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How We Travel China: Tips and Experiences

How We Travel China: Tips and Experiences

Once we talked to our associates and household about going for a visit to China, the most typical considerations can be security.

Having taken a free-and-easy 9-day journey by means of Shanghai, Suzhou and Hangzhou with none tour teams and planning our personal itinerary, we will fairly confidently say that the locations we had been to have been protected, so long as widespread sense on safety is adhered to.

On this publish, we share our ideas and experiences so you may be extra ready for China journey. We wouldn’t be separating the sections by every of the province we had visited because the experiences principally apply to the place we had been however we might have further notes for numerous places when needed. 

Do Notice: Our Self-Tour was made potential because of no language limitations. We are bilingual in English and Chinese language.

Travel China Tips and Experiences:


We have been nervous that we’d get harassed by many unlawful drivers providing their providers the second we walked out of the Customs at Pudong Worldwide Airport (PVG, 浦东国际机场), a lot in order that we continually reminded our son to disregard any stranger who talked to us or provided us something.

In the long run, none of this occurred. After stepping out of the Customs gate, we simply wanted to comply with the signboards (in Eng & Chinese language) pointing to the taxis (出租车).

“Unlike in Singapore where we call taxis as 德士 (which was probably a direct transaction from its English counterpart), they are called 出租车 in China, which would represent ‘rental cars’ if used in Singapore.”

Signboards Resulting in Taxi Stand

The signboards led us out of the airport constructing and we arrived at a taxi stand, properly barricaded for orderly queues to be shaped. There was scarcely a queue then, perhaps as a result of our journey was through the low tourism season (mid-March). We didn’t encounter issues loading our Three giant items of bags and a number of backpacks. I confirmed the taxi driver the handle and he led us simply to our vacation spot.

Taxi Baggage Area

Once we arrived In Suzhou nevertheless, the boot of the taxis have been smaller as they have been taken up by a tank of pure fuel. All of a sudden, we had no area for our three items of bags (two medium 24″ and one small 20″) ! It might solely maintain one 24″ baggage so we ended up putting two luggages, one medium measurement and one small, into one of many again seats. Dar squeezed within the center, with the 2 stacked baggage beside him, whereas Catherine was on the proper with Ling on her lap. It wasn’t very protected however we had no selection. Subsequently, remember that a baggage bigger than 24″ wouldn’t slot in.

How A lot Taxi Fare ?

The taxi meter began at 15 Yuan (some greater or newer taxis would begin at 16 Yuan or larger)(Word: taxis in Suzhou and Hangzhou begin their meters at a decrease fare) and would keep there for fairly some time, after which, would increment at 1 Yuan at a time. The driving force’s license registration quantity would even be displayed prominently close to the entrance glass panel on the passenger seat.

No / Non-Working Seat Belts?!

It was already our behavior to belt up, regardless if we have been on the entrance or rear seats. This was much more necessary when in China, the place it’s a norm for automobiles to zigzag by way of tight visitors, altering lanes every time potential, slowing down or rushing as much as keep away from errand cyclists and pedestrians and so forth. Someway the individuals in China have been already accustomed to such chaos however dangers of visitors accidents or sudden braking would nonetheless be greater than in Singapore. Notice that, many occasions, there have been no seat belts for the again passengers or they have been spoilt. Cat had Ling on her lap, so we might solely pray that nothing occurred.

Inside was cozy and clear however most seat belts weren’t working or lacking an element.

All through our 20+ taxi rides, we had not encountered any visitors accidents or near-misses so the rides have been nonetheless fairly protected since these taxi drivers have been already used to driving in such chaotic roads (in comparison with the personal employed drivers, which we deliberately prevented). Some may sound extra impolite or would categorical their feelings vocally at different street customers, however these have been straightforward to only ignore.

Vacation spot written in Chinese language, Until DiDi

Most taxi drivers didn’t perceive English (or do most of the individuals round us) so please put together your vacation spot in Chinese language wordings prematurely. An exception is if you find yourself boarding a taxi via reserving by way of the DiDi app because the vacation spot was already keyed in earlier than reserving.

Keep in mind to get no less than a reputation card of your lodge and have the employees write down the handle in Chinese language to point out the taxi drivers or locals when you get misplaced. Additionally, it is suggested to organize the Chinese language Names of the Locations you propose to go to since many taxi drivers wouldn’t perceive a lot English. Word that when you’ve got booked your lodging by way of web sites like, they could even have the addresses within the native language obtainable to you by way of their web site/apps.

The Most Helpful App for China Taxi Reserving – DiDi App

This DiDi app (iOS/Google Retailer) is very really helpful in case you want to get round China conveniently (actually, virtually important until you’ll solely be travelling round in our personal employed driver, metro or buses).

It was not straightforward to hail a taxi alongside the road, particularly in the course of the night time time. We have been at a taxi stand in entrance of a 5-star lodge and virtually everyone there needed to do taxi bookings as hardly any vacant taxi would arrive there (besides the unlawful ones, which ought to be prevented as cautioned by the ushers there). We witnessed a gaggle of foreigners ready a very long time on the entrance of the queue earlier than they might lastly board a taxi which occurred to be dropping a passenger there.

Thankfully, there was no additional reserving payment and you’d be paying the identical fare as when you’ve got hailed the taxi off the road. It was additionally simpler to hint again which taxi you took with the DiDi app, in case you left some factor behind or needed to suggestions on the driving force. Moreover, you would ask for the receipt upon each accomplished experience which might include the driving force’s particulars. We requested for it each time to maintain monitor.

DiDi App In English and Chinese language

DiDi app was obtainable in each Chinese language and English, which was a excellent news for non-Chinese language customers. I had tried each variations and I would like the Chinese language model, as I had problem getting into the pick-up factors and locations in English, because the app won’t be capable of acknowledge a number of the places in English. Alternatively, you might transfer the ‘pin’ on the map of the app and hopefully it will level to the right location.

In contrast to Alipay and WeChat Pay (we’ll speak extra about them later), the Didi app can simply be registered and not using a Chinese language Financial institution Account quantity. You possibly can simply select to hyperlink up together with your present telephone quantity (sure, your native/present cell phone quantity works too).

After that, it is possible for you to to hyperlink it up together with your Worldwide Credit score Card (i.e. it wants not be a China Financial institution’s bank card). You’ll then be capable of pay on your rides instantly out of your bank card. Sadly on the time of writing, this doesn’t apply to metered taxi rides (solely to private-hire) utilizing the Didi app, so we ended up paying in money for our rides. 

In case you’re questioning, we insist on taking taxis over private-hire automobiles as we felt that taxi drivers can be higher navigators on the roads and it is going to be safer since they’re extra possible for use to driving on the chaotic roads and visitors circumstances there.

How Troublesome Is It To Get A Taxi / Personal-Rent In China?

At occasions, we encountered problem in getting a taxi (or perhaps a private-hire automotive) in Shanghai, resembling through the morning peak hours and night time after Eight-9pm. On one occasion, we have been so annoyed after failing to get a taxi (couldn’t even flag one down on the road), we determined to take a metro again to our lodge as an alternative. Therefore, be ready to modify to metro in case you are out after 9pm.

Locations Taxis Wouldn’t Cease For You

In Shanghai, if the curbs of a street are colored in yellow, it signifies that taxis (ought to apply to private-hire automobiles too) will not be allowed to cease to drop or decide up passengers. So it’s essential to ensure your pick-up level shouldn’t be in such areas or you could find yourself not getting any profitable taxi bookings.

We didn’t know at first and stood at these strains making an attempt to flag down taxis on the road. Solely after reserving the taxis a number of occasions and asking the drivers, did we all know that they really couldn’t cease at sure locations for us. They ended up stopping in the midst of the street, as an alternative of the roadside. We have to shortly get on or they is perhaps caught on digital camera. (Cat says: It was all the time a mad rush to get on the taxis, particularly I needed to carry a toddler and run throughout the street.)

Visitors regulation enforcement is very regulated within the locations we had been in China, with quite a few CCTVs and regulation enforcement officers in all places. Seems to be like China could be very decided to enhance their visitors circumstances. There are some elements which we don’t perceive although, akin to in Hangzhou, pedestrians won’t be penalized even when they’re jaywalking; solely the drivers shall be penalized. On the finish of our journey, we have been nonetheless not sure which have been the authorized areas we might wait at, to flag a taxi.


We did our foreign money change again in Singapore previous to our journey, estimating the amount of money we would wish. We had projected this quantity based mostly on the idea that we might have the ability to use our worldwide bank cards for issues like Didi’s taxi rides, meals and souvenirs. It turned out that many locations in China don’t settle for cost by way of worldwide bank cards (外卡). T^T We didn’t do our analysis correctly.

Consequently, we didn’t have enough money for our 9-day journey and ended up withdrawing from the native ATMs twice. Some banks’ ATMs required further charges for overseas account transaction and we now have observed that XXXX Financial institution additionally charged a nominal payment of S$5.00 per transaction, with the maximumum withdrawal quantity of 1,00zero Yuan per transaction. In addition to the airport, we solely come throughout a foreign money trade retailer all through our journey, so they’re fairly uncommon in China.

Relating to Alipay and WeChat Pay, we had tried to register for these accounts with our worldwide bank cards however failed. In Singapore, we do have Alipay Singapore however it couldn’t be utilized in China. What we have now came upon thus far was that a China Financial institution’s card linked to a China Financial institution’s account was vital to join both cost corporations. It was an excessive amount of of a problem for us so we didn’t proceed to take action.

Each Alipay and WeChat Pay are quite common now in China (particularly in Hangzhou) and is the popular cost technique by many retailers. Requesting to pay utilizing worldwide bank cards typically resulted in a clean or stunned look from the employees, and would find yourself getting a reply that they don’t settle for such a cost technique.


Individuals crossing in each path on the roads (see that man on the far left and the woman in pink behind the van) and automobiles in all types of path (That Van)…We attempt to comply with nearly all of individuals. 

Roads in China are infamously chaotic, although we observed that efforts have been put in by the authorities to enhance on the drivers’ driving habits. CCTVs and Regulation Enforcement Officers are plentiful all through many places we now have been. Even drivers who unnecessarily sound their horns are penalized and publicly shamed with their license plates displayed in digital boards on the roads.

Nonetheless, it’s necessary to practise the next as a pedestrian there (it’s extremely inadvisable to drive in China as a foreigner):

– Even when the visitors lights are in your favour, examine cautious for incoming visitors earlier than crossing the street. One recommendation can be to comply with locals when crossing the roads.

– In lots of areas, there are devoted lanes for public transport like buses, and separate lanes for motorcyclists and cyclists. The latter are vulnerable to ignore visitors legal guidelines so be additional cautious when crossing these lanes.

– Drivers are allowed to carry out proper turns even when the visitors mild is pink, so concentrate on automobiles delivering from the left if you find yourself crossing the roads, even when the sunshine is in your favour.

– Some areas have been declared as vehicle-free, such because the strolling streets. Nevertheless, we nonetheless encountered a number of motorcyclists driving alongside these roads so all the time be alert, particularly when you have got youngsters with you.


Security on The Streets

We didn’t really feel unsafe once we have been out strolling on the streets at night time (newest was 9pm+) however in fact we attempt to keep away from darkish, quiet alleys.

As soon as, we had a taxi driver who refused to drive us to our lodge’s door in Hangzhou (his cause was the roads could also be closed on account of an evening market) and we needed to stroll fairly a distance at night time earlier than we reached our lodge. We did fear a bit at first however majority of the outlets have been nonetheless opened and the roads lit. The truth is, some outlets closed in the course of the daytime and opened in late afternoon till late at night time. Hangzhou has a extra lively nightlife. 

Usually, the streets are clear and most individuals we met have been well mannered and civilized. Our notion of the dangerous rumours of China modified over this journey.

Widespread Travel Sense (identical to anyplace else on the planet):

– Maintain your youngsters near you and within reach always. Once we go to the restrooms and so on, we make sure that we don’t depart any youngster unaccompanied outdoors.

– Be cautious when strangers (particularly fairly women) strategy you and supply to deliver you someplace or offer you some good offers (e.g. tour package deal). We don’t consider in free lunches or low cost offers and all the time ignore them. Actually, Cat was out of the blue approached by one fairly woman who heaped compliments on our two youngsters and how she seemed, then needed Cat to go to her magnificence saloon. Nevertheless, we did have exceptions the place we have been helped by kind-hearted strangers, reminiscent of a woman who helped to hold Dar’s baggage, once we have been taking place the lengthy flight of stairs to our practice’s platform. Usually, we could be much less cautious of strangers which might be going the identical method as us.

– Don’t board any car on the road that isn’t a taxi. We had a number of events when a automotive would cease by us and requested us to board his automotive. Once we ignored them, they even adopted us for some time, calling out to us. Boarding such ‘illegal taxis’ (黑车) is an enormous NO NO and be ready for the worst in case you succumb to such offers, no matter how pressing you want to get to your vacation spot.

– Don’t all the time belief the phrases of taxi drivers, like when they’re proposing alternate locations, claiming that these are the must-visit locations and so on. There’s all the time this risk that he’s simply making an attempt to persuade you to rent him as your personal driver and will not be giving his truest recommendation. Do sufficient analysis of the locations you’re going and be agency in your deliberate itinerary.


To keep away from the inconvenience of switching in and out of our SIM playing cards, we didn’t go for shopping for to native China SIM card for our journey. If we might select once more, at the least one among us would get the native SIM card for the next causes:

 1. Upon clearing the customs on the Pudong Worldwide Airport and getting into the luggage declare space, there was a counter for the acquisition and activation of the China SIM playing cards. There was hardly any queue (our journey was in the course of the off-peak season) and the method seemed to be clean.

2. The 1 GB knowledge offered by Singtel for our Knowledge Roaming plan was not enough for our 9-day journey as considered one of us had exceeded the info restrict, with further expenses for extra knowledge (T^T didn’t know Wi-Fi in lodge + VPN didn’t work at occasions, and uploaded to social media).

Three. There have been many events when the taxi drivers would attempt to name us after they picked up our reserving by way of the Didi app. It looks like a standard apply for them to verify the pick-up level after getting the reserving. More often than not, they might not be capable of name via my Singapore quantity which led to some minor miscommunication at occasions. There was as soon as when a driver managed to name by way of (he in all probability had some IDD configured for his cellular plan) however once I checked my telephone invoice later, I realised I used to be truly charged IDD charges although it was an incoming name! T^T


Locations of Points of interest might shut 30-45minutes sooner than the said closing time, particularly if there aren’t a lot guests. We have been visiting the Suzhou Silk Museum which was said to be closed by 5pm, however they began chasing us out at four.30pm (we have been there barely earlier than 4pm), so we didn’t get to go to some elements of the exhibitions. Additionally they didn’t permit any extra new entry after 4pm – 1 hr earlier than “official closing time”. That is additionally true for a number of Suzhou Classical Gardens. Subsequently, do plan your timing for these gardens correctly. 

Shopping for Attraction Tickets

We needed to get most of our attraction tickets/providers from the points of interest themselves as a result of they didn’t promote youngsters’s tickets on-line.


No Road Meals

We tried solely restaurant meals in China as we have been involved concerning the cleanliness of road meals for our youngsters. The one road meals we purchased have been ice-cream, sweet and recent squeezed juices.

Actually, we have been warned by a taxi driver on our approach to a well-known road in Hangzhou referred to as, “He Fang Street”. We had needed to eat our dinner there when he stated, ” You will have youngsters with you, I feel it’s greatest to not eat these meals in He Fang Jie, the “gutter oil” incidents got here from there….” (google that in case you by no means heard of it). Once I heard that, we shortly modified our thoughts and heeded his recommendation to go to a restaurant in style with the locals. We had a pleasant dinner there and didn’t eat any road meals after that.

Comfort Shops – Cooked Meals

Easy Breakfast/Lunch/Snacks, similar to “Bao 包“ or steamed buns could be brought from 24-hrs Family Marts. They also sell cooked food such as porridge or bentos sealed in plastic containers, which you could then ask the staff to heat up for you in their microwave. “关东煮” or “Oden”, a Japanese one-pot dish, can also be out there however we didn’t attempt. 

There was one such Household Mart beneath our lodge (Tempo Lodge), so we saved a while for points of interest in Suzhou, shopping for these handy meals stuffs as an alternative of consuming in eating places.

Watch out for Imitation Tea

  • We noticed a number of shops promoting low cost “Long Jing Tea” in Hangzhou. Earlier, a taxi driver informed us it was not attainable to have the branded tea promoting at an affordable worth (CNY$15-24). He claimed that they have been simply regular “Green Tea” bought to unsuspecting travellers who couldn’t differentiate. If he didn’t inform us, we wouldn’t have recognized how the actual Lengthy Jing Tea style like too and may need purchased these.
  • The branded “Long Jing Tea” ought to have a nutty perfume (栗香) and be fairly costly. (Good grades with worth round CNY$400 to $8000 / 500g).


  • Faucet Water isn’t protected for consumption. Bought bottled water or boil water in your lodge kettle and deliver them alongside in water bottles. The temperature was round Eight – 13 levels Celsius once we have been there, so we used thermal vacuumed flasks and stored them in a zipped thermal bag to stop temperature loss.
  • Numerous locations of points of interest, railways and airports truly offered scorching water dispensers so we might safely drink boiled water.
  • Eating places we went to, offered boiled heat water or typically tea without spending a dime.


Gown in layers because the climate was fairly weird throughout March within the three cities we visited. It was extremely popular on at some point and round 27 levels Celsius within the afternoon with sunny climate, but modified to 9 levels Celsius the subsequent day and rained. Some days, it might be raining the entire day and freezing with chilly winds.


Public Bogs are surprisingly clear and trendy in Shanghai with rest room papers and hand soaps offered.

Nevertheless, I had to make use of my very own cleaning soap for cleaning and personal rest room papers in Suzhou’s and Hangzhou’s public bogs. There have been sitting bogs however the majority continues to be squatting ones. Most sitting bogs could possibly be present in handicapped bogs, so I used these with my toddler every time I might discover them.

Earlier than going to China, I had learn up on some ideas and ready rolls of bathroom papers prematurely. What I did: After a rest room paper roll had been used till there’s solely half a roll, press it down flat and put it right into a zip-lock bag. You would place 2-Three rolls in a bag this manner. Put together 2-Three luggage this manner and use one bag when out and about in China. Depart the remaining within the baggage. Prime up the rolls when essential.

This Travel in China Information with Tips and Experiences was co-written by Vin & Cat. 

For extra of our China Journey Itinerary, Learn This, “Again From China Journey 2018- Abstract Highlights“.

Keep tuned for a extra detailed Final Itinerary Publish with Hyperlinks to varied posts within the Travel Snap Tales Weblog!