Traveling in Asia is a lot different than in North America or Europe. You need to prepare yourself for different bathrooms, traffic, negotiations and foods. There’s a lot to delight in, but you’ll enjoy yourself more if you are prepared.
I always do the following:
- Print out the addresses of your hostels or hotels in Chinese as well as English. This will make using taxis or getting help when you’re lost so much easier. Also, enlarge the print so drivers with poor eye sight can read the address.
- Bring a small towel that I got in Japan. A bandana would work too. There’s loads of dirty surfaces. You may want to wipe off a chair or clean your hands. Hand wipes are also helpful.
- Leave fancy clothes at home. In China you won’t need them. Chinese people tend not to dress up even for weddings. Pack some pants or a skirt so you don’t only have jeans, but you don’t need a suit or fancy dress.
- Bring sensible shoes. The walkways are usually uneven or broken. It’s so easy to trip.
- Know that McDonald’s and Starbucks usually have clean restrooms. Usually.
- Don’t go to have tea with a friendly person. It’s a scam. You’ll wind up with a huge, fraudulent bill.
- Negotiate hard at the “designer” goods markets.
- Don’t drink tap water and only eat cooked veggies.
- Bring your passport with you wherever you go. You need it to get into museums. You probably don’t need it for security purposes, but occasionally there are checks. You can talk your way into a museum without one sometimes, but it can be a hassle.