China is a vast and diverse country with breathtaking landscapes, buzzing cities, and a unique culture.
With a population of 1.3 billion, it is the world’s most populous country, and the density of the population in big cities like Beijing and Shanghai can be quite a shock for foreigners.
The architecture, history, food, and nature are reasons enough to visit China, but preparation and research are the best ways to see the country at its best.
English will not be as widely spoken as in Europe, the traffic laws are practically nonexistent, and the toilets are a little different to what the average Westerner is used to. Put simply, China is not the easiest country for a foreigner to explore, but it is one of the most fascinating and beautiful countries in the world.
Most people may choose to travel China with a tour group (Like we talked about in our review of G Adventures), but for those wanting to see China on your own, here are a few tips for the more adventurous traveler. Personally, I think China has some of the most beautiful places in the world to travel.
Make Friends With Locals
One of the hardest things about traveling around China is the language barrier, especially if you are in the more rural areas. That’s why it’s a good idea to make friends with any English-speaking locals (whenever possible). If you are staying in a hostel, then ask the owner to write down the address in Chinese, so you can show this to taxi drivers. Visit bars and chat to the locals, as they will have some great tips for places to eat, drink, and visit, that only an insider would know about. Traveling is all about finding hidden gems, a local will know much more about the non-touristic side of China than a guide book.
Don’t be a Clueless Tourist
Every country has its tourist traps, and China is no different. Make sure you know how to avoid being ripped off by doing some research. The more you research an area, the more prepared you will feel. Researching a country doesn’t just involve buying a guide book, there are a wealth of travel blogs online with a lot of useful and interesting content. Travel blogging is all about sharing experiences to help others have a good trip, so if you felt like you had some tips to offer, you could start your own travel blog. All you need is your own website, so have a look at this useful information to find out more.
Embrace the Culture
Chinese culture is like no other: the food, customs, and architecture are unique and have influenced many other parts of Asia, especially Singapore. It may be different to what you are used to, but traveling is all about stepping out of your comfort zone and experiencing different things. Don’t be afraid to try new food, even if it doesn’t sound appealing (duck blood soup springs to mind), you won’t know if you like it until you try it! The best way to adapt to a new culture is to embrace the experience, leave your inhibitions behind, and discover the real China.