Welcome to China! If you're planning a trip to this amazing country, you're in for a treat. China is a diverse and dynamic destination with fascinating sights, sounds, and experiences. However, before you start exploring, it's important to be aware of the local customs and etiquette. Here are some do's and don'ts to keep in mind:
Do show respect to elders. In Chinese culture, elders are highly respected and valued for their wisdom and experience. Show them deference and politeness, even if you don't agree with their opinions.
Do carry some cash, but also download Alipay or WeChat Pay. While credit cards are becoming more widely accepted, cash is still king in many parts of China. However, with the rise of digital payment platforms like Alipay and WeChat Pay, you can easily make purchases without carrying a lot of cash.
Do dress conservatively. While expressing your personal style is fine, avoid wearing anything too revealing or provocative. Chinese culture values modesty and discretion, especially in public.
Do learn basic Chinese: Duo lingo is a great way to start. It teaches you all the basics that you need to know. Simple phrases like "Hello", "good morning" and "Have you eaten?" are a great way to earn popularity among locals and they could even help you to make some Chinese friends!
Do show gratitude. Whenever someone does something nice for you, show your appreciation with a sincere thank you. Consider sending a follow-up note or a small gift to express your gratitude.
Do expect extra attention in smaller towns. If you venture off the beaten path, be prepared for some extra attention. Many people in smaller towns have never met foreigners before, so they might ask to take a picture with you or even invite you to dinner. It's a great opportunity to connect with locals and learn more about their culture.
Don't discuss sensitive topics. Topics like politics, religion, and human rights can be taboo in China. Avoid discussing them, especially with people you don't know well.
Don't point with your finger. Pointing with your finger is considered impolite in China. Instead, use an open hand or gesture with your chin.
Don't finish all your food. Leaving a little bit of food on your plate is a sign that you're full and satisfied. Clearing your plate completely can be seen as greedy or wasteful.
Don't touch other people's food with your chopsticks. Using chopsticks is an important part of Chinese dining etiquette, but be careful not to touch other people's food with them. It's considered impolite and unhygienic.
Don't go to tourist attractions on public holidays. Public holidays in China are a big deal, and many locals flock to popular tourist attractions during these times. If you can, try to visit these places on weekdays or during off-peak times to avoid crowds.
Don't refer to Taiwan as a separate country. China considers Taiwan to be a part of its territory, and referring to it as a separate country can be seen as disrespectful. It's best to avoid this topic altogether if possible.
Remember, these are just a few of Chinese culture's do's and don'ts, and there's always more to learn. With a little effort and respect, you can have a memorable and rewarding experience in this fascinating country. Safe travels, and have fun!