Many Chinese people speak English, but if you're traveling outside major cities you will need to learn a few handy phrases. Plus, learning a few basic words will help you read menus and signs, which are often not in English, and communicate with local people.
Ask your hotel staff to write down the name of your accommodation in Chinese characters. Keep this note with you so you can hand it over to a taxi driver and avoid miscommunication.
Before you begin trying to learn Chinese, here are three things to know:
Tones can change meaning dramatically: using the wrong tone in speech can turn a nice statement into a seriously awkward conversation.
Learn how to speak pīn yīn (拼音): pinyin is phonetic writing, it uses English letters to create new sounds, and makes learning Chinese a lot easier.
There are many Chinese sounds that are difficult for English speakers to pronounce: pronunciation is made up of three factors: mouth shape, tongue placement and air flow. Nailing pronunciation is hard, but important to convey proper meaning in your speech.
China, one of the top 20 most innovative economies in the world, is home of the highest bungee jump* at 850ft (260m). The bungee is on Zhangjiajie Bridge in Hunan Province, which is also the world's tallest glass bridge.
Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon is close to Zhangjiajie National Forest Park in Wulingyuang Scenic Area, well known for its 3,000 quartzite sandstone pillars, many of which are more than 660ft (200m) high.
Surveillance as a method of control started under Chairman Mao (Mao formed the Communist Party in 1921) as a way to strengthen the government's power. What was once a word-of-mouth system is now a system of millions of cameras, internet surveillance, and a social crediting system where people have points added or deducted depending on their actions.
It's not known yet if travelers will be named and shamed for jaywalking in Chinese cities, as Chinese people are. However, a joint investigation by Motherboard, Süddeutsche Zeitung, The Guardian, The New York Times, and Germany’s NDR has found travelers who enter China via the Irkeshtam border from Kyrgyzstan have had their phones taken by guards, who secretly install an app that extracts emails, texts and contacts, as well as information about the handset itself.
It's hard to tell the difference between real and fake money if you're unfamiliar with the Yuan. Before you go, learn how to identify counterfeit money to avoid being short-changed.
Be careful when you hand over money to shop owners or taxi drivers. Some dodgy operators will swap the real note for a fake one and then tell you your money is fake, or they will give you change in fake notes.
Penalties for those who swap fake money are harsh, so this scam is becoming rare – but don't be afraid to inspect the notes when they are handed back to you.
An urbanization plan that began in the early 1980s, intended to relocate millions of Chinese people from rural villages to cities, hoped to enhance economic growth. But there was one key issue: it's not easy to force thousands of people out of their homes and into a new city. This has led to a number of ghost cities, where sprawling metropolises have been built in the middle of nowhere where nobody lives.
Perhaps, over time, these ghost cities will grow in population, but, for now, travelers can visit Chenggong District, Oros City, Nanhui New City, and Yujiapu Financial District.
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