Mandarin Words and Phrases You Should Know When Traveling to China
When traveling to any foreign country where English is not the first language, it is important to learn a few basic phrases to help you get by. If you are traveling to China the following words are probably the most important ones to learn:
1. Thank You
‘Xiexie’ means Thank You and is probably the most important words in any language. If you want to be polite in China, learn to say thank you in Chinese.
‘Nihao’ (pronounced like Meeow with an N) means ‘hello’. Everywhere you go in China you will want to say ‘nihao’ as a friendly reply to the many people who will greet you in this way.
3. You Are Welcome
‘Bukeqi’ means ‘you are welcome’ in Chinese and is another term of courtesy that you will hear often in reply to ‘xiexie’ or ‘thank you’.
4. I Do Not Want
‘Wobuyao’ means ‘I do not want’. In China, you will be approached by many hawkers trying to sell anything from Buddha statue to Maozedong t-shirts. As they can sometimes be quite persistent you want to say ‘no thank you’ in a firm manner by using the phrase ‘wobuyao’.
5. I Do Not Understand
‘Wotingbudong’ means ‘I do not understand’. When in China where most Chinese are unable to speak a word of English it is important to let them know that you don’t understand what they are trying to say to you.
6. My Name Is
‘Wojiao’ means ‘my name is’ and is great to use when you are introducing yourself to someone.
7. How Much
‘Duo shao qian’ means ‘how much?’ Be prepared to bargain prices as most Mandarine speakers are adept businessmen and will price their goods higher expecting their customers to bargain with them.
8. You Are Correct
‘Dui’ means ‘you are correct’ or ‘yes’ and is a term used as an affirmation.
‘Cesuo’ means ‘toilet’ and you will need to know how to ask where the nearest restroom is.
‘Ganbei’ means ‘cheers’ in Chinese and is good to know when making a toast in China.
Chinese culture views on tipping are completely flipflopped of what people think here in the US. Generally, tipping is uncommon and can even be embarrassing in some circumstances.
China doesn’t have a history or culture of tipping. There are no hard and fast rules to follow. Some restaurants refuse tips. However, tipping is becoming more common, but mainly in high-end restaurants. Still tipping is not required or expected in hotels in mainland China.
Here in China, the city of Hong Kong is the main city where tipping has become a part of the tourist culture. Other Chinese tourist areas of Macau and Taiwan are also increasingly tip-friendly. In these places, you are welcomed and even encouraged to tip with some businesses and restaurants adding a tip percentage to your bill.
Tipping Tour Guides
The other exception is for activities that tend to attract a lot of tourists, such as tours for visiting the Great Wall of China in Beijing. Here, when you receive a public tour the tour guide may actually point out that tips are welcome. This is because they typically only receive tips as their wages. In this case, please tip.
A rule of thumb is to ask the tour guide operator or person handling the reservations when booking the tour if tipping is included and permissible.
Private Tour Guide Tipping
What about private tours of the Great Wall? These tours involve negotiating the price between you and the person providing the tour. If you are planning on leaving a tip, then mentally you should prepare to include that in the negotiated price.
Be discreet and avoid stating the obvious that, “This is a tip” as this is just as rude as leaving it laying on the table. Instead, just round up a percentage to account for what you would normally tip, or avoid worrying about the tip altogether.
How to Tip With Discretion
For those instances when tipping is going to happen, i.e., you have received extraordinary service, then tuck the tip into an envelope. Do not address the envelope, or the very tip itself. Instead, secretly leave the envelope so that only the person will see it. If the tip is pointed out, mention vaguely that it is simply a gift.
Taxis and Tips
Also, when you are paying for a taxi you do not need to tip. However, passengers in China always round up when paying a taxi fare. Never ask for change; this would be cumbersome for the cabbie and rude in Chinese culture. Plan on carrying small bills to be able to be economical.
Pro Tips for Taking Your Best Ever Vacation Photos
Getting amazing footage of your vacation isn’t as difficult as it used to be. In the old days you brought your 35 millimeter point and shoot camera or SLR, a bagful of film and hoped for the best. You spent tons of money on film and developing and held your breath waiting to see the results. You had no idea if your awkward selfies included all or part of your head, and you lived in fear of accidentally exposing the roll of film with all your Eiffel Tower photos on it.
Thank goodness times have changed. You know right away if there was enough light to capture the shot, or whether your children had their eyes closed or whether you made it into the picture at all.
There’s still room for improvement, though. And there ways to make it less complicated. After all, vacations are about relaxing, not stressing over technology. Here are a few tips that can make your travel photography better than ever.
Deciding On Equipment
Seasoned light travelers now have the option of packing nothing more than their smartphone for travel photography. If you scroll through Instagram you’ll see vibrant, professional-quality photos that were taken with nothing more than the latest Android or iPhone. If you don’t want to haul around a heavy camera and multiple lenses, you don’t have to. Smartphones have revolutionized the way we take photos, and you can easily capture everything from sunsets to evening skylines to up-close nature. You don’t have to settle.
Some Tips For Getting The Most Of Your Smartphone Camera
The best tips aren’t really technical. It’s just about practice and a little forethought. Your camera has plenty of tools that will help you. For example, the rule of thirds is one of the easiest ways to capture compelling photographs. If you activate this setting on your smartphone, it will place a grid over your screen, which makes it much easier to implement this rule. Just be sure you are placing the subject of your shot in the intersection of the lines. Don’t just center the Eiffel Tower. Place it off to the side. Be sure to capture people, foliage or some other interest in your shots.
Be sure to keep your lens clean and use a photo app to clean up your shot, add contrast, increase saturation, etc. Just don’t go overboard. You don’t need to go crazy with filters.
A good way to get a collection of beautiful shots is to go big and then go small. Take the overall photo. This is a wide shot of the whole scene. Then, choose a detail, something smaller. Shoot that. Take photos that tell a story. Capture things like signs or other details that give a sense of time and place. Capture the culture and the feel of the location. Architectural details like doors make lovely shots.
Should You Bring Your DSLR?
With the increasing quality of smartphone cameras, more people are opting to leave their DSLR at home when they travel. Should you? It really depends on what your goals are as far as capturing images and what you think you’ll be shooting. Selfies on the beach? A nice sunset? The smartphone is great. Not so great for other shots, though. For example, if you are going to be taking photos of wildlife from a distance, your smartphone isn’t going to cut it. At this point, you either need a DSLR with a telephoto lens or a high-quality point and shoot that has a really good zoom.
As much as smartphones are great for everyday shooting, they do have limitations, so keep that in mind.
With that said, it’s important to plan if you are choosing to travel with a DSLR, especially with multiple lenses and a tripod. Today, airlines have stricter baggage and carry-on rules. Most people aren’t comfortable checking their photography equipment, so make sure your carry on luggage meets the requirements so you don’t have to unexpectedly check your gear.
Backing Up And Storing Photos
One of the best ways to ensure that you are able to take lots of great photos and preserve your memories is to have adequate storage and to back your photos up. Bring more SD cards than you think you’ll need. This goes for your DSLR and your smartphone. Take the time to transfer photos to your laptop if you brought it, or at least use more than one SD card throughout your trip so if something happens to one of them all your photos aren’t lost.
For extra protection back up your photos using the cloud-based service of your choice. Google photos is great. As soon as you hook up to wifi you’ll be backing up photos taken during the day. This is great because if something happens to your phone or camera, you won’t lose the shots, too.
Finally, be sure you get photos of yourself that aren’t selfies. This is so important. Selfies are fine in small quantities, but they start to look the same and don’t adequately capture you or the moment. Get someone with you to take pictures of you, or carefully select a fellow traveler or local to take a couple of shots of you.
Put the camera away. If you have a tendency to get a little shutter happy while you are on vacation, take some time to put the camera and phone away and just take things in without looking through a lens.
Finally, don’t forget travel insurance. If you travel with expensive technology, travel insurance can help in case of theft or damage.
The Most Awe-Inspiring Spots to See Sunrises & Sunsets on the Wall
If you’ve been thinking about visiting the Great Wall of China, it’s not likely that a picturesque sunset & sunrise is the first thing that pops into your head. But once you witness the beautiful red skies over the Great Wall as sunrise & sunset, you’ll agree it’s one of the most beautiful sights on earth.
Whether you want some peaceful time alone or a special moment with someone you care about it, the rising / sinking sun is a perfect occasion for anyone. Check out our list of top spots for catching sunrise & sunset on the Great Wall of China.
1. West Five Window Tower at Jinshanling
If you want a lovely place you can take professional looking photographs at, make sure you visit Jinshanling. Explore the West Five Window Tower to get a fantastic view of the sun rising or setting over the Great Wall. Bring your favorite photography equipment and make yourself comfortable as you snap pictures of this lovely scene.
How to get there: Walk the path behind the Jinshaning main gate to the Zhuanduokou Pass. Along the way you’ll see a Zhuanduokou sign. Head up the stairs at Zhuanduokou Pass and keep walking west. After passing two towers, you will see the Western Five-Window Tower. It will take approximately 20 minutes from the Zhuanduokou Pass to the Western Five-Window Tower.
2. Zhengbeilou Tower at Jinakou
For a once-in-a-lifetime experience, consider visiting Zhengbeilou Tower at Jinakou to get those incredible pictures. Whether you want to enjoy the sunset with friends or watch the sunrise on your own, you’ll be able to experience the wonders that the Great Wall has to offer when you visit Jinakou. This portion of the wall features bricks that are light colored and highlighted by a background of trees and mountains. Taking pictures as the sun moves will enable you to get a series of unbeatable snapshots.
How to get there: Hike up along steep bushy mountain path behind Xizhazi village for an hour, you will get to Zhengbeilou Tower. The normal time taken to climb to Zhengbeilou Tower by the trail is an hour with 360 meters ascent. If you are moderately fit, climbing to reach Zhengbeilou is definitely within your reach.
3. Tower 8 at Simatai Great Wall
If you’re looking for an untouched part of history, visit Tower 8 at Simatai Great Wall. This portion of the wall features 28 watchtowers in original appearance, while the accessible part of Simatai Great Wall is quite short. Because this portion of the wall has not been renovated, it’s a lovely space to take some classic pictures when the sun is rising or setting. You’ll feel like you’re looking at a postcard as you take photos.
How to get there: Simatai Great Wall is easy to navigate. It can take around two and a half hours hiking to reach Tower 8. If you don’t like too much climbing up, a cable car is available and takes you to hillside, there is a footpath leading to Tower 8.
4. Tower 1 of Mutianyu Great Wall
Located in Huairou, this portion of the Great Wall can be found north of Beijing. You can reach Mutianyu easily by bus and will be able to explore some of the most richly preserved areas of the Great Wall. When you visit at sunrise or sunset, you can snap an assortment of pictures that feature both the wall and the scenery surrounding it. Note that this portion of the wall has many watchtowers, so if you like to explore, this is the part of the wall for you.
How to get there: take chair lift to tower 6, then walk pass 4 towers, you will reach tower 1.
5. A lookout Point Near Zhuangdaokou of Huanghuacheng
Are you ready to have an adventure? It will take about 45 minutes of climbing to reach the highest point of Huanghuacheng, but the beautiful lookout point and the 360° views of the surrounding countryside will be more than worth it. This is one of the best places to watch the sunset, as it features an assortment of different visuals you can take pictures of. Look down to a local reservoir and back up to hills on the opposite side.
How to get there: at Zhuangdaokou, walk eastward along steep steps for about half hour, you will reach the lockout point.
Whether you’re a professional photographer or you simply want to get the best picture from your visit to the Great Wall, taking the time to visit at sunset or sunrise will enable you to do so. Remember that exploring the Great Wall is a memory you won’t want to forget. Take the time to choose the perfect spot for morning or evening pictures so you’re able to get the best possible visual souvenirs of your trip.
Solo travel to Beijing, is it safe? The short answer is it is absolutely safe. In fact, Beijing can be considered a safe city for solo travelers, regardless their gender, age or identity. In our experience, Beijing, like the entire China for that matter, is safe to visit.
Whether you want to spend time on your own or meet cool people, whether you want to enjoy visiting museums or walk the Great Wall of China, whether you’re on a budget or the sky’s the financial limit, Beijing has something for every solo traveler.
Like any major metropolitan city Beijing certainly does have her issues. There are lots of people transiting the city. Estimations show Beijing has about 3,000 hotels and even more hostels and Air BnB accommodation options, so there’s no wonder it attracts travelers from all walks of life.
Beijing is fantastic for other reasons, too. This city is built to cater to the solitary individual. It is such a busy place that it makes many residents to seek for solitude rather outside than inside their own homes. There are activities for all kinds of people to enjoy on their own, and it’s not considered unusual to do activities alone or go out to eat alone.
With the proper research and preparation, Beijing will be safe for you as a solo traveler. Millions traveler visit each year, many of them solo. If it weren’t safe they wouldn’t go there in such big numbers.
Top 8 Tips For Solo Travel In Beijing
If you have been thinking about heading to Beijing but don’t have anyone to travel with, here are a few tips to keep you safe while traveling to Beijing alone.
1. Packing Light Will Enable You To Move Around Easier.
The best method to avoid overpacking is to choose a smaller bag. Don’t take more than one week’s worth of clothing. Why carry heavy stuff when doing laundry is so convenient? Choose your clothing items wisely, in order to be able to compose outfits for the entire duration of your trip.
You’ll see how good it feels to pack smarter and lighter. You’ll feel like a bird rather than a mule. In addition, the less stuff you have on you, the easier it’s going to be be to roam around the city.
2. Wear High-Quality, Comfortable Walking Shoes.
Beijing is best explored on foot. Comfort should be a top priority when it comes to footwear. The average Beijing resident walks between two and five miles every day. Tourists who take their visit seriously will do a lot more, as they would have to explore various objectives such as Forbidden City, Temple of Heaven, Summer Palace and many other similar places.
Keep your feet happy is essential! Shun athletic shoes. Instead, wear stylish flats.
3. Take the Metro.
Your feet will surely get tired after hours of walking. When this happens, taking the Metro is a viable alternative to going on foot.
4. Stay Local.
Beijing is full of bed and breakfast accommodation options and they can be ideal for you to make new friends while traveling. If you prefer to have your own place, you may want to check out apartments to rent instead of hotels, hostels or B&B.
If you’re not on a tour, take a guide book. This country is difficult to navigate without help. Most popular sites are crowded, so you’ll need to put up with huge lines to enter the Forbidden City, the Badaling Great Wall, you’ll likely wait in line to enter. Bring a guide book to read while you’re waiting in line, or make sure to download some guide books onto your device.
6. Make Good Use Of Your Time.
The best time to visit Forbidden City and Mutianyu Great Wall is in the morning, just as they open. If you don’t want to wake up that early, you can try vising them late in the afternoon. Beware that the Forbidden City and some museums are closed one day a week, usually Monday.
7. Be Self-Conscious.
Although Beijing is among the safest cities for solo travelers, you should be careful where and when you go. Stay in well-lit areas by night, avoid shady neighborhoods, and inform yourself on the most common street scams.
8. Carry A Map And Study It Before You Go.
It’s best to have an idea of where you’re going beforehand, including the Metro stops you’ll need as well as streets you’ll use. You don’t need a paper map, as you can easily download one to your smartphone or mobile device. Check your map before going anywhere. Do it also when you don’t know where you are.