China was once a more far and away land, but with better relations over the last few decades, it’s easier to get to and more affordable than ever. However, just because you’ve got your visa and passport ready doesn’t mean you will be ready for all you’ll experience there. Here are 6 things you should know first.

1. Chinese holidays make traveling more difficult

Ideally, you’ll look into this before you book your trip, but traveling in China during national holidays is a trying experience. That’s because the entire country is on vacation simultaneously. So expect landmarks to be at maximum capacity, delays in modes of transport, and lots of restaurants and shops to be closed.

2. You will be stared at often

In the bigger cities, you’ll find this happens much less, but you will get stared at. And pointed at. And people will take your picture from afar, or even come up and ask to take a photo with you. Enjoy the celebrity status. Try not to be offended. To them, seeing a foreigner is like seeing a unicorn.

3. The bathrooms are an experience themselves

Most bathrooms in China are going to give you nightmares. You’ll be hard-pressed to find ones with actual toilets in them. What you’ll see are squatters instead. Also, you’ll definitely want to carry hand sanitizer and tissue with you everywhere you go. You’ll be needing it at just about every restroom you use.

4. You need to use chopsticks

They don’t give out forks in the restaurants in China. So before you go, grab those chopsticks from your takeout place and get busy practicing with them!

5. Water is not safe for drinking

That’s why you’ll be served hot water at every restaurant. Chinese people will tell you hot water is better for your health. However, on hot days or in regions in the south, drinking hot water may be the last thing you want to do, so be sure to visit any convenience store and get bottled water. Just don’t expect it to be cold.

6. There is zero personal space

Keep close to the person you line up behind. If not, you’ll find someone stepping in line in front of you. Personal space only exists in the West, so try not to get angry. They just assume you’re not in line.

Now that you know, you’ll be ready when you go!

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