1 -- If
someone invites you to dinner it is a compliment and
honor. Arrive promptly, and no more than 15 minutes early. In
Western culture you eat and then afterwards relax and talk.
In China, the main social event is the meal itself, and the
gathering ends when the guests rise from the table. You may,
therefore, leave whenever you feel it is appropriate.
2 -- Most Chinese families
eat dinner between 6:00 pm and 7:00 PM and dinner is the most
important meal of the day. The mainstay of the diet is rice.
3 -- A typical simple Chinese
breakfast is congee (rice porridge with fish or meat or vegetables).
A Cantonese breakfast consists of a variety of several small
dishes, such as meatballs, vegetable dumplings, and BBQ Pork
Buns (commonly called dim sum).
4 -- The social norms in
China in regards to alcohol, like most things, have their own
particularities. If you prefer to abstain from drinking, you
should be prepared for a certain amount of peer pressure, and
it is therefore helpful if you practice how to do so gracefully.
It is poor taste but acceptable to get drunk in a bar or disco,
but not recommended as it makes you vulnerable to theft. It
is never acceptable to get drunk while eating dinner at someone's
home, even if the host should do so.
Ed. note: Women travellers should always watch their
alcohol intake. Too much to drink and your reasoning ability
diminishes and everybody sees you as 'fair game.'
5 -- If you want to bring
a gift to the family, a gift from your culture or toys for the
children is acceptable. Food or candy is often a good gift.
If you are travelling with a man tell him that he should never
give a gift directly to your host's wife. This can be misunderstood
and your host will lose face.
6 -- Chinese eat a lot of
fish and spicy food. If you are sensitive to spicy food you
may want to drink a glass of milk before you go to dinner. Chinese
families will understand if you say the food is too spicy for
you and you cannot eat it, but you should at least be courteous
enough to taste it, if you can.
7 -- In the evening, Chinese
go out to have a good time, so restaurants are jovial and the
noise levels are high.
8 -- Asking to take left
over food with you from a restaurant is acceptable if you are
paying the bill.
9 --T here is generally
no tipping in Chinese restaurants (except in the big cities
and in big hotels). They have never heard of it and the waitresses
give all the money on the table to the cashier.
10 - Always call if you
cannot keep a date.
- If you travel into the countryside and accept lodging
with a family you do not know, always privately offer money
to the wifebefore you leave. It is customary to refuse three
times before accepting the money. Keep offering.
Ed. Note: For obvious reasons,
a woman travelling solo should be extremely careful about accepting
free lodging from someone they do not know. That said, trust
your intuition and your gut feeling and try to make at least
one other person know where you are spending the night.
12 - Chinese people do not
hug when they greet one another or part.