In my opinion, it is important to understand basic local culture and its rules as ways to travel safely in a new place when you are in a foreign city. From this trip, here are some interesting local facts about Beijing:
- Ring roads: Beijing is one of the few cities having “ring roads” (beltway) as its main infrastructure. There are a total of six ring roads (Sixth Ring Road is the newest and remotest from central Beijing). For example, the Olympic stadium, Bird’s Nest, is located close to Fifth Ring Road.
- Pollution: Being one of the industrial cities and the main transportation hob, air pollution is real. It is the main reason why people wear “medical mask” around streets due to the thickness of haze, not because they want to imitate the late Michael Jackson for his fashion trend.
- Traffic: Car has the right of way, not pedestrians. I learned this immediately because cars would not stop for you to cross the street.
- Iced water: Getting bottled waters is easier than having a glass of iced water in restaurants. It is not within Chinese culture to serve iced water to its customers. Instead, they opted “warm water” as the norm to hydrate the body.
- Burping: I find it disgusting but it is culturally acceptable to burp in public. I have people burping around me in the street, loud and proud.
- Smoking in the bathroom: Smoking is not allowed inside the building. However, many people take the short cut and headed to the bathroom for a quick fix. So don’t be alarmed and catch people smoking in the stall when you try to use the bathroom.
- WeChat: It is the most used app in China for its multiple functionalities. Besides using this app to communicate with each other, you can also transfer money from one user to another user for its convenience. So it is not a bad idea to download this app prior to your trip.
- Cash/ATM: I had a hard time finding the right ATM machine to get instant cash. Check with your hotel concierge and your personal bank for the right ATM recommendations.
- Uber: There are Uber service in Beijing and it is under China’s Didi Kuaidi partnership for this new venture. By the way, taxi cabs don’t take credit cards so it is important to have enough cash on hand if you need taxi services.
Hopefully you find this information interesting and useful! At the end of the day, it is all about using common sense for a safe trip!