Drinking water and hygiene
In China, hygiene is better than in most other parts of Asia, but not quite the same as in Western Europe. It’s not a problem, as long as you use common sense.
Hygiene in restaurants is generally good and the food is cooked in a wok at very high temperatures. You do not need to bring your own chopsticks. There are always clean chopsticks or disposable chopsticks at the tables.
Never drink tap water. The only water that is safe to drink in China is boiled water and sealed table water, the latter is available to buy everywhere for a cheap price (0.5 liters / approx. SEK 5). In addition, you can buy different kinds of soft drinks and beer everywhere.
The Chinese have a long tradition of always having boiled water available. The hotel room usually has an electric kettle or thermos for hot water. The boiled, hot water is safe to drink and is perfect for making coffee or tea during the coffee break after a long day.
Smoking is also prohibited during all flights and train and bus transport. On the trains, however, there are often special places where smoking is allowed. In some tourist destinations, smoking is not allowed.
It is not allowed to bring lighters on the flight on trips to and from China. This concerns both hand luggage and checked luggage. Lighters will be seized by the Chinese authorities and will not be returned on return. Therefore, we recommend that you let the lighter stay at home and instead buy a cheaper variant when you arrive in China.
Customs and traditions
The shortest distance between two people is often a smile, and this is also true in China. The Chinese are friendly and generally close to laughter. They are often very interested in talking to tourists, as it is a way to practice their English. The Chinese do not eat to live, they live to eat. In Chinese restaurants, the atmosphere is high, often with a different noise level than we are used to at home. We usually eat the meal at large round tables, equipped with a rotatable top, so that you can easily taste all the dishes. Remember not to put the chopsticks straight down into the rice bowl, as it is associated with death and misfortune.
During the trip, you will have great opportunities to trade with the Chinese, who expect you to bargain on the price in markets and stalls. This is a highly social custom, and in some situations it is considered almost rude not to bargain on the price.
Take the opportunity to learn a few simple words before the trip. The Chinese are proud of their language and it is very appreciated if you as a tourist can say a few simple phrases in Chinese. Being able to say “good morning”, “thank you”, “goodbye” or “two coffees, thank you” is almost always received by a smile from the Chinese.
Traffic conditions in China can appear chaotic with all lane changes. When you want to cross a street, try to make eye contact with motorists who turn right. According to Chinese traffic rules, it is permitted to make a right turn at a red light.
In China, it is not a good idea to “effervesce” if you end up in a situation where you feel badly treated. In that case, contact the tour guide and he / she will help you sort out the situation.
Currency and credit cards
The Chinese currency is called the renminbi (“people’s money”) – CNY – popularly known as the “yuan” and is available in denominations 1, 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100. There are also coins, but they are mostly used as currency and as payment in public transport. Visit petwithsupplies for When Is the Best Time to Travel to China.
If you do not have the opportunity to exchange before departure, USD is the best option, and preferably in high denominations (banknotes). The wisest thing to do is switch to USD RMB before heading out on a shopping spree. You can use small denominations in dollars as a means of payment in more tourist-friendly markets.
If you exchange USD in China, be sure to ask for the receipt and then save it, as you can only exchange back to USD if you can present a valid receipt from a previous official exchange. Exchanges are made at the international airport before departure from China for an exchange fee of approximately SEK 50.
Credit cards, such as MasterCard or American Express, can be used as a means of payment at most major hotels and in some stores. In recent years, the availability of ATMs for international credit cards has become increasingly common in the larger cities, but you still usually have to go far to find one, as most ATMs only accept Chinese credit cards.