Starting May 2017, Wendy Wu Tours brings you the benefit of nearly three decades of experience in travelling to Asia through a series of Top 5’s for each country in their range. First up, the China specialists give you the inside scoop of this emerging dragon, for first time travellers, from one of their top National Escort Guides, George Pu.
- Off your grid.
You know you know, but you don’t really believe it. There’s no Google in China. That means no Facebook, no Gmail, no directions, nada. So before you go, set up a new email account to keep in touch (read: brag) with your loved-ones. While it’s not impossibly difficult to get a local SIM card in China, you will need a local to come with you, as the process is not exactly easy (unless, of course, you’re fluent in Mandarin).
- Get appy.
In China, you’ll find most businesses keep in touch with you using WeChat, and in fact this little app has become the countries’ most downloaded method of keeping in touch, with a user base of over 700 million. That’s 30 times the population of Australia. So download it before you go, and add in your home contacts, so you can be all set up to message on arrival.
- Limber up.
It’s not glamorous, but it’s a cultural fact: many toilets in China are of the squat type. At your hotel and other westernised destinations, like shopping malls and some restaurants, you’ll be able to relax your thighs, but once you head further out – think like a Kung Fu master and get squatting.
- Hot water Mecca.
One of the beautiful little benefits of travelling to the country that created tea is the profusion of hot water taps, spouts and urns everywhere you look. On long-distance trains, in airports, in central train stations, people have brought along their thermos to create either hot tea or the ubiquitous instant noodles. Capitalising on the business opportunity, and conveniently for travellers, the instant noodle market sees pop’-up sellers offering travellers the choice of dozens of flavours, making meals always available. Slurp!
- Really. Big.
This is not a bus-tour country: don’t be mistaken, travelling through China takes a long time. Despite bullet trains (up to 300km/h), the size of the country is so enormous, that you’ll count on internal flights to get around to see the trinity of Wall, Warriors and Pandas. Though the overnight trains are entirely palatable – many even with a dining cart – you can make the actual travelling part more of a pleasure by incorporating a short Yangtze river cruise into your itinerary.
China is a country on the move. If you’re visiting a restaurant, Eastern or Western, or even staying in a hotel brand name you know, expect pricing at a similar level to Australia. On the flipside, street food abounds, and if your tastebuds are willing, you can pick up treats like BBQ oysters in Guillins Xicheng Night Market, cold noodle in Xian’s Muslim Quarter, and – gulp – fried scorpion in Beijings Donghuamen Night Market. This intrepid traveller wandered into the Hutongs of Beijing, and gobbled up 20 (TWENTY!) prawn and chive dumplings for a huge AUD1. Fit for an Emperor.
Wendy Wu operates tours to 22 countries in Asia, and has offices in Sydney, London, New York, Auckland, Shanghai and Xian. The Asia experts, Wendy Wu Tours offers tour styles for all travellers, including Classic, Discovery and Deluxe Collections; as well as Tailor-Made, Private Tours & Special Groups.