China is a country where one cannot go without knowing how to behave properly. Yet this is not because it is dangerous in any way to not be aware of the local etiquette, but because its ancient grandeur begs our inner beings to make an effort. We assure you that you will be respected and even admired if people see you behaving like them. Just imagine your local customs perfectly reflected by a foreigner! It would be humbling, wouldn’t it? So, without further elusion, let us hop right into the deep water!
As we may all know, China’s restaurants are one of the main reasons why tourists visit the country. Yet there is a slice of the whole eating-out cake that not many people know of and that is “fighting over who gets to pay the bill”. Just imagine: you are sitting comfortably and having dinner in a restaurant when two people (seemingly best friends) begin to quarrel over something that you may or may not understand. Well, that is what we are talking about! We assure you that over 99% of restaurant-fights are about who gets to pay the bill for it is considered beyond polite to do so. If a Chinese friend takes you out, make sure you remember this as they will smile in admiration of your knowledge of their etiquette. Just be sure not to push it too hard for you might overwhelm your peers and humiliate them. Note that it is polite to fight over the bill even if you have no intention of paying for it – just keep the verbal battle at a moderate level (wink)!
2. Crossing roads:
Now this is more than a custom for it has already entrenched itself into the hearts of the Chinese people living in large urban areas. While most countries worldwide demand that cars (and vehicles in general) cede priority to pedestrians, China’s unwritten rules say otherwise. There, you must always be cautious, even when your lights are green. Taxi and bus drivers often drive so wildly that you’d see their licences withheld in other countries in the blink of an eye. In China, however, it is the responsibility of the pedestrian to make way for vehicles (if one does not wish to be flattened outright). Crossing the streets in large groups is advised as you are less likely to run into problems. Stay safe!
Although most guides and advice articles say that tipping as a big no-no, the people of China know more about the world than you might think. Even if you are confused about these informational discrepancies, we recommend that you tip the workers of a restaurant or a bar not only because you expect to return there in the future, but also because it has already become polite. Despite what the internet tells you, you will find that tips are almost never refused and they are often greeted with bowing smiles. So, after you’ve finished your argument with your partner about who gets to pay for what, make sure you produce an extra 10% (or as much as you want) for the wonderful people that have served you (wink)!
This is not exactly an etiquette thing but it is good to know. Even though you may be tempted to take as many things with you as you possibly can, we recommend that you pack only the strictly-necessary and buy the rest there. You can find anything in China for low prices and there is no need to pay extra airport fees for socks or stockings. This, you only have to pay a fee when returning (wink). Oh, and don’t forget: in China, more expensive does not mean better. Buy whatever you feel comfortable with and do not mind the often mind-blowing price-discrepancies between products (even though they all usually fall into the affordable category).
Yes, you guessed it, smiling does a lot more for you in China than in any other country around the world. Why? Well, because it reflects the desire of the person in question to cooperate. What’s even more interesting is that people succumb to beams even during arguments (not to mention the fact that they almost never raise their voices). This is because “turning up the volume” in China automatically means that you have lost dignity and even respect for your peer. In short: it will get you nowhere. So, the bottom line is: if you find yourself in a sticky situation, just smile! All will be well!
6. Public displays of affection:
We often hear about PDAs when we travel to foreign countries but China’s unwritten rules are not as strict as those of the United Arab Emirates, for example. While PDAs do not represent a problem around youngsters, they may be frowned upon in a crowd that mostly consists of elderly people. Always scout out your surroundings and act accordingly – small kisses should be sneaked in whenever possible, though (wink).
Did you enjoy our list? If you did, hit the comment section below and tell us about your experiences when visiting China. We are eager to hear all about you. Oh, and do not forget to check back from time to time for some interesting updates. Safe travels!