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The One Thing ... China 

By ben Groundwater

Chinese street


By Ben Groundwater

The One Thing You Should Do
In China Is ...

Get used to things being a little different.

You’re not in Kansas anymore, Toto. Things are different in China, and if you hope to enjoy yourself, to stay safe and experience everything the country has to offer, you need to acknowledge that reality and move on.

  • People spit in China, in public places. You’ll hear people hocking loogies on public transport. You’ll see them ejecting saliva on the street. It happens.

  • The food is also probably not what you’d expect. Sometimes it really is fried rice and something that might resemble the sweet and sour pork of old. Mostly though, it’ll be things like frog soup, swimming it hot oil. It’ll be simple, plain vegetable dishes served with rice. It’ll be edible fungus. It’ll be deep-fried scorpions on sticks. It’ll be shallot pancakes and hand-pulled noodles. It’ll be different – and it will be delicious.
  • Squat toilets are common. Get used to them. The big cities are extremely crowded, and you’ll be jostled a lot. Get used to that. The smog is bad. You can’t drink the water. Haggling for souvenirs and other goods is not just encouraged, but expected. The traffic is insane.

Get used to these, and so many other differences, and you’ll have an absolute ball in China. In fact, your home country might start to seem kind of dull in comparison.    

Don't Rely On Google When Visiting China

The one thing you should not do
in China is ... 

Rely On Google.

Most travellers will now be used to the way things work. When you have a question that needs answering while you’re on the road, you Google it. When you need to stay in touch with friends, you hit up Facebook or Instagram. When you’re catching up with news, you use Twitter. When you’re trying to find your way around, you use Google Maps.

Easy, right? Well, not in China. Never forget the Great Firewall of China, the countrywide, government-mandated ban on access to social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram, as well as most of what Google has to offer. That’s a big change for travellers. How do you get or share information?

There are, however, workarounds. One, for Google Maps, is AutoNavi, a mapping app that uses Google’s data, but is available in China. For everything else, meanwhile, there’s a VPN, or “virtual private network”, which will allow you to circumvent the Great Firewall by appearing to be somewhere else. Just make sure you download yours – and ensure it will work in China – before leaving home, as China has recently banned the sale of VPNs on the app stores available in the country.

Get it sorted before you go, however, and suddenly Google is a thing again. Phew.


Find out more insider tips about other destinations: read all the articles in Ben's "One Thing" series here


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The One Thing Series From Ben Groundwater


From Spain to Singapore, you can find all of Ben's One Thing Articles right here.

Singapore - The One Thing

Ben Groundwater shares his expert advice about holidaying in amazing Singapore.

USA - The One Thing

Ben Groundwater shares his expert advice for those visiting the big and bold US of A.

France - The One Thing

Before biting into the baguette, check out this advice from Ben Groundwater.

China - The One Thing

Ben Groundwater shares his tips on what to do and not do when you next visit China.

NZ - The One Thing

Off to the land of the Kiwis. Check out travel writer Ben Groundwater's helpful hints.

Sri Lanka - The One Thing

Make the most out of your trip to Sri Lanka with Ben Groundwater's helpful tips.

Canada - The One Thing

Check out these great tips from Ben Groundwater before you plan your next trip to Canada.

China - The One Thing

Read up on Ben Groundwater's insider tips before you plan your next trip to Cambodia.

Spain - The One Thing

Heading to Spain? Be sure to pack these words of wisdom with you when heading off.