Familiarizing yourself with a new city can prove to be difficult for anyone. For most Laowai (foreigners) who plan to spend an extended time in Beijing, the contrasting practices and cultures of this historic Chinese city will surely be overwhelming. After spending years dividing my time between Los Angeles and Beijing, I have picked up some personal tips and tricks along the way to ease the transition for newcomers. Here is the first post in a series of these tips and tricks, I hope it helps.
- Get a Beijing MetroCard and refill it often. This will save you a significant amount of money when traveling in the city.
- Learn how to pronounce Chinese locations in a Beijing accent for your taxi drivers.
- Subscribe to a VPN client for international internet access without Chinese restrictions. Learn how to operate the VPN on your computer and phone. Just a reminder: using a VPN uses extra cellular data on your phone, so be mindful.
- Familiarize yourself with the San-Li-Tun area, it is a lively place for younger crowds to congregate with many bars and restaurants.
- For clean water, the best bang-for-your-buck is NongFu Springs 4L Water Bottles. Additionally, boiled Tap Water works just fine.
- Learn the Chinese numerical hand signals of 1-10. This will always supersede the language barrier.
- Pleco app is invaluable as a Mandarin/English dictionary and translator
- Download WeChat and Weibo apps (and maybe QQ, depending on your social group). They are the most popular social networks amongst Beijing locals.
- Never enter a black taxi. They are illegal taxi scams who prey on and extort the Laowai.