I am planning a RWT and want to include China. I have looked up things to see if it is safe to travel on your own there and have been reasured that it is however i have heard that not many people speak English and road signs are hard to understand! therefore traveling independently in China is difficult? I was wondering if anyone who has travelled China could tell me about there experiences and if i am better doing a tour?
its not a spam it is a genuine request for information on traveling in China and really would be grateful to get any!!
seeking info if i can get past Harry!!
Hey Cats, Don't worry. It's not you who's been called for spamming, but Harry in his reply.
China is perfectly safe (as well as anywhere else). Road signs are now almost all in English as well as Chinese (although in a few cities/towns, street names aren't much in evidence, but that happens all over the world), although how much difference that makes until the ban on foreign drivers outside of Beijing, Shanghai cities and the two SARs is negligible. At least you'll know where the bus is going though.
English speaking is hit and miss, I admit. In the big tourist areas and major cities, you can always find people, in the countryside it's harder. But again, thats similar to large chunks of the world. The people are in general exceptionally frienbdly (and curious) about foreigners, so you are unlikely to be properly stuck for long, if at all. I've been in China for 3 of the last 4 months and have had very little problem. Sure, there are moments you struggle to communicate, but normally charades, pointing, phrase books etc solve eberything. I've never been completely stuck, and meetings with the locals are normally hugely rewarding.
My husband and I went from Vietnam Frienship Pass to Beijing in December and January and it was defintely easy to get around. We did have a phrase book and eventually a lonely planet guide. At some bus stations we had to do some character matching but it was cool. A lot of times people just jumped in front of us in lines so that was irritating but if you know the names of the places you want to go to the person at the desk is typically helpful. We did both buses and trains and all was great. Watch out for scams. Especially people trying to be your friend and take you for tea and a traditional tea ceremony. We walked right into a scam and might have to hitchhike home through central america because we lost a good chunk.
Tea ceremony... Ah, the memories. It's always nice to see I'm not the only fool on the planet.
The only other advice I have is that often your hotel or hostel will often provide cards with Chinese and English on them that ask cab drivers to take you to various sites around the area (and back to your hotel again). If they don't have that, get someone who writes both English and Chinese to write out things for you like, "how do I walk to the Imperial City?" and that can assist.
People are very friendly, though, and I was often able to make myself understood with smiles, pointing and some mime. (Seriously, I can do a mean pig impression - comes in handy in restaurants to identify your meal).
Thanks for the advice and reasurance!!