I’ll preface this article with a disclaimer: Some people might prepare you ahead of time with some of these tips, but in my case they each came as a surprise that had to be explored and figured out on your own. Hopefully this guide will better prepare you for any upcoming trips to China that you may be planning. For a little background, I was traveling with my MBA class (Tulane’s A.B. Freeman School) to Xiamen and Shanghai for a consulting project and a few company visits. During my time in Asia I was also able to visit Beijing and Thailand, including popular sites such as the Great Wall, the Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, and the Twin Pagodas. I got to participate in activities like river cruises, elephant riding, tea ceremonies, hiking, and shopping. All of the tips below come from my personal experiences abroad in Asia as a firsttimer with forty of my classmates. Now without further adue, I give you the top 10 tips for traveling China as told by a twentysix year old female MBA student. Bon voyage!
1. Bring your own TP. ■ Yes, toilet paper just pack some kleenex or wet wipes in your bag. Also, don’t be surprised when you see that most toilets are merely a hole in the ground.
2. Download WeChat. ■ WeChat is the most used messaging app in China, but it’s really so much more… I was able pay for meals and ubers, connect with my client and friends via video messaging, and even get deals with local promos posted daily.
3. Download a VPN. ■ Especially if you can’t live without Facebook or Google services (mail, drive, search engine, etc.), this will allow you to access these blocked sites.
4. Chopstick etiquette: ■ Use the opposite side of your chopsticks when collecting from the community plates. Feel free to ask for a fork, but this is a great chance to practice your chopstick skills.
5. If you smoke, pack matches. ■ You can’t bring lighters through most security points.
6. Download a currency exchange app. ■ I downloaded one that also converted celsius→fahrenheit, which deemed helpful.
7. Don’t eat raw oysters. Just don’t. ■ Trust me, or just ask the four students that were hospitalized for food poisoning! Do try the regional dishes in each city though (i.e. peking duck in Beijing or soup dumplings in Shanghai).
8. It’s OK to haggle, and actually kind of fun! ■ Generally cut prices by ⅔ when bargaining. If they seem to reject your offer then walk away, they will typically call you back with a lower price.
9. Make sure to check the weather. ■ I traveled to four different cities in Asia and the temperatures ranged from 30100 degrees fahrenheit, Make sure you plan and pack appropriately for each destination!
10. Keep a copy of your passport on you. ■ They say you should keep your passport on you at all times, but you really only need it when you are checking in at hotels. I just kept a copy of mine on me, which was sufficient.
MBA Candidate 2016