How Easy It Is to Eat Vegan in Beijing

The Ultimate Guide to Being Vegan in Beijing

Roasted cauliflower with chickpeas and white rice on wooden background. Selective focus.

 

Home or abroad, maintaining a vegan lifestyle can require considerable effort. The ability to find satisfying meat-free meals depends, in large part, on location, with some destinations proving far more vegan-friendly than others. If you’re interested in visiting Beijing, however, there’s no need to let your status as a vegan stop you.

As in Chinese cities, Beijing’s vegan landscape can be equal parts impressive and frustrating. While the local diet has long relied largely on vegetables and grains, western influences have granted meat — and increasingly, dairy — a greater role in the region’s culinary scene.

Still, as with almost any large metropolitan area, excellent vegan cuisine is available; you simply need to know where to look. The following suggestions will help you navigate Beijing’s surprising array of vegan options:

The Perils of Hidden Animal Products

The veggie-based nature of Beijing’s top meals may initially seem like a boon to vegan visitors, but this emphasis on vegetables can actually be some vegans’ undoing. In Beijing, meat is often subtly integrated into dishes, rather than forming the meal’s centerpiece.

Even dishes that purport to consist entirely of vegetables and grains may include small amounts of meat. This is often not visible and might only be discovered while eating.

How Easy It Is to Eat Vegan in Beijing

 

Vegan and Vegetarian Restaurants

Vegan restaurants remain somewhat rare in Beijing, but a growing number of vegetarian establishments offer menus entirely free of meat. As you order, check that your preferred meal is also egg and dairy-free, as these ingredients often stand in for meat at local vegetarian restaurants.

Not sure where to start? Excellent options include:

  • Vegan Hut
  • Blossom Vegetarian
  • Vege’ology
  • ZeroGo
  • Vege Tiger

Explaining Your Order

Don’t expect to use the terms ‘vegetarian’ or ‘vegan’ and receive a meal that fits your requirements. These terms are often confused in China and may mean little to the person preparing your meal.

The phrase “wo chi chun su” (I am a pure vegetarian) may help, but you still risk eating dishes with eggs or dairy if the restaurant’s staff members do not understand the extent of your restrictions. It may be easier to highlight the exact types of food absent from your diet.

Keep in mind that definitions of meat vary between cultures. If you ask for a meat-free meal, locals may assume that you simply don’t want the muscle tissue with which meat is typically associated. While they’ll happily leave this out, they might not realize that you also prefer to avoid chicken stock, lard, or oyster sauce.

Opt For Grocery Stores

Some traveling vegans prefer grocery stores or produce markets, as these locations provide greater dietary control. This is a particularly helpful option for those staying in apartments or hotels with kitchens. Still, grocery stores do not remove all risk of consuming animal products.

As in restaurants, meat, dairy, and eggs can be included in a variety of dishes. Avoid packaged foods when possible and stick with ingredients you can use to create meals from scratch.

Maintaining a vegan diet is by no means easy in Beijing, but it’s definitely possible. Once you know where to visit and how to make special requests, you’ll be amazed by the sheer variety of flavors available. Your efforts will be rewarded with some of the healthiest and most delicious meals imaginable.

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How to Pee While Hiking the Great Wall of China

Best Tips on Achieving a Five-Star Pee When Hiking the Wall

How to Pee While Hiking the Great Wall

 

On all but the most traveled Great Wall hiking trails, there is no toilet or outhouse. It is extremely important to go to the bathroom before you start a hike, even if you do not need to at that moment. You should still go. Here Find out more about how to pee when you hike on the Great Wall.

No Restrooms Beyond the Main Entrance

Prior to going to the Great Wall of China like Jinshanling or Gubeikou for your hiking excursion, use the toilet. There are no restrooms beyond the main entrance. It is important that you go beforehand even if you think you don’t have the urge. At least try to use the restroom before you start off on your hike and you will be happy you did later.

Use the Toilet in Nature

When nature calls answer it by using the restroom along the side of the path on the Great Wall. This is permissible since there are not any toilet facilities along the wall like Jiankou or Huanghuacheng. You will be out there for hours on end and will most likely have to go at some point. Accept that you shouldn’t try to hold this in as it can lead to a bladder infection or urinary issues.

Great Wall

 

Bring Toilet Paper

When you come on the Great Wall, have a stash of toilet paper handy. Use this if you have to urinate when on the wall. In addition, carry hand sanitizer and consider wet wipes to help clean up after you finish. Women hikers especially can minimize their discomfort by carrying along these items.

Avoid Poison Oak

Identify what poison oak leaves actually look like before you go for your trip to Beijing and the Great Wall of China. You do not want to get poison oak anywhere on your body, but particularly in areas uncovered when using the toilet in the grassy area on the side of the path

Find a Large Tree

Along the paths and the Great Wall are plenty of large trees. Find these and see if you can use one for a privacy screen while urinating.

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Find Stones

In addition to arbor screens, the Great Wall is made up of large rocks. You will find these scattered about along the sides of the path. Look for the biggest rocks and use these for protection against prying eyes.

Try to Pee Downhill

When you go pee on the Great Wall of China, look for a place with a slope. Use this landing pad for your pee but aim so it goes downhill. Also, keep your feet out of the way as it flows down the hill away from you and the crowd. This will be appreciated by you and everyone around you.

Find an Area Clear of Obstacles

Look for an area that does not have rocks or concrete on it. This can lead to splatter, which gets urine all over your legs and undercarriage area. You want to find a spot of grass, if available, or soiled ground otherwise. Do not urinate on concave objects that appear to be bowl-shaped. This only leads to splashing and that is not what you want.

How to Pee While Hiking the Great Wall of China

 

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6 Useful Chinese Gestures to Know Before Visiting China

Chinese Etiquette Tips for Your First Time in China

Family Celebrates Chinese New Year

 

Whether you speak fluent Chinese or can barely say ‘ni hao’ (hello), your body language will speak volumes when you’re abroad. While some Chinese customs echo those used throughout the world, others are specific to the country or may even vary by region. Keep the following in mind as you communicate without words:

1. Presenting and Accepting Gifts With Both Hands

In China, gifts are commonly given to show hospitality, respect, and love. How the gift is given and received is nearly as important as the actual contents of the gift. Never present or receive a gift with just one hand. Don’t be surprised if the recipient refuses the gift at first; this is perfectly normal, but with a little convincing, the person will graciously accept the gift. If you receive a gift, do not open it in front of the giver.

2. Standing Up For Toasts

Whether you meet for a business lunch, a holiday celebration, or some other special occasion, you’ll likely experience a Chinese toast at least once during your visit. By following drinking etiquette, you can show your respect while also developing a deeper bond with your new Chinese friends.

First and foremost: never refuse a toast, as your unwillingness to participate could be misconstrued as an insult. If somebody else initiates the toast while standing, you should stand as well. Likewise, you should stand for any toast made by a superior, although this person may request that you sit down again.

6 Useful Chinese Gestures to Know Before Visiting China Beijing

 

3. Polite Greetings

Multiple options are available for greeting others respectfully. The handshake is a common greeting both in China and throughout the world — and in general, the same rules apply. Do not shake hands for more than five seconds.

Handshaking should occur while standing, and never with the other hand in your pocket. Typically, people of superior status initiate the handshake, although, when departing, the guest should initiate a farewell handshake with the host. If you don’t shake hands, a simple nod of the head will suffice.

4. Bowing With Hands Folded in Front

While handshakes and head nods are increasingly common in China, some people continue to bow in select situations. Bowing is more common among elderly Chinese or in Korean or Japanese communities. The most common bow involves two hands folded in front of the body. Referred to in China as ‘zuo yi,’ this bow signals humility and respect.

6 Useful Chinese Gestures to Know Before Visiting China Great Wall

 

5. Handling Greetings That Involve Applause

If you are introduced to a group of Chinese residents, you may be surprised and flattered to receive a swift round of applause. Many visitors make the mistake of standing awkwardly or thanking the group profusely. Instead, return the favor by applauding as well.

6. Point With an Open Hand

In some countries, it is customary to point at objects exclusively with the index finger. Avoid this signal at all costs in China, where it is regarded as extremely rude. Instead, use an open hand to call attention to specific objects or people.

From handshakes to bows, a variety of physical gestures can instantly demonstrate your respect for Chinese culture. The better you understand these gestures, the easier you will find it to navigate everyday interactions abroad.

Smiling Asian woman in traditional red cheongsam qipao dress making salute

 

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6 of the Best Documentaries That Will Inspire You to Travel to China

The Most Fascinating Documentaries to Help You Understand China

6 of the Best Documentaries That Will Inspire You to Travel to China

 

Documentaries are a rich source of information and inspiration. To learn more about the real China along with ancient history and modern culture, consider watching a few films before you travel. Begin here with an overview of the top six best documentaries about China.  Then you will be that much more prepared for your trip to China.

Wild China

In the BBC series of six episodes, “Wild China” covers everything from pandas to tides along the eastern coast of China. In Episode 4, Beyond the Great Wall, you travel through Mongolian grasslands and sand dunes to see what else China will have in store for your next adventures.

Last Train Home

The heart-wrenching documentary, “Last Train Home,” follows the lives of a married couple on the journey home. Over the course of three years, travel with this Chinese family and see how migrant workers live with this intimate portrayal. Parents traverse alongside 130 million other workers that leave their countryside communities for work in the city. Watch how their family is torn apart and reconnected as everyone struggles to make ends meet.

Up the Yangtze

Released in 2007, “Up the Yangtze” focuses on a different aspect of Chinese culture. Here you follow the families that live in the zone of the Three Gorges Dam. Discover how a construction project of this magnitude, constituting in the largest power station on the planet, was built. The dam resulted in the displacement of thousands of residents while completing transforming the lives of the community here.

Morning Sun

“Morning Sun” is a political documentary that showcases the time when Mao Zedong was in power in the 1960s and 1970s. This period was called the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, during which the Red Guards were radically led by Mao. The film provides a unique perspective to the cultural undertone that carries through China today.

Please Vote For Me

Children attending Evergreen Primary School in Wuhan, China are portrayed in the socio-documentary, “Please Vote For Me.” The film watches a class of third graders as they discover what democracy means for them in this classroom election. The film, which runs for less than an hour, was well received and shortlisted on the Oscar documentary feature film in 2007.

West Of  The Tracks

“Tie Xi Qu: West of the Tracks” is a documentary running for an impressive nine hours. Over the course of this powerful film, you watch the death and demise of the manufacturing system in China. Segments include Rust, Remnants, and Rails. Produced by Wang Bing and Zhu Zhu, Bing being the award-winning Chinese director also from “Three Sisters” and “Dead Souls.

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7 Best Travel Apps to Download Before Travelling in China

7 Essential Apps Enhance Your Experience in China

7 Best Travel Apps to Download Before Travelling in China

 

The mobile age has made international travel more accessible than ever. This is especially true in China, where the right apps can make all the difference as you explore teeming cities. Not sure where to start? Download these essential apps:

1. WeChat (微信 Wēixìn)

Boasting over one billion monthly active users, WeChat is China’s go-to solution for keeping in touch. This popular messaging app helps you keep in contact with hosts, new friends, and fellow travelers.

Feeling homesick? Chat with loved ones via voice or video. Group video calls allow you to conduct business or keep in touch with several people at once. If you’re struggling with directions, harness the power of WeChat’s real-time location tool — an especially valuable option if you plan to meet up with friends or acquaintances in a crowded area.

7 Best Travel Apps to Download Before Travelling China

 

2. Baidu Maps

Google Maps may be your top navigational tool at home, but in China, Baidu Maps reigns supreme. It’s particularly valuable as you attempt to navigate infrastructure that sprawls vertically as much as it does horizontally. The app’s 3D search function helps you locate businesses situated on upper levels. You’ll also gain valuable insight into public transit schedules and current traffic conditions.

Baidu Maps is a non-negotiable if you’re hoping to check out the Forbidden City or the Temple of Heaven. It provides a detailed overview of large tourist destinations, highlighting the specific locations of temples, restrooms, and more.

7 Best Travel Apps to Download Before Travelling in China beijing

 

3. Metro China Subway

You might be intimately familiar with subway systems around the world, but China’s transit is a whole new challenge. The Metro China Subway app can guide you through this complicated network by providing essential information regarding routes, schedules, and fares.

From Beijing to Shanghai, this essential app will get you where you need to go, no matter the crowds. Outside of China, it can be used to navigate subway systems in Tokyo, London, and several other cities.

metro man china

 

4. Pleco

Every international tourist needs a quality mobile dictionary. In China, your best bet is the Pleco app, which instantly processes results from a variety of licensed dictionaries. Look up words with a helpful handwriting tool or tap on them within the document reader. Improve your Chinese vocabulary rapidly with help from the app’s customizable flashcard system.

pleco app

 

5. TripAdvisor

An essential for travel in just about any country, TripAdvisor is particularly valuable in China, where it offers detailed insight into a variety of accommodations, activities, and dining establishments.

Close-up of an unrecognizable woman using the TripAdvisor App on her Lenovo A916 Android smartphone in a Renault car. TripAdvisor is an American travel website company providing reviews of travel-related content.

 

6. China Train Booking

Experience the legendary transit of China with none of the usual stress of navigating a foreign transportation system. The China Train Booking app allows you to check availability and book tickets instantly. Present e-vouchers to collect tickets effortlessly. In-app notifications keep you in the loop regarding booking status.

China Train Booking

 

7. Waygo Translator

From signs to menus, the language divide can be a huge challenge when traveling in China. The Waygo Translator can help, particularly if you struggle to type or draw characters. Simply take a picture — the app will provide an instant translation. Say goodbye to translation nightmares, especially as you explore hidden gems.

Waygo Translator

 

Final Thoughts

Stress-free travel is well within reach when you harness the power of mobile. Experiment with China’s top travel apps to get a better sense of the country’s transit system and top attractions; you’ll be glad to have powerful mobile tools in your corner.

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