Things to Do Before a Trip to China
A trip to China can be one of the most exciting adventures of your life. Take whatever preconceived notions of China you have and throw them out the window. You will eat food that would seem crazy to your friends and family back home. You will be awestruck at the amount of people on the streets at any given hour. And most importantly you will have stories to tell for a lifetime. This guide will help you prepare for an excursion to China.
· VPN- China has a fair amount of Internet censorship. Getting websites like Google, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and Twitter is only possible with a Virtual Privacy Network (VPN). I suggest ExpressVPN.com. It has a free MONTH trial, so as long as your visit is just a few weeks, this will cost you nothing!
· Banks- Notify your banks that you are traveling BEFORE you come to China. They will deactivate your card after you use it the first time at a Beijing Starbucks!!!
· Money- Bring about 500 US or Euro with you to change at the airport. Unless you are planning on doing some heavy shopping, this will be plenty of money for drinks, food and travel.
· Credit Cards- DO NOT USE THEM!!! A lot of stores and restaurants won’t take VISA, Mastercard, or American Express. UnionPay is what is generally accepted in China. And if you do find a place that takes your credit card, the fees from YOUR bank will be astronomical. It is best to stick to cash.
· WeChat- WeChat is what everyone uses in China for, well…everything! Imagine What’sApp, Facebook, and Amazon had a baby…and that is just a fraction of what WeChat is. Also, WeChat has an excellent translate feature on the chat service, so asking directions or trying to communicate with a new friend or colleague is a breeze. You can download WeChat from the iTunes store or Google Play.
Phone- China is pretty good about free Wi-Fi. For short visits, you should be fine with just grabbing Wi-Fi at hotels or restaurants during your stay. If you want easier access to the Internet, you should pick up a SIM card at the airport. It is fairly cheap and easy to install.
Nothing can possibly prepare you for a trip to a place as different as China. But, if you do a few of these things listed above you will be able to hit the ground running when you get here!