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Do's & Don'ts

DO AS THE LOCALS DO! We recommend to note some essential do's and don'ts and to follow them before setting foot into Middle Kingdom.

Please Do:

  • tip your drivers and tour guides as well as porters at hotels
  • show your respect and always greet the oldest person of a group first
  • hand over and receive things (for example business cards) to or from others with both hands. It shows your mindfulness while giving things only with one hand shows that you don't care.
  • come on time as it shows your respect towards others. For important meetings it is even good to arrive 5-10 minutes early.
  • keep your political opinion privately. Party memberships, delicate history, fragile international and domestic relationships, stories about Mao Zedong (good and bad) are always very sensitive topics. Let locals start a conversation and also then, be guarded.
  • take off your shoes when entering a temple or a Chinese home. If your host insists that you leave them on, please do so.
  • make small gifts (something from your home town or country, booze or cigarettes) but avoid the number 4 (sounds similar to 'death' in Chinese) and watches (can be interpreted as 'your time over'); a real Rolex is ok though ;)
  • learn some basic Chinese, locals will be positively surprised and honor your effort by telling you how well you can speak!
  • as the locals do. And if you don't then you'll most likely be excused if you are a foreigner.


Please Don't:

  • tip in restaurants or when taking a taxi
  • tip 250 RMB. Two hundred and fifty means '二百五' (er bai wu) in Chinese, which also means 'idiot'
  • expect too many people speaking English or any other language than Chinese or a local dialect, even at hotels or tourist sites.
  • put business cards of others into the back pocket of your trousers but rather into your wallet or shirt pocket (close to the heart).
  • refuse offered food and drinks unless you really cannot take it. At least try a bit!
  • get visibly angry and shout even if you want to. Freaking out just makes things worse, especially as a guest in another country.
  • get offended when being asked personal and maybe even indiscreet questions (marital status, income, etc.). Rather say 'yes, I'm married' when you're older than 30 years old and 'not much' when asked for your salary. Don't forget to smile politely - you will be understood.
  • open gifts right away but put them aside first. It would indicate that you are greedy.
  • be irritated if people smoke in restaurants or even smoke while eating.
  • gesture with your chopsticks, they are for eating only.