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How to Stay Safe while Traveling in China
With over 55 million visitors each year, China is the third most popular travel destination in the world. By and large, traveling in China is safe, but there are always things that you can do to stay healthy and avoid unnecessary danger.
Here are some tips we’ve put together to help you stay safe when traveling in China.
You should start planning well ahead of your visit to China. Most people you’ll meet on the street won’t know very much English, so it’s important for you to learn some travel phrases in Chinese before you go. If you speak no Chinese, it may be worthwhile to hire a guide.
You should also have a solid plan of where you will be staying and how you are planning to get around. Be skeptical of random people on the street giving advice on accommodations. If they have only good things to say about certain hotels, it’s likely that the hotel is paying them to say it.
If you are bringing a personal computer, be aware of the Great Firewall of China, and update your anti-virus software before arriving. (And take note that especially on public computers, web sites you visit and emails you send may be monitored.)
Be smart about what you bring.
If you can, avoid bringing valuables with you to China. If you wind up traveling with valuables, secure your possessions in a locker at your hotel or place you’re staying before going out.
Try not to carry large amounts of money or wear obvious symbols of wealth.
Always carry the Chinese business cards from your hotel or ask your hosts to write their address down for you on a piece of paper. If you ever get lost, you’ll have an easier time getting directions.
Be aware of your surroundings.
Pickpockets tend to lurk in crowded areas, so be aware of what is happening around you and keep your bag in front of you at all times. Do not fall asleep on transportation, especially if you travel alone. Someone might lean over or get close and take your belongings.
Be wary of excessively or strangely friendly people. As with anywhere (and especially in the developing world), it is risky to travel with strangers.
Be careful about where and what you eat.
You should never miss out on the chance to try a variety of traditional Chinese dishes, but you should choose where you eat carefully. Take a close look at a restaurants or street vendor before eating the food. If there is no price indicated on the menu, ask how much an item is before you order it. Business owners sometimes inflate prices for tourists.
(Also, when shopping anywhere without marked prices, and ESPECIALLY at locations selling artistic, historic, or cultural items, be prepared to haggle. You are not being rude, it is normal to negotiate these prices.)
Be sure to use bottled or boiled water for drinking and brushing your teeth.
And as a cultural tip, when hosting a meal at home or at a restaurant, be prepared to order more food than you can possibly eat. It is considered disrespectful if you don't offer generous quantities of food.