Traveling to China can be a real eye-opener and an exhilarating experience in any person’s life. However, the social ideas, traditions, manners, and culture of China can be quite distinct from that of your own country. It makes sense that as a traveler from some other country; you are aware of all those things the local people are sensitive about so that you do not hurt their emotions or antagonize them in any way. In case you have plans of traveling to China soon for your upcoming vacation or are interested to know more about this wonderful country, know about the things not to do in China ever.
1. Never talk about uncomfortable or politically sensitive topics
When you are in the country, try not to discuss death in general or the topic of someone who has just passed away. Chinese people are not fond of discussing death. As the white color symbolize death in the country, avoid presenting white items as gifts to the locals or do not wrap the gifts with white gift wrapping paper. Discussing religious and political issues should be avoided too while you are in China. Keep your chats friendly and positive and avoid talking about sensitive topics with the locals. That does not mean that all political topics are taboos. You can discuss positive topics like the country’s economic liberalization and reform policies or about its infrastructure with the residents.
2. Avoid using just one hand to give or receive something
When you are in China, make sure you are using both your hands to receive or give something to the local Chinese residents. It is not regarded as polite to use only one hand to exchange things. So, make sure you follow this rule while traveling to this intriguing country and show your respect to the locals so that they are not hurt or angry. In this respect, the Chinese etiquette is quite similar to several other Asian countries.
3. Do not disrespect the customs of minority groups and temples
China has around 55 minority groups and each has a distinct set of customs and traditions. Usually, objects pertaining to ancestors and worship are not permitted to be touched. Listen to your guide’s instructions or take permission prior to touching something. The country also has several Taoist and Buddhist temples. Be respectful when you visit them although you may be an atheist or follow some other religion. You should also remove your sunglasses, hats, and shoes prior to entering these temples. While you may not be fined or punished for showing disrespect, it is recommended to show your reverence.
4. Avoid buying something without bargaining first
Photo is only for illustrative purposes
Buyers in China are not supposed to bargain when they are shopping at any department stores, corporate chains, or large stores. However, a majority of independent Chinese stores are not averse to bargaining. So, try to bargain whenever you shop in a market in China. You can get an attractive price reduction, as well as, enjoy the pleasure and joy of shopping in the country.
5. Don't forget your manners when using chopsticks
You should follow the chopstick etiquette while using the pair for eating in China. For instance, the Chinese believe that chopsticks should be only used for eating and should never be used for pointing to individuals or items. You should also not use them as drumsticks or for playing at a person’s table. Once you have completed eating, do not place them in the hair or inside the bowl. Rather, they should be placed on the bowl’s top.
6. Never show up empty handed
The Chinese people have a habit of frequently exchanging their gifts and not simply on any special occasion. Suppose you are dining at a person’s house or attending a pre-arranged meeting, both the parties should exchange small gifts as a token of goodwill and friendship. Many westerners are stunned to receive such a large number of gifts from their Chinese hosts. You should carry several small but not gender specific gifts while traveling to China. After all, you just do not know when a local person gifts you a pretty memento and so you should have one with yourself as well.
7. Avoid tipping in places that also serve Chinese people
China does not have the practice of tipping for providing any kind of service to customers. In other words, Chinese bellmen, restaurant staff, and cab drivers do not expect tips. In fact, they will be baffled and will return your money. You can avoid such awkward situations by not tipping the locals though it can take some time to get accustomed to this culture when you hail from a country where tipping is really a way of life.
8. Don’t make a Chinese person lose face
When you are in China and you meet someone older than you or a person who outranks you, it is a good thing to treat them with respect. While you may not like it always, it is imperative to remember that you are in a different country. So, it is polite to follow the local rules. Else, you may be even told to leave. Embarrassing or humiliating someone publicly is one of the worst possible things to do in China. Do not shout at a local person or point out a person’s mistake so that he/she gets hurt.
9. Never accept a compliment graciously
Perhaps you do not know what to say or do when you praised your Chinese host after having a delicious meal and get a reply that the food was horrible. If you praise a Chinese child, her parents may say that their kid is not good looking or is stupid. Hold on because they are not trying to be nasty towards you! It simply means they are trying to be courteous and humble. So, be humble even if such behavior is foreign to you. When you boast less and are not vain, you can score a high point for being sensitive to the Chinese people.
10. Don’t refuse to have your picture taken
The sight of a foreigner is still a novelty for most Chinese people. Also, Chinese people love kids a lot. When you visit one of the famous sites in China like the Great Wall of China, the Forbidden City, or the Bund, with your kids, chances are, many Chinese visitors will be seeing a foreigner child for the first time and they will insist on taking your pictures. They will take out their cameras to click you and your family. Do not refuse them as a goodwill gesture while you are visiting the country.
11. Don't follow Google maps and apps they don't work here
If you’re familiar with the “Great Firewall” then this tip is no secret as China has its own version of Google and other popular and useful apps in the country. When traveling to Beijing or Shanghai, keep in mind that saving China’s map on your Google offline maps will not work.
Best to just use a manual map itself and test out your street smarts, or, find the Chinese alternative of Google maps and all the other apps you usually clutch on to when traveling. Those who speak Chinese can try using Baidu maps and Autonavi Navigation to name a few alternatives.
China is a mystical country for thousands of travelers. However, this exotic country in Asia has a distinct language and culture. In order to enjoy your vacation well, you should be aware of what not to do in China.
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