Does the language barrier make it difficult to travel in China?
From my experience, I had the most difficulty communicating in China than any other country in Asia. At times, I had to use Google Translate on my phone just to order dinner at a restaurant. Speaking of restaurants, most of them won’t have an Engish menu. Luckily, lot’s of them have pictures, but I found myself in a few situations where I wasn’t so lucky. There are six official languages of China, but as long as you use a few basic phrases in Mandarin, you should be okay. Here are a few that will get you started…
Also, bear in mind that there are several different tones. I thought I was saying excuse me for the longest time, but I was actually asking people to kiss me simply because there was a slight tonal difference. This usually ellicits confused shrugs and a few awkward moments, but locals know their language is hard and they’re usually pretty forgiving as long as you smile when you’re butchering the language.
When is the best time to travel to China?
China is a big country with a wide range of climates. Choosing when you should travel should be based on the region. With that said, the most popular time for people to travel is during Fall, where the weather is the most agreeable in the majority of the country. Remember to also take into account national holidays. I, myself, traveled to China during their Golden Week (October 1-7), which made for crowded sightseeing. Businesses also like to close during this time as well, so make sure to check that local restaurants in your area will be open before heading out if you chose to travel during this time.
Will I have access to my email, social media and favorite websites?
For the most part, using your email is not an issue in China. When it comes to web access, you will certainly be limited. Here’s a list of some fo the most popular websites currently blocked in China. Before you go, make sure to communicate with your friends and family that you won’t have access to these sites. Don’t worry, you can waste your time on Facbeook and Twitter when you get back from your vacation all you want.
Is travel to China safe?
China is generally a very safe country to visit, but it is always smart to take extra precautions where applicable. Scams are a huge concern, especially in major cities. Be wary if people approach you on the street to attend an art show, tea ceremony, or the like. If you feel compelled to go, make sure you agree on a price for a service or item beforehand because often they are looking for any way to scam you out of your money. Pickpocketing can also be an issue in some larger cities. Make sure cameras and wallets are somewhere safe, and don’t wear lots of expensive jewlery when you are out and about.
Do I need a visa?
The likely answer is yes. Check with your local consulate to see how much consular fees are. American citizens pay a consuler fee of $145.
Is the Great Wall easily accessible?
The best answer to this is: sort of. If you are traveling alone and not with a tour of some sort, I highly recommend renting a car or hiring a driver to take you out to the Great Wall of China. Often times you will see tourists who take busses, which run on tight schedules, and they are restricted on the time it takes to truly appreciate this modern wonder. There are several locations outside of Beijing where you can visit the Great Wall. Some parts of the Wall are much easier to climb than others, so depending on your abilities, you might want to take that into consideration. On the weekends, the traffic can be bad. I personally was visiting during a busy time of the year, and the drive took nearly three hours in traffic, so plan accordingly.
Have a question that I didn’t answer? Ask below and I’ll be sure to add it.