China’s cities are colossal. Most people know that by now and the thought of navigating megacities like Shanghai and Beijing as a humble tourist can be a little intimidating. Fear not – with a handful of travel hacks The Dragon Trip will have you sorted.
1. Know your addresses
It may sound obvious but it’s essential. The easiest way to do this is find something with the address written down on in Chinese; whether that’s leaflets, websites or a picture on your phone. If you’re feeling clever, master how to say it – or alternatively, make a voice recording of someone else saying it. Just have it somewhere.
2. Taxis, taxis, taxis
These will be your saving grace, most journeys will only cost you 10-20 CNY and they’re well worth the money. In all the big cities they’re all over the roads and are easy to holler over – just slip inside and show/say/play the address (aha, we planned ahead for this) and you should be there in no time. Pay attention for unmarked cabs who will be keen to rip off tourists travelling in China. If you can’t see a taxi meter by the driver, just wait for another cab.
3. Subways are there to help
Chinese public transport is impressive, most cities have subway networks and they’re well designed, run smoothly and are easy to use for anyone travelling in China. Better still, all the stops on the subway have their names written in both Chinese and English characters, so looking at the maps can help give you a rough idea of the layout of the cities.
4. Maps, duh
Nothing stops you getting lost like a good old map. If you have a VPN, Google Maps still works pretty well. Alternatively, use Maps.me – you have to actually download the map of China onto your phone but you’re able to use it offline and it offers a reliable and very detailed guide for all over China. You’ll be surprised when travelling in China how quickly trying to find your way around Shanghai can start feeling like the standard Google Maps approach you probably take at home.
5. Don’t be afraid to ask for a helping hand
Most people you meet are very polite and the majority of them will be happy – sometimes very enthusiastic – to help. Asking for directions is much more likely to work in cosmopolitan cities like Shanghai, where lots more people speak English. As a rule of thumb, ask younger people as their English is likely to be at a higher standard. If neither of you speaks the same language then there may be some excellent miming and hand gestures which, even if they are of no use, can be a lot of fun.
Haven’t booked yet? Have a browse through our Adventure Tours.