Travel Tips for Touring China: Beating the Crowds
With a population of over 1.4 billion, if you’re planning on visiting China, then there’s one thing you simply can’t miss: the people.
The fact is, there will be a lot (and I mean A LOT) of people no matter where you go, in scales quite unlike anything else you will ever see. Regardless of where you come from, even if you come from big cities like London, New York, or Paris, China will be a completely new experience.
Crowds will be a part of life in China, so here are a few tips to help you manage the hustle and bustle, as well as a few things to watch out for when you’re out and about.
If you’re planning to visit China on holiday, then avoid the summer at all cost. It is without doubt one of the busiest times of the year, both in terms of international tourists as well as for local tourism.
What is particular about Chinese tourists is that a large number of them will travel in whole families. Children, students, and parents and grandparents alike will flood any local attraction available, famous or unknown. The long queues, the crowds, paired with the intense summer heat altogether can sour an otherwise interesting and entertaining trip out.
So one of the most important decisions you can make when deciding to visit China is to choose quieter seasons such as Spring or Autumn. With cooler temperatures of 15-20 degrees Celsius and significantly less tourism, you will be able to enjoy all the history and culture at your own pace, rather than spending your time jostling for that Instagram worthy photo.
Speaking of photos, whilst no one wants to be that annoying photo spammer on Facebook, you want to grab a few decent pictures to commemorate your time abroad, right?
In busy places, it can unfortunately be difficult to grab the picture you want. Sometimes, you will even have to queue for a good photo spot. Be forewarned of queue jumpers (whether intentional or not), as well as of people taking a frustratingly long time by taking pictures of the same people in different combinations.
And when you finally do reach the photo spot you’ve been waiting for, you’ll find yourself frustrated once more by the endless stream of people walking through your photo. A lot of this is unintentional. Some people might stop for your photo, others simply might not notice.
The key is to make the photographer as obvious as possible to other passers-by. Have them stand so that they’re directly interrupting the flow of people. This will force people to notice and take routes to avoid your photo. But when it gets busy, just remember: patience is key!
Wherever there are crowds, there are pickpockets too.
The most important thing to remember is to keep all your valuables hidden. NEVER leave phones or wallets hanging out of your pockets. If you’re being jostled in the crowds, it’s very likely that these objects can fall out and be lost.
If you’re deciding on what kind of bags to bring with you, zip-up bags will always be safer than reach-in handbags. Still, be warned: in crowded places, it can be extremely difficult to detect whether someone is reaching into your bag or just pushing into you. Keep your bag visible at all times. Many tourists even wear their backpacks on their fronts. Whilst it might look a little silly, they are useful precautions against pickpockets.
Another good tip is to keep small amounts of cash hidden in various locations in your bags or within your clothes. That way, if your wallet or bag is taken, you will still have cash available to grab a taxi or to make a call.
If you spot a thief or have something stolen from you, dial 110 to call the police in China.
4) Getting separated
This can be one of the most stressful experiences for a tourist, especially if you’re in a country that speaks a language you’re not familiar with. But in busy crowds, it is easy to become separated in just a moment’s notice.
First, make sure that prior to the trip you have the contact numbers of people within your group, or the tour guide leading the group. Second, try to break out of the crowd (if possible), and stand somewhere visible so that you can be easily found. If, however, you are in a crowded, narrow space, it is best to stay where you are and try to identify buildings or notable features in your surroundings until you are able to contact someone in your group.
On the off chance that you are unable to reconvene with your group immediately, it is important that you learn the details of your hotel in the local language. That way, you will at least be able to reach a known meeting point with your group.
If you are traveling with children, then definitely teach them to remember key details such as emergency numbers, names, and important Chinese phrases to help them get around.
Crowds can be stressful to deal with, but with the right precautions taken, you will be able to handle them with ease. What are your tips for beating the crowds? Let us know in the comments below! We would love to hear from you!
This is the second article in our series on China, look out for more next week!