China is a vast, diverse and culturally rich country, with a history that stretches back 5000 years. It is also a unique country, with a distinct culture and customs. If you’ve never been to China, there are things you need to know before you hit the road.
If you are preparing or planning to visit China, take some time to read this short guide, as it may be of use when you find yourself in the world’s most populous country.
Many hotels and restaurants in China accept most credit cards, but most of the time you’ll need cash. The Chinese still prefer cash over credit cards, so be sure to have it with you.
Important: China does not recognize foreign currencies. The only accepted currency in China is the yuan. You can exchange currency at ATM’s in all major Chinese cities.
You Will Need a Visa
You must have a valid tourist Visa to enter China. You must apply in advance and provide a letter of invitation or a plan of your journey. You can apply in person in the Chinese consulate, or order via post.
Buy a Chinese SIM Card
Most US based cell phones don’t work in China, and if they do, it’s extremely expensive. The best solution is to buy a Chinese SIM card.
Language Can Be a Problem
If you’re just visiting China for a vacation, you’ll probably be fine. If you’re planning to do business in China, it’s probably best to hire a local translator. The great majority of Chinese don’t speak English. It’s also a good idea to try and learn a few words of Chinese. The locals will be happy to help you!
You Probably Can’t Use Google
Google is blocked in China, and so are most social networks, such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. China has its own web browsers and social networks. You can always use a VPN, but be sure that your VPN covers China.
Avoid Travelling on Chinese Holidays
Chinese holidays period is not fixed, although some holidays may be the same from year to year. Travelling on Chinese Holidays is not a good idea. Be sure to check all the Chinese holidays for the current year before you visit.
China has a good road network. In major cities, you can always use buses and trains. Taxis in China are relatively cheap. Chinese roads can be chaotic and crowded, and self-driving is not a good idea.
Be Prepared for Delays
For international flights to China, it’s advisable to get to the airport three hours early. Delays are common when flying from Chinese airports so arm yourself with patience!
Beware of the Air Pollution
Major Chinese cities have ongoing problems with air pollution. Beijing is among the most polluted cities in China. If you’re visiting on a day when pollution is particularly bad, try to avoid physical exertion.
Tap Water in China is Not Safe
For the most part, tap water in China is not safe. You can buy bottled water almost everywhere in China. Alternatively, you can also use a kettle to boil water while staying in a hotel.