Visiting China - Tips

Last week, I visited Shenzhen in China with my family for 3 days. Shenzhen is a shopping paradise with huge markets such as Dongmen and Lo Wu commercial center. Shenzhen is surrounded by hills, which give it a pleasant weather all the year round.

I compare my visit to China to that of some alien world, where the habitants have progressed as much as us (or even more), but where they don't understand our language, they don't accept our credit cards and where we can't use our mobile applications.

These are few of the things I noted for our next trip to China.

Things to note before visiting China:

  • Google is banned in China. So is Facebook and Twitter.
  • Since Google is banned, we cannot use Android Play Store, Google Maps or Gmail.
  • Credit Cards (our was International MasterCard) might not work in China.
  • Sim cards from Hong Kong might not provide internet access.
  • WhatsApp and WeChat work. So does iPhone.

Workarounds and preparations:

  • Pre-install Baidu Translate for text translation and voice translation.
  • Download offline package in Baidu Translate: There is an option in the app to download the offline package so that the translation works even when there is no internet.
  • Use Uber: Ensure to change your mobile number in the profile option. The driver will probably call you before coming. Have someone else tell your current position in that case.
  • Print out locations in Chinese names (especially your address of stay): It is helpful to get someone to write down the Chinese names of locations you wish to go to.
  • Bring sufficient RMB (Chinese Yuan Renminbi): Since credit cards might not work in China, it is better to carry sufficient RMB. We found the best conversion rates in Tsim Tsa Tsui (in Hong Kong) market (don't use Western Union).
  • Print the emails: Since Gmail wont work in China, it is better to print or download important emails before arrival.
  • Use AirBnB: We booked our stay through AirBnB. The host was extremely co-operative and always available over WhatsApp. It is good to have some local person to rely on.
  • Buy a sim-card soon: The sim costs around RMB 70 with the data pack. It is a helpful to have it early.

Enjoy your trip to China.

Pratyush Mittal @pratyush