Planning a Trip to China: Tips for First-Timers

Due to the language barrier, rapid lifestyle pace, and generally different culture, China can be a challenging place for first-time visitors. It’s completely natural to feel a bit intimidated, and if that makes you do some additional research, there’s nothing wrong with that.

However, you should still keep an open mind, as you’re likely to be pleasantly surprised by all the differences. With all that in mind, to help you feel more at ease about your trip, here are a few tips that might help you. 

Start packing on time

Some of the essentials you should pack include your passport and visa, money or credit cards, the right clothes (don’t forget to check the weather), and any medication you might need. Also, don’t forget to bring a power adapter, so you don’t find yourself stuck with a dead phone battery.

Speaking of a dead battery, it’s always good to have a few maps of your destination in paper form, just in case. Of course, what you should pack also depends on how long you’re planning to stay, but a good idea is to imagine your trip from the morning to bedtime, and pack the things that you think you’ll use. 

Get a VPN

In China, many websites are blocked, like Facebook, Instagram, and similar. Of course, this doesn’t mean that you can’t access them at all, but you might need a VPN connection to do so. There are both paid and unpaid options, and for shorter trips, you can also activate trial periods if you don’t want to pay. Speaking of technology, there are also many useful apps that could come in handy while in China.

For example, WeChat is the most popular messaging service in China, and you can use it anywhere in the world. So, your family and friends can install it, and if you’re traveling with a tour guide, you can use it to communicate easier. Moreover, if you’re not very skilled with tech stuff, all of these things are something you should take care of before your trip.

Don’t miss out on the local food

You haven’t really been to China if you don’t try any of the local dishes. After all, next to beautiful scenery and martial arts, food is one of the things China is famous for. You can find different types of Chinese food depending on your traveling destination, but there are also plenty of classics that you can find everywhere.

And next to all the options available, you are guaranteed to find something you like – and it’s guaranteed to be ten times better than any Chinese food you could find in your home country. 

Think about pollution

The pollution issue is not exactly a secret, and while an average traveler might not pay too much attention to it, if you have any respiratory issues, you should be a bit more responsible. It’s usually not as bad as the media portrays it to be, but on some days, it could affect your experience.

What you can do about this, besides wearing a dust mask, is consider traveling in spring, and focus on activities that are further away from the city center. Also, try to avoid public holidays and festivals, unless you actually want to experience them – the prices would be higher, the traffic would be denser, and the pollution would be worse. 

Get familiar with the etiquette

You probably already know that China is a bit more conservative when it comes to greetings and touching, in general. You’re not likely to see much PDA, and usually, a verbal greeting is enough. In contrast, personal space is not that respected, especially not in public transport and queues. Therefore, it might not be a bad idea to do some research on the local customs and etiquette.

It would help you feel a tiny bit less like a tourist, and it might help you avoid some uncomfortable situations. That being said, since you’d still look like a tourist, don’t be surprised if you start drawing attention, and try not to get offended by the curiosity of locals who might ask you for a photo.

China is a very popular tourist destination thanks to its unique sights, interesting culture, and delicious food. However, for those traveling for the first time, it can become a source of anxiety, as well. To avoid that, follow the listed tips, do as much research as you need, and rest assured that your trip would be amazing and memorable.