Ever since China has opened its doors to the world in the 70’s, it has experienced a period of rapid growth and change.


These days, more and more people from around the world who visit China are showing keen interest to the ancient country to experience its rich history and perhaps catch a glimpse of its bright future.


After my visit China, I’ve compiled some top tips for going to China I wish I’d had before I got there.


Hopefully, these will help you discover what a wonderful and beautiful country this is.

Things to know before visiting China (4) IML TRAVEL
  1. Cash is preferred

Remember to keep cash in hand when travelling in China. Most hotels and restaurants do accept cards, however, for the most part; you’ll need to pay with cash!


  1. China recognizes only its currency

Official currency of China is yuan, also known as RMB or colloquially as ‘quai’. Chinese businesses only accept their currency so carry that in advance.


  1. Exchange currency at ATMs

Many Chinese banks do not accept foreign cards but larger chains such as HSBC can be used to withdraw local currency from foreign bank accounts.

International ATMs are available in all major cities but you can face a hard time finding it in non touristy areas.


  1. Inform your bank you’re visiting China

Remember to tell you bank about your visit to China and that you’ll be using your credit or debit card over there. It is not good to get your card canceled mid-trip for unusual transactions.


  1. Bring a translator

If you need to do your banking in person, you may need to bring a local to translate. Very few bank employees know English to help you, although in larger cities such as Beijing or Shanghai they should have an English speaker on staff.

Things to know before visiting China (5) IML TRAVEL
  1. Don’t tip in China

The Chinese do not tip, and you aren’t expected to do it either.


  1. Use your bargaining skills

It’s totally possible to practice your bargaining skills outside of stores and boutiques. Never accept the marked price or first price offered.



  1. Visas for China

Arrange your Visa in advance as China does not have Visa on Arrival.


TIP: When applying for a tourist visa, you’ll need to provide either a letter of invitation from a Chinese friend or relative, or provide a detailed itinerary of your intended trip. This includes return flights and confirmed reservations for your hotel bookings.


You can also apply for visa in person at the Chinese consulate or can be ordered via post.


  1. Booking hotels in China

If you want to make some changes to your itinerary, then use websites that do not require advance payment to make bookings.


TIP: C-Trip is a Chinese website that does not require any deposit to book a room, and you can cancel without penalty once your visa is approved.


  1. Travel Insurance for China

We all know that China is a very safe country with relatively low crime. But I will advise you to you’re your travel insurance before leaving the hotel!


  1. Drinking water in China

Tap water in China is not drinkable. You can consume bottled water can be purchased very cheaply at most restaurants and stores.


  1. Pharmacies in China

Both western and eastern medicines are available here at very reasonable prices.


Also, Prescription medication can usually be purchased without a prescription (within reason) by simply giving the pharmacist your identification.


  1. Finding a doctor in China

Chinese hospitals can be crowded but do not as major cities do have specialized hospitals serving foreigners living and working in the country.


  1. Coping with air pollution in China

Larger cities in China have more air pollution. Chinese people prefer to wear masks while stepping out. So, avoid going out in public at days with intense pollution.

Things to know before visiting China (1) IML TRAVEL
  1. Bring toilet paper

It will be very unusual to know before going to China is that most Chinese toilets do not have toilet paper. Hotels and nicer restaurants will have it, but it’s good to carry a roll of toilet paper!


  1. Bring hand soap or hand sanitizer

Carry a small bottle of hand sanitizer with you as Chinese washrooms do not provide it!


  1. Get to the airport early

It is advisable to reach the airport three hours early for international flights to China and two hours early for domestic. Otherwise, it will get really chaotic!


  1. Expect delays

From personal experience, flights are usually late in China. So, be prepared to wait in the airport when flying from a Chinese airport.


  1. Catching buses and trains in China

China has a fantastic network of buses and trains, which also includes the high-speed G-Trains that can take you across the country in a matter of hours.


  1. Bring your passport when making a booking

You’ll need your passport when making a booking and you can only book one ticket per passport. M,


  1. Make use of local booking sites

Chinese booking websites like C-Trip and eLong often offer better rates than western booking sites. Remember to check both when planning your trip.


  1. Driving in China

If you are visiting for the first time, you will notice that Chinese roads can be rather chaotic, so self-driving is really only recommended for the brave!


  1. Catching taxis in China

Taxis in China are cheap. Most of the drivers do not speak English, so it is a great idea to get your address in Chinese from hotel.


  1. Eating street food in China

Chinese street food is considered very delicious and to be safe just head where the locals are dining.

Things to know before visiting China (2) IML TRAVEL
  1. Spitting in China

Chinese people do not use handkerchiefs and tissues to clear their noses, and instead spit. I know that can be gross for some people, but be prepared for this.


  1. Personal space

As you already know China is a crowded place. So, don’t get surprised if you are pushed in queuing.


  1. Taking photos in China

People in this country love to take pictures, and do not get surprised if a local tries to click a photo of you or even comes up to ask for a picture with you.



  1. Mailing things home from China

It is very affordable to post things back home using China Post’s surface (sea) mail. It can take two months but is a very affordable way to get your belongings home.


  1. Beware of Chinese knock-offs

Shopping streets like Nanjing Road in Shanghai are a great place to find a bargain, but remember that knockoffs of major brands can be seized at the airport upon your return home.


  1. Don’t be shy in restaurants

Chinese waiters and waitresses aren’t as energetic, so don’t be afraid to call them, if you want service.


NOTE: Don’t be surprised if your starter, main, and dessert all arrive at once while your friend still waits for their first dish.


  1. Get a local SIM card in China

China’s major network includes China Telecom and China Unicom. You can purchase SIM cards at the airport or at most corner stores, and credit is quite affordable.


Chinese SIM cards are usually locked to the province in which they are purchased, so you will have to pay roaming charges when texting, calling, or using data outside of this country.


  1. Get a VPN for China

When you visit China remember that their ‘Great Firewall’ blocks sites like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, and most of the Google selection. If you want to access these in China, you’ll need to purchase a VPN.


While shopping for VPNs, check that they cover China – as many free options do not.


Get your vPN with NordVPN here. It’s what we use and is fantastic for China.


  1. Download Weixin (or WeChat)

China’s main messaging app is Weixin (WeChat in English) and everybody you meet will have it.



I hope my experience of traveling to China helps you have a memorable time.


Know more about Great Wall of China


“I am that person who dropped her B.Tech (really!) and chose to travel, specifically travel blogging. I’m Manmeet Kaur, a crazy, fun loving and adventurous person from Delhi. I knew I had an interest in writing since I was in school. I didn’t want to be an engineer, doctor or I would say a teacher. My plans were different. I wanted to travel which I guess no one,  specially girl had chosen to do in my family for a living. And like other human beings on this planet I have big dreams too. But my ultimate dream is to travel the world and share my experiences through writing and blogging.” 🙂

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