1. because China is a bit different than what we’re used to, it’s important to make sure the landing is as soft and as easy as possible. Especially when traveling with kids. The most important thing to make sure of is a good hotel or another place that can give you information in English.
2. In China there is a network of youth hostels that provide everything the western traveler needs. Rooms with a great price range- from the cheapest (a bed in a dorm with shared bathrooms and showers) an up to the expensive intimate rooms. And the staff is made of Chinese youth (most are working there as a part of a student program) and western youths, studying Chinese volunteering there to brush up on their Chinese. They help with everything you need. They helped me buy a local sim card, book bus tickets, organize a birthday party for my daughter, they wrote a note with Chinese sentences I asked them to, explained to me how to get everywhere and much more. In every hostel there’s a common room where there is a bar, a small restaurant, a few strategy/thinking games (the staff is always happy to play with you, or at least teach you how to play), art materials, computers, books, sometimes table-football or a snooker table or a tv room with loads of movies for you to choose from. Within a day or two the staff knows all your names.
3. in short- I warmly recommend you to book a room with one of the youth hostels spread across china, they’ll make your trips that much easier, especially in the first few days after landing.
4. don’t come to china without an app that translates words and sentences to Chinese, preferably one that also sounds the words, and that doesn’t require internet.
5. anyway it’s recommended to buy a local sim card on the first chance so you can use the internet comfortably on your phone.
6. that way you could also use maps and navigate in busy streets, whose names are written in Chinese.
7. the taxi drivers in china are very strict on the max number of passengers- four. So anyone going to china with three or more children is going to have a problem. To find a taxi, especially in the big cities, especially in the tourist centers, is not an easy task, and finding two is a nightmare. Easier to find two rickshaws or deal with the public transportation.
8. If you chose to walk notice that the green light for the crosswalk is very short and there’s an arrangement with the two-wheelers so warn the kids.
9. and about the public transportation: in China there’s a very wide range of buses and trains. From old trains, stuffed so full of people that you can’t breathe, sweaty and sweltering, through to a relatively comfortable sleeper trains all the way to express trains that look like they’re taken straight from a futuristic film. The same goes for buses.
10. in the sleeper trains they lock the bathrooms in the morning long before you actually get to your destination. Just so you know.
here you will fond a special route for nature loving families traveling to china
11. the Chinese, even those that speak good English, tend to get confused between the ‘teen’ numbers (11, 12, 13…) and the whole numbers (20, 30, 40…) it’s best to always make sure exactly what they meant. There is a big difference sometimes. (how many hours is this bus drive? 40??? Ahhh 14.)
12. in restaurants and street foods they use a lot of tasting powder (msg). you can tell them “no msg” and most will understand.
13. public restrooms: I have to say that the public restrooms in China were the most disgusting I ever saw. But really. Those on the roads, in between, at bus stops during long drives. They were actually a long narrow hall, with an open draining tunnel (sewage) and two long boards on the sides, to step on. Everything is open, without even partitions. There are places where this even costs money.
14. the rumors that the Chinese are not nice proved entirely false. The Chinese people we met, almost all of them, were simply charming, and sometimes really went out of their way to help us any way they could. Even those that didn’t speak a single word in English.
15. the Chinese, like the Indians, and a few more, have a favorite hobby. They love taking pictures with tourist. Especially with kids. Especially those that don’t look like them (=curly hair for example). Sometimes, and in very touristic places, you need a lot of patience to take pictures with all of them. Prepare the kids.
To find a youth hostel to your taste you can begin with this link
Or simply google ‘youth hostel’ in whatever specific destination you have in mind.
OR- you can take a look at Our favorite hotels & guest houses in china.
before going to China, try to learn some mandarin. it will be very beneficial!