1. Bring cash
The local currency in China is the Yuan or shorty RMB, abbreviation for Renminbi. This is the only currency they will accept in China. If you’ve managed your way in other Asian countries with euros or dollars, here is simply not the case.
Note 1: If you plan to exchange currency in a local bank, don’t forget to bring your passport with you.
Note 2: Not all the restaurants/coffee shops accept for the payment to be made by credit card.
2. Best time to visit
The low season starts from November to February when the temperature can drop sharply to -10 C or more. This is not a period of time i would recommend anyone to visit Beijing, especially for sightseeing purpose.
3. Not everyone speaks English
As you may assume not everyone speaks fluent English in China, so it can get a little bit difficult if you get lost in the city. There are few measures one can take in order to avoid this from happening:
- Write down the Chinese names of the hotels, restaurants or places you are planning to visit and show them to your taxi driver
- Try to approach young people to ask for directions, they are more likely speaking English than the elders
- Bring a map, guide or dictionary for your trip
- Make sure you buy a SIM card for your mobile and have it handy all the time – There are few applications/programs that allow you to translate your language into Chinese in real time
- Always carry your passport / passport copy with you
- Avoid crowded places or national holidays, it’s more easy to get lost then
4. The Internet is censored (nickname: “Great Firewall of China”)
You will require a VPN in order to access Facebook or do any type of search on Google. (This are all banned in China for locals and the abuse is punished by law).
The good news is that most of the restaurants/coffee shops offer a WiFi password.
5. Best eat / drink
The best meal i had in China was the roast duck. I also enjoyed quite a lot the bambus rice and the dumplings.
The best drink i had: jasmine green tea during a Chinese Tea Ceremony.
You might feel some sort of pressure to buy tea after the ceremony is over, but know that you are not obliged in any ways to do so.
Note: the tap water is not drinkable, only bottled water is advised.
6. The Great Wall
The Great Wall of China (a UNESCO World Heritage Centre) is situated in the mountains area, but i don’t recommend that you go there in the winter.
I regret that i did that for two reasons:
1. the breathing was difficult while climbing onto the wall
2. there were ‘slip hazard‘ signs everywhere, which was not that encouranging as well
7. Spitting on the streets
Yes, you might see locals spitting freely on the streets, without using any sort of napkin. There are for sure many things in our own culture that are different/opposite than others, so we are not here to judge or point fingers at anyone. Just don’t act surprised if you see the scene i was describing up happening right in front of your eyes.
8. Bargaining can be aggressive
If you are visiting China for sure you’ll end up going for shopping.
Load yourself with lots of patience and calm, because bargaining with the Chinese sellers tends to get aggressive and loud.
Remain firm and polite, until you reach the price you have in mind for the deal.
9. Pollution and traffic
Both problems go hand-in-hand here, but surprisingly, traffic is not the number 1 reason for the high level of pollution in China (that being the burn of coal in factories).
What you can do is try to avoid walking when the smog is dense outside and also limit driving in the city at peak hours.
10. Taking photos
You can find locals that will ask you to click pictures together, the reason being obviously your different appearance. You can do also the same, but remember if you take photos of children is better to ask for the parents permission before.
13 thoughts on “Beijing, China”
Plenty of Chinese themselves make the judgement about spitting on the streets, and this is an ongoing social topic within PRC, so I don’t think we should feel too bad forming an opinion. As for your other tips, I would stress the “bring cash” one. It’s not a credit card country.
Good helpful tips. I have heard my vegetarian friends carrying flash cards with pics of veggies and chicken &fish crossed out 🙂
haha , that sounds amazing
Mitch has been but I never had the chance to go yet. Have been to the outskirts of China so I guess I will be well equipped for Beijing!
These are helpful tips! I am especially glad to know about the Internet. It’s hard for me to imagine that kind of censorship. I think I would enjoy being asked for my photo though!
I’ve visited China once, to Guangzhou. I totally understand about the language barrier. I gave the hotel’s visiting card when I landed to a prepaid taxi to reach the place and I didn’t even figure that I had hired a luxury car!!! Return journey I got ‘I want to go to airport’ written in Cantonese on a piece of paper at the hotel reception and showed it to a taxi driver and that journey costed 1/3 of the onward cost!!!
Ive been to Shanghai . You missed the public transport bus/ metro/ train Chinese will push you as if they dont care you are there. And there’s no queue system.
Cool tips. They will be helpful for a first time traveler for sure. thanks for sharing.
Very useful tips! I’m considering visiting China for a couple of weeks travelling solo at the end of the year, so this post will definitely come in handy. I’ve heard that pollution is so bad that sometimes photographs look grey with no colours! Is it usually that bad?
Yes it is 😦
Great tips for Beijing! I’ll be sure to visit during summer although the only thing that puts me off is the polution!
Very useful tips! Especially about aggressive bargaining. I was a bit traumatized after I went shopping in Beijing!
Me too haha