Accommodations, Food, and Transportation
Usually, hotels and food can be easily found around airports and train stations. Taxi and busses can also easily be found there. In China most people cannot speak English, including most taxi drivers, waitresses, and retailers. In larger hotels and their restaurants, you can generally find English speaking employees to help you though. It can be hard to navigate China on your own due to the language barrier, but with a bit of courage, it is possible. It is important to not underestimate the communication power of gestures. Most servers and business people want your business and will patiently work with you to try to understand your meaning.
We highly recommend that you take a business card from each hotel you stay at. The back will have a map to the hotel and if you go out on your own, you only need to show it to a taxi driver and they will then be able to take you back to your hotel. If you wish to go out, you can talk to your hotel's concierge, or your tour guide and ask them to write the names of the sites, or even food preferences on a piece of paper for you. You can then use this to get around on your own. Most hotels and their restaurants will have Western dishes, but most restaurants in China, unless they are specifically Western restaurants, will not have Western dishes. It is important to note that the star-rating system in China is different from other countries, and that a three-star hotel in China might not meet Western three-star ratings.
Chinese cuisine is world famous, and for very good reason. Each city, town, and village has its own unique dishes and very few visitors to China fail to love the culinary experiences that they discover. China has a very unique dining etiquette that should be kept in mind by visitors. Generally those on China tours will eat with those in their tour groups, or with their guide, and will not eat with Chinese people, so the dining etiquette is not that important, but if you get a chance to dine with Chinese people, which is a wonderful experience, they need to be observed. Dining in China is a lot of fun. It is important to remember that the culture is different from your own, and not wrong. Chinese people will realize that your cultures are different and will not be too bothered if you do make little etiquette mistakes, as long as you are trying. If you do try, they will be incredibly happy and will share much more of their lives with you. A good idea, if you do not know what to do, is to either ask, or just observe what those around you are doing. If you do find something distasteful, such as spitting your bones on the table, you may feel free to put them in a napkin, or do what suites you best.
For more information on dining etiquette rules, visit our Chinese Etiquette page.
Traveling around China is quite easy and convenient. Trains, busses and taxis are clean and convenient. One difficulty is the lack of English. Many cities' busses and taxis do not have English posted, and few of the drivers can speak English. As listed above, please have your guide, or hotel write destination names down, so you can show them to the driver, if you are traveling alone.
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