There are many reasons to backpack through China. It’s less of a backpacking haunt than South East Asia, each province feels like a new country, and best of all there are pandas!

Travel and accommodation

Getting from one city to another is a simple matter because trains are a convenient means of public transportation. For longer distances, sleeper trains are comfortable and affordable. For accommodation, don’t worry about staying in luxury hotels. Hostels are well-designed and usually have great service, and are a big part of why it’s easy to budget your travel in China.

Making yourself understood

It would of course be ideal if you spoke fluent Mandarin, the world’s most spoken first language and the linguistic norm in China. Chances are that you don’t, but that’s alright as people are always willing and patient to understand you, and the language barrier probably isn’t as bad as you think. As many locals don’t speak English, you’ll need to keep a phrase book on hand or use Mandarin translation tools.

Food and drink

If you eat like a local you’ll find that sustenance is very affordable. Just don’t be afraid of trying something new. While the local food is typically safe to eat, including the sometimes exotic street fare, food poisoning does happen, as with any destination. So trust your instincts, and rest assured that it’s not considered impolite to say “no thanks” in China.

Some superb local dishes to look out for are sweet and sour lean pork pieces, Jiaozi (dumplings), pork slivers, and Baozi (steamed filled bun) for breakfast. 

When it comes to alcohol, never mind sake (the Japanese alcoholic concoction). Learn to fear shots of a Chinese drink called Baijiu – they are potent.

Entertainment and culture

As for sites and attractions, China has a lot of cultural history and it’s not just the Great Wall you have to look forward to. There is a mass of temples and ruins you’ll find mesmerising and fascinating. There is also plenty natural beauty to savour. The Beijing parks are particularly stunning.

Be forewarned that karaoke is serious business in China. Warm up your vocals and learn the lyrics to your favourite songs before you leave. Don’t feel nervous, you’re in for a treat! Expect private booths and incredible service at most venues.

Also, you’ll be asked countless times to have your picture taken. You’ll feel like a celebrity.

About The Author

I was born in the Eastern Cape, close to the waves. After getting my degree in Media, Communication and Culture, I knew it was time to make my way to a big city. Not wanting to leave the ocean, Cape Town was the natural choice for me. At first I thought the fast paced world of marketing. But I never forgot that what I'd always wanted to do was write. Now I'm a freelance writer, where my office is my bedroom and my platform is the World Wide Web. I live with my partner and our two beloved Great Danes. When not reading or writing you can probably find me on the beach or exploring nature trails.

Leave a Reply