General information

Tips: Words to know

a. Mai dan – Check

b. Cai dan – Menu

c. Xiexie – Thank you

d. Ni hao – Hello

e. Bing – Ice

f. Shui – Water

g. Bu yao – Don't want it.

A traditional Chinese massage

This varies greatly from a traditional western massage, so do your research before you opt for the first place you see. Chinese massages emphasize healing, and the techniques used are often peculiar to a Western observer. There are a number of methods used, but many involve tools such as wooden hammers, suction cups and needles. If you are searching for a traditional Western massage, a Western hotel is probably your best option.

Restaurants

Unlike many Western countries, not all restaurants in China receive a sanitation score for cleanliness and food preparation. As a result, you must choose where you dine carefully. Street food is probably not a good idea, and it is also wise to bring some antibiotics, probiotics, and other stomach relief medicines. Even properly prepared food may not sit well with a Westerner's stomach. Be patient to adjust and willing to try authentic Chinese cuisine.

Taxis etc

If you do not speak Mandarin you must print the address of your destination in Chinese characters. Do not assume that they will understand your broken Mandarin directions. The majority of cab drivers speak no English and Beijing is a big city so describing your destination can often be a challenge. Some cab drivers attempt to bargain, especially late at night.

If they do not turn on the meter get another cab. Be aware that 2 to 3 yuan will be added to the final meter amount for gas expenses. Taxis are the most expensive way to get around in Beijing, so the subway is a great alternative for travellers on a tighter budget. The bus system is inexpensive. Both subway and buses have all information in Chinese and English so it isn't too hard to figure out.

Toilets

Most public toilets lack Western amenities in China. If toilet paper is available it will be on a roll next to the entrance, so be sure to grab some before going into the stall. However, it is not uncommon for public toilets to lack toilet paper so it is a good idea to always have a pack with you. In addition, there may be no paper towels and sometimes no soap, so hand sanitizer is your best bet for achieving clean hands. Lastly, get those legs prepared for the squat toilets in China – they are everywhere, but you can often find a seat as well.

Bargaining

No that purse does not really cost 1,000 yuan! When shopping at the various markets in Beijing do not be afraid to counter a high offer with a much lower price. Start your bid at around 10% to 20% of their first offer. Having the exact amount you are willing to pay in hand is often a good tactic. If they do not accept, walk out. They will most likely call you back. A good rule of thumb is to never pay more than half of their initial asking price.