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Despite China being one of the biggest and most technologically advanced countries in the world, there is so much about this cultural behemoth that intimidates even the most avid traveler.
The sheer size of the country is perhaps one of the reasons why visitors find it somewhat rattling. The different dialects, the unique mix of the traditional and modern way of life, and the vastness of the cities are enough to confuse a first-time tourist. But, experts agree that it is not impossible to navigate China with ease. That said, here are five tips to make your China vacation more enjoyable.
Get all your documents in order
US citizens traveling to China need to secure a Visa. Before planning your trip, make sure that you have a complete checklist of all the information you need to apply. Usually, you will find a complete guide on the Chinese embassy website. In addition to a visa, have all your identification cards ready before you leave. Travel insurance may be necessary for added safety. If you have made several hotel reservations during your stay, have printed copies of your confirmation just in case.
It is a well-known fact that China has an internet firewall that blocks access to social media platforms, including Google. For someone who relies on the internet to communicate and stay connected, it can be frustrating. That is why you need to secure a VPN connection before traveling to China. The best VPN service to overcome the China internet firewall should have excellent encryption and consistently allow access wherever you are in the country.
Overcoming the language barrier
One of the biggest challenges when traveling to China is the language barrier. Establishments such as restaurants, for example, usually do not have a menu in English. Although it is not mandatory to learn Mandarin, it will help if you know a few basic words. Another option is to download an app that translates Mandarin phrases into English so that you can communicate with the locals or transact in shops with ease. If you are traveling on business, you may need to hire a professional interpreter.
Do not rely on your credit cards
It is common knowledge when traveling abroad that you need to prepare by carrying local currency. Public transportation such as trains and taxis will not accept foreign credit cards, and in China, it may be even harder to pay using your Visa or MasterCard. To avoid scouring for an ATM, make sure that you always have a few Chinese Yuan bills available for emergency purchases.
Be open-minded and explore!
Despite being a highly modern country, the cultural distinction of China is what sets it apart from other Western countries. As such, there are many things unfamiliar to a foreigner, especially in terms of food and social etiquette. For example, travelers are always advised to bring their own toilet paper as Chinese bathrooms do not always have it. Chinese food in mainland China is significantly different, as well. But if you are willing to explore and open your mind to the rich culture and history of China, there is much to love, which could influence you to come back for more.