As mysterious as it is alluring, China can bring up a lot of questions, even for the most experienced traveller. To allay any worries, qualms, or concerns, we took three common queries from people visiting China on one of our tours and did our best to answer them.
Q: I’m headed to China soon and want to pack a few comforts from home, like my favourite coffee, tea and biscuits. Will this be okay with Chinese customs?
A: There are no problems taking food into China, just make sure it’s inside sealed packaging. Honestly though, for the items you’ve listed, save the space in your bags and just buy it all over there. There are always Western-style supermarkets within a few blocks of your hotel, so you can stock up on supplies. The tea in China is especially good and these supermarkets are a great place to buy it cheaply. The perfect gift for folks back home.
The tea in China is especially good and these supermarkets are a great place to buy it cheaply.
Q: What’s the food like over there? Is it anything like I eat at my local Chinese restaurant?
A: The great thing about China today is you can find nearly any food your belly desires. There’s Western-style Chinese like we enjoy in Australia; there are local options, which your guide will happily point out; and then there are all the fast-food chains like McDonalds and KFC. Of all the meals, breakfast is the one that will probably look most foreign, with a spread of soups, dumplings and noodles, rather than cereal or bacon and eggs. But there’s always toast and fresh fruit around too if you’re not feeling adventurous first thing in the morning. Sadly, there’s not much street food left in China, so if you do spot a hawker, check them out.
Q: I love using Facebook to keep friends and family updated on my trips. Is it true you can’t access social media in China?
A: This is true, and while we think a Facebook-free world sounds quite wonderful, it’s understood we’re in the minority. For people who want to stay connected, download “Skype” so you can keep in touch with loved ones. Skype isn’t blocked anywhere in China, so all you need is a wi-fi connection, which is pretty much everywhere, including all hotels.
Image: Fishing, traditional Chinese style, using trained cormorants birds, in the Guangxi region.
(Note: A previous version of this article suggested downloading “Whatsapp” in China, but it was recently blocked too. Skype remained accessible at the time of publishing.)
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