Etiquette

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.