Top 12 tips for traveling in China

Updated:Jan 15,2015 11:33 AM

Editor's note: China is a vast and culturally diverse country, which makes traveling in it for the first time incredibly daunting. Forum readers share some tips -- from their experiences -- to make newcomers' lives a little easier. Have you got your own China travel tips? You're welcome to add yours.

1. Travel light. Most hotels here provide toothbrushes/paste, soap, shampoo, etc. They even provide house shoes!


Interior of a guest room in a hotel in Dezhou, Shandong province on May 9, 2010.

2. Don't travel during holiday season.


Tourists visit the West Lake during the National Day holidays in Hangzhou, capital of east China's Zhejiang Province, Oct. 3, 2013. The scenic West Lake, a UNESCO World Heritage site, drew over 1 million visitors in a single day for the first time, according to statistics. [Photo/Xinhua]

3. Always carry tissues. You won't find toilet paper in public bathrooms.


Pedestrians walk past a camera-shaped toilet in Jiulongpo district, Chongqing, China, on February 7, 2014.

 4. Carry a translation device in case you need to ask questions.


Language skill does not seem that important until you step out of Beijing and Shanghai. Having a handy dictionary stored in your handset makes a world of difference when exploring many other Chinese cities.

 5. Always buy bottle water. Tap water is undrinkable in China.


A man closes a tap water faucet to conserve water in Shanghai, China, on March 1, 2005.

6. Learn some basic courtesy vocabulary: xie-xie - thank you. Qing wen - Please, may I ask? Mai dan - the bill please. Hui shuo ying wen ma? - Can you speak English? Bu hao yi si - I'm sorry/excuse me.


 A foreign businessman learns some basic Chinese in Yiwu, Zhejiang province on Nov 24, 2014.

7. Travel with friends, possibly those who live in the country.


Foreign tourists take pictures in China.

8. Always try as many varieties of food as possible.


A booth that sells fried scorpions captures a foreigner's attention in Wangfujing street, Beijing on Sept 22, 2013.

9. Take trains whenever possible. Chinese trains are the best bargain for the money to move in the country, as well as the safest.


A foreign tourist poses in front of the Shanghai to Beijing bullet trains at Hongqiao railway station in Shanghai on June 30, 2011.

10. Get your destination written in Chinese, and always ask first before you take a taxi.


 A foreigner takes a taxi in Guangzhou on August 2, 2010.

 11. Lodge in youth hostels. They offer discount price accommodation in dorms and also singles or doubles.


Water Rhyme–International Youth Hostel [Photo from Kunshan Tourism Resort]

 12. Learn to bargain. Don't accept the first price given by peddlers – it is likely high.


 A foreign tourist bargains with a shop owner at the Silk Street shopping mall and market in Beijing, China, 19 March 2005.