Visiting Shanghai and Beijing
The thrill of visiting cities like Shanghai and Beijing can be overwhelming and can make you forget some of the rules you should always employ when visiting a new place for the first time. Planning is crucial when you’re visiting a new city, and this is especially true when visiting China and its largest and most visited cities. Although both Shanghai and Beijing are tourist cities, they also are home to locals, and therefore, operate much in the way that locals prefer, and do not necessarily cater to tourists. Here are some of the most important points you can remember when you decide to visit Shanghai and Beijing for the first time:
- Plan ahead and check for Chinese holidays and vacations. When you visit China it is important to check the holidays calendar for the city you plan to visit and for the entire country. Unlike in other countries, holidays in China typically last for several days, or even up to a week. Spring Festival and Chinese New Year are two of the most popular times to visit China but are also inconvenient for travellers since shops, offices, and many businesses and restaurants close down during these times. Labor Day (Chinese) and National Day are also inconvenient times to visit. This can greatly impact your experience in China and make it difficult to visit non-touristy locations.
- Too many tourists worry too much about looking good for the camera or impressing the locals. It is more important to wear comfortable clothing and shoes so you will be able to handle all of the walking that you’ll do in Shanghai and Beijing.
- Be respectful of the locals, of the culture, and of the law. Too many tourists are caught littering, dressing inappropriately, and acting inappropriately on sites throughout China each year. This not only creates a poor image of foreigners for others who may visit in the future but may land you in jail depending on the offense. Keep in mind that the Chinese police are very different to the police at home, and often won’t speak any English. China is a communist country so be prepared.
- Don’t plan on packing multiple sites into a short trip through China. China is packed with tourists and locals at all times, and there’s no slow time of year to visit. You will wait significant amounts of time to visit landmarks and sites like the Great Wall and the Forbidden City, to purchase goods at shops and kiosks, to get into your hotel, and to sit down for a meal.
The most important thing to remember when you’re visiting Shanghai and Beijing for the first time is that planning ahead is crucial to ensuring that your trip will be one that you want to remember for the rest of your life. If you do not prepare in advance and provide yourself with plenty of time to do what you want and see what you want, then your trip may be more disappointing. Remember though, if you fall in love with the country you can always teach in China or see if your current company has offices in one of these major cities.