Top 10 do and don’t to do in China

There are a lot of things to consider when going to China whether to visit, to study, to work or even to live. The Chinese people are one of the few people left in today’s society who still maintain their traditions, other than the Japanese and Korean. Every year a large number of foreigners come to China with very little knowledge of their culture and the way of the Chinese, so to speak.

The sentence, “the things I wish I knew before coming to China,” is surprisingly uttered more than several times amongst travelers. Instead of allowing you to find yourself in the same crowd, here are ten do’s and don’t you should be aware of when you visit the Middle Kingdom.

Most of what is to be listed refers to the metaphorical Chinese books of traditions. This book goes back thousands of years; it’s impossible for foreigners or even the Chinese to have a full grasp on all of them. However, it’s better to understand few of the important ones than none at all. You may also find a couple of useful tips to keep under your belt for future reference.


-Remove your shoes when entering someone’s house or Temple – This is quite a common mannerism throughout Asia, and it is seeping slowly into Europe and North America.

-Be aware of your surroundings when visiting a temple. While there is no particular dress code, it’s polite to dress and behave sensibly. Avoid walking between someone praying to a Buddha or statue.

– Respect the elders: Although this might seem like an obvious tip, it is one that is often sometimes neglected even by the younger Chinese generation. If you’re in the company of an elder person during a meal, make sure their tea cup is always full before pouring for you.

– When presenting something, for example, a gift or money, it should be presented and received with two hands. This shows the object is being extending to the full extent of oneself.

– Keep calm when dealing with officials such as police officers and immigration. The Chinese handle situations in a different manner, it’s important to remain patient even in tense circumstances.

– Prepare for constant flattery amongst the Chinese. The Chinese people are surprised yet appreciative when foreigners try to speak the language. It’s common to hear a stream of compliments regarding their use of Chinese and even praise their country even though they never have been.

Some foreigners might see this as “fake compliments”. However, it is the Chinese way of showing their appreciation.

– When leaving your hotel or apartment, keep a copy of the address in your wallet at all times. If possible, look out for landmarks that might help you find your way back. The taxi drivers are sometimes not reliable in knowing all the street names.

– Remember to keep cash on you, at least several hundred Chinese Yuan at all times. You will find some places might not accept debit or credit card and ATMs are not as easy to find.

– Speaking of money, always withdraw cash at a proper bank. Recently fake money has surfaced in big cities like Beijing and Shanghai especially in random ATMs found at the train station or a convenient store. The Chinese always check the money they receive, and they can spot a fake note within a few seconds.

– Prepare yourself to see an occasional beggar inside the train carriage of the subway. While it is common in Europe and America to see beggars on the street, in China you will also find them in the crowded train carriage with you asking for money. While they do not hassle you for money or trouble, few people have described the sight to be quite uncomfortable.


– Don’t leave your chopsticks upright in your bowl -this is quite a common mistake amongst foreigners but to the Chinese, it is offensive as it symbolizes incense burning for the dead.

– Do not be too loud about your political views especially about Mao Zee Dong. Many Chinese are still loyal to Mao; you may notice the long queues at his Mausoleum.

– Do not shake your feet in front of guests as it is considered to be shaking your luck and fortune away.

– Do not be offended when the Chinese ask you personal questions. Due to a different culture upbringing, the Chinese might not see certain questions as too personal or offensive.

If you are in your late 20s and unmarried, it is a common question for the older generation to ask why you are not married. The older generation does not understand why the younger generation wants to marry later. Instead of taking it personally, think of the them being curious.

– Do not give clocks or books as gifts – A clock in Mandarin sounds similar to “attending a funeral” and giving a book sounds like “admitting defeat.”

– Do not slap, hug or put your arm around those who are not close to you. The Chinese tend to be fairly shy, especially around strangers. It’s better to wait for them to initiate.

-Try not be to too politically vocal. While Europe and America believe in freedom of expression, the Chinese tend to be more conservative in their opinions. Politics, religion and Tibet are three topics that are not typically discussed in public.

It is advised to take notice on whom you are speaking with and to respect their opinions and beliefs. As much as you wish you wear your “Free Tibet” t-shirt, it may stick out like a sore thumb.

-If you have received a gift from a Chinese host or family, do not open the gift in front of them, unless they truly insist. It is considered more polite to open the gifts after they leave.

-Do not take a black taxi, they are commonly seen in Beijing and Shanghai. Black taxis are illegal taxis that charge double the price and can be dangerous if you are alone.

-While this is not necessarily a “don’t” tip, it’s essential to be aware you are not expected to tip in a restaurant, bar or taxis. If you do decide to tip, you will often find the service staff running behind you to give back your money. It is not common in the Chinese culture as they believe money given outside of their salary is considered a debt in which they owe you.

Here you have it, the top 10 do’s and don’t when visiting China. You may even find several of the top tips trickling down into the Western society that might make your stay in China a little easier than expected.

Visit the original source and full text: Next Step China, the Blog