Traveling to Dubai or Beijing? Follow These Do's and Don'ts

DO: Take the time to drive an hour outside the city to see the Great Wall of China. It is gorgeous and is completely different from what you will experience in the city. Also, try to meet some of the locals. Like in many places, the country folk can be much more charming than the urban people. And many will want to take photos of you.

DO: Go to the zoo to see the pandas. And shell out the extra money to hold one and get your photo taken. All your friends will be jealous.

DO: Keep a tally and take pictures of every person you see sleeping in public and every young couple you see wearing matching t-shirts. It's common for young couples to buy his and her t-shirt before traveling together.

DO: Bargain for at least 5 to 10 minutes and pretend to walk away at least once. If haven't done this, congratulations, you just paid double the actual price. People bargain very aggressively here, don't be surprised if the starting price is only a fraction of what you think the item is worth. Just know before you start negotiating that if you don't want to be overcharged, you are going to have to invest a little time.

DO: Get a bike. When the traffic is bad it's one of the quickest ways to travel. But watch out for the cars, because they won't always be watching out for you. China has bike lanes for just this reason, but cars are regularly in them, so unfortunately they don't offer a great deal of protection.

Why did the tourist cross the road?

DO NOT: Expect the locals to speak English. Students will very often know some English, but the older generations do not. Vendors in big markets carry calculators for easy bargaining and will usually know enough English to help you. Cab drivers, on the other hand, generally do not speak English, but a seasoned driver should be able to decipher even the most broken Chinese.

DO NOT: Be surprised to see babies and young children with holes in the back of their pants. Disposable diapers don't really exist here, so the toddlers just go to the bathroom out on the streets.

DO NOT: Take a video camera to Tiananmen Square and try to talk to the locals about what happened in 1989. Plainclothes police officers will swarm you and make you stop. The government has gone to great lengths to ensure that no one talks about the 1989 protests and subsequent massacre. If you are not careful, you may very well find yourself behind bars.

DO NOT: Miss a trip to Wangfujing snack street where you can sample every example of local cuisine including scorpions and such, if you fancy that sort of thing. Be careful not to accidentally eat one of your favorite furry friends - Donkey and dog are the most common mistakes. Also, do not eat hot pot before a night out, the smell will follow you all night.

DO NOT: Exercise outside. The pollution in Beijing is still very bad and it takes a long time to get used to it. China is the highest emitter of greenhouse gases and Beijing is ranked the 13th most polluted city in the world. The fifth most polluted city, Tianjin, is only about an hour away. Leading up to the Olympics, the government began restricting traffic and planting trees, but the city is still generally covered by smog. It doesn't help that Beijing is a city surrounded by mountains, which traps the pollution emitted by its factories.

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