A free guide to helping you get by with the Chinese!

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When In China!

...do as the Chinese do.

Coming to China and not sure about what you have heard? Wanting to make a good first impression or just avoid offending the locals? 

Then read my guide to all things Chinese if you are visiting or plan to settle in China. Remember, as the saying goes:When In... !


A big place


China is of course massive in its size. There is ‘mainland’ China, which covers all the main provinces from the far north near Mongolia, to the south, bordering Vietnam. Then, one can include the shopping mecca that is Hong Kong (formerly British and in which cars still drive on the left-hand side), Casino capital Macao (an hour by boat from Hong Kong, formerly Portuguese), the island of Taiwan, in the far West is sandy and dry Xinjiang, and finally high altitude Tibet and it’s fascinating heritage. It goes without saying then that China has a varied wealth of landscape, culture and people. Beijing, Olympic capital city and commercial paradise Shanghai, are regarded as the most affluent cities. Guangzhou, near Hong Kong, has also made its business mark and is a base for many heavy industries that power the ‘Made in China’ brand.

As a newby to China, you should know that not all Chinese are the same (that steroetype that much of the world uses). The majority belong to the Han race (ethnicity). Then, there are over 50 other ethnicities, that although they share similar, very similar, physical features from the dominant Han, they have their own customs, dialects and in some cases, belief systems. Many of these are confined to large mainland towns or mountainous areas but they have very much learnt how to open themselves to tourism (for mainly the Han to enjoy). You can dip into their world, their hillside villages, in many provinces around the centre and south of China. The far West is predonimantly Muslim (Xinjiang), Tibetans are also distinctively non-Han and then we have the Mongols in Inner Mongola and their still-nomadic ways. There is also the expansive Hui people who look like the Han but are in fact, strict Muslims. They stretch across the north (especially around Xian) and often run great noodle restaurants. Look out for their white faith hats. In all, this ever so brief summary does little to alert you to the many ethnic people (more below):

A lot of nationalities...


After the populous Han, there are the Mongols and Daur; who still lead a nomadic, herdsmen life, Hui; Muslim Chinese folk scattered throughout the central provinces, Uighur; a Turkic Muslim people from Xinjiang, Zhuang; the largest ethnic minority in China around Guangxi, the Maio; Yi; Bouyei; Dong; Yao; Hani; Li; Dai; Dongxiang; Naxi; Jingpo; Maonan; Xibe; Nu; Yugur but to name a few! Most of these can be found scattered throughout ‘mainland’ China with traditional village lifestyles, colourful headdresses and still maintaining peculiar yet fascinating festivals and soul-searching song. The largest ethnic minority are the Mongolians (4,802,40001) and the smallest the Gaoshan of Taiwan (2,9001). Nearly all of the ethnic groups mentioned above and others unmentioned, have similar facial features, languages, traditional dress, and indeed, habits and greetings. However, it would be fair to assume that most of the world regards China as being of one particular ethnicity: the Han. And they are by far the most populous ethnicity in China who can be found in all regions in large numbers. This guide therefore, focuses not on small, isolated minorities but on the mainstream Han lifestyle that you’ll most likely be surrounded by on a prolonged or just a short visit to the People’s Republic of China (PRC).



1.Based on the Fourth National Census, July 1, 1990 – cited in China’s Ethnic Minorities, Foreign Language Press (2005)

Wanna check out some awesome rotational photos of China scenic spots?



Soon I will be publishing the Top Ten Misconceptions about China and the Chinese!