5 Chinese Manners & Etiquette Tips for Travelers

5 Chinese Manners & Etiquette Tips for Travelers
Discovering the cultural features of the tourist destination is a good habit for any traveler. Each culture and etiquette has its own distinct set of manners that are worth learning before visiting a particular country to better understand the locals and set realistic expectations. China isn’t an exception since Chinese culture and etiquette rules are pretty unusual, especially for travelers from Europe. So, what is so special about China?

There are some things that you need to know about Chinese manners and etiquette before visiting this country.

China can be full of controversy and noticeable differences in culture and behavior. Therefore, if you are planning to go to China, make sure to study the top “oddities” in the culture and etiquette that you may encounter. They are listed below.

5 Chinese Manners and Etiquette Points That May Look Strange for Travelers

5 Chinese Manners & Etiquette Tips for Travelers

1. Punctuality Double Standards

China is a very interesting country in terms of punctuality. With the naked eye, a tourist can doubt that punctuality is important for the Chinese. This can be evidenced by a flexible bus schedule, delayed flights, and so on. But there is a big pitfall, as this is false evidence of an attitude towards punctuality. What’s the catch?

If you make an appointment with the locals, be it a business meeting or a personal one, and are late, then it will be a gesture of disrespect for a person. Therefore, you should avoid such situations if you tend to be late. This dissonance in the context of punctuality often misleads those who do not prematurely study cultural differences and local etiquette.

2. Dining Etiquette Features

There are also significant differences in dining etiquette. For example, if a Chinese person invited you to a restaurant and ordered a meal, you should definitely try each of the dishes. This will be a show of respect. If you have an informal meeting, then be prepared for the fact that you will need to pay the bill together.

Just like a tourist, it is significant to know about the special attitude towards tips. If you are used to being generous and always leave a tip in restaurants and cafes, then in China it is strongly discouraged to do so! This behavior is extremely typical for tourists from Ukraine since they are usually generous, hospitable and always look for a way to reward those who served them. By the way, if you are planning to go to China as a Ukrainian resident, then you should pay attention to insurance in Ukraine, which can be very useful for travelers.

So, as for the tips, be ready for a strange reaction. In Chinese opinion, it looks like devaluing the local workforce. Such a gesture will not become a black card for visiting a cafe or restaurant, but you can expect to receive all your tips back. So, you are welcome to say “Thank you” (you can learn this phrase in Chinese) and still have a clear conscience.

If you make an appointment with the locals, be it a business meeting or a personal one, and are late, then it will be a gesture of disrespect for a person.

Therefore, you should avoid such situations if you tend to be late. This dissonance in the context of punctuality often misleads those who do not prematurely study cultural differences and local etiquette.

3. Respect Hierarchy

Chinese etiquette is distinguished by a special emphasis on hierarchy, which concerns not only personal but also business relationships. For example, older people always get more attention, reverence, and respect. In terms of professional relationships, bosses and all leadership positions require respect.

For instance, if you are a manager and you have a business meeting with a top manager from China, then from the point of view of Chinese etiquette, you should show more respect. If we talk from the point of view of tourists, then if you are invited by the locals to their home, then you need to show maximum respect. By the way, in China, it is customary to treat its guests in the same way.

It is also worth mentioning one important point. If you decide to give a gift to a local or a bouquet of flowers, then avoid the white color. This color is considered mourning, while red is the color of happiness.

4. Surprising Manners

An interesting and distinctive feature of the people of China is the presence of strange manners, which can surprise tourists very much. Sipping and belching in the restaurant is normal. Moreover, these aren’t the signs of bad manners, but rather the opposite. This is an indicator that the Chinese person is happy with the dish.

Therefore, if you are used to the manner of Elizabeth II, you may be dumbfounded. Do not take this behavior too personally and accept it as cultural specifics, as you will have to face it at almost every step in China.

Also at this point, it is worth mentioning tricky questions that are not customary to ask in many countries. For example, in China, there is nothing strange if a stranger asks you why you have no children, your marital status, or your age. This is not a violation of confidentiality but simply an attempt to establish a friendly relationship. Such conversations occur especially often after a meal. Therefore, belching and then questions about something personal can shock you. But this is just a cultural difference that you need to be prepared for.

5. Gift Refusal

An interesting feature of the Chinese people is their special habit of abandoning a gift. If you decide to thank a local resident with some kind of gift, then be prepared to be refused. Through refusal, the Chinese will show humility and good intentions. As practice shows, you will get three refusals before your gift is accepted.

What can you choose as a gift option in China? In fact, if you decide to give some kind of gift to the Chinese, then you can pick up anything except old things. But there is a list of taboos that you shouldn’t choose as a gift option:

  • Clocks symbolize the end of life;
  • Knives symbolize the intention to break off relations;
  • Handkerchiefs symbolize the superstition of future mourning and funerals.
5 Chinese Manners & Etiquette Tips for Travelers

Wrapping Up

China is a very interesting country that can surprise everyone. But all that you have learned above is just cultural differences that should be taken into account in order not to offend residents. Accept them in advance and proceed with discovering Chinese paradoxes personally.
Isabelle Jordan | That's Mandarin Guest Author
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by Isabelle Jordan

Isabelle Jordan is a business and marketing journalist at EKTA TRAVEL insurance company. She writes for different news portals and thematic blogs that help her stay at the heart of the travel and insurance news. Isabelle knows everything and more about travel guard insurance.

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