All You Need to Know Before Traveling to China
iVisa | Updated on Feb 23, 2023

China city tourism

China is a huge country in Asia where fantastic history and technological future walk side by side. This world's economic giant offers many attractions for tourists, with ancient sites, excellent gastronomy, and unique traditions. You will find great places to visit and explore Chinese characters and culture, whether in big or smaller cities.

Whether it is your first trip or a return to this fascinating country, here are some tips for your trip to China! Check below some curiosities and helpful information to be prepared for this vacation.

Top tips for traveling to China

Visiting China: You need a visa

Most visitors need a visa to explore China, whether traveling in Inner Mongolia or large cities such as Beijing and Shanghai. You can use the iVisa Checker Tool to see if the document is required for your country. If you need a China Visa, you can count on iVisa Guidance services for a hassle-free application to get your paper visa.

iVisa will assist you in each step of the application process. We will send you a detailed and didactic manual, and you’ll have a personal concierge to solve your questions. Our experts will review all your documents to guarantee 100% government compliance. Let our experts help you!

Blocked Apps in China

The Chinese government blocks many websites and apps in the territory. So one of the China travel tips is to be ready to survive without Google (Gmail, Google Drive, Google Maps, Google Translate, YouTube) and some of the most popular social media (Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter). You won’t be able to communicate using WhatsApp, Snapchat, Telegram, or Slack. Also, the major streaming companies don’t operate in China, such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, and HBO.

However, Apple’s iMessage and FaceTime apps are currently working in China. Most Microsoft-owned apps such as Outlook, Bing, and Skype, are also available.

The advice is to download anything you need from your email or Google Drive. Have all documents printed and saved on your smartphone or computer. Let people know that they won’t be able to reach you through the blocked apps. And you can download your movies and series to watch during the trip.

Can I use a VPN (Virtual Private Network)?

Using a VPN is an easy solution for accessing blocked websites and apps. This software protects your information by masking your device's IP address. However, China restricts VPN usage, except if the government licenses the VPN companies. The rule is that tourists and foreigners can freely use their VPNs if they can get through customs checks, but the tip is to get a VPN licensed by Chinese authorities.

Travel to China: The language barrier

Mandarin is the official language in China. It can seem like a barrier, but it won’t be a problem. Most people speak English in the city, so you can count on this to communicate with staff in the shops and restaurants or ask for information.

In the countryside, it is harder to talk in English with the locals. Remember you can’t use Google Translate; otherwise, you can try a translation app licensed by the Chinese government, such as the Baidu Translate app which is available for iOS and Android.

Best Chinese cities to visit

In such a large country, you can enjoy major cities with a vibrant atmosphere or natural beauty in the countryside. There are options for all traveler types to explore Chinese culture and major tourist attractions. Below, we listed some of the best cities to visit in China.

  • Shanghai - Located in China (Eastern), it is one of Asia’s biggest cities and popular destinations. The Shanghai Museum and the China Art Museum are must-sees; also, you have many great restaurants, galleries, and luxury boutiques.

  • Beijing - The political center of China has many popular attractions. Ensure you visit the Palace Museum and the Forbidden City. Exploring the imperial gardens in Beihai Park is a great way to enjoy the outdoors.

  • Jinshanling - It has the main tourist trail to reach the Great Wall of China. You have public transportation options to get there; it’s an easy day trip from Beijing.

  • Xining - In western China, Qinghai’s provincial capital has both Buddhist and Islamic temples to explore. Additionally, the market bazaars are a must-see for an authentic experience.

Check out our China Travel Guide to see more places to visit and all details to plan your trip!

Chinese Food

Enjoying the local restaurants is a great part of the experience of traveling to China. Chinese people are very welcoming, and the local food is delicious, probably ten times better than any Chinese restaurant in your country. Here are some dishes to try:

  • Xiao Long Bao (Soup Dumplings) - A perfect option for street food. It consists of dumpling wrappers encasing a big slurp of hot, savory soup and sweet ground pork.

  • Fuqi Feipian (Chilled Sichuan Beef) - The traditional dish is made of thinly sliced beef and beef offal. The modern version includes ingredients such as beef hearts, tongues, tripe, and various spices. It's served cold or at room temperature.

  • Crystal Sugar Hawthorns - This delicious dessert consists of red berries with cream-colored flesh and a flavor close to that of a tart green apple peppered with dark brown seeds.

Air: China has bad air quality in larger cities

In big cities, it’s good to be prepared for air pollution. December is usually the worst month regarding air quality, while May has been the month with better conditions.

On days with high levels of pollution, young children, the elderly, or anyone with preexisting lung conditions might have difficulty breathing or breathing faster. If you are sensitive to pollution, it’s recommended to use a n95 face mask.

Have you ever used squat toilets?

Squad toilets are not usual in the western world, but you will probably find them in China’s public restrooms. The difference here is that there’s no toilet seat, t, which can be a bit hard for those without experience.

Then, one of our China travel pieces of advice is to always go to the toilet before leaving the hotel. Also, carry toilet paper and hand sanitizer with you since many restrooms don’t have them.

We hope this China tour guide gave you valuable tips for your vacation! Enjoy China and everything this unique country has to offer.

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