Apparently it can be quite a culture shock when it comes to visiting China for the very first time. I’ve visited South Korea in the past, and like China, it is a whole different culture, a completely different way of life. In China there are different customs and languages, censorship to be mindful of, and things like visa’s to arrange. However, do not let this put you off. It is an incredible place to visit, and one that is worth every minute of preparation. Here, we look at a few tips to help you on your way to planning the trip of a lifetime to this wonderful country.
Sort out your visa
The laws surrounding the Chinese visa process can be quite complex, so it is important that you have done your research and have everything in place – Chinesevisaapplication.com.au/ is useful for information. Essentially, you must have a minimum of six months on your passport when you enter China, and you need a visa to enter the mainland, including Hainan Island, but not Hong Kong or Macao. If you’re transiting China, visa waivers are available in certain places. Visitors transiting through Shanghai can apply online for a 144-hour visa exemption via the Shanghai General Station of Immigration Inspection. It is also important to bear in mind that biometric data may be taken from you to register your entry to the country. This can be intimidating, but it is part of the standard entry process, so don’t worry! It is imperative that you travel on the correct visa and do not overstay it – you can be fined, deported or detained, or all three!
Pre-book your accommodation
Unlike many other countries where you can rock up and sort out accommodation once you get there, your Chinese visa application needs to know the address of where you are staying, so you need this sorted even before you apply for your visa. If you will be at a hotel, include your room confirmation; if you are staying with friends or relatives, include their address on the form.
Learn some phrases
Many of the younger generations speak English, but a great deal of the population does not. It is polite and respectful to try and use as much of their language as you possibly can, even if it just the odd word here or there. Brush up on your skills by using an app such as Duolingo before you go. You never know – you might have a natural affinity for the language and pick it up super easily!
Haggling is almost expected in China, apart from shopping malls and supermarkets, so get ready to strike a bargain. Check out the same product in a few stores first to get an idea of how much it is on average, then pick a store to test your haggling skills! Remain polite at all times – no one like rudeness, but sometimes appearing wholly disinterested and ambivalent about a product, pointing out any flaws and walking away can sometimes sway vendors into lowering their price for you.
Be aware of censorship
This is something that many Westerners are not quite prepared for. The media and the internet are heavily censored, and you will not be able to access social media such as Facebook and Twitter. I this is a problem for you, then you can, theoretically, get around it by installing a VPN on your device before you enter the country. However, very few of them actually work! It might be better to use the time you are in China to take a well deserved social media break!
Where to visit
Now we have covered some of the essentials, it is time to show you some of the best places to visit in China.
- Beijing – An ancient and modern capital city
Beijing is a wonderful combination of both the old and new. Visit the impressive Great Wall of China, the Temple of Heaven, and the Forbidden City!
- Shanghai – An impressive and effervescent city
A high rise skyline and majestic skyscrapers dominate this modern city, but there is a still unique charm to it. It blends the traditional east with the modern west.
- Guilin – A cultural and picturesque haven
If you want to escape the hustle and bustle of busy city life, Guilin is where you need to head. Experience what life is like for traditional rice farmers and explore the glorious countryside.
China is one of the world’s most diverse and exciting countries, and by making sure you have everything sorted and some background knowledge of the culture, you will have the trip of a lifetime!