China hack

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I’ve put together a list of things I learned the hard way that I have called a China hack. Your mileage my vary. Rules change constantly in China. What would have been a China hack for me might be not possible for you. Real ID is being extended to all phone SIMs – you might not be able to get a PAYG phone SIM like I did.

  • Do get a Starbucks card if you are here for any length of time. It doesn’t charge like it does in the west and Hong Kong, instead it costs you 100 Yuan, but does provide you with vouchers and a discount on your order and they have free wi-fi in many of their coffee shops
  • Bring a SIM-free mobile phone with you. There isn’t that much of a price differentiation between legitimate phones in China and the West – bringing one from home means that you will have English language instructions
  • Do get a local PAYG SIM card. Many things in China are arranged over the phone. Having a local SIM card reduces the amount you will spend. I have a China Mobile SIM which gives me a Hong Kong number and a Chinese number. International calls on the card are from 1 yuan-a-minute
  • If you are going to buy DVDs here, don’t buy off the street. The best ones are usually found in the markets. They tend not to be openly sold on stalls. Personally, I’d advise against it, its just not worth the risk given the low prices that Amazon usually have on if you shop carefully. If you are looking for local films I can recommend – which has a wide selection of legal Chinese and Hong Kong films with English subtitles
  • Always carry a pack of tissues with you, it comes in handy if you have go to the toilet. Whilst facilities are generally clean; a number expect you to bring your own supplies. The reason for this is the army of middle aged men and women who steal toilet roll, liquid soap and anything else that isn’t screwed down
  • Do bring a laptop or an external hard drive with you to take advantage of the free (legitimate) music downloads available though Google Music China
  • In the same way that you tend to find dodgy diet Coke allegedly made in former Russian republics from small shops in London. Buying your groceries in a smaller shop in China poses similar risks. Good places to shop include Jasco and Walmart
  • Do bring index cards with you. Get a Chinese friend to write any address you are going to on the front and be sure to label the back of them. They are invaluable for working with taxi drivers

More China related posts here.