Don’t talk to strangers! And other vital travel tips for Chinese tourists

Don’t talk to strangers! And other vital travel tips for Chinese tourists

Chinese media advise citizens how to be “civilized” tourists, but the list contains a few surprises
Chinese travelers
Chinese tourists in the British Museum. As all savvy travelers know: do not open umbrellas indoors while in Britain.

As nearly 80 million Chinese pack their bags for an overseas trip in 2012, the country’s media are itching to make sure everyone knows how to properly behave while traveling abroad.

Yangcheng Wan Bao (羊城晚报), a Guangzhou evening paper, recently published an article (in simplified Chinese only) with a list of dos and don’ts for travelers who plan to tour Europe and the United States.

Don't walk under ladders, and don't talk to strangers

Instead of conventional cultural briefings, the article lays out some slightly obscure instructions.

Here are the highlights:

  • In France, follow the “ladies-first” rule strictly. Do not cut through crowds; if you have to, apologize beforehand.
  • In Britain, do not 1) cross legs while sitting; 2) walk under ladders (of all things) 3) open umbrellas indoors (as if it’s high on any travelers’ agenda) 4) joke about royal matters.
  • In Germany, do not 1) use the same knife or fork for fish and meat 2) mix beer and wine 3) overload buffet plates.
  • In Switzerland, do not blow on hot food to cool it down.
  • In Italy, do not 1) jump into the fountains half-naked 2) sit by the sidewalk and munch on sandwiches.

These tips are drawn, according to the article, from local customs. 

The paper also brought on Huo Lixia (霍丽霞), a U.S. travel expert from a local tour company, to advise on what to expect in the United States.

Huo’s advice focused on safety issues, including how to react when confronted by police officers or criminals.

Tourists who are not traveling in a group need to have an in-depth understanding of the destination, and must not behave rashly, said Huo.

She also suggested travelers should “not talk to strangers while going solo," but did not explain why.

More on CNNGo: Demystifying the Chinese traveler

“The expert opinions in [Yangcheng Wan Bao’s] article are very accurate,” said Jiang Wenli (蒋文利) of Qunar, China’s major travel website.

“More and more [Chinese visitors] choose to travel by themselves. While this gives travelers more freedom and costs less, they need to make their own arrangements and keep themselves safe."

Education and publicity

Mao Peiqi (毛佩琦), professor of Renmin University of China, stressed the importance for Chinese to be “civilized tourists” during a conference on this year's Chinese Tourism Day (May 18), reported (in simplified Chinese only).

According to Mao, overseas Chinese tourists are changing, but they often do not realize that some of their behavior is not polite, for example playing cards on the streets and making noises while eating. The key to tourism civilization is education and publicity.

More on CNNGo: Who are the world's worst tourists?

Yangcheng Wan Bao’s article followed several Chinese tourists’ recent travel woes in the United States.

Chinese media have reported that six independent Guangzhou travelers entered the North Island Navy Air Base by accident while traveling in Coronado, California. The U.S. military authorities confiscated their passports and interrogated them for two hours.

These travelers were eventually given back their passports and released after clarifying their intention.