Monday, October 14, 2013

Five Tips For First Time Travellers To China

China, a country where history and culture are rich, and an incredibly diverse population provides people travelling with the opportunity to experience something completely unique. China, to this day, has remained one of the top travel destinations in the world. Traveling there for the first time can be a daunting experience, with it constantly in the news, extremely diverse, and a large language barrier, it can intimidate travelers into thinking a trip there won’t be easy. Here are five tips for your first time traveling to China:

1. Break the language barrier. Often thought of as the number one hurdle, the language can be intimidating, because unlike western languages, it has no real connections phonetically to what we are used to hearing. It is important to get a general phrase book to carry with you. Learning a few key words will also help, as well as show respect to the natives. There are even great translator aps now that you can download onto your phone before you leave.

2. Focus your itinerary. Because China is so large, you will really have to sit down and plan your trip. Unless you have infinite time (and stay within your visa time limit), planning your stops throughout the country will help you best maximize your time, as well as help you see the most. The three main provinces recommended to first time visitors are: Sichuan, Guangxi, and Beijing.

3. Check the weather. As with travelling anywhere, it is important to know how to pack correctly. This will save you space, and make your trip a whole lot more comfortable. Depending on what weather you prefer, plan your trip around seasons you enjoy the most- this will optimize your experience and not put an unnecessary taste in your mouth about China from the start.

4. Use public transport. Before you panic, don’t. There are tons of ap you can download onto your phone with public transport maps and departure times. You can also get maps and ask an information center for help. Seeing a country from the local’s perspective requires you to do what the locals do. It may be a little difficult at first, but it will be worth it when you get used to it. Traveling among locals is the best way to experience a culture and what the people are really like.

5. Eat, eat and then eat some more. If you think you’ve had good Chinese food in a western culture, be prepared to have your mind blown. Eating in a country is how you experience people. Food connects and shows us how unique other cultures can be. Always use your judgment when eating anywhere, but a good rule of thumb, if there are lots of locals eating there, it’s probably really good. Before you go to China, you should probably learn to eat with chopsticks- it will save you lots of embarrassment, and the better you are, the more fun you’ll have eating!

Overall, enjoy your time in China by planning strategically, being smart, and trying to experience the culture from a locals perspective. Finding a guide can also help maximize our time in a city too. Good luck and happy exploring.

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