China has opened its doors to modernization and the influence of the western culture since 1978. It was a year after when the US administration opened its embassy in the country. Since then, tourist started to explore the cities of China such Beijing and Shanghai as well as other places to experience their culture. In today’s western reports, Trump news states that the bond between US and China will be strengthened. Thus, paving the way for more exchange of goods, culture and resources to happen. Although the oriental countries have greatly been influenced by the west, there are still practices in China that remain traditional. There are some things you need to know before you visit China so that you can enjoy and have a great visit.
The first step in entering the country is your visa. There are only a few countries allowed to enter Mainland China without a visa that includes Singapore, Japan, and Brunei. You must arrange your visa before you get there since they don’t offer visas on arrival. The embassy will ask for your itinerary so it’s best to know already where you will stay and what your activities will be. However, it will be a case to case basis. If you’re there for a business trip a different set of requirements will be asked from you. It is best to check their website to know full details.
The next things you need to know are transportation and accommodation in China. China roads are very complicated for a foreigner. Most street signs are in Chinese characters. Thus, self-driving is not advisable unless you are traveling with a local. However, you will be able to go across the whole country through their train system. The trains, including the G-trains, can bring you where you want to go in a matter of hours. The rates are affordable; they are cheap if you compare it to western standards. When picking for a place to stay, it is best to pick hotels that do not require upfront payment just in case of any delays in flight or unfortunate events. There are also websites that give you discounted prices as compared to what to the hotel will offer you such as Agoda and TripAdvisor. If you want to have a homier feel, you can try to look for condos or apartment to stay in Airbnb.
Some first timers hire translators for them to have an ease in getting around. If you’re planning to go to a bank or go shopping, they will be very useful. There are only a few people who speak English fluently. They will be able to translate to you what happening for you not to be fooled or manipulated by the Chinese vendors. When ordering food in restaurants, it might be tough without a translator. If getting a translator is out of the budget, it would be best to learn a little about basic Chinese (Mandarin) like how to count, how to haggle during shopping, how to tip in a restaurant and of course, how to ask where the bathroom is.
There is only one currency recognized in China which is Yuan (RMB). They do not accept US dollars or even Hong Kong dollars. It is best to budget what you need and exchange your currency to Yuan once you find a foreign exchange store. The notes available are 1 RMB, 10 RMB, 20 RMB, 50 RMB and 100 RMB. For smaller fractions, they have coins called Mao.
When in China, trying their street food is a must. Fortunately, it is not hard to find, you will see street food vendors everywhere. If you are unsure of the food, just follow how to locals do it.
Another important thing to know is that China has a great firewall which prevents you in accessing social networking sites. If you’re with a group, be sure you stick together, it might be hard to contact each other unless you get their local telecommunications.