Ever since I have been planning a trip to China. I promised myself that I would go and for long. As you know, traveling for a week is not the same as traveling for a couple of months. Especially when visiting vast territories. Who knows when will you go back? Additionally, time is needed to experience a culture. Just moving around the planet’s biggest countries takes time!
Why You Should Go There
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- Sleep Quality
- Accommodation 4.0/5
- Location 4.5/5
- Food and Drink 5.0/5
- Service 4.2/5
China is a large and diverse country with a culture so varied and a history so long that it can be difficult to decide what cities and sights to prioritize when planning a trip. Where you go during your travels in China largely depends on the length of your trip and your personal interests.
Trains, buses, and planes connect Chinese cities. Though the number of fast trains keeps increasing, some regular (old) trains still operate. These are terribly slow, overcrowded, and noisy. On the other hand, the fast ones are comfortable, clean, silent, and incredibly fast. Compared to the old ones, new fast trains are not that cheap, though still much cheaper than in Europe. In fact, fast trains are sometimes slightly cheaper than flights. Unfortunately, the Chinese Railways website is in Chinese only, so foreigners have to buy train tickets mostly through intermediaries.
Many people travel here on a tour, eliminating the challenges of arranging itineraries, transportation, hotels, and meals. As we found out, independent travel in China is possible.
Interpersonal Communications to Be the Same
If your trip to China includes meeting individuals, either for business or personal reasons, you might consider traveling with gifts you can hand out. Appropriate gifts at appropriate times may be useful in building relationships, and they make people happy.
However, some items are considered unlucky, or to resemble death or separation; for example, sharp objects, clocks, pears, and shoes. You’d better not give them as gifts. Learn more about good gifts and bad gifts in China. Likewise, a gift might not be opened in your presence since it may lead to loss of face to open a gift in front of the giver.
In China, restaurant bills are never shared. They are not used to “going Dutch”. The person hosting might be embarrassed if you chip in. However, if you have asked people out yourself, it is expected that you pay for the entire bill.
Your Manners When Using Chopsticks
Don’t ignore chopstick etiquette if you are about to use a pair. Chinese people have a lot of ideas about this — chopsticks are for eating only. They are not to be used for gesturing to items or individuals. They are also not to be used as drumsticks or as playthings at someone’s table.
Don’t place chopsticks inside the bowl when you’ve finished eating or stick them in your hair. Instead, place the chopsticks on top of the bowl. Definitely don’t stand your chopsticks straight up in your food, as it looks like incense for dead people.
Food in China
Both of us eat Chinese food regularly. Nevertheless, food in China proved to be quite an issue. With the exception of big cities, finding a restaurant with quality food can be hard. Granted, we are not that adventurous with food. All those soups with strange things floating around don’t appeal to us. Most definitively not Chicken leg snacks that you can buy in supermarkets. But we did expect much from rice and noodle meals. Unfortunately, they were either too spicy, too fatty or the meat was mostly bones and cartilage.
The vast majority of tourists in China are Chinese themselves, so most restaurants cater to their needs. They are used to that kind of food and it’s not easy to find western-style food. Even McDonalds and Burger King serve chicken hamburgers with skin. Most restaurants don’t offer western cutlery, so learning how to use chopsticks beforehand is a great idea. I tried so many times and failed! I had to use the soup ceramic spoon for everything! On the other hand, Beijing and Shanghai are something else. Both international and Chinese food in big cities is simply delicious.
China has a plethora of accommodation options and at all price ranges. Apparently, there are local hotels that charge a couple of euros a night but that only accepts Chinese tourists. Cool midrange hotels start at around 40e, while top class at 70e a night! Of course, prices in big cities are an exception, especially in Beijing and Shanghai.
Our preferred way of searching for a place to stay is through Tripadvisor which compares different websites such as Booking, Hotels, and Agoda. Foreign hotel booking pages worked fine. However, in China, we used local Ctrip too. It offers hotels, train and airline tickets at competitive prices.