Top Five Hacks For Stress-Free Travel In China

This is a Guest post by Kristine who is a former ESL teacher in China who’s passionate about inspiring others to take the leap of teaching abroad. She writes for Career China, a dedicated team of professionals who make it easier to find and secure a job in China with a reputable company.

Going on an extended holiday in China is guaranteed to be entertaining, and this is because it always involves bonding with new people, exploring some of the most exciting and beautiful landscapes, creating unforgettable life memories and learning a culture entirely different from your own. It likely comes as no surprise that close to 60 million tourists visit China each year and nearly 600,000 foreigners choose to find jobs in China!

That said, traveling anywhere will come with stress, and visiting a place like China is certainly no exception to this rule. There are a couple of things you’ll have to take into consideration for your trip to run smoothly. Perhaps this is your first time going to China, or maybe you have been residing in this exciting country for quite some time now; regardless, we want to provide you with the top five travel hacks that will ensure that your stay in China turns out to be a fantastic experience. Of course, these travel hacks are equally applicable when traveling anywhere across the globe. So put them into practice, and you’ll greatly appreciate their usefulness.

1. Before you set off, download the Google Translate APP, a complete offline Chinese dictionary and get a VPN as well

Chinese menus without pictures!!!

Chinese menus without pictures or English translations – You def need this app

Would you travel without your cell phone or internet? We didn’t think so. Internet access is likely essential to you and how you get around, so it would be an excellent idea to plan around China’s Great Firewall. If you hope to access Google, Facebook, Instagram, or various news sites and blogs, then you will need a VPN to allow you to reach these sites and apps. Once you set foot in China, however, it becomes increasingly difficult to download your VPN (that will allow you to use your Google Translate APP). Ideally, before you arrive in China, you should take ten minutes to set up a VPN on your computer and smartphone so that you don’t run into trouble upon arrival.

2. Get yourself a Chinese phrasebook

For those of you who may not know what a phrase book is, it refers to a collection of ready-made phrases for a foreign language along with useful translations usually in the format of questions and answers. Simply put, a phrase book contains essential background information regarding the travel destination’s customs, culture, food, as well as straightforward pronunciation guidelines.

Some of the most common phrase books you can use may include the Lonely Planet and perhaps the Rough Guide. These books feature exceptional clarity and a solid color-coded structure to enable you to communicate with much ease.

3. For women, be careful buying soaps and moisturizers

It is no secret that numerous soaps and moisturizers in the Chinese market are filled with skin-lightening chemicals. Sadly, it is often very hard for an ordinary person, especially a foreigner, to tell if any particular cosmetic product has such compounds. You can choose to send the picture of the bottle to one of your Chinese friends who will help you identify if the product has these ingredients. Experts suggest that when in doubt, you should instead purchase baby products, since they do not always have such potentially dangerous chemicals.

4. Bargain when shopping with vendors

wholesale shopping malls in Shenzhen

A look inside one of the wholesale shopping malls in Shenzhen

Of course, just like any other country, bargaining is entirely acceptable (and appreciated) in most Chinese stores, except in some shopping malls as well as supermarkets. This is because all goods in such settings usually have fixed prices and the workers are also not allowed to grant discretionary markdowns. By bargaining, you can hopefully get significant price reductions and save while enjoying all the fun that’s involved in negotiating for products in China. Just be sure to learn some of the key phrases and numbers so that you can be effective in this exchange.

5. Travel by train and book online

shenzhen to guangzhou train

The train I took from Shenzhen to Guangzhou (And the cute ticket)

Many foreigners avoid traveling via train in China because they simply don’t understand how the process of acquiring tickets works. Thankfully, with a plethora of english-based booking sites in China, it is much easier these days to book train tickets online and make payments via credit cards. Whether you are seeking a high-speed train or a slow train, you can always book your travel ticket in advance on  Traveling by train is one of my most enjoyable experiences. Not only does it allow you to explore the countryside, but you also get the chance to interact with the locals.

The Bottom Line

There is no reason to fear or be intimidated by traveling in China.  Simply use these five practical and useful travel hacks and make your stay in China relatively more comfortable. The adventure awaits!

Ready to travel to China? Click here to read about my solo travel month long escapade to China.

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