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Language barriers

Mandarin Chinese is the national language of China. Mandarin is spoken widely across China, including in many minority regions. Although English is taught in schools and most people speak at least a few basic words it can be hard to get by with English, especially outside major urban areas. Reception staff in most hotels, airline staff and most people involved in the tourism sector do speak good English but you should be prepared that most people you meet on the streets will not be able to explain directions or otherwise help you in English. It is always a good idea to bring a hotel address card with you every time you leave the hotel to be sure to be able to find your way back.

Not only is the relative level of English in China low compared to many other countries, but also the vast differences in culture backgrounds can make communication difficult. When trying to resolve a problem or conflict try to do so in a calm and polite manner, which will be handled much better by the face-concious Chinese than a direct accusation or verbal assault.

The Chinese are generally a very open and friendly people and are happy to meet a foreigner – please just remember that the cultural differences often make for some amusing misunderstandings.

When traveling in China try to keep an open mind and you will have an experience of a lifetime!

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