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How To Travel To China Without Speaking Chinese
Tips for Safe Travels from Selena Chen
It can be scary traveling to a foreign country and being unable to communicate with the locals. Finding your way through busy city streets can be intimidating. English, French or Spanish is often spoken in many countries, but when you go to China, Mandarin is the language of choice. Some Chinese cities like Beijing and Hong Kong – due to their cosmopolitan nature – have more English speaking people than others.
Due to China’s vast size and population, it’s often very overwhelming for foreign tourists visiting for the first time. Culture shock can often be something many will experience. In this article, we are going to offer you some amazing tips that will show you how to travel in China without speaking Chinese.
Carry around your Hotel Card
The most frustrating thing when traveling in a foreign country is getting lost in the streets and not knowing your hotel name. Most of the hotels across the globe have business cards with their contact address. You will find these cards at the front desk or in your hotel room. You can give the hotel card to the taxi driver without uttering a word, and they will drop you to your hotel. If you are traveling to China for business, have a guide to direct you.
Order food by pointing at stuff
Chinese cities have an array of delicious street foods. It will take time when taking a Tour in China to learn all the food names in the city. A simple way to order food is to just point at what you want to eat. Food vendors will easily notice that you are not a local and will make every effort to understand you through visuals.
Research on Historical sites
If you are still wondering what to do in China, then you need to consider touring the multiple historical sites that China has to offer. China has a rich heritage with ancient temples and palaces. If you are planning on visiting the Great Wall or Forbidden city, do your research on the historical sites. This preparation will help you relate what the tour guide is speaking – even though you do not understand what they are saying. Google should be your friend for this.
Take advantage of hostel tours
If you are traveling on a budget take advantage of the various hostel tours. These tours are convenient because you get to see what the city has to offer and get dropped at your hotel room in the afternoon. They are also budget friendly. Ensure that you are familiar with the local laws in China for tourists. This includes respect of the local cultures and habits. The Chinese economy has been on an upward trajectory, and this has made the cities relatively safe. Hostel tours reduce the complications associated with learning local languages and laws.
Using Phone Apps
With today’s modern technology, using your cell phone is a tremendous advantage when it comes to translation and traveling in general. There are many apps you can download before coming to China. The most important one, in this case, would be Google Translate app. You can simply type or speak any words into the app and a quick Chinese translation appears and comes in handy when you need to communicate with a local who doesn’t understand your language. Make sure you install a VPN before using. You can only access Google services by using a VPN connection while in China.
While you can travel and navigate the Chinese cities without learning Mandarin, it’s still important to learn a few words like help, thank you, please, hotel room or hospital. This comes in handy when you absolutely need to communicate with someone or are lost. You can also request the hotel staff to write what you need on a piece of paper. When shopping you can show the attendant the paper. Business has become one of the key reasons for visiting China.
Guest Blogger Bio
Selena Chen is a Chinese tour guide and business assistant in China. She majored in English and graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in 2008. Foreigners who visit China from all over the world hire her to help with translation and interpreting services. You can find out more about her services
Photo sources: (Creative commons – licensed for reuse)