Tips for Hong Kong
1. Always bring a small umbrella and/or cap with you wherever you go. The weather is very unpredictable; it will be sunny for 1 sec and then pour buckets. A cap and or umbrella also is useful for protection against the sun’s harmful rays. When I was little and it was my first time in HK, I was always confused as to why people would hold an umbrella even when it was sunny (in America I’m sure people will look at you funny), but it is a norm there and pretty smart.
2.Bring light-breathable clothing. It is very hot and humid at HK so make sure you bring and wear breathable clothing. You should pack 1 jacket since often in restaurants and malls they blast the AC. Also, pack sneakers since you probably will be doing a lot of walking.
3.Learn about Chinese culture. I’m sure a lot of you probably know the importance of knowing a little bit of culture when you travel to another country. Learning Chinese etiquette and mannerisms is a big part of our culture and people will just be more polite to you if you do so. For instance, Chinese people are very conservative so don’t be loud, obnoxious and rude (especially to older folks).
4.Learn basic Chinese. Along with the Chinese etiquette comes the language. People in Hong Kong usually speak Cantonese so knowing just a little bit will make your life easier. There are signs like for transportation and locations that are in English and I guess if you stay by the more touristy places, you won’t have as big of a problem, but if you want to truly get around, knowing Cantonese is your best bet. Also, the most annoying part is that almost all (like 90%) of the restaurants/cafes/etc. have their menus in Chinese so that is a bit problematic. Personally, I’m fluent in Cantonese so I have no trouble speaking, but I’ve never learned how to read or write Chinese so I had to get my parents to read them out loud in Cantonese for me.
*A little tip for learning Cantonese is to watch some TVB dramas. I’ve grown up watching them and know a ton of Chinese slang and it just is a fun way to past time. Also, having some people to speak Cantonese is really helpful. I have my parents and entire family to help me but I know not everyone does. *
5. Have a tissue pack with you every time you go out. Most restaurants/cafes/etc. don’t provide napkins so a tissue pack really comes in handy. Also, sometimes you may be unfortunate when you go to the bathroom so bring a pack of tissues with you!
6. Bring reusable bags. In Hong Kong, when you go shopping, the stores do not provide bags for you to carry your items. If you want a bag, you have to pay extra, so always remember to carry at least one on you!
7. Pack lotion and sunscreen. I made the mistake of not packing body lotion with me and it was a terrible choice. I have very dry and sensitive skin (and eczema) so I had to go to a store and buy one. When I got there, I noticed that there was a very small selection of lotion brands so make sure you pack it! And sunscreen is a given, it is very hot and sunny in HK, so be sure to always have sunscreen on.
8. Pads are thin. This is especially for women out there, but I’m not embarrassed to admit that I had my period during my trip. In HK, they do not sell as thick and heavy ones as they do in the U.S. which is annoying so be sure to pack some.
9. Not everything is cheaper in HK. Most things I admit are cheaper if you buy it in HK. ($1 USD=$8 HKD) However, obviously American brands are cheaper in America so save yourself some cash when you go shopping.
9. Optional: Bring face masks (surgical/dust). The pollution is pretty bad in HK and people smoke so all that is not good for your health. Also, recently there has been a bad illness going around so a face mask is a very good idea. I didn’t bring one and I’m very lucky that I didn’t catch it.
Tips for China
So I also went to China (just Guangzhou) and here are some common things I have seen.
1. Language is even more important. When I went to China, I realized there were not as much foreigners and English speaking people as there were in Hong Kong. People (in Guangzhou) mainly spoke Cantonese and/or Mandarin. And I actually had a little bit of difficulty when I stayed at China for a few days since a ton of people I encountered spoke only Mandarin.
2. The bathrooms are… interesting. My experience in China was pretty good. I mean I liked the country, views, food, and everything… BUT the one and only reason why I will be hesitant if you ever ask me to go to China is because of the BATHROOMS!! If you are a guy, you probably will not have as much of a problem as girls will have, but the bathrooms are very old-fashioned. There is not seat for women bathrooms, and you have to squat at the tiny hole that is attached to the ground and them push a button/lever to flush. I’m not used to squatting at all when I relieve myself so it was a hassle to pee and just imagine having to poo (It would totally suck!). Oh, and bring a tissue pack, it will come in handy since the the stalls don’t have tissue paper.
3. Taxis get expensive. This is for both Hong Kong and China, I did a lot of walking when I was there because the cost really does pile up when you use the taxi so use other means of transportation. My uncle had a car when we went to China so that saved a lot.
And those were all the tips I could think of right on top of my head. Of course some of the tips I wrote in the Hong Kong section can be applied to China and vice versa. I actually only got rid of the jet lag two days ago so I finally had 2 full nights of sleep without having to wake up early or get drowsy when it was only 8 pm! Posts on a haul and my entire HK/China experience will be going up this week so stay tuned for them!
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