Helpful Hints for China Travelers

Traveling in China can be difficult for experienced travelers let alone first time travelers. There are many languages and dialects that make communication a huge challenge. The goods is that traveling in China does not need to be scary.  Do not believe stories about China being unsafe. It is one of the safest countries in the world for female travelers, families and those traveling alone. Follow these hints to make your trip easier and more fulfilling.

Ask and Understand Local Money Preferences
Different areas of China like to receive their money in certain denominations. For example, in Shanghai taxi drivers expect coins and hate to have to make change.  On the other hand, vendors in northern and western China only take paper money regardless of how small the denomination.

To make your traveling easier, invest in the Pleco app. It is the best Chinese language app for travelers and buy the optional character recognition function. This will allow you to point your iphone 4 or 5 camera at a menu and get a translation directly.

You can also find language assistance by locating young people in China. Most under 25 generally speak both standard Mandarin and English.

Affordable Hotels
Most Chinese hotels do not have strict policies about the number of persons in a room, especially when there are children. You can save a lot of money by staying in a twin room with two beds for a family of four because the twin beds are the same size as a regular double bed. It saves the cost of an extra room.

Accessing Non-Tourist Areas of China
If you are interested in seeing areas of china not on the typical tourist agenda make sure you have China Little trips guides.  These guides cover inner Mongolia, Gansu, Sichuan and Qinghai with detailed maps, intineraries and language cards specific for each area and stage of your trip.

Rice Can Be Nice
In China rice is not usually served with a meal. It is regarded as a cheap way to fill up at the end of a meal if necessary. If you want rice with your meal you should order right away and make it clear to the waiter. The correct way to ask for it is mifan mashang which means “rice right away”.

Hotel Breakfasts
Chinese hotel breakfasts are targeted to the local market unless you are in a large city and an internationally branded hotel.  Local food like congee and pickles for breakfast can be a nightmare for families with picky eaters. Most hotels are okay if you bring your own cereal and milk so plan ahead and keep breakfast simple.

Many travelers like to give small gifts to local people they meet. Instant polaroid portraits are popular and appreciated gifts.

Loud Voices
Chinese people like to talk loudly and passionately. Do not assume loud conversation is leading to an argument or fight.

Traditional Chinese Medicine
One of the benefits of visiting China is the ability to take advantage of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Since it is focused on prevention you do not need to be sick to get a consultation and improve your wellness.  Consultations are available at Longhua Hospital in shanghai.

Although traveling through China can be intimidating, a litte pre-preparaton and  study of the culture can go a long way to making your trip more enjoyable and less stressful.  Talk to others who have traveled China to learn about their experiences, what went well, what they would do differently and incorporate their tips and experiences into your trip planning.

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