Travel Etiquette in China

by Adam Barralet
Busy streets in China

Planning a trip to China? We share some helpful tips on what to expect and some things to keep in mind when it comes to etiquette in this beautiful country.

First Impressions

BTJEFiona_SonyaAs you land in China you may be keen to make a good first impression but don’t go grab hands and showing off your best handshake. The Chinese prefer to bow or give a simple head nod.  Don’t be offended if you are not met with a smile as a greeting is seen as a solemn, respectful affair. A common greeting is, “Have you eaten?” which would be an equivalent to “How are you?”. Always answer yes, even if you have not.



Once you do get to eat, you are most likely to be sharing many dishes that rotate on a Lazy Susan. If you are using chopstick and you need to serve from a communal bowl, you use the thick ends of the chopsticks as they have not been in your mouth. Make sure you hold on tight to your chopsticks as dropping them is considered bad luck. It is just as bad form to refuse to try any beverage or dish that is offered to you  or serving yourself before a guest of honour or someone who is your senior.

The Chinese are big on toasting. The toast will often end with the phrase “Gan bei”, meaning “Dry your glass” so drain your glass and try to maintain eye contact in the process.




businesscard_editedIf you are travelling to China for business make sure your business cards are up to scratch. Present your card with both hands and upon receiving one, it is polite to closely examine the card and then keep hold of it. Don’t simply stuff it in your pocket. The official policy in Chinese business culture forbids giving gifts. This gesture is considered bribery, an illegal act in this country. Consequently, your gift may be declined.


For more great tips on travelling to China, talk to one of our Travel Experts by connecting with us online or calling 1-877-967-5302

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