China Travel Advice : How to Be a Good Guest

Chinese people in green t-shirts gathering together.
China Brides Caption logoMake your visit to China a pleasant one by
learning about what behaviors are
acceptable in Chinese culture.
| Photo by Kai-Chieh Chan on Pexels

When you travel to China, you’ll notice how different Chinese culture is compared to that of the West.

Even the act of greeting a person can reveal a lot about the traditional nature of Chinese culture.

To avoid offending anyone or getting the wrong kind of attention, it’s best that you learn some Chinese etiquette.

As a guest in mainland China, you owe it not only the country to pay proper respects. You should also keep in mind that you're an unofficial representative of your own country while traveling anywhere in the world.

Here’s how to behave properly as a guest in China:

Chinese Gift Giving Traditions

When you are invited to someone’s home or to a group outing, one way you can show your appreciation is by giving the host a gift.

You aren’t necessarily obligated to do so but you can bring a present as a token of your appreciation.

Westerners consider it rude not to remove the price tag, it’s actually encouraged in China.

Leaving the price tag is a way of showing how much you value the person you’re giving the gift to based on how expensive it is.

If you want to impress a Chinese woman, you can purchase a slightly more expensive gift.

The Polite Refusal

One thing that Westerners find strange about modern Chinese culture is their tendency of refusing a kind or polite gesture. In China, these mild refusals are their way of showing that an individual is not greedy.

Humility is an important trait for Chinese people. Consideration is another crucial trait.

Polite refusals indicate that you don’t want to trouble anyone, even if they insist. So if someone offers to help you in any way, politely refuse them once or twice before accepting.

Numerical Symbols of Chinese Culture

Back on the topic of gifts, Chinese women and men not only analyze the actual value but also their symbolic meaning—specifically if it can bring them luck.

The easiest way you can tell the symbolic value of a gift is by analyzing its numeric significance.

For example: If you give your host a box of steamed buns, make sure the total amount of buns is an even number. The exception to this rule would be four buns because the number four symbolizes death.

Meeting Chinese Women for Romantic Purposes

In major cities throughout mainland China, there are millions of single women who most likely have difficulty find local Chinese men to date. The dating culture of China dictates that most men will not date or marry a woman of higher social standing.

Over the last two decades, the Chinese government has encouraged and offered incentives for women to explore furthering their education to pursue careers. This has lead to millions of Chinese women starting small businesses, and sometimes surpassing their male counterparts in the social hierarchy of China.

Because more women are drastically surpassing their male counterparts, it has led many to remain single well into their 30's and 40's. As China remains tied to many traditional customs, women who are unmarried beyond the age of 25 are considered to be Sheng Nu or leftover women in China.

Marriage markets converge in town squares each weekend where parents desperately try to match their unmarried children together. As modern Chinese culture has created an independent streak in young adults, many women in China simply take to dating sites to meet their future husband.

This has led to a drastic increase in the amount of dedicated matchmaking offices opening up in Chinese cities for the purposes of matching successful women with potential men. Many of these matchmaking agencies pair Chinese women with foreign men exclusively.

Men may be considering travel to China strictly for the purposes of meeting Chinese women for dating or even marriage. Because most Western men are open to women being financially independent, Chinese women have become a perfect match for visiting bachelors.

Friendly Encounters in China

As a traveler, Chinese people will generally regard you as a guest in their country. Expect many Chinese citizens to play host even if you don’t know them personally.

When you encounter kind strangers like this, be sure to offer a polite refusal before accepting their help. This is one way of meeting new people while traveling in China. It’s certainly a unique way of making new friends from a foreign culture.

Even after knowing all of this etiquette, it still might take you some time to get to know Chinese culture. The modern connection to ancient culture is one of the most fascinating aspects of China.

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