to get an idea of what to expect while you are there. Luckily have put together this handy guide on just that.

  1. Toilets Are Not The Same

In China, toilets are not the same as our western thrones. They are squat toilets, small porcelain bowls that you squat over. They are deemed to be much more sanitary than our version, but be prepared for there to be limited privacy. Some squat toilets do not have doors, others don’t even have partitions, so be prepared to go well outside your comfort zone. Most hotels and restaurants in metropolitan cities will offer a western alternative.

  1. Packs Of Tissues And Hand Sanitizers Are A Must

Bring as many as you can carry! Toilet tissue is not a given in China, in fact, it's very unusual to find it outside big hotels and city restaurants. You are expected to carry your own and having a stash will come in handy and make you very popular with your friends.

  1. Those Face Masks Don’t Look So Silly When You’re There

We’ve all seen it on TV, the smog masks that people wear in big cities in China and marvelled at what they look like. However, when you are there, they make complete sense. Big cities like Beijing and Shanghai have real problems with smog, spending a day in Beijing is the equivalent of inhaling second-hand cigarette smoke. If you have asthma or allergies it is advisable to invest in a mask, and you can get them in lots of colours, characters and styles, so it has its benefits.

  1. The Internet Is Blocked

The internet is heavily controlled in China, with access to Google, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube blocked. However, don’t worry you can still post the perfect selfie. Many Chinese use VPN (or VPN推荐) to get around this ban and some hostels will also offer this handy feature.

  1. China Is HUGE

It’s often hard to comprehend just how vast China is. The Great Wall of China is thought to be over 13,170 miles long and the wall doesn’t even cover the whole of the country. China is home to 55 different ethnic groups and has 34 provinces in total. So if your mission is to see the whole country, you’ll be in for a challenge!

  1. The Language Will Be An Issue

English is not yet widely spoken in China, so this is something to be aware of. Remember to bring addresses for taxi drivers in Chinise, not English, as someone in our group, unfortunately, did. If you meet someone who does speak English, don’t be alarmed if they want to practise their English with you. This is the perfect opportunity to help them and also learn some Mandarin or Cantonese in return.

  1. You Will Be A Superstar

Ever wondered what it would feel like to have people want to take your picture wherever you go? Well, in China it is common for westerners to be photographed. Especially if you have any interesting features such as tattoos or ginger hair.

  1. Don’t Question What It Is and Just Eat It

In China, you’ll often find unusual food is on the menu, so it’s often to advisable to just not ask questions and give it a go. However, this can be hard if you are a vegetarian. The phrase for vegetarian is  "Wo chi sù," it’s a good idea to get someone to also write this down for you as it is not very common in China and may get lost in translation.

  1. Chicken Feet Are A Genuine Snack

Chicken feet are a real snack that you can buy in any convenience store. They are an acquired taste, as they are incredibly boney, but you can get them in a variety of flavours and will often see people snacking on them, just like we would open a bag of crisps.

  1. Spitting Is A Thing, Get Used To It

Spitting is a common thing in China. It isn’t seen as rude or disrespectful, so you will often see people do it, whether you are in the city or in the country. It can take a little time to get used to this. They are currently trying to encourage people to stop the practice, but it is just part of everyday life.

  1. Forget Nappies, Toddlers Rock Split Pants

Possibly the biggest culture shock, aside from the squat toilets is the toilet habits of babies and toddlers. Nappies aren’t really a thing in China, with many parents opting for the traditional spilt pants. These pants resemble chaps, with the child's bottom free to the world. You will often see parents holding their children over bins, bushes or even just the pavement, so be on the lookout as this often isn’t cleaned up afterwards.

  1. Don’t Stick Your Chopsticks Upright In A Bowl Of Rice

It's considered extremely rude to stick your chopsticks upright in bowls of rice because it's associated with funerals. It’s custom to leave the rice with chopsticks stuck upright at the tombstones of loved ones in order to "feed them" in the afterlife. So it isn’t advisable to be doing it at the dinner table.

  1. Water Is Drunk Hot, Not Cold

Drinking cold water isn’t really a thing in China, instead they opt for hot water. This can take a little getting used to but has plenty of benefits and is actually meant to aid digestion.

More to Read: