China is considered an extremely safe travel destination, with very low rates of violent crime in its major cities. Foreign visitors are still advised to take a few precautions however, to make their trip as safe and enjoyable as possible. Here are the top three things you can do to stay safe:
1) Expect the unexpected
China is a unique country, and visitors often experience a bit of culture shock. To stay safe and enjoy your trip, it’s best to know this ahead of time and just expect the unexpected! In his blog for 1Cover, Ben Groundwater advises travellers to go with the flow and expect things to be different. For example, people openly spit in public and squat toilets are common – but you shouldn’t let it get in the way of your enjoyment.
This advice also goes for being wary of scammers – expect that some people may just try it on with you, especially taxi drivers. When you try to hail an official, legal taxi, you may be approached by illegal taxi drivers asking where you want to go. These unlicensed “black taxis” are best avoided. Marked cabs have standard rates and use meters – watch to ensure that your driver starts the meter so you’ll be charged fairly. Make sure you have small bills available so you don’t run into the problem of overpaying when a driver can’t give you change.
2) Look after your valuables
While it’s unlikely that you will be mugged and violent crimes against foreigners are rare, there’s a risk of petty theft in any major tourist site. Watch out for pickpocketing in places that attract large crowds of tourists, such as the Forbidden City in Beijing, Yuyuan Garden in Shanghai, or the Great Wall of China visitor centre at Badaling. Pickpocketers often work together, with one person distracting you while another steals your wallet. Stay vigilant, keep your back pockets empty, and keep your handbag in your lap at restaurants.
3) Safe eating is great eating!
There’s a good reason that Chinese food is popular in so many countries around the world – it’s delicious! Trying authentic Chinese food is an essential part of the tourist experience, but it does come with some risks that you should be aware of before you dig in. Follow a few basic rules to enjoy China’s amazing cuisine, while still being mindful of food safety!
Be careful with street food. Although street food is very trendy at the moment and feels “authentic”, it can be risky. Street food is less regulated and may not follow the sanitation and food safety standards that a restaurant would have to comply with. If you’re keen to try street food, ask your hotel for recommendations.
When it comes to restaurants, eat where the locals eat! If a restaurant is busy and seems to attract locals, that’s a good sign that it’s clean and safe to eat there.