Friday, July 09, 2010

Business Traveller Tip: Seven Tips for Travelling in China

Have just returned from a 13 day business trip covering greater China (China itself, Hong Kong and Taiwan). For the latest in my series of business traveller tips I present to you “seven tips for business travelling in China”:
  1. Present your business card properly: The western way to hand over a card is with the card in the left hand and shake with the right. The polite Chinese way to hand over a card is with the card presented name forward held by the thumb and forefinger of both the right and left hands. By holding the card in two hands you present the card in a courteous way and give the receiver a clear chance to review and confirm your name and title. You should similarly receive presented cards by accepting the card with two hands;
  2. Don’t discount the local 5 star properties: China is full of western five star hotels from Starwood, Accor, IHG etc. The temptation when on the company dollar is to stay at one of these safe (and beautiful) properties. However there are also some excellent local 5 star properties and chains. On this trip I stayed at the Taipei Park hotel in Tapei and the Taiwanese owned Les Suites Orient in Shanghai. Both fantastic properties. I also visited scores of local properties and came a cross a number of gems. Research the local 5s before picking a place to stay;
  3. Lean a few words of Mandarin. Get an app or download a podcast (try the one minute Mandarin series) and learn a few phrases like hello, thank you and my name is… Easy to do and easy to impress with;
  4. Leave room in your bag for shopping. The shopping is incredible – especially the range and price for toys for children and the cost of tailored shirts. Keep some space in your bag because you will be tempted to buy something. If a regular traveller then forge a relationship with a tailor (I recommend Jantzen. If you go there tell them I sent you);
  5. If you leave the hotel, get “the card”: The concierge will have a card with the name of the hotel and directions designed for taxi drivers. Take it with you whenever you leave the hotel;
  6. You will need a VPN to be social: General Chinese mainland internet connectivity blocks Twitter, Facebook, Blogger and other social networking and UGC sites. Not all the time but most of the time. Connecting to the Internet through your corporate VPN will probably get you around the Great Wall filter and allow you to be as online social as you like; and
  7. Be adventurous with food: The Chinese food of China is different to the Chinese food of western Chinese restaurants. There is a greater range of food and regional variation. Be adventurous. Try different things – you will be surprised. This trip I tried and enjoyed baked fish head (two regional versions), chilled jelly fish, glutinous rice stuffed dates, fried oyster omelette, sweet cabbage soup and braised sea cucumber (think long jelly fish). As well as enjoying the less adventurous but delicious roast duck (three different regional variations) and stir fired eggplant (again three variations). I enjoyed all of it except the sea cucumber. But am glad I tried it (see the photo above of me eating). If you are interested in how much Chinese food has changed in getting to the West check out the site the Fortune Cookie Chronicles
Do you have any other tips for making the most out of of a biz trip to China?


Anonymous said...

I like that you share all information in easy seven steps. If you have some experience which my helps the tourist in china then please share with us.

Anonymous said...

You sound like an old China hand... not

patricia said...

Nice tips, I think all of those tips had been base on your experience. Am I right? Well, pretty interesting and I just already read it. Anyways, thanks so much...