You can never really prepare fully for that trip to China, but we’ve sifted through some of the useful things to know about China before you leave home.
How far is it? ‘Two steps’ is a common response, it doesn’t mean it’s just round the corner. Apparently ‘one step’ means a walk of about 20 minutes, so……
Toilet facilities still range from the -5 star (public toilet in the park, South Wall, Xi’an , dark, with no doors. Only for a dire emergency!) to 5 Star (toilets just inside the gate at the Summer Palace Beijing – they have western style toilets and paper. They even have flowers on the wash basins.) But remember, just in case, always carry some tissue paper with you and hand sanitiser in case there’s no water in the basins.
Taxis are a bit like the toilets – awful or amazing. We were passed through three taxis before we reached our destination when we visited Jiuzhaigou in Sichuan over a journey of about 50? Km from the airport, but met great drivers in both Xi’an and Quanzhou who took us straight to our destination, followed the meter and declined to keep the change.
Not everyone speaks Mandarin and sometimes even if you do, they may be hard to understand because of local accents. While lots of people in large cities speak English, it is not universal and in many rural areas, many people prefer to speak the local dialect. It can be difficult to find information and maps printed in English, always ask at your hotel first.
Be respectful taking photos of individuals. Ask first and if they indicate OK, show them the result. Older people out with their young grandchildren may stop you and ask you to take the child’s photo. Please oblige and show them the result, even if you delete it later. Never take photos of public demonstrations. A security person is likely to come up and ask you to delete your photos.