Just Landed – International Wanderer

Before coming to China, hopefully you’ve decided out what you want to do while you here. Whether it’s for study or work, you’ve planned out how long you want to stay in China for and which city to stay in. The time has come, your bags are packed and you’re about to head off on your adventure. What you might have forgotten are a few things you might realise you needed to check before taking off.

Before you arrive:

Have the address ready in both English and Chinese characters. As the locals can’t read or speak English, you will need to be extra prepared. If you’re staying at a hotel or hostel, ask the staff to send you the address and the directions in Chinese and English. When you’re in the taxi, give the driver the Chinese directions and hold onto the English directions, you might be able to help him even if you’re just signalling left or right.

If possible, print off a map of where you will be staying as Google Maps won’t be able to load without the VPN. Don’t forget to have the hotel/hostel number with you too so the driver can call them if they get lost.

Just landed:

Get Registered at the Police Station

As China is a densely populated country, they need to keep track of who is living here legally. Registering at the local Police Station is a requirement for both locals and foreigners staying in the country for more than 24 hours.

If you’re staying in a hotel/hostel when you arrive, the staff will normally do it for you. All they need is your passport and your booked days.

Once you have moved into your long-term accommodation, you and your landlord must go down to the local Police Station to be registered to your new address. You will need to provide your passport, work/study visa and a letter from your company or university stating your stay in China.

You will be given a thin piece of paper which you must carry with you at all times in case of inspections. Recently, the police have become a lot stricter with the registration inspections. It’s best to carry your passport and registration paper together.

Every time you move residences or re-enter the country, you must register with the local police again. If you are re-entering the country and staying at the same residence, your landlord does not have to accompany you again. It is just for them to update their system.

Walk around the area

If you didn’t land too late in the evening, walk around your area. Don’t forget to carry the address in both English and Chinese in case you get lost. If you’re staying in a hotel/hostel, you can ask the staff where the nearest subway station is and what restaurants are in the area.

For the days where you don’t feel like eating restaurant food or if you forgot to bring toothpaste, check to see where the nearest supermarket or drugstore is to buy your daily essentials.

It’s important to know where the closest bank & ATM is during your first week in China. Everything in China is cash-orientated, but it’s not common to see ATMs everywhere. Try and withdraw cash in slightly large amounts so you don’t have to keep going back to the ATMs as they only give out hundred notes when you withdraw.

Get a Sim-card and a phone plan

No matter how long you will be in China for, you will need a phone plan. The two of the biggest phone companies are China Mobile and China Unicom. According to most foreigners, feedback, China Unicom tends to have better deals and signal connection around China.

All you need to do is tell them how long you will be in the country for, and they will showcase their best deals. You don’t have to take their word for it and choose a cheaper deal; it’s up to you and your phone usage.

Understand the currency

As you will be in China for some time, it’s wise to learn how to understand the currency according to the locals.

Before coming to China, you should know that China’s currency is Renminbi, which means “People’s money” and Yuan is their dollar sign. However, once you arrive in China, you will scarcely hear the locals use Yuan and instead say Kuai, a more colloquial way of saying dollar.

What most foreigners have a problem with are the coins. The coins represent 1/10 of a dollar and are called, Mao or Jiao. There are two types of coins, 1 Jiao/Mao and 5 Jiao/Mao. You can think of them as 10 cents and 50 cents.

They can appear as coins or smaller coloured notes. Ten 1 Jiao/Mao are equivalent to 1 Yuan/Kuai. There are only two types of Jiao/Mao,

Bottled water is a must

In China, you cannot under any circumstances drink the water from the tap unless it’s boiled. The pipes are not as clean as Europe, and it can result in some bacteria in the water.

To avoid spending a few days in the toilet or at the doctor’s office, buy bottled water in any shop. It’s best to buy the bottles in bulk, as cities like Beijing have extremely dry weather, so it’s wise to keep hydrated.


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