Even though Chinese is one of the most difficult languages to learn, don’t let your lack of ability to speak Chinese hold you back from exploring the country with beautiful landscapes and enriching culture. Here’re 7 strategies to survive in China without knowing how to speak Chinese.
1. Get the Chinese name and address of your hotel.
When booking hotel, normally you’ll receive a confirmation email with the name and address of your hotel in Chinese characters. Save it in your phone or keep a screenshot. It can be disastrous while you catch a taxi but couldn’t load the email to show the address. Most taxi drivers don’t know the English names of hotels.
After arriving in the hotel, take several hotel business cards from the reception. Most hotels offer business cards with name and address in Chinese characters and even with a small map. You can just show the card to a taxi driver, and he’ll know where you hotel is.
2. Have friends/hotel receptionists write/text you addresses of various destinations in Chinese.
3. Download an app with Chinese-English dictionary or carry a small notebook with your destinations written in Chinese.
4. Download offline map of the place you are going to visit.
If you are visiting big cities like Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, look for maps which includes subway information, major tourist attractions in English and Chinese characters.
5. Get a VPN(Virtual Private Network) if you want to use Google, Gmail, Facebook and twitter as they are blocked in China.
6. Ordering food in China: check picture menus or point to stuffs others are eating.
Most decent restaurants in China would have pictures menus, so it’s easier just choose from the pictures. In case you are in restaurants without photos on the menu or on the wall, wander around and if you see people eating something that appeals to you then point to the dish and order it.
7. Shopping in China: haggle with calculator
If you are looking to buy some souvenirs, handbags, clothes or other stuffs from the street markets in China, you can always haggle with a calculator even though the sellers can’t speak English.