The 20 MUST-DOS in China| 11 min read

How large is China? Probably larger than you think. At over 9 million kilometers square, how can one simply do and visit all the things and places they want? A country with so many diverse cultures and foods, it can be overwhelming when it comes to planning your itinerary. So we have complied a short list of the 20 must-do’s when you’re interning, teaching, studying or au pairing in China.


1. Hike up the Great Wall

As the most recognisable icon of China’s history, this 21,196km long fortification was constructed over a period of more than 2000 years! A hike up the Great Wall should definitely be at the top of your must-do list. The ideal time for a Great Wall hike is spring, early summer and autumn. Here’s 5 celebrities who have visited the Great Wall of China.

2. Eat crispy Peking Duck

A trip to China will only be complete if you try out China’s crispy Peking duck. This is a dish that has been prepared since the Imperial Era. The duck meat is served with spring onion, cucumber, sweet bean sauce and wrapped in a pancake. Here’s a foreigners guide on how to order Peking Duck.

3. Watch pandas play

If you’re in need of something cute and cuddly, you can make a trip to Chengdu, the hometown of China’s giant pandas. Known as China’s ‘national treasure’, this adorable animal is one of the most precious animals in the world. Click here to check out the best places to see giant pandas China.

4. Sip on Chinese tea

Like a lot of Chinese cuisine, tea is sort of a regional thing in China where most famous teas are named after where they were produced. Tea can be found at Chinese restaurants, tea markets or tea tasting events.

5. Explore the Summer Palace

Situated in the northwest of Beijing, the Summer Palace (Yiheyuan) is considered the best preserved imperial garden in the world. You’ll probably need to spend at least half a day to enjoy a few of the popular activities such as boating on Kunming Lake or watching a traditional Chinese theatre performance.

6. Tailor an outfit

With so many people getting clothes custom made and tailored, why not try a tailoring experience when you are in China? Why pay 80USD for a dress at ZARA when you can have something created in the fabric, style and size of your choice?

7. Master the chopsticks

China has been wielding chopsticks since 1200 B.C. At every Chinese dinner table, the chopsticks will be the choice of utensils. What better time to master the chopsticks then during your trip to China? Here’s a guide on how to use them. Here’s a video of Nicole Kidman eating worms and crickets with a pair of chopsticks!

8. Make delicious dumplings

In China, especially during Chinese New Year, it is tradition for families to gather together and make dumplings (jiaozi). The shape of the Chinese dumpling is similar to ancient gold or silver ingots, symbolising prosperity and wealth. You can even make colorful dumplings by adding freshly juiced purple cabbage, spinach, beets or carrots.

Check out this blog post featuring one of our English Au Pair making dumplings!

9. Bargain like a local

At street markets and small shops, there will be many opportunities for you to barter. Why? Because shop owners tend to overcharge expats. Here are some tips on how to haggle like a local in China.

10. Revel in Chinese festivities

As a country with over 5,000 years of history, there are many long-standing festivals and traditions celebrated in China. There are 11 days celebrated as public holidays in China: Lunar New Year, the Spring Festival, Tomb-Sweeping Day, Labor Day, Dragon Boat Festival, Mid-Autumn Festival and National Day.

Here’s a CCTV+ video clip on the 2018 edition of the Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival. Every year, between 10 to 15 million visitors visit!

11. Experience KTV (Karaoke)

In China, KTV means a private room where you get comfortable lounges, loud speakers, a tablet for picking songs, different lighting adjustments and even food and drinks delivered to your room. If you don’t know any Chinese songs, it’s ok – most KTVs will have a wide selection of English songs!

12. Enjoy Tsingtao Beer

The Tsingtao Beer is one of the oldest existing beer brands in China. It has been the top beer of choice in China since its creation in 1903 and is available in over 70 countries worldwide. It also comes in different varieties and can be purchased almost anywhere and anytime in China!

13. Download the WeChat App and share a moment

With over 900 million daily users, the WeChat App has become a way of life in China. The app frequently has new innovations such as mini programs. So remember to download the App before arriving in China and share a moment!

14. Climb a Chinese mountain

There a quite a few sacred mountains worth climbing when you visit China. Located in the Shandong province, Mount Tai consists of more than 6,000 stone steps can be a great experience and a great workout!

15. Enjoy China’s online shopping

China’s online shopping has entered a new era. Websites such as Taobao, JD.com and Pinduoduo have made shopping for expats incredibly easy in China. Whether you’re shopping for new home décor, clothes, imported products and snacks, China’s online shopping platforms can help you save both money and time.

16. Get a city view from a Chinese skyscraper

China has the largest number of tall buildings in the world! As of early 2017, China has more than 1400 skyscrapers above 150 meters (492 feet)! Shanghai Tower in the Lujiazui area of Shanghai, ranks as China’s tallest building. This building is definitely worth a visit!

17. Buy a puffer jacket for winter

It gets quite cold during the winter time in China, especially if you come from a warmer country. Winter in some cities such as Beijing can begin in early November and extend all the way into March! To avoid the cold and getting sick, invest in a warm puffer jacket. There are many stylish ones to choose from.

18. Ride a shared bike

Dockless bike sharing has become a huge phenomenon the past two or so years. China has over 400 million registered bike-sharing users and the daily number of riders peaked at 70 million! The face of riding these bikes such as ‘ofo’ and ‘Mobike’ begin at 0.5 RMB/30 minutes. Some bikes are even free for the first hour!

19. Try hotpot

Despite originally only eaten during the winter, hotpot (huoguo) is also becoming a popular summer dish paired with some local beer! It involves a large bowl of broth heated and placed in the centre of the table. You then place different ingredients such as raw meat and vegetables inside the broth to cook before eating. There are also different variations of huoguo, depending on which region you are at. Below is a video of Youtube celebrity chef, Ms Yeah, making hotpot with a water dispenser!

20. Learn 10 Mandarin phrases

Learning some basic Mandarin phrases won’t be difficult if you are frequently interacting with the locals. Unlike English which is made up of a combination of letters from the alphabet, Chinese is made up of characters. Learning some simple phrases such as thank you (xiexie), I’m sorry (duibuqi) and restroom (cesuo) will be quite handy when you arrive in China.

Julia Yan

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