4 Cultural Customs to Learn Before Traveling to China
Consider this your essential etiquette cheat sheet.
Traveling to a new country can be overwhelming, especially if that country has different customs than you’re used to at home. But any experienced traveler knows that to really make the most of a trip abroad, you must immerse yourself in the traditions of the locals. Not only is learning the customs key to a truly rewarding adventure, it may also prevent you from making a faux pas while in country. In an ancient country as culturally rich as China, there are lots of things to learn before heading out on your vacation. Take a look at some of the most notable customs for your next trip to China.
In China, it is customary to introduce yourself with your full name, your occupation, and where you work upon first meeting someone. If you are making introductions for someone else, remember these tips:
- The older person should be introduced to the younger person first
- People of lower station or job position should be introduced to the more authoritative person first
- Always introduce men before women
- The host should be introduced before the guests
2. Personal space
China is a heavily populated country. You should expect to spend a good deal of time rubbing elbows, especially on public transportation and in tourist areas. Also, do not be offended if people stand very close to you during social exchanges. This is a cultural norm and in no way meant to be rude. Because there is so little extra space, Chinese people rarely apologize when they accidentally collide with you. It happens frequently, so they are accustomed to simply moving on without taking offense.
3. Table manners
If you get the chance to dine with a local family, never begin eating before your host. He or she will invite the table to join in the meal. Chopsticks should be used for everything with the exception of soup. However, you should never lick your chopsticks, use them to stir food, or stick them upright in rice. All of these actions are considered rude. Burping after a meal is considered a sign of contentment and displays gratitude for the meal. If you are uncomfortable with this practice, wait until others at the table begin and join in.
The Chinese are a punctual people. Timeliness can be related to respect. If a person wants to show they hold you in great esteem, they will likely arrive early to your scheduled meeting. Conversely, if a person wants to convey dislike, they may be purposefully late. To avoid sending a negative signal, it is best to show up early for tours and events. Additionally, if you make plans to meet someone at a specific time, try to arrive first.
Your trip to China can be a life-changing experience if you allow yourself true immersion. By learning and following the customs of Chinese culture, you can avoid offending any citizens and make the most of your experience.
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