11 tips for your trip in China [Beijing, Xi’an, Shanghai]
A little list of things to do, see and experience in China.
1. Eat Peking Duck in Beijing. I don’t care if you don’t like duck. It’s beyond amazing. One of the top culinary delights I have had the pleasure of eating in my life. We ate at Da Dong Roast Duck we got there around 5:00 for dinner. We were told that they didn’t start preparing the duck until 6:30. We were starving but decided that we would wait. We got a whole duck for the two of us to share. Highlight of the duck was the crispy skin dipped in sugar, it melted in your mouth. De-freaking-lious.
- Da Dong Roast Duck (北京大董烤鸭店)1-2/F, Nanxincang International Plaza, 22A Dongsishitiao, Dongcheng District, Beijing, China; 86-(0)10-5169-0329
2. Hike the Great Wall. At least a part of it. We unfortunately had to go with a tour group for this since our camp/hike of the great wall with Back Country Beijing was canceled at 1 AM the DAY of the hike. I do not recommend them at all. Furious and left on our own at 7 AM, I quickly figured out if the hostel we were staying at could accommodate us (Happy Dragon Courtyard Beijing). After pleading with them to let us on their fully booked tour, they arranged a private car to take us up to the wall. We ended up at a somewhat crowded Mutianyu. And when I say hike, I mean hike….don’t just stand there look at it and then leave. We hiked the 22 watch towers. Lets just say that we were hurting a little bit the next day. (Be sure to stretch it out)
3. Visit a water town outside of Shanghai. We made the HUGE mistake of going on a Chinese holiday we didn’t know about. The first day was so crowded that we felt like we were on the morning commute train instead. Enjoy all the side food stalls with random Chinese offerings. Eat along the river night, go for an early morning walk when the people are going about their own business, take in the quiet. Be sure to reserve your hostel if you are looking at a cheaper place to stay. If not, then be willing to pay up to $30 USD a night or more.
4. DO NOT take the Bund Sightseeing Tunnel in Shanghai. It was the worst 50 Yuan we spent on our trip. No matter what it says on any travel book. Stay away. Take the public train which only costs 4 yuan compared to a whopping 50. It was the stupidest thing I think I have ever done, Christmas lights, strobe lights, and painted murals. The highlight of this was getting off and saying, “What the f* was that.”
5. Enjoy a trip to Xi’an. It was one of our favorite parts of the trip. The train ride was great, we got to know a lot of Chinese people that were able to speak English and willing to talk to us. The terra cotta warriors…..amazing, but only because we had a great guide, Jya Jya. I highly recommend a guide for this portion of your trip. Only because you get the knowledge that you need to fully enjoy the sight. Compared to the other two of our friends that went to go see the warriors, we definitely enjoyed it much more.
6. Eat. Street food. Follow the locals and take a seat. Unless they are really busy they will stop and help you find something to eat. Sure they may chuckle at you while you order something ridiculous but for the most part it will be tasty. Remember that body language is the key to ordering something in a foreign language, that and English menus or picture menus.
7. Try to wake up early. I am not a morning person that is for sure. I hate waking up, it might be the worst part of my day but forcing myself to wake up for an early morning in Tongli for a private garden was worth it. Life still happens when you are sleeping.
8. Go inside the Forbidden City. It was something that I had low expectations for but it turned out to be fascinating. Just knowing that ancient Chinese people lived and walked on the same ground inside of the city walls. Be sure to wear your walking shoes this day and leave the 5 inch stilettos at home.
9. Avoid the scammers. They are in every place around the world but here are a couple of things about Chinese scamming 101.
- College student looking to practice English. They lure you into a ‘local’ bar for a couple drinks and when you get the tab it ends up being 10 times the price of the beer you just chugged.
- Art student. They, like college students lure you to a ‘local’ art show where you are forced to buy art at a high cost.
- Rickshaw rides. Run by motor run bicycles with a carriage on the back, they ask for 3 yuan. But really its 300 yuan. And they will try to separate you from your group if you are more than 2 people. Plus they drop you off at a location that is not where you asked for. (We got stuck with this ordeal after we visited the Forbidden City.)
- Bargain. Ask for a ridiculously low price. They are trying to get the most out of you. So go low, if they don’t bite then walk away and think about it. If you really want it, go back and go just a little higher.
10. Forget the travel books in China. They are all outdated by the time you get there. All of the restaurants we wanted to go to in Shanghai were gone. Even the sex museum that we thought about going wasn’t there anymore. It’s better to just go with your nose and ask around for advice than take it from a book.
11. Most importantly, stay calm. People will push, shove, spit, and pee. Everywhere you go in the city will be crowded. If you are looking for peace and quiet, don’t go to the cities. Remember that you came to China to learn about China, take it as it is.
cheers and happy traveling!