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Travel China Like a Pro: 7 Tips from Expert Travelers

by Katie Sorene

China holds a fascinating allure for adventurers all over the world. But exploring China can be daunting. Get the inside track with these top tips from expert travelers.

With a population of 1.3 billion people, one of the world’s fastest growing economies and landscapes ranging from subtropical forests to deserts and mountains, who wouldn’t want to visit China?

It’s right up there on my travel to do list, but I’ll be honest, the thought of stepping off the plane into one of the hugest countries in the world does scare me a little.

If in doubt speak to people in the know, right? So… check out these top tips from the people who travel for a living  and explore China like a pro!

yangshuosmall

1. Avoid “Tourist” Rates

“If you’re comfortable staying at hotels where few of the staff speak English, you can avoid paying high “foreigner’s prices” by booking your hotels through elong.net or Ctrip.com – sites targeted at domestic Chinese travelers.

Edward Hasbrouck, The Practical Nomad.

2. Escape the Crowds

“Very few people speak English so a good phrase book is essential. Use the point at phrases method or bring a picture book, but as long as the Chinese is there you’re all set.

Planning on visting Guilin? … Head to Yangshuo instead.  Much less touristy and much more beautiful. You’ll get all the Benefits of Guilin with more natural wonders and great hiking.

Take a local bus to a nearby town for a more authentic and less expensive experience. Most towns have a few hotels and it’s easy to find a beautiful place for less.

Take an overnight train – go for the soft sleeper if your budget allows. They’re comfortable and clean and will save you the cost of a hotel. Another bonus is that you get to see the countryside.”

Reuven Levitt, Tripbase CEO

marble-boat-sum-pal-small

3. Beware of What You Blog

“The Grand Hyatt Beijing is perfect, no doubt about it! Fresh flowers skillfully laid out in my room and a meal never to be forgotten. The pool is laid out like an island resort, just amazing.

Go for lunch in an average Chinese restaurant. A simple meal there can be as fresh and satisfying as a luxury dinner!

Beware of subversive blogging from Shanghai: censure is common practice!”

Kent St John, Go Nomad

4. Be Respectful if Arrested

“If you find yourself about to climb a holy mountain, and the ticket office offers extra insurance, you might want to take it.

If walking in the street and you hear “chwaaaak”, don’t change your pace, or you might get a big fat yellow lurgee on your shoe.

If you’re really hot, push your shirt up your chest, like everyone else.

Speak in honorable and deeply respectful prose, especially if you get arrested, or are toasting government officials.

Drink the rice wine.”

Robin Esrock, Modern Gonzo

The World’s Most Dangerous Hike – Amazing!

5. Expect the Unexpected

”Coming from the western world, I’ve always found visiting China like going to another planet. Expect the unexpected and don’t take things personally!

Chris Guillebeau, The Art of Nonconformity

6. Get the Magic Card

“Ask your hotel’s concierge for a card of common destinations in the city. Get the concierge to write the corresponding Chinese characters. Indispensable for directing taxis!”

Paul Cayanes, Pau Travels Blog

”Taxis are abundant and inexpensive in China’s major cities, but most cab drivers do not speak English. Most hotels have business cards with their address written in English and Chinese and a space on the back where the Chinese name of a destination can be filled in.”

Wendy, Escape from New York

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7. Go Further than Fried Rice

Be adventurous with the food. There are so many great regional variations across China that travelers can miss out on the best food if they just stick to the dishes they recognize from their local Chinese take-out!”

Tim Hughes, The Boot

Planning a trip to China? Got more useful China travel tips? Post up your comments below, we want to hear from you!

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Photo credits: Yangshuo by B_cool, Summer Palace, Beijing by d’n'c, Lanterns by Mike

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3 comments… read them below or Add a Comment

Janie

Loved the hiking video, amazing! I want to know why Robin got arrested!!

PauTravels

Wow.. nice job on gathering all these tips! :p

newquayweb

thanks so much for taking the time observing and posting tips. this is reall going to help those travellers who just can’t stop their feet.

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