Eating Chinese Food

To follow up with my last post on Eating from the Street Vendors, I want to talk about two problems that should be mentioned. Constipation and Diarrhea. Constipation can come from anxiety while travelling; but most common because of MSG in the food. MSG is used in many foods especially sauces. Avoid eating too many foods with sauces in them and you will avoid that problem. Packing a medication for it will be helpful or your guide can suggest a Chinese medication that is natural. For Diarrhea, it can come from many sources. Avoid eating from the street vendors if possible as some meats and fish sit out in the open and sometimes do not get cooked enough. Only drink bottled water no matter what the signs say in the hotels, even the 5 star hotels. Most hotels furnish some bottled water in the room but it is available everywhere. In an emergency boil the water in the room with the electric tea pots and put it in glasses and put them in the small refrigerator in the room. Change in diet when you first arrive in China also can cause some diarrhea. Allergic reactions can also happen such as mine to ice cream. My lips swell up for about 4 hours so I know I need to avoid it. For more information contact us at Tours to China has been our only business for 25 years featuring Private Custom Tours for individuals or groups with specific interests. We furnish references of former clients with their permission. Click on the photos for a full screen view.

Eating On the Street

A question I get asked many times is: Is it safe to eat food from the street vendors? In Beijing just off Wangfujing Street is the Night Market. You will see many people eating there as is the custom of young people in China. Cheap and fast food for those who do not want to spend the time cooking. That is the way of the young people in China today. Rightly so as it takes a great deal of time to shop, chop and cook Chinese food for one or two persons. Whether it is safe or not is really the question. I myself do not eat off the streets. Nine out of 10 times you will not get sick if it is cooked properly and was clean in the first place. It’s that 10th time you might get sick. In 25 years I have only been sick one time but it was a bad one with high fever etc. I carry anti-biotics with me and I made it through without going to the hospital. I ate with a family in the countryside at their home because they were celebrating the Father’s last day teaching as he retired. Something he probably brought home was not good. For fruits if you can peal it; you can eat it works. Otherwise eat at your own risk from the street vendors is my recommendation.

Buying Air Tickets To China

When you buy an air ticket to China be sure to check all the details. R/T tickets to Hong Kong are sometimes less costly than to Beijing or Shanghai but that is because of the competition of so many airlines going there. Bottom line it isn’t always the cheapest way to China. From the U.S. you fly right by Beijing and Shanghai on the way to Hong Kong. Most people want to go to Beijing or other places in China and then have to fly back to Hong Kong to take their international flight home that they bought so reasonable. They forget that if you want to go to Beijing, it is about $400 one way from Hong Kong to Beijing and a long flight. One family I did a tour for bought their cheap tickets to Hong Kong and then came to me to do their tour wanting to go to Beijing first. They should have flown first to Beijing and then exit out of Hong Kong saving $2000. Going home from Hong Kong you fly right past Beijing which is about 2.5 hours fly time. Check out the map above and you will see that the shortest route to China is from Seattle up the coast of Canada, Alaska over the Aleutian islands, across Siberia and into Beijing. If you go to Hong Kong it is another 2.5 hour flight longer. From Seattle to Beijing non-stop is 11 hours flat. Leaving early afternoon and arriving in Beijing the next day at about 5:00 in the afternoon just in time for dinner. Connecting flights from most major cities in the U.S. to Seattle and back have a very low cost connecting flights also….free from California or Oregon. Cheapest is not always better or cheaper. New non-stop Hainan Airlines flights from Chicago and Boston to Beijing are now available.    Click on the map for a full screen view!

Use of Credit Cards in China

Some credit cards may be used in China but not as much as in other countries. The common ones used are MasterCard, Visa, American Express and Diner’s Club. These can be used in hotels, department stores, factory outlets and some of the better restaurants. All have charges with them for their use. I use a Debit Card from my Stock Brokerage company issued as a Visa. They pay all the charges and I get the best exchange rate also. There are ATM machines now more common in the larger cities than in the countryside where it is difficult at best to exchange money, and use any card. When going into the countryside or small cities it is best to have cash. There are exchange counters in all major hotels in the large cities with a fair exchange rate and a very small commission added for the convenience of the guests. Traveler’s Checks use to be the best as they got the best exchange rate although for some reason they would not take Visa Travelers Checks. American Express are the best for acceptance although few banks in the U.S. sell them anymore. When going into the countryside it is best to carry as much yuan as you think you will need as it may be difficult to exchange money or find an ATM. For more questions on Money and money exchange contact us at with your questions.