If you’re planning on traveling to China, you may want to learn some basic Chinese etiquette. While China is a great country and most things would be considered do’s and don’ts just like in any other part of the world, there are some differences you should know about so as to enjoy a great traveling experience free of unpleasant situations.
Bring gifts when visiting someone’s home
If you are invited to go to a Chinese person’s home, you should know that good etiquette dictates that you bring a gift with you. Good gifts could be fruits, sweets or tea. If you have some items or souvenirs from your home town, they are greatly valued in China. Just don’t offer any clocks as the Chinese saying “to give a clock” is related to going to a funeral, and offering pears is also a no, since “share a pear” can mean splitting up.
Don’t be offended by spitting
You may see a lot of people spitting on the streets or in restaurants. While this habit is starting to get unpopular in some Chinese urban areas, you should know that spitting is not meant as an insult. Chinese people just think it is disgusting to swallow the contents of their sinuses. Just don’t feel offended when someone spits near you, in China this is considered normal.
If you are a smoker and you know others around you smoke, good etiquette would represent sharing a round with them. Don’t hand cigarettes on your own, offer the package of cigarettes with one protruding. In case you don’t smoke and are offered cigarettes, just politely refuse.
You may find the Chinese people being very loud. The Chinese language may also sound harsh to your ears, and you might believe that people are constantly arguing near you. Don’t seem offended or irritated, the Chinese just love to be loud and you shouldn’t take it as an insult, as they might just be talking about the weather or their new job.
Being spoken to frankly
In China most people are perhaps frustratingly polite, so you won’t be spoken too frankly at first. However, once people get to know you a bit, they might say things you could consider as rude or impolite. Chinese tend to be more honest and frank once they know you, maybe a bit more than you’re used to. Don’t be offended if someone says that you’re a bit fat, they’re just being sincere.
Curiosity and privacy
You should know that Chinese people don’t place great importance on privacy, and that they also have a curious nature. You can also feel that your personal space is a bit too small than what you’re used to. Don’t consider someone staring you in the face as offensive, they’re just curious, especially since you’re a foreigner and attract a lot of attention.
So if you’re traveling to China, follow these basic etiquette guidelines and you’ll do fine. Always use common sense, be polite, and try to understand that the Chinese culture is a bit different than your own.