Many foreigners are surprised at the relative freedom they enjoy here in China. For those who have never visited before, scary images of censorship and soldiers can cloud an otherwise reasonable person’s mind. However, there are a few things that you should avoid doing or saying in China if you want to save time, money, or your own sanity.
Here are a few:
1) Don’t talk about the Chinese government to Chinese citizens
Whether Chinese citizens have an opinion about the government (or not), they’re certainly not going to tell you. Nor do they want to hear your opinion about it, however educated, cultured, or knowledgeable you may consider yourself to be. And on the off-chance you encounter a citizen who criticizes the Chinese government in front of you, keep in mind that it’s kind of like when you were a kid – while it may be perfectly acceptable to complain about your own mother, anyone else who does so is asking for a major smackdown.
2) Don’t visit zoos
Unless you a) hate animals or b) want a serious case of depression that makes you question the decency of the human race, don't go to zoos in China. My one experience at a Ningbo zoo was enough to sicken me for days – underfed, exhausted animals being whipped to stand on their hind legs, literally cringing every time the zookeeper raised his arm, the animals’ ribs poking through their fur. It was one of the saddest sights I’ve ever witnessed. Granted, I’m not a fan of zoos in any country, but China’s lack of animal rights laws is astounding, making zoos and animal “parks” places to avoid. And, of course, there’s the case of tigers being purposely starved in order to use their bones for wine (read article here). Definitely skip these “tourist attractions”.
3) Don’t buy high end electronics
Whether you buy the real stuff here (good luck) or the knock offs, you’re wasting your money. The authentic brands are sold at much higher prices than pretty much anywhere else. Even countries you think of as expensive, like the United States or Japan, sell the same items for cheaper. The only place to go around here for cheap, legitimate electronics is good ol’ Hong Kong. What about the knock offs? Sure, you can get them for decent prices in China – but keep in mind that the thing is likely to crap out on you in about a year (this has been proven by experience – both mine and others – many times). If you’re only staying in China for that long and plan to ditch your wares when you head back home, then it might be worth it – but it’s a gamble.
4) Don’t be too picky about how your food is prepared
You know those health code faces posted in restaurants – the ones that either have a happy faced (passed the health inspection with flying colors), the straight face (passed the health inspection) or the sad face (did not pass the health inspection)? Well, I’m sure you’ve noticed that there are a lot more frowny faces than there are happy faces in China. That’s because food sanitation is simply not as big of a deal here as it is in other countries. It used to amaze me when I’d see a packed restaurant, their red sad face glaring out from the window. None of the patrons, happily gobbling away at their most-likely-ill-prepared-food, seemed to care the least that they were eating food cooked in, according to Chinese standards, a kitchen deemed unsanitary. So while you’re here, try to get over any remaining dirt phobias, or you’re going to be mighty hungry.
5) Don’t buy a VPN without doing your research first
Everyone knows that the way to get around blocked websites in China is to purchase a virtual private network (VPN). This routes you through a private proxy server so you can access things like Facebook, YouTube, and all your other favorite time wasters. However, be wary when shopping around for a VPN online. A lot of providers will gladly take your money whether their particular VPN works in China or not. I’ve known many dissatisfied friends who have dropped a decent amount of money on a VPN, only to find it doesn't actually work. So ask around and see if you can pinpoint a reliable service. Barring that, make sure the company you choose has some sort of return policy.
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Keywords: don't do in China Avoid in China
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I disagree with point 4. Hygiene and cleanliness standards in China are so bad, it's no wonder so many people get sick. Even with two major flu epidemics this century, people still eat in filthy restaurants, almost never wash their hands, spit everywhere, let their kids relieve themselves on the street (even if a toilet is in plain sight) and send sick kids to school where they cough and sneeze over others without even covering their mouths. We shouldn't just shrug our shoulders and say 'meh'. I have kids and if we go to a restaurant, I'll be pissed if they get sick because some cook sneezed in the food, didn't store it properly or didn't bother washing his hands. Everyone SHOULD complain if a restaurant is dirty and the staff don't follow proper procedures and boycott them if necessary. That's the only way the message will get through.
Oct 25, 2017 18:05 Report Abuse
I think your points are over exaggerated. Point 1: I don't have problem talking about Chinese governments with my friends especially about their new policies. Point 2: You just been one of the zoos in Ningbo and this doesn't mean all the zoos is like that. You should visit Chimelong in Panyu. Point 3: Yes, imported high end is more expensive but doesn't mean everything. You should try to buy Chinese own brand but of course, the same saying goes "If you pay peanut, you get monkey!". You can get very good Chinese brand stuffs if you willing to pay. Point 4: I really not sure where you dine, probably those roadside stalls. Now, most restaurants in China are open kitchen where you can see how foods are prepare. Point 5: Yes, this is true, don't buy any VPN before you check out with your friends or ask in forum. This is norm, VPN is not govern in China. When things is not govern, you to use it at your own risk. Overall, China is too big with 1.4 billion population, one or two bad things doesn't represent the whole picture in my opinion.
Oct 24, 2017 10:23 Report Abuse
I went for a massage, seriously only wanted a massage and I don't know what I was thinking... they brought in whiskey, said that the room wasn't ready yet and the girl rubbed my crotch and I should have known better. They came in with a bill for 23000 CNY and I didn't have it. They scared the shit out of me and I ended up giving them 10% just to get away. I had said no to maybe 50 people asking me if I wanted a massage. Being a single man walking around Shanghai rd is a nightmare. IN a way I deserve it, but it was a terrible experience and I said that I didn't want a drink, nor sex, but I was guilty by jsut being there.
Nov 11, 2012 05:08 Report Abuse
All your comments may be considered as your personal ONLY but NOT considered as a whole foreigners' comments.
Basically I disagree with all your comments:
1) First of all, before critizise Chinese Government, every foreigner should think about the functionality of the Government in their own native country. Dont point the fingers at Chinese Government when your own native country Government is functioning with so many bad things
2) There might be some negatives in the NingBo zoo but it does NOT mean all the zoos are bad. There are so many nice Zoos in China and I have visited many.
3) Its the responsibility of the buyer to check everything before buy any product - this is the unwriten rule all over the world. If you check it properly, you can get a good product. Nobody is forcing you to buy electronic goods here in china. If you think, its cheap in other countries, why cant you go there and buy them. I have been using many high-end elctronics goods which I purchased in china and i dont have any problem wiht quality and price.
4) If you are more cautious about your health and quality of the food in the restaurants, you have two choices, 1) EITHER COOK BY YOURSELF INSIDE THE HOME or 2) eat in the 5 star Hotel restaurants.
Again, Nobody is forcing you to eat in any of the restaurants.
It is your choice to select the restaurant to eat, then Why do you blame the restaurant ?
5) You should have checked with some engineers before you buy the VPN. Again its your fault of believing wrong things. Cheaters are everywhere in this world, even in your own country.
I am also a foreigner, i have been living in China for the past 15 years .
China is my 2nd Home Country and I am very proud to say this. I LOVE CHINA .
Oct 17, 2011 05:19 Report Abuse
While I wont deny that mist zoos in china are awful, I would like to give a shout out to the new zoo in Changsha, Hunan. It is fabulous! Brand new, clean, modern, the animals are happy, beautiful, and healthy. I would not be surprised if 5 years from now it is as bad as the rest, but for now, while it is new, it is just as good as any American zoo. Go see it before it is too late!
Oct 10, 2011 07:26 Report Abuse
I think tip 1misrepresents the situation. It's not true that the Chinese won't tell you their opinions on the government, they very often do tell you quite openly. It is even acceptable for foreigners to give their opinion, although it probably is better not to give it with people who you don't know, unless they start the conversation first, otherwise you do risk finding that you offended someone. I have conversations about politics all the time in China with Chinese people.
Oct 09, 2011 19:05 Report Abuse
i`ve bought many good electronics in China, I have used the same laptop i bought 4 years ago, i have bought cheap rubbish too, but then again, its happend in the " honest " west, too. spoken a lot about politics, most chinese don't care for it, food is ok, rarely had any issues, in fact since i left australia 11 years ago i have lost 5 kg, and kept it off, there is more freedom here, than in oz i reckon!
Oct 09, 2011 03:13 Report Abuse
I'm not sure how long you have been here Andrea Scarlatell but you are a freakin' idiot.....I'm a foreigner like you and have been here for 14years.....don't act as if you know everything.....get back....get back to where you once belong........moron
Oct 08, 2011 03:38 Report Abuse
If you want a clean restaurant forget China... It's only as clean as the cook's idea of cleanliness. In a Chinese five star restaurant I have seen cooks go to the bathroom and not wash hands upon returning to the kitchen... and half the time there is no toilet paper :( Gross!
Oct 08, 2011 01:43 Report Abuse
DONT talk to CHINESE People. You will learn too much about their culture. DONT visit Chinese restaurants. You will eat all those animals from the zoo. DONT buy any electronic goods. They will explode after several days since they are made in China. DONT listen to American ex-pats for advice. They tend to be the worst, most culturally ignorant expats of all.
Oct 07, 2011 21:36 Report Abuse
China is a great country. what you see in china can also be seen anywhere, so why you focus on those simple things and try to make a big deal. WIthout China who will help the world now? I am not chinese but I LOVE China. They are so many great people and places there.
Oct 07, 2011 21:14 Report Abuse
Well good and bad experiences are everywhere in the world as its full of human beings and we sometimes come across some erratic behaviours which is very common of social animals,that does'not mean the whole nation can be branded with same label.
Yes, its very nice to see chinese people reacting warmly to laowai's but one can find even the opposite scenes ,which should be left as exception.
Oct 07, 2011 19:54 Report Abuse
Try critizing an American about America you may get a fist in your face. The way animals are treated reflects on attitudes of treatment of another man.It reflects the status of a heart.
Food poisoning happens as well in the West, kitchens and hygeine some time just as bad.My friends tripping to China call it innoculation.
Oct 07, 2011 17:02 Report Abuse
Good one 13 anonymous. Why is it when article writers offer their opinions advice etc about China the zenphobes, nationalists put on their defensive cloaks . I presume these people are Chinese [?] and really should get over it.
Nearly all us Ghosts love China, but just as they criticise and analyse their own countries [ usually democracies] they may do the same in respect to China , or would like to. Try this ,I have a great dislike of America, have more respect for Cuba [A Chinese ally] and regularly critizise my government here in Australia.
To state the "bleeding obvious" Chinese can't critizise their government. You tend to end up in jail.
Being a politics teacher China fascinates me and when the time is right i have had a number of discussions with Chinese. The Tibetan conversations were most illuminating [nod nod, wink wink]
Don't know enough about Zoos, dont like them anywhere in the world.
Noticed mobile phones more expensive there than here. Remember local voltage usually doesn't work in the west. One funny incident on taking back a soya bean maker for this very problem, we were told that we could run it on a transformer[weight 20 ks]
Food. Loved it, but you have to be careful. Surely the squirts is par for the course as in many other countries.
Computer censorship . Of course. The communist [?] party doesn't want it's citizens to have free access to information and they monitor" subversive" groups.
Oh and by the way I'm married to a Chinese woman and we both love China. We sometimes quarrel about, you guessed it , politics
Oct 07, 2011 16:31 Report Abuse
Gotta admit: Sometimes these articles seem a bit haughty and a little quick to judge. Generalizations never hold water in the real world....They just gain a lot of power in the media.
Gotta give credit where due: The Nantong zoo was surprisingly humane. Theanimals were daily fed...The cages cleaned...and visitors were not allowed to harass the animals...The leopard there was even pregnant. It was a pleasant visit.
On the other hand, the Fuzhou zoo was a PETA nightmare.
Oct 07, 2011 16:05 Report Abuse
I have been to china twice minimum stay was one month. ate with locals in small cafe,no problems .few strange looks as most visitors just eat at hotel or kfc type places where they can get western type food.agree that some zoos are bad animals should not be in zoos at all.but not all are badly treated. as for fake goods and prices some are better than the real thing and less than half price.quality of goods have improved over the last few years.
buy cheap goods in any country, most will not last.only get what you pay for.
Oct 07, 2011 12:48 Report Abuse
@Euan, ric, brown, etc. Don't be so defensive. China is a great place and getting better all the time. The author is just pointing out differences in culture that a new visitor will quickly discover on his/her own. You come to the U.S., Germany, France, England, etc., and you can write similar articles about the different and/or silly things you see - I certainly won't complain. In fact I'd be interested to read your comments.
Food sanitation and restaurants? Heck, my hosts refused to go to any of the fancier looking restaurants. "Too expensive!!!" So we'd end up at a family-run place that would have been closed down in most other countries. The food was great and I never got sick from it. The secret is to order something that has to be prepared fresh and hot off the stove or steamer.
OH! and regarding zoos and animal exhibitions -- At the Beijing zoo I saw workers preparing food for the apes. One guy dropped some vegetables on the dirty floor, picked it up, looked at it and tossed it in the trash bin. In Dalian I went to one of the "Sea World" parks. The animals were fat and happy, and I'd almost swear the trainer who put his walrus through it's tricks was in love with the animal!
No country or culture is perfect because humans aren't perfect - but like I said earlier, China is great and getting better while some other countries are great but getting worse. So there. . .
May 02, 2011 05:44 Report Abuse
well surprise how people comment negatively about china. infact i have been to countries around the world but the kind of warm recception and friendly people i meet here in china is amazing. how better do you think your country is to china? never talk about china as if your country is full of angels.
May 01, 2011 23:50 Report Abuse
Brown. The subject is China. The website is about China. We're in China. We're not in another country. I think to try and attack the subject of the article is not a good argument to be made. If we were in an African nation, we would be talking about that nation. If we were in the USA, then we would be talking about the USA. And we would be speaking critically about that country. Everyone is critical at least once in their lives. This article has a clear message criticizing the idiosyncracies that exist in China. I tend to agree with just about 99% of the article. I have met my fare share of A**holes in China too, who like to talk bad about my home country. Hell, the whole world loves to bash the USA when they are given the opportunity. I've been flat told that my President sucks by a Chinese man in his 50's, who I did not know. So, quit your whining. It's just an opinion dude.
Oct 07, 2011 22:37 Report Abuse