China in detail


China is a pretty relaxed country regarding etiquette, but be aware of a few things:

  • Greetings and goodbyes Shake hands, but never kiss someone’s cheek. Say ‘Nihǎo’ for hello and ‘Zàijiàn’ (or increasingly just 'Bye bye') for goodbye
  • Asking for help To ask for directions start with ‘Qǐng wèn….’ (‘Can I ask…’); say ‘Duìbuqǐ’ ('Sorry') to apologise.
  • Religion Dress sensitively when visiting Buddhist (especially in Tibet) and Taoist temples, churches and mosques.
  • Eating and drinking Help fill your neighbour’s plate at the dinner table; toast the host and others at the table; at the start of dinner, wait till toasting starts before drinking from your glass; offer your cigarettes around if you smoke; always offer to buy drinks in a bar but never fight over the drink/food tab if someone else wants to pay (but do offer at least once).
  • Gestures Don’t use too many hand movements or excessive body language.