China Travel Tips – 20 China Hacks You Must Know

20 China Travel Hacks to Make Your Time in China Super Smooth

Need some China travel tips, tricks, and hacks to help get by in China?

If you’re new around here these China hacks are about to become very helpful!

Trust us, we know China pretty well by now!

We boast many years of living experience in China. So each of these China travel tips has come to serve us very well.

I’m not going to sugar coat it for you. Moving to China can be a real smack to the face in terms of the culture shock.

If you’re not adequately prepared you might be on a flight back home within a few days.

Here’s the breakdown of our 20 China Travel Tips to surviving in China.

China Hack #1 Train Doors

China Hack #2 Train Tickets

China Hack #3 Chinese Address

China Hack #4 Zhège

China Hack #5 11.11

China Hack #6 Luckin Coupons

China Hack #7 Mr Li

China Hack #8 Baidu Translate

China Hack #9 Reverse Image

China Hack #10 Xiaomi

China Hack #11 Chinese Apple ID

China Hack #12 AliPay

China Hack #13 Supermarket Discounts

China Hack #14 fú wù yuán

China Hack #15 The Vegan Hack

China Hack #16 Flashcards

China Hack #17 Netflix VPN Hack

China Hack #18 Chinese Streaming

China Hack #19 Chinese Friends

China Hack #20 Mandarin Basics

#1 The Train Doors China Hack

OK China travel tips don’t come more crucial than this…

If you haven’t experienced a peak hour on the Beijing Metro… Prepare yourself for an emotional rollercoaster.

DID YOU KNOW – Beijing boasts 394 Metro Stops!

There will be no such thing as personal space on this trip during rush hour (take note of lines 10, 14 and 6 in particular)!

Rush Hour Beijing Metro
Rush Hour Beijing Metro

Thankfully there is a simple China hack to make this ride a little more pleasant.

The trick is to get a space to the left or right of the train doors.

This way the heavy crowds will pass you by without pushing you back forth. To secure your place in this amazing spot in the train, you might have to let a few trains pass you so you can be at the front of the line when your train arrives.

Beijing Metro Map: Discover all 490 Stations and 27 Lines Thumbnail

Beijing Metro Map: Discover all 490 Stations and 27 Lines

In this guide, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about all 27 lines, which ones to take for famous sites, how to buy tickets and travel tips.

#2 Train Tickets on Your Phone China Hack

Buying that blue piece of plastic and topping up with cash every time you run out, ain’t nobody got time for that.

If you’re working in China you’ll be able to add your Chinese bank card to your apple wallet.

From there add your Beijing, Shanghai or other cities metro pass and add money directly from your bank account.

Very simple, very useful China travel tip!

#3 Getting a Chinese Address From WeChat China Hack

Sometimes friends will send you a location from Wechat. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to copy the Chinese address into Didi (Uber).

Thankfully there is a China Travel Tip for this.

  1. Open the location on WeChat
  2. Click the green circle and open in Apple maps
  3. Click my location
  4. Copy-paste Chinese location into DiDi

Voila, job done!

#4 Zhège hack

My personal favourite: the zhège hack. Basically, you can order anything you like by just saying “zhège”.

Don’t believe me? Watch me do it a Subway.

#5 The 11.11 China Hack

The 11th of November in China is known as Singles Day. And what better way to forget your troubles of the #singlelife than indulge yourself in the largest consumer event on planet earth.

11.11 is the Black Friday of China. And starting at 12.01 AM, you’ll be able to get incredible discounts on most products on China’s largest online store, Taobao.

In the weeks leading up to Singles Day, we like to save products in our wish list so we can purchase as soon as the discounts come into effect.

#6 Luckin Coupons

Hi my name is Campbell and I’m addicted to Luckin’ coffee coupons.

That feels good to get out there in the open.

Luckin Coffee is a chain of coffee stores across China. And this little guy is on an absolute mission for coffee dominance.

Founded in 2017 this coffee chain now has 4,260 stores across China!

Campbell the Marketing Wizard, enjoying his cashless coffee!
Campbell the Marketing Wizard, enjoying his cashless coffee!

To put that meteoric rise in perspective. Starbucks has 3,300 coffee shops in China but first arrived in 1999!

Anyway, I’m getting off track. COUPONS!

So Luckin Coffee is a cashless coffee chain. This means each transaction must be done with China’s digital money via WeChat or Alipay.

Each time you make a purchase you’ll receive a coupon that you can use and share with your friends.

If you can find a group of Luckin’ super fans such as the LTL Marketing team you’ll have a never-ending supply of Luckin coffee coupons.

The best we’ve ever seen is $1 USD for a Latté!

#7 Get a Water Jug Guy

Meet Mr Li (李). Mr Li is the unsung hero of Beijing.

Believe it or if you’ve ever been to China you’ve seen Mr Li! That’s because 85% of the population share the same 100 last names and Li (李) is one of those Chinese names.

Now, this particular Mr Li is up day and night, in hot and cold conditions.

Driving his mini-truck full of jugs of water to the citizens of China.

Just send him 26 RMB and leave your empty jug at your door and a full jug of water will be sitting there when you get home!

Want a Chinese Name?

China Hacks Mr Li
China Hacks Mr Li

#8 Baidu Translate China Hack

Welcome to the greatest translation app I’ve ever seen!

This incredible app is able to scan Chinese writing and translate it into your language!

Additionally, switch it into conversation mode and you’ll be able to talk to someone in real-time with your words translated into Chinese and vice versa.

#9 Reverse image search

You might have heard of this feature on Google images. You can upload an image and Google will search the web for similar-looking images.

Well take that concept but bring it to Taobao!

Remember that cute dress you saw on Instagram? Screenshot that and reverse image search on Taobao! You’ll thank me later.

#10 Xiaomi

“Hey, cool guy at the cafe, is that the latest Mac and iPhone?”

“No that’s just my Xiaomi phone and computer”


Xiaomi is a giant electronics in China. In it, you’ll find a wide range of electronics. The best products, debatably, being their range of computers and cellphones.

With similar elegant designs to Apple. They run on Windows and Android respectively and have a pretty impressive processor and cameras inside them.

A very useful China travel tip to save some vital dollar.

#11 Get a Chinese Apple ID

Unlock the full potential of Chinese apps by adding a Chinese Apple ID to your app store.

You might encounter problems downloading Chinese apps such as Didi or creating a Chinese PayPal.

The simple solution is to logout of the app store and create a new Apple ID with a new email and phone number and set your country settings to China.

#12 AliPay for Foreigners China Hack

AliPay recently announced they’ll be allowing Foreign credit cards on their network. Taobao here we come!

This is an incredibly handy China travel tip if you are here short term and do not want to handle too much cash.

Need help navigating your way around AliPay?

#13 Supermarket discounts

This China hack might not be unique to China.

Most supermarkets across China want to sell those sushi rolls and other quick food options at the front before closing.

As such there’s usually a 30% off everything must go sale around 8 PM.

#14 Restaurant China Hack

If you’ve been dining in a Chinese restaurant before you should be no stranger to people shouting “fú wù yuán” across the room.

This might seem jarring and rude at first BUT you have to appreciate the cultural difference going on.

In western culture, waiters come by frequently asking “how’s the meal” and can they get you anything else. In Chinese culture, it’s rude to interrupt a meal. So waiters politely wait to be called over.

So don’t be shy, “服员 fú yuán!”

#15 The Vegan China Hack

There is no word for Vegan in Chinese. You have to use several words to explain it 純素食者(chún sù shí zhě).

However, there are Buddhists in China and it’s well known they are vegetarian so saying you’re Buddhist 佛 (fú) is a faster way of expressing yourself.

Want more information about the religions in China?

#16 Flashcards

When you first arrive in China you’ll be without a bank account, subway card and sim card.

Even the waiters are ignoring you!

It’s a great idea to carry some simple flashcards with you to help get your point across! Thankfully we’ve already printed them!

Come by anytime and we’ll give you a set! No joke. LTL student or not we’d love to meet you and say hi.

China Hacks Flashcards
China Hacks Flashcards

#17 Chinese Netflix

Dear Netflix users. Prepare yourself for a game-changer, one of the top China travel tips you need to know!

Netflix doesn’t have the rights to stream it’s entire movie and TV catalogue to all users.

They’re only able to play what they have the rights to in each country.

We’ll prepare to be Mr Hackerman!

Go to search for a film you want to watch and it will tell you what countries Netflix has the rights to play that film in!

Two clicks later on your VPN and you’re in Romania watching James Bond!

Need help navigating the world of VPN’s?

#18 Chinese Hacks Streaming Websites

While Netflix is the king of streaming across the globe, it’s a bit of a different story in China.

If you’re being frustrated by the internet speed caused by using a VPN to watch your movies, another great option is to sign up to a Chinese Streaming service!

While there are plenty of free options with frequent adds, VIP access to sites like Iqiyi will have you up and running with plenty of western movies and the subscription prices are quite reasonable!

#19 China Hack: Make Chinese Friends

I thought I had China on lockdown with all my China travel tips. Then I went to dinner with some Chinese friends.

Put those flashcards away pal!

While things do get easier the longer you live in China there is honestly no substitute to your Chinese friends shouting 服务员 across the room and getting you that Kung Pao chicken.

#20 Learn the Basics of Chinese

The HSK exam is a test of your abilities to speak Chinese. There are 6 levels, 1 being the lowest 6 being the highest.

It’s broken down by how many Chinese words you can speak and write.

HSK 1: 150 words
HSK 2: 300 words
HSK 3: 600 words
HSK 4: 1200 words
HSK 5: 2500 words
HSK 6: >5000 words

I think we can all agree at HSK 6 you’re a wizard. However, speak to anyone at HSK 2 or 3 and they will tell you how much easier their lives have become in China!

So spending a little time to gain 150 – 600 words in your vocabulary is the greatest China hack of them all!

Better yet if you want to learn some simple sentences for getting around. We’ve made 100 basic mandarin flashcards you can memorize!

If you’d like to know what’s your actual HSK level, we developed free HSK vocabulary tests for you to try out.

Lastly, have you heard about the new HSK system? The HSK will have 9 levels instead of 6!

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