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11 Tips for Your First Trip to China from US

China is vast and fascinating with gorgeous sceneries and splendid culture. In the recent years, choosing China as a destination has been a global trend. Are you confused when you’re planning your first trip to China? As Chinese culture is so different from American culture, you’d better know some useful tips for your first trip to China from US, so as to run your trip more smoothly.


1.US citizen need a visa for entering mainland China.

Obtaining a Chinese visa is the most important thing before you travel to China from the US. You need an entry visa to mainland China, remember to apply for the visa ahead of time. And you’d better bring a photocopy of your passport and visa with you, just in case. Luckily, US citizens can enjoy a visa-free trip in some cities of China, if you hold a visa and connecting flight tickets to the third country.

China visa

enlightened144-hour Visa-free Transit

enlightened72-hour Visa-free Transit


2.You really need VPN for Facebook and Google.

Facebook, Google, Twitter, YouTube and many other sites you normally use are all blocked in China, because of the Great Firewall of China. Chinese people have their own Apps for most of popular services. Thus, it’s really important to prepare a VPN before you go to China, so that you could get access to websites you usually use, and also stay in touch with your family or friends in the US.

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3.China is not all about Beijing and Shanghai.

Which cities of China do you know? Even though Beijing and Shanghai are always on the bucket lists, China is not all about Beijing and Shanghai. Pandas in Chengdu, karst landscapes in Guilin, stunning mountain views in Zhangjiajie, colorful minority culture in Yunnan Province, China has so much for you to explore.  

For first-timers travelling to China from the US, you can consider those popular tourist cities, such as Beijing, Xi’an, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Chengdu. Or you can pick according to types of tour you want to have, in order to have the best experience in China.

Yulong River in Yangshuo


enlightenedBest Destinations in China for First Time Visitors


4.Do avoid Chinese holidays when choosing your travel date.

When will be the best time to visit China? For most of cities in China, the best time for sightseeing will be spring and autumn. And how about the worst time? Travelling during Chinese holidays will be really terrible, it’ll be crowded everywhere, and your travel costs will be higher, that’s why we often suggest our customers avoid the first week of May and October, and also Spring Festival. Just decide the exact travel date according to your schedule and cities you want to visit.

Jiuzhaigou Valley
Autumn of Jiuzhaigou Valley

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5.It’s fine if you can’t speak or read Chinese.

You can learn some simple Chinese if you have interests, and Chinese people will be delighted when you greet them in Chinese. Knowing mandarin is helpful, but it’s not a necessity, because you could see signs in English everywhere in the major cities. Furthermore, more and more young generations could some speak English in the recent years, it’s ok to ask them for help, Chinese people are super friendly. You can download a translate app in case.

If you’re worried about ordering food in the restaurants, usually you may see English words or pictures from the menu. If you’ve got menus with only Chinese, ask for the recommendations, or maybe you can search some information about what to order ahead of time. Travelling with a tour guide will be better, with no worries about the language at all.


enlightenedSurvival Chinese Phrases


6.Bargain when you go shopping in the markets.

Bargaining happens everywhere in China, you can bargain in most of markets, if you’re buying silk products, jade or pearl. Sometimes the shopper may start at a price higher than the real value, you may bargain for a better price, if can’t get a negotiable price in the end, just walk to the other shop, as you could find plenty of choices in the market or along the shopping streets. It’ll be an interesting experience to bargain for what you like. But if you don’t care about the price, just buy it at once.

Yangshuo West Street
Yangshuo West Street

enlightenedTips on Shopping in China


7.No tipping in restaurants and taxis.

Tipping is a common and important thing in the US, usually for the restaurants, taxis, hotels and so on. Americans give tips according to the quality of service, while Chinese custom is totally different from what in the US, there is no need to tip in China because tipping culture is never existed in China. But if you’re travelling with a tour guide, it’s necessary to tip your guide.

enlightenedSome Basic Dining Customs in China


8.Always prepare your own tissues or toilet paper.

Some restaurants supply tissues for their customers, but for some others, you may need to pay for it, it’s better to bring tissues with you all the time. And you should know that you can hardly find toilet paper in public toilet, you need to prepare some dry tissues or wet wipes. What’s more, be prepared to use squat potties when you’re in China, it might be a challenge for American people. Also, bring hand sanitizer if necessary.


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9.Tap water is not drinkable in China.

It’s common for Americans to drink water from the tap, no matter at home, in the buildings or at parks. However, tap water in China is not drinkable anywhere, Chinese people drink it only when the water is boiled. You can drink bottled water from your hotel or buy from the stores, very cheap and convenient. Meanwhile, you can also get your own water bottle and refill with hot water.

enlightenedDrinkable Water in Hotels


10.China is safe to travel from the United States.

Safety issue must be your biggest concern while travelling to another country from the US, especially if you have read some news about food safety, air pollution or anything else happened in China. Actually, you don’t have to worry too much about it, China is one of the safest countries in the world. It’s quite safe to travel to China from the US, no matter in the day time or at night. Our suggestion is to keep an eye on your personal belongings all the time.

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enlightenedSafety Tips When Travelling in China


11.Get used to the staring and smile.

As more and more visitors coming to China for a visit from other countries, it’s common to meet foreign friends in some big cities of China. However, most of Chinese people are always curious about those different faces, especially when you’re travelling with your cute children. On the other hand, Chinese people are openly stare at other Chinese people too.

As a result, you may find some people staring at you or taking pictures without asking, please don’t think it a rude way, just get used to the staring and smile back to them. When someone asks for a picture with you, you could refuse if you feel unease.


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Enjoy a Hassle-free Tour with Top China Travel

These China travel tips for Americans may help you a lot while preparing, but you can even enjoy a hassle-free tour with one easy step —— Join Top China Travel.

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