Little-known Chinese customs travelers should know


DALLAS, TX – Chinese outbound tourism continues to rise according to the Chinese International Travel Monitor (CITM), and with the US being the most visited international destination among Chinese travelers in 2014, many US hotels are catering to Chinese culture and traveler preferences. But China is also projected to be a top 10 international outbound destination for Americans this year.

To help American travelers considering a visit to this vast and diverse country, has compiled some cultural traditions, etiquette tips and quirky insights to keep in mind.

eTN Chatroom: Discuss with readers from around the world:

“The best part of traveling is learning about cultures much different than our own, but it helps to be in-the-know before you jump on the plane,” said Taylor L. Cole, APR, travel expert.

Below are some behaviors and traditions U.S. travelers can learn to prepare for travel to China:

1. Smile! According to a survey, 12% of Chinese respondents said they always greet fellow guests on a hotel elevator, but 35% only greet guests on an elevator if they look friendly and smile.

2. Tea etiquette: Always serve yourself last when pouring tea – start with the eldest person at the table first. To show appreciation for someone pouring your tea, tap two fingers on the table.

3. Where’s #4? You will never see a hotel or building with a 4th floor. The number four is considered bad luck, as it has similar pronunciation to the word “death.”

4. Elevator etiquette: Only 24% of people admit to having passed gas in an elevator, but it’s more common in certain APAC countries according to a survey, which found that 28% of Chinese respondents admitted to doing so on an elevator.

5. Yes or No? It is traditional to refuse something at least once, as it is a sign of politeness. So when someone offers you the last bite of fish, you’re expected to refuse once or twice to seem humbled by the offer.

6. Cheers! Toasts are made by holding a glass with two hands.

7. Close talkers: In China, personal space is minimal or nonexistent. Be prepared for some close proximity on trains, stores and elevators.

8. Punctuality: Timeliness is synonymous with respect. Be on time or early for tours, hotel check-out and dinner reservations.