China travel tips - for business or pleasure
- CARRY TOILET PAPER. Cardinal rule #1: Always carry some
form of toilet paper/tissue on your person. Always.
Toilet paper isn't supplied (because when it is it's
swiped); those who have been caught with la du zi
(diarrhea) in a public bathroom sans zhi (paper) preach
this rule religiously.
- WET NAPS. In the same vein as #1, handy wipes (wet naps)
are pretty darn useful in their own right. They also
sterlize those ever so clean dishes you get in
- PENS FOR THE KIDS: I make it a habit to pack a zip lock
bag with odd pens and small toys when I travel to remote,
poor regions. You become an instant hit. The kids want
them for school.
- TOUR GUIDES: The average tour guide can often get a
commission (as muchas 25%) of sales you make at a store
they perhaps lad you to. Be aware of this. In many
stores, even in ones that look respectable and have name
tags, you can bargain. Ask how much of a discount it
includes. Most places will give 10% right off the bat.
I've gotten souveniers cheaper in hotel gift shops and in
specialty stores. In China, there is alwaysa discount.
- CHECK THE CAB. Always check the seat where you sat before
you settle the bill, slam the door and tell the cabbie
good-bye. Keys, wallets, pagers, and mobiles have been
lost this way. It's often a good idea to get a receipt
(fa piao) from cabs, because sometimes this will help you
track them down if something disappears.
- SAO RAO DIAN HUA (disturbing night calls from
prostitutes). Yes, unfortunately this is today's China.
Most hotels screen calls, or have this function. You can
tell the operator before going to bed that you want
"mian sao rao" (no disturbances except for
- HOTEL DISCOUNTS. Everything is a negotiation. You would
be surprised: most hotels, even four or five star, will
knock of 20% off the bat if you ask for it. Argue and you
can get even more. Don't be bashful. Also note that
travel agents often score 50-80% discounts, so you might
want to have an agent book your hotels rooms.
- AIRLINE DISCOUNTS: Chinese airlines now give discounts,
like they do in the States. If you take the ealry mornign
flight or are willing to accept a non-changeable flight
date, you can get as much as 25% off on tickets.
- AIRPORT CABS AND HOTELS. Your discount can disappear (and
go into your cab driver's pocket) if he takes you to a
hotel where you don't have a prior reservation. Know this
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for tourists or business travelers.
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