Excuse the title 😛 I just wanted to share a few things that might be helpful to know if you are visiting China for the first time.
- Food! – Food in China is definitely not the ‘Chinese’ you eat in your country. I found real Chinese food much more tastier (and healthier, coz they eat it every day). Also the variety in food is overwhelming. Do try everything you can get your hands on.
- No tipping in restaurants.
- China is not cheap. I, like many others, assumed that since most of the goods we use are made in China, I could get stuff for cheap from there. But this proved a myth. My Nike shoes (made in China) costs the same, if not more, in China, as it is at home. This is especially true if you are visiting only the big cities. The places that manufacture these goods are in the more remote places.
- Haggle – don’t be ashamed to haggle when you go around buying from local vendors. You can often negotiate and bring the price down much lower than what was offered first.
- Get a guide who speaks Chinese. Unless you or someone traveling with you know Chinese, make sure you get a guide who can speak Chinese. English is of no help in China, especially if you are traveling outside of big cities like Beijing. But even in Beijing, the vast majority (save for kids) don’t speak English. Anyway, it wouldn’t hurt learning a few useful Chinese words and sentences before your trip.
- Be wary of counterfeit currency when you spend money and get change from someone. I don’t know how to detect counterfeit Chinese currency, so better check about it somewhere before you go.
- Chopsticks – People eat with chopsticks, not spoon or fork and knife. You could find it a little difficult to eat with a chopstick at first, but stick with it (pun intended) and you will get considerably better in a couple of days. And using chopsticks, instead of spoons like some lame foreigners, will earn you respect from the Chinese. (Now don’t go embarrassing yourself trying to drink soup with chopsticks; that’s what they give you the spoons for).