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43 Things You Didn’t Know About China

Food And Dining

1. Many of the restaurant menus have 100+ items, often with pictures, but no translation.

2. Waiters will often hand over the menu and stand over you as you make your selection, not leaving the table until you are done.

3. Clementines are sold nearly everywhere and are incredibly cheap (15 clementines for one dollar) as they are grown locally.

4. Chicken feet are sold everywhere in vacuum sealed plastic packages and are incredibly popular as snacks for all ages.

5. Many dishes are incredibly greasy, with even a vegetable side dish dripping with oil.

6. There are still some Western favorites in Chinese food here – Kung Pao Chicken but no crab rangoon in sight (unfortunately).

7. Some restaurants have plates, bowls, cups, and spoons sealed in plastic to indicate it’s sanitized. If you unwrap it you will be charged a small fee.

8. If you order fish they might bring it out alive to show you that it was killed fresh.

9. Be careful what you order because all animal parts are consumed here (intestines, ears, hooves, etc).

10. No tipping or tax but on occasion restaurants may charge a service fee (less than 50 cents).

People And Culture

11. People spit everywhere (men and women alike).

12. When going hiking people can be seen dressed in full on suits, heels, tights and/or short dresses.

13. Few people speak English but many can read English characters (known as pinyin).

14. If you are a Westerner expect to attract some attention in the form of staring. Also, people love to take photos with Westerners even though they don’t know you.

15. Smoking is everywhere as cigarettes are incredibly cheap.

16. Chinese love to play cards, both with Western cards and their own Chinese skinny cards. Poker is also very popular as a game and they usually play for money.

17. Board games (Chinese chess are also popular).

18. Women love to gather in town or city squares or open spaces and dance in unison.

19. People will harass you at all the tourist sites, trying to sell you anything from beds, to local guides to pomegranates.

20. There are plenty of overweight people in China.

21. Babies wear pants, or onesies with slits over their private parts. Several times we have seen babied being pooped on the sidewalk (parents crouch over the ground with the babies, almost squeezing their bodies together)

22. Several times we have seen children peeing in the middle of a city street, as well as a few adults.

23. There are few Western tourists but tons of Chinese tourists, especially at mountains and the national parks.

24. Gangnam Style is incredibly popular here and is played on trains, in stores, and at national parks.

25. People transport fruit and other goods, often by carrying large “scales” on their shoulders.


26. Drivers love to pass each other in the oncoming lane.

27. Drivers honk profusely, even if they could easily pass by you, to indicate that they are close or approaching or rounding a corner with tight vision.

28. Motorcycles and scooters are everywhere, but helmets are rare.

29. Drivers ignore pedestrians and even traffic lights at times.

30. The train stations are always super crowded.

31. People almost never read books in transportation or while waiting.

32. In the sleeper trains the conductors collect tickets and give you a plastic card, to be exchanged for the real ticket before arriving.

33. Trains have 3 classes, hard seats, hard sleepers, and soft sleepers, though standing tickets are also sold.


34. There is intense pollution in many of the major cities (Beijing, Xi’an)

35. In Shanghai there is an area where adults advertise their unwed children and others go to look for a suitable mate.

36. In many cases same stores or stands are right next to each other, all selling the same products, but somehow they all remain in business.

37. Shanghai feels nothing like the rest of China – almost completely out of place and very Western. Hundreds of thousands of expats live there.

38. Internet in China is significantly slower than in the US (with facebook, twitter, google plus and youtube blocked). Also, Google is much slower than say Yahoo.

39. Statues and photos of Mao are very common and the personality cult is very strong.

40. Dragon statues are everywhere since the dragon represents the emperor. Often they combine other animals (dogs, turtles, horses) with dragons.


41.  Most mountains and national parks are incredibly commercialized, equipped with chairlift, gondolas, elevators, tobogans, and concrete walkways/steps.

42. People at mountains and national parks offer sedan chairs which carry people up and down the mountain for a fee

43. Dialect in provinces can differ greatly with even words as simple as “thank you” pronounced differently.

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8 Responses to 43 Things You Didn’t Know About China

  1. Having lived in China for a while and being Chinese-American, I always find it fascinating what people notice when they visit the country. For no 7, the plates/bowls/etc sealed in plastic indicate that they have been sanitized!

    Edna December 13, 2012 at 10:43 AM Reply
    • Every country brings its own set of observations. It’s good to note them right away before you forget and just become accustomed to it. We’re already noticing things with Vietnam!

      Dave and Vicky December 13, 2012 at 1:31 PM Reply
  2. Great list! China sounds so intriguing and confusing. I really want to go.

    #42 – That would suit me!!!!
    #24 – That would suit Master Reuben!!!

    Bethaney - Flashpacker Family December 13, 2012 at 4:37 PM Reply
  3. I think most waiters in Asia actually wait at your table whilst you are choosing. I don’t like it either. I always feel really pressured choosing something quickly. Have experienced it in Singapore, Cambodia, Malaysia and Thailand.

    That sedan chair is just insane. That must be so hard carrying such a huge thing plus a person up a mountain. Crazy!

    TammyOnTheMove December 14, 2012 at 4:19 AM Reply
    • Surprisingly haven’t noticed it much in Vietnam though!

      Dave and Vicky December 14, 2012 at 4:33 AM Reply
  4. Hah, awesome list!!! Reminds me of SEA a bit. I need to visit China, though I’m kind of intimidated.

    Izy Berry April 5, 2013 at 11:04 PM Reply
  5. All 43 of these are spot on. I spent 6 months in China and could not have summed it up better myself.

    Keren July 22, 2014 at 9:02 AM Reply

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