Tips and Tricks for Tourists on Vacation in China

When traveling in China there are several tips and tricks that tourists should be prepared for if they want to get the most out of their Chinese trip. From bathrooms to hotels, China offers opportunities and challenges that you will not always find in a travel guide, with just a bit of preparation Chinese travelers can avoid the worst experiences and have a wonderful vacation in China.

Tips and Tricks 1: The Chinese Public Restroom

A few years ago finding a public bathroom in China was difficult, and most of them were primitive holes. Today there are public free and pay restrooms found on nearly every street for the desperate tourist. But it is important to remember that these are usually squat toilets. Only the most modern malls and restaurants or places that cater to foreign travelers will have Western toilets.

The main complaint tourists have with Chinese restrooms is that very few have tissue paper or soap. Even popular malls will often be soap free. So it is important that tourists carry tissue paper and some kind of soap or disinfectant with them as they explore China. Packs of tissue paper can be found on sale almost everywhere in China, and most Chinese will share a few pieces of tissue paper in an emergency.

Women should go to the bathroom before it is an emergency. The high property prices means that most Chinese stores and restaurants save space whenever possible, so even a busy restaurant may have only a single bathroom stall. It is common to see a long line of women at the local fast food restaurant waiting by the restroom door.

Tips and Tricks 2: Chinese Restaurants

Most Chinese cities will have thousands of restaurants, food stalls, and street vendors selling many different things. When deciding what to eat it is important to consider certain things.

Many of the smaller, poorer restaurants in China don’t have a kitchen. Food will be cooked and dishes washed on the street. While this looks bad to tourists there simply isn’t anyplace inside to wash or cook the food. Most of these restaurants offer good prices, and there’s only a small chance they’ll make a person sick. These small restaurants struggle for customers and are very careful not to make anyone sick as one bad story could bankrupt them. For a tourist on a budget, eating at these little Chinese restaurants can help save a lot of money during the vacation.

For tourists unwilling to risk these small restaurants during their vacation, the more expensive restaurants are always available. There are a large number of family restaurants, pubs, fancy restaurants and Chinese fast food places waiting to give travelers the best food in China. Many of the good restaurants will have pictures in their menu, so even for tourists who can’t read Chinese can order with some confidence.

After you sit down and look over the menu don’t be afraid to leave if nothing appeals to you, many Chinese will do the same. Also since they are foreigners, tourists are allowed to be strange.

Tips and Tricks 3: Hotels in China

When finding a hotel in China its important for tourists to be aware of the price and quality of the hotel. Most mid to high class Chinese hotels list a price that is well above the real price. For tourists staying at a budget hotel to save money the price listed is usually the true one, but if the price is over a 100rmb (approximately $12 American) there is room for bargaining.

The simplest way to bargain if there is a large language barrier is to simply start leaving when they list the price. This method will often get the price lowered a little and include a free breakfast. If the hotel staff speaks English or the tourist speaks Chinese it is usually possible to get the price lowered by 10 or even 20 percent and coupons for free meals at the hotel restaurant.

When traveling through China a bit of planning will save tourists a lot of headaches, embarrassment and expenses. A trip to China should be special, so tourists should do whatever it takes to make it a memorable vacation.

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