20 May 2019, By Julz
Is it your first time traveling in China? Don’t know the language? Here are some quick travel tips to get you ready before you set foot on Chinese soil.1.Take a public transport
Public transportation in China is amazing and cheap in China! Most major cities have an easy to use metro system with pinyin/English signs and the machines to buy tickets have English as well. You can get almost anywhere you need to go, and inevitably the subway stops near tourist attractions are named after said attraction. Buses are fairly straight forward as well, but you’ll need a map that works in China (not google) and exact change so I would suggest sticking to the subway as much as possible.
2....But avoid it during peak hours!
Most people in Chinese cities use the subway to get to and from work. This means from about 8:30-9:30 and 5-7, the subways are absolutely packed! I personally try to avoid the subway at these hours when possible. If your travel plans allow, try for earlier morning and early afternoon travel. Once everyone clocks in at 9:00, you will have a much easier time squeezing your way into the subway car. Keep in mind - the metro will still be busy, just less so. This means you should be able to fit into the first car that comes, rather than having to wait a few minutes for the next and feeling like a sardine.
3. Say goodbye to Google...
If you don’t know, many foreign websites and apps are blocked in China. Google, facebook, youtube, Instagram, and more. This means no google maps, no posting your life on insta, no endless scrolling. If you can’t live without these things - get a VPN. Most ones that actually work cost money, so it’s up to you if that’s worth it. Otherwise, try bing. (note - google maps is not up to date in China for this very reason - don’t trust it even if you have a VPN. It tends to be at least 2 or 3 years out of date on subway construction and bus routes.)
4. … But download Google translate!
This is seriously a lifesaver. If you download simplified Chinese on the google translate app, asking for help will be so much easier! There’s an audio to text function where you can speak and it will auto-translate what you’ve said to Chinese (and vice versa), and even a camera translate to help with menus. This has saved me countless times when trying to converse with locals!
5. If you’re taking a taxi, use the meter!
This one may seem obvious but some people are so used to Uber and Lyft nowadays that it’s easy to forget that taxis can rip you off. Many cities aren’t like this, but if you look foreign, some people will still try to take advantage. Make sure your driver turns on the meter, if they try to haggle a price with you, the best thing you could do is just threaten to get out of the taxi. If you want to have fun haggling, go for it! My suggestion is don’t settle for anything more than 50% of their original price.
I hope some of these tips will help you prepare for your first trip to China. China is a lovely country with many interesting things to see and do. Enjoy your trip!