Travelling to China: rules of conduct and bon ton

To organize a trip to China you need to balance the time available with the type of adventure you want to experience. China is such a vast country, with a cultural heritage and endless beauties to visit, that not even three years of travel would satisfy your thirst for discovery. Establishing a basic itinerary is the first step: whether you take us to Beijing or Tibet, along the Silk Road or through the landscapes of Guangxi province, it doesn’t matter, what counts is taking advantage of the time available to admire, discover and make your own a part of Chinese culture. 

For those who, like us, leave Italy, it is good to remember to obtain an entry visa, for a stay of one month, it will not be possible to apply for one on arrival, a passport with a residual validity of at least six months and with three blank pages and keep with you the booking of the plane ticket and the hotel. 

Once we have organized our trip to China, do we really know what awaits us? Let’s forget about the idea and habits of the Chinese in Italy, like the non-Chinese food that is sold cheaply in our local restaurants, and let’s go deep into the discovery of Chinese culture, paying attention to the rules of conduct to be respected once we arrive.

Rules of conduct: what to do and what to avoid

It is good to keep in mind some Chinese rules of conduct that will help us to become a Keqi, a “polite guest” avoiding bad figures. First of all, at the moment of the initial greeting, a light handshake is generally appropriate, better if accompanied by a small inclination of the head. To avoid, at least during the first meeting, kisses and hugs and pay attention to business cards: you must give and receive them with two hands and look at them carefully before putting them in your pocket. The person also shows up first with his surname and then with his first name: calling someone by their first name is considered a sign of confidence and intimacy and is generally used with family and friends.

Behaviors to avoid during the trip

As in Italy, where for many people giving away pearls brings bad luck and tears, also in China there are a good dose of superstitions and gestures to avoid. Do not give watches, they are objects associated with the passage of time and death. At the table remember to wait for the oldest person to start eating, also avoiding to leave their chopsticks vertically in a bowl of rice, is a bad symbol!

Even shaking your hand with too much force, at the time of presentation, can be considered a sign of aggression or tension, also avoid always looking into the eyes of the person you are talking to, can be interpreted as an unpleasant attitude. These are just a few small updates on the behaviors to respect for your trip to China that will help you become an authentic and conscious Laowai, a “foreigner” in China.

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