- You will need Pleco!
Pleco is a lifesaver in China! and a lifesaver for anyone like me, who studys Chinese. It’s a free dictionary app for smartphones, which will make your life in China a lot easier. You can use it in restaurants while ordering or to communicate with taxi drivers.
- Have all addresses written down in Chinese
Taxi drivers don’t speak English and don’t waist your energy trying to pronounce Chinese names, they will probably not understand you anyways. So it’s all about being prepared and writing down names/ addresses of places you want to visit beforehand. You can always ask hotel stuff to write down the Chinese names for you (they are used to it).
- Destinations: Shanghai- Beijing- Guilin
If you have never been to China and you’re wondering where to go, I would recommend you these three places. Don’t think that seeing one big city is equal to seeing them all; Shanghai and Beijing couldn’t be more different from each other! And if you have to choose one of them, I would choose Shanghai ;). Guilin is one of the most beautiful places in China, so if you’re keen on some nature and more “Chinese China”, that’s a perfect place to go. Beside that if you’re in Shanghai, Suzhou, Hangzhou and Nanjing are only 1-1,5 h away by train, so you can always organize a day trip.
- No Facebook, and sometimes no Google
Facebook doesn’t work, so if you want to get some tips from a friend who has been to China before, do it before you arrive. Google might work, but it might also not work, you never know, and when it works it can be super slow.
- Don’t be afraid to eat
Food is such a big part of Chinese culture and the whole experience, so you simply cannot miss on it! Eat everyday, all day if you can! There are so many good things to try: noodles, fried rice, dumplings, grilled tofu, bubble tea, moon cakes and so much more. And try street food! I can’t promise you that you will end up being all right, but I ate street food all the time while I was living in China and nothing bad ever happened to me (I would avoid meet thought). Plus it’s a really unique and interesting experience.
6. You might need the pollution app or a mask
Be prepared for pollution. You can download an app called China’s air quality, which will tell you how polluted the air is (and yes, it changes all the time, it’s pretty much like weather). If it gets bad you can buy a mask (you can get it literally everywhere). During my year in Shanghai there was only one time when we had to wear masks for a couple of days because pollution went crazy. Usually when you see people wearing masks it’s not because of the pollution, it’s because they don’t want to infect other people while they’re ill.
7. Be careful when you cross the street
Sounds stupid? Not in China. One of the scariest things for me when I just moved to China was traffic. It’s insane and often dangerous. Pedestrians have no rights and red light doesn’t mean a thing. So be really careful when you’re crossing the street.
- Be prepare to feel overwhelmed
Crazy traffic, lights, colours, and tons of people yelling to each other (not necessary actual yelling, but that’s how it often sounds). It can get very overwhelming, especially at the beginning, so don’t think you’re a cyborg and take a good night rest before you go out to explore.
你好 – Ni hao – Hello
再见 －Zai jian – Goodbye
谢谢 – Xie Xie (pronounce X as S) – Thank You
买单 – Mai dan – Menue
米饭 – Mi fan – cooked rice
炒饭 – chao fan – fried rice
水 – shui – water
不要 – bu yao – don’t want
没有 – mei you – don’t have
我们去 – wo men qu – we are going