Want to go to China? Here are a few key hacks, tips and lessons learnt from my own mistakes made, to help make your trip as awesome as possible!
Love, Sophia x
- If you want to avoid the fairly massive visa cost (for Brits, not sure for others) to visit China, opt for the 144 hour transit visa, for FREE.
- This applies if you arrive in Shanghai airports, as well as two other major cities. For more information, check out this page.
- When you get off your flight and head to immigration, there’s a separate lane for 144 hour visas. You just have to fill out one form, and then present your onward flight ticket (it’s okay if it’s ok your phone). When in doubt, ask someone for help. From my experience, Chinese officials (except the police, ironically) speak great English and are extremely helpful.
So, unbeknown to me before I arrived, the Chinese government is still Communist! This means that technically religion is banned (hence a lot of the temples are getting pulled down), and there is a LOT of censorship going on. All media outlets and property is owned by the state, and Facebook, Google, Instagram, GMail, WhatsApp are all banned here. If you want to access these websites, and other typically ‘western’ ones, there are a couple of options:
- Get VPN. Not quite sure how this works but read this helpful post on it.
- Use mobile data. (I know argh). But sometimes it just has to be done.
- Use Chinese equivalents such as YouKu and WeChat. As expected, YouKu has a very limited selection of videos in comparison to YouTube. Interesting to explore though!
- Always go for taxis that use a metre, rather than haggling the price down with people. It’s usually cheaper going by metre, and far more legitimate and safe.
- In Shanghai, you can rent bikes for 30mins for free– these are dotted around the town and you simply take one, scan the barcode with your phone, unlock it and get going.
- Beware of the metro closing times in Shanghai. Generally all stations close at 23:00, but the stations leading to the airport close at 22:00. If you need to be at the airport, or have arrived at the airport, later than this, there are a couple of options for getting into town. Firstly, you could go downstairs and get a taxi. But the far cheaper option is to use the airport bus– simply follow the signs down the escalator at the airport. If you’re not sure which stop you need to get off at, ask people in the queue. Many speak excellent English and almost all Chinese people I’ve met are kind hearted and eager to help you!