It goes without saying that travel can sometimes prove frustrating and wearing in a country such as China where contact with foreign tourists is still a relatively new experience in many places.
Whenever possible just relax and avoid any hassles which might upset you and spoil your enjoyment ofthe genuine friendliness and hospitality of the true China. With a ready smile, a little tolerance and above all immense patience, your eyes will be opened to the fact that behind the apparent stress and hurly burly of modern life lurks the courtesy and wisdom for which the Chinese are famous.
Although in the last 10 years China has increasingly opened up to the West and to western influence and its economy has made enormous strides, it is still ruled by customs and traditions which are largely alien to the incoming visitor.
There are also some things you need to know as a tourist if you are not to embarrass or even anger your Chinese hosts by making them lose face.
Above all be punctual. Also rememberthat people in China eat at different times from Westerners and consequently go to the theatre and the cinema at different times (see Business Hours).
The Chinese avoid bodily contact so do not try to shake hands when introduced or touch people when you are talking to them.
When introducing themselves Chinese give their surname before their first names, so that a Mr Wu Guangwen should be addressed as Mr Wu rather than Mr Guangwen.
Kissing on both cheeks, which has become a common form of greeting in many western countries, is regarded as overfamiliarity, even between parents and children.
Do not bring unduly expensive gifts; they could cause the hostto lose face and would have to be refused.
Avoid any mention of Taiwan or critical remarks about the Chinese regime; it is better to talk about the differences between China and the West or the progress achieved by the People’s Republic; sport is a reliable standby.
The Chinese are always reluctant to lose face by saying no; if you get an evasive response do not pursue the matter further.
It is not always necessary to take off your shoes but you must always remove any headwear.
Chinese rail travel Photo Gallery
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