China is a fascinating land steeped in history, culture and tradition. At the same time, it’s booming into the future with jaw-dropping skyscrapers, modern cities and internationalism. In other words, the People’s Republic is without question one of the world’s most dynamic travel destinations. Backpacking around this vast country can certainly be life-changing, but there are certain tips to keep in mind to maximize your experience. TKHUNT has picked up a few backpacking tips that will help make your journey much more comfortable.
China is noisy, no doubt about it – perhaps the byproduct of a 1.3 billion population. Whether you’re on a train or in a crowded 12-person hostel dorm room, earplugs protect against snoring roommates, 6am construction jackhammers, cellphone-shouters and much more.
Light-blocking blinders is a one-two combo with earplugs; they go hand and hand. When late arrivers enter your hostel room and need to unpack with the lights on, or during the times you have absolutely no control over the centrally controlled light switches in trains, blinders will most definitely (and literally) help you get some much needed shut eye.
No matter how proficient your Mandarin is, I’d recommend carrying a dictionary (electronic ones are more efficient). China has thousands of dialects that you may not be familiar with, and your accent may not always be understood by locals (and vice versa). Furthermore, for places like Xinjiang, Yunnan, Tibet and others, some of the ethnicities residing in these areas don’t always speak Mandarin and/or don’t even use Chinese characters! When traveling to these spots, a local dictionary can be a lifesaver.
4. Stomach medicine
No matter how long you’ve lived here and are accustomed to local food, you never know when the Yellow Emperor’s revenge will strike. And when it does, you know as well as I do that it can ruin a dream trip. Solve a problem before it happens.
5. A good attitude
It’s incredible how many backpackers out there are A) arrogant and ethnocentric B) pissed off and disgruntled and/or C) negative. You’re in China, and you’re traveling here to experience something different from your home country. Have an open mind and accept the culture(s) here for what they’re worth and roll with the punches. Yes, you will probably get ripped off once or twice, and yes, things most certainly will not go according to plan, but that’s part of the experience!