Both China and the United Kingdom have a history tale as long as time and a cultural spirit that leaves many travellers breathless. However, when we are talking about travelling from the UK to China, there are some things like china visa you should know before you pack your bags.
If you decided to travel from the UK to China, it’s needless to say that you should go prepared. China is a divine country with enchanting architecture, excellent food and some of the most amazing landmarks in the world. However, there are some big differences between these two nations.
1. You need to apply for a China Visa
Unfortunately, as the UK citizen, you will need to obtain a valid visa before stepping foot on the China mainland. Whether you need a China tourist visa or business visa, you still need to apply. Fortunately for all of us, the procedure of getting a visa is not so hard anymore.
You can actually go through all that process stress-free and without the time-consuming paperwork. Aldo every China Visa has different requirements, our online visa application form creates a perfect and the fastest way to make sure you get your visa on time.
Instead of applying for a travel visa by yourself, and risking having to go back and forth to the China embassy because of some missing paper, you can actually get all the help needed straight from the comfort of your home.
Even though is quite easy to forget this bureaucratic process, and truth to be told we would all probably love to skip it, unfortunately, it is not possible. If you are planning to enjoy the Great Chinese Wall and all the Asian exotic nature some documents are a simple must.
If you want to make it easy, you can simply use our fully automated service, which means that the application form is not filled out by hand. This minimizes the chances of making mistakes, but also saves you the time need to do all this process by yourself.
Additionally, you can also obtain all required documents, such as the invitation letter.
On the other hand, if you desire to plan everything by hand, you can also apply for a Chinese visa at one of the embassies:
Address – Denison House 71
Phone – +440044-164-2361070
Address – Portland Place 31
Phone – +44020 7631 1430
Address – Corstorphine Road 55
Phone – +440131- 3373220
2. Bring the cash
Even though you can pay with your Visa or Mastercard or even with UnionPay in many restaurants and hotels, Chinese people still prefer cash. If you don’t want to miss out buying something in the local shop, you should exchange sterlings for renminbi.
Please keep in mind that value of currency changes every day, however, the pound sterling has still a bigger value than Chinese Yuan.
On the other hand, if you don’t have time to exchange money in the UK, you can easily take out the money on one of the ATMs. The good thing is that the Chinese law bounded ATMs providers to offer the same rate, so you can use international credit cards without any problem and take your money at the same commission anywhere in China.
Inform your bank about the travel
Also, make sure you inform your bank that you will be using your credit card overbroad. It’s important for them to know, so they don’t cancel your card for something they would consider as unusual activity.
3. Get ready to bargain
Bargaining is not something that everybody is comfortable with. Most people tend to buy things without even thinking about if they could lower their price.
However, bargaining is kind of an art in China. You will notice that as soon as you try to buy something at one of the food markets or at any private stores. Like the Turkish people, Chinese expect you to bargain for their merchandise and they can get offended if you don’t want to do it.
If possible, try to avoid impulsive shopping, unless you really need to. It’s not rare for food merchants to higher up the prices if they notice you are a foreigner. You need to be ready to bargain or simply ask someone else to do your shopping if you are not comfortable with it.
Don’t forget that bargaining is not really an option for big corporate shops, as the employees there are not authorized to lower the prices at their demand.
4. Prepare mentally for Chinese traffic
After you get a China visa and finally arrive, one of the things you should really worry about is traffic in China. Contrary to traffic in the United Kingdom, it can be very scary to cross the street in cities of this Asian mainland. Actually, if we think about it, China traffic is almost the most terrifying thing for any traveller.
This problem origins from the fact that the Chinese nation hasn’t been driving for that long. In fact, until just a couple years ago, there weren’t so many cars on the streets.
When you mix that with the fact that pedestrians are at the sole bottom of the traffic hierarchy, you will get the “run for your life” situation. Actually, the biggest rate of vehicle casualties and car crashes happens on this mainland.
We understand that this sounds really bad, but in reality, it doesn’t have to be a big problem for you. If you pay a lot of attention and don’t try to play chicken with drivers you will be safe.
5. China crime rate is very low
It’s good to know that you don’t have to worry so much about crime and safety if you are travelling to China.
Like in the UK, Chinese people tend to abide by the laws, and actually, it is common knowledge that China has the highest conviction rate. The law that refers to the crime against foreigners is extremely strict because China is one of the most popular tourist spots. The travel industry is a lucrative mean for the Chinese nation, that’s why they really go overboard to keep travellers safe.
On the other hand, you should always be aware of possible pickpocketers, especially at the train stations. Unfortunately, pickpocketing is not so rare and it mostly happens where there are many people gathered in one spot. This doesn’t happen only to foreigners but also as well to natives.
Make sure you keep your bag close to you and don’t keep anything that you wouldn’t like to lose in your back pocket.
6. Forget about the personal space
We are sure you already know that living in China also means a life in a very crowded culture. Many people inhabit this Asian mainland, and they are very used to their lack of personal space. Contrary to living in the United Kingdom, Chinese natives have a much tighter sense of how close they should stay next to you.
Their unawareness of how much they are bursting your comfort zone bubble is just so incredible. This especially affects public toilets and restrooms.
However, don’t get fooled, Chinese are not so into physical contact, actually, they can get very uncomfortable if you tap their arm out of the blue. This particular culture behaviour doesn’t apply to same-gender friends.
You will often see girls holding their hands and it is the same as with boys, except they don’t really hold hands, more like half hugging types. Make sure you remember this, especially if you are planning to hang around some natives.
7. How to Meet & Greet in China
It is not a common thing for people in China to handshake while greeting a stranger. Many natives may bow or nod to you instead of shaking hands. Nevertheless, the effect of the West culture brought some new views on this topic and many natives have no problem with a handshaking gesture.
On the other hand, when it comes to hugging, it is a completely different story, especially for the same-gender people. As we already mentioned in the previous tip, Chinese are not so kind on hugging. This type of greeting you should really avoid unless they offer it fist.
Greeting group applause
It is interesting that when you are introduced to a Chinese group, you might encounter yourself with applause. This is something that most people never witnessed before with their friends. The polite thing to do is to applaud back.
The second thing you should remember while meeting someone new is to stand up and remain to stand until that person sits. This especially applies when you are meeting an older person. Seniority is very well respected in this culture.
Point with an open hand
Pointing at someone with your finger may be a common gesture in many nations. However, Chinese people point with an open hand, and they consider finger pointing as rude.
8. Eating habits are different
Asian food and Chinese eating habits are a completely different story from most cultures in the world. This is probably where you will feel the biggest difference between the UK and the China nation. If you are travelling for the first time to this exotic land, it might take you some time to get used to their food and their eating manners.
Table manners DO exist
As a traveller, you can get quite overwhelmed with Chinese table manners. It’s a common thing to see people loudly chewing or even receiving phone calls at the dining table. Even though you might think they don’t really have some great table manner, they actually do.
Everyone has their own place at the table
If you applied for a business visa, and you came to China to visit some corporate event or dinner you should be aware of some seating rules. As we already mentioned, seniority is a really important and respected fact in China.
The oldest person always is the first to sit and choose their place. Even if your host is not the oldest person in the room, you should wait for them to tell you where is your seat. If you are considered as an honourable guest, you will be seated next to your host.
The proper use of chopsticks
While we are all well used to knife and fork, using of chopsticks is mostly not in the list of our personal skills. However, even if you know how to it pick up your food with them, most travellers can make some mistakes even without knowing.
For example, it is considered a bad luck if you place your chopsticks in the middle of your rice bowl. Also, make sure you don’t lick your chopsticks or point with them, it might seem silly but this is considered as rude.
At the end of the day, if you really don’t want to use chopsticks, it is alright to ask for a fork.
Empty plate is not an option
If you want to considered polite you first need to try everything that is offered on the table. We know that this might be a challenge, especially if there is a lot of different food but you should prepare yourself. Leaving an empty plate after you ate, is a good sign in many cultures, except Chinese.
You are expected to leave some leftovers in the plate, but keep in mind not to leave too much food so your host doesn’t think you didn’t enjoy your meal.
9. Drinking is a way of bonding
The drinking manner of Chinese natives is similar to many cultures. One thing that might separate them from the other nations is that their drinking can involve a huge amount of alcohol. This is not so uncommon thing. The more you drink, especially if you are a guest, the better.
Chinese people use alcohol to relax and let their guards down, which mostly ends up like a bonding time. Make sure you also join their toasts, because there will be many.
If you are not a drinker, you can always find a polite way to say no to alcohol.
10. Chinese Food you should try
Chinese kitchen is world famous, and you can find it in almost every country. The tasty dishes and strong spices are the core of Chinese cooking. If you are a little bit hedonistic and you love trying new foods, you will find China a wonderful place to be.
If you are hosted by a native, we are sure you will find some of these dishes on your table:
This is an old traditional dish that is quite popular in North China, especially during the New Year’s Eve. It is made of chopped vegetables and minced meat all wrapped into a dough skin.
If you like sweet or savoury meals, then spring rolls are a perfect choice for you. This dish can be made of meat or vegetables and it is fried until it et that tasty golden colour. It is a pretty common meal throughout China.
Sweet and Sour Pork
A lot of Chinese specialities are a combination of sweet and sour tastes, like the sweet and sour pork. If you don’t like pork, this dish has several variations and you can enjoy it with chicken or any other meat of your choice.
This is a special dish that you won’t see anywhere else than in China. It cooked with a mix of many ingredients and it is one of the most delicious meals you will find in this part of the world. However, the hotpot can be very spicy. Make sure you ask your host what kind of hotpot is it.
One of the most common snacks in China is definitely a Dim Sum. It is almost available everywhere and natives usually serve it with a tea.
11. Shanghai’s Ice Cream
Shanghai is home of the biggest ice cream factory in the world. If you are used to popular flavours like chocolate, vanilla or strawberry, you will find out that Chinese have a lot of imagination when it comes to this popular treat.
Tourists can try out an ice cream with green bean, red bean, or even enjoy in traditional saltwater popsicles.
12. Give and receive presents
In order to receive and give a gift during your stay in China, there are a couple of things you should keep in mind. If you are travelling with China tourist visa and you are visiting a home of a friend you will probably bring them a present. Chinese receive and give their gift with both hands, and so should you.
Make sure you don’t wrap your present in white colour because the white colour is associated with grief. This also applies to number 4. Whatever you are planning to give, make sure you don’t give four gifts.
Another thing you should know when it comes to giving and receiving gifts in China is that you should never give a gift of a great value if you don’t know that person very well. Your gift might even be rejected.
13. Tipping in China is not a common practice
In many countries, tipping is a very common practice in restaurants and hotels. In some pubs, you could even be chased if you don’t tip for your service. Waiters expect you to give a tip, or the tip is already included in your bill. Chinese people don’t really have a developed culture of tipping.
You are not expected to give extra money to your taxi driver or waiter, and shouldn’t feel bad about it.
Nonetheless, the number of growing restaurants that are now including tips in their bills is getting higher and higher with each year. If you don’t encounter yourself in this kind of restaurant, you should really don’t feel obliged to tip for your service, unless you really want to.
14. Avoid travelling during “Golden Weeks”
There is a period of time when is just not a good an idea to travel to the People’s Republic of China. This period is called the “Golden Week” and it was instated by the Chinese government for purpose of encouraging natives to develop domestic tourism.
This concept includes the entire country, meaning that a large number of people goes on their holiday during this week. Since everybody travels at the same time, all prices are much higher than usual, and there are crowds of people at every famous touristic landmark.
If you really want to go a visit China during this period, make sure to book your trip and all the tickets in advance, but be sure to expect a much higher price.
During Chinese New Year, Labor Day and National Day it is almost impossible to find a place on a plane or even buy a ticket for some of the popular tours. On the other hand, if you don’t mind the crowds and higher prices, then it won’t be a problem for you.
Spring and autumn in China
Assuming that you want to avoid rain and gloomy days, the best time to travel to China is in the spring or in the autumn. Even if you are used to raining in the UK, humidity and shower rains are much stronger in China during the summer. However, some cities are okay to travel through the whole year, like Beijing.
China is truly a marvellous land, with a huge number of incredible travelling spots and culture like no other. You can always start your travell at the south during spring and make Bejing your final destination. The other option is to travel in autumn and go later to the south.
15. Top travel destinations in China
After you receive your China visa and decide to create a plan for your trip, it can be hard to choose where to go and what you should visit. If you don’t have a specific course, and you only want to see as much as you can, it can be difficult to decide what should be a “must visit” during your trip.
The Great Wall
The most popular tourist destination is definitely Beijing and its Forbidden City and The Great Wall of China. What was built to protect borders of China against the invasions and raids, nowadays is one of the most famous landmarks in the world. The Ten-Thousand Mile Long Wall is visited by millions of tourists annually.
The main thing that many people know about this wall is the theory that it can be seen from the space. This is a popular misconception about the Great Wall, and it was debunked several times. The other thing for which the Great Wall of China is famous for is the fact that it is the longest cemetery in the world. Unfortunately, this fact is true.
This famous china travel spot consists of several walls. The part of the Wall that we recognize from the pictures is actually the last part of the wall built by the Ming Dynasty. Some parts of the wall don’t even exist anymore due to human demolishment or nature’s course.
Tourists tend to leave graffiti and toss garbage, but it is still a spectacular place to visit and enjoy.
In the sole centre of Beijing, there is the biggest complex of the palaces in the world called the “Forbidden City”. This city breaks many world records, regarding its size, the largest cultural museum and for many other things.
In order to give you a mental picture of how big it is, let us just say it is bigger than the Vatican, and almost 3 times bigger than the famous Louvre Palace in France.
With over 90 different palaces and courtyards, it is one of the most marvellous places in China. These palaces were home of 24 emperors.
The first thing you should remember is that it’s quite easy to get lost in the Forbidden City of China, so make sure you go with a guide or follow one of the tourist maps. Also, don’t be surprised that 40% of the city is actually still not open for public. All repairs are scheduled for 2020.
The Forbidden City is a place of historical and cultural importance, and there are some things you should check out if you are planning to visit these palaces:
- The Palace Museum that contains one of the biggest and greatest collections of Chinese artefacts.
- Ceremonial Outer Court (the Hall of Supreme Harmony, the Hall of Central Harmony and the Hall of Preserved Harmony)
- Residential Inner Court (Palace of Heavenly Purity, the Hall of Union, and the Palace of Earthly Tranquility)
This masterpiece of Chinese architecture is a great location for your travel bucketlist. This is where you will see the biggest difference in architecture and culture of China and the United Kingdom.
The City of Giant Pandas – Chengdu
When we think of visiting China, adorable giant pandas definitely are something you should not miss. They will make the sweetest part of your trip. Even though there are many zoo centers where you can enjoy playing with these fluffy animals, the best place to visit them in Chengdu.
As soon as you step your foot in this panda city, you will know how much they all like and respect these animals. In Chengdu, a tourist can join the volunteer’s programme, and freely hug pandas as much as they like. There is no actual zoo in this City, only a huge conservation base. You will have a chance to enjoy a beautiful landscape that expands throughout 7,000 square metres.
Truth to be told, don’t expect a lot of action from pandas, they are quite lazy animals. However, if you are an animal lover, it’s hard to resist touching and playing with these giant fluffy creatures
The Wild Goose Pagoda
In the south of Xi’an of Shaanxi province, there is a Buddhist pagoda which welcomes many tourists during the year. The Wild Goose Pagoda scenic consists of the Big Wild Goose Pagoda North Plaza, the Big Wild Goose Pagoda, and Daci’en Temple. The appealing style of this mesmerizing Buddhist temple, and the long history behind it is something that every tourist needs to visit.
16. Chinese New Year celebration
Nobody celebrates the New Year as Chinese do. No nation is so festive as they are. This most important holiday is also known as Spring Festival and it is celebrated for 15 days straight. However, its start day changes every year, and it is celebrated with different animal sign each time.
This popular holiday was originally celebrated as a ceremonial day to pray to goods for a good harvest season. The end of the holiday is marked with the Lantern Festival.
It is also probably the worst time to plan your holiday, due to enormous crowds and much more expensive plane tickets. Natives also travel a lot during this period and it can be almost impossible to find accommodation or tour tickets.
Firecrackers all the way
The New Year’s Eve in China is also famous for the amount of firework that is led during this festival.
This custom is actually very old and its origins from the old Chinese myth of the monster called Nian. During the period of the New Year, the monster would attack the village and people would hide in their homes. However, one boy was brave enough to fight the monster off with the firecrackers. Today, it’s impossible to imagine this holiday without it.
17. Chinese brides wear red
If you are planning to go to a wedding in China, don’t get surprised if you see that the bride wears red. While in many nations it is almost impossible to imagine a bride wearing any other colour except white, brides in China wear red dresses. Even though the red colour is associated with anger and danger, in this case, it becomes a symbol of love, honesty, and fertility.
One of the traditions in China is Qipao or otherwise known as Cheongsam. It is actually a red dress, often decorated with golden or silver details. The gold details are embedded only to represent wealth and fortune.
Long Feng Gua
In the South of China, there is another custom that also requires brides to wear red dresses. This dress is known as Long Feng Gua and it is decorated with Phoenix and a dragon. Both of these symbols represent the bride and the groom.
18. At funeral wear white
While Chinese brides wear red at the wedding, white or even yellow are the colours of grief. Natives place a white banner on the front door if someone has decided, and they also wear white to the funerals. Depending on the region, the Chinese have different rituals but the colours stay the same.
White chrysanthemums are used as a symbol of grief, however, Chinese families don’t wear any jewellery at the funerals.
19. Cricket battling is a traditional game
You’ve probably heard of bullfighting or cockfighting, but have you hear of cricket fighting? This odd game is actually a kind of a traditional sport in China. The game consists of two male crickets that are set in some kind of fighting arena. Usually, natives match them in weight, size, and colour. This all might sound cruel, but unlike the other sports that include animal fighting, crickets are rarely injured in any way.
If you travel to Shanghai, Tianjin, Hong Kong, Beijing or Guangzhou, you will find even the cricket fighting clubs and societies that support this traditional sport.
20. Tea as a sign of your social status
Making and drinking tea is an important part of Chinese culture. It occupies a significant place in the economic development of China. Tea is also the national beverage and depending on which tea you chose to drink and how you drink it, it can show your social status. It is also beneficial for the human mind and spirit.
The practice of tea culture is a very old tradition, and its roots are set deep in the Chinese history. With so many different types of tea, it can be hard to decide which one you would like to drink, but there are some tips that you should know:
- The best time to drink your tea is when it is hot. The beneficial part of this traditional drink happens when the tea is hot.
- If you are planning to travel with China business visa, and you have to work, the best tea for you is green tea. One of the main credits is catechins, which can help you prevent computer radiation.
- Make sure you avoid drinking a too strong tea, it can actually provoke insomnia or even stomach cramps.
We know how stressing and time-consuming it can be to travel to completely different culture and nation. Hopefully, our 20 tips before travelling from the United Kingdom to China will be helpful for your trip.
One more thing…
Viselio offers you a quick and highly secure way for the online visa application process. If you need a visa to China, you can simply apply with us, and we will take care of the rest!
Thank you for reading.