Travel – 5 tips for visiting China

5 top tips for China first-timers

Vocab building: general & travel

Skills: picture description and conversation.

Reading exercise: using new vocabulary in different contexts

Discussion: speaking practice about personal experience and travel.

Materials: Text, images and video.

Duration: 90 minutes.

Link:  http://www.lonelyplanet.com/china/travel-tips-and-articles/76639#


What are the 3 different meanings for the word “tip”?

What is a first-timer?

Would you like to go to China?

What can you tell me about China?

Do you like the food, the culture, the people?

We talk a lot about the Chinese economy but could you work for a Chinese boss?

Can you name some of China’s main tourist destinations?

Describe the picture below.

The Great Wall of China

Travel with The Lonely Planet

Words & Phrases:

Despite the fact





Despite the fact that it seems to be in the news almost every day of the week, China – impossibly vast and fascinatingly diverse – remains a travel destination with an unquestionable mystique. As exciting as that sounds, it also makes travelling to China for the first time an incredibly intimidating prospect. To help you venture into the unknown, here’s our first-timer’s guide to the most populated land on the planet.

1.Break the language barrier

Words & Phrases:

The language barrier

to enrol




The number one problem when travelling around China is the language barrier. Even today, with Chinese children learning English from primary school onwards, it’s a barrier that can be almost completely impenetrable at times. It’s always advisable to try to learn a few words and phrases before you visit foreign lands, but in China it’s almost essential. Try to enrol in Mandarin classes before you go (Mandarin Chinese is the default language in almost every part of China), or try to teach yourself some of the basics – the BBC website has a decent introduction to learning Chinese.

Then, when you leave for China, be sure to bring with you one or more of the following:

1. Mandarin Chinese phrasebook – Lonely Planet does this one.

2. English-to-Chinese and Chinese-to-English pocket dictionary – I found the Oxford version very easy to use when I was a beginner.

3. Translator apps – Google Translate is free and includes an impressively accurate speak-your-phrase voice translator.

Regardless of all of the above, one thing you should always do when travelling around China is carry with you Chinese-language business cards of your hotel or of places you wish to visit so you can show passers-by, taxi drivers, bus conductors and the like.

2. Focus your itinerary

Words & Phrases:







China is massive. Really, it’s unbelievably large. It contains the world’s highest mountains, some of the world’s largest deserts, remote jungles, endless grasslands, and, of course, many of the world’s largest cities. You would need months and months of travelling to even begin to do everything. So, choose one region, or even just one province, and explore it properly.

1.Sichuan: One province; three regions. Stay in the centre or the south for bamboo forests and cute Ming-Dynasty villages.

2.Guangxi: Picture-perfect rice terraces and other-worldly peaks dominate a lush, almost jungle-like landscape which is perfect for hiking, cycling and river trips.

3. Beijing: Don’t just fly here, stay here. Beijing packs in more world-class sites than many whole countries are able to offer: The Great Wall, Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City and the Summer Palace.

3. Check the weather

Words & Phrases:

to ensure


At any time of the year there are places in China that enjoy ideal weather for travel, but almost nowhere is weather-perfect all year round. So to ensure your first trip to China doesn’t become a disaster, a sun-scorcher or get on top of where’s hot and where’s not in the month you’re planning to travel.

4. Use public transport

Words & Phrases:



on hand

to put you back on track

Ditch the taxis and the airplanes and get on buses, bikes and trains to see China how the locals see it. Sure, it’s easier flying from city to city, and then taking a taxi around each one once you’re there. But where’s the fun in it? China’s public transport systems are already extensive, and getting bigger and better every year and many towns and cities are well set up for cycling – cycle lanes abound in Beijing, for instance. And don’t worry about getting lost. Chinese people in general are extremely friendly, helpful and honest, especially to foreigners who can’t speak Chinese, so there will always be a local on hand to put you back on track if you lose your way.

5. Eat, eat and then eat some more

Words & Phrases:


an assault on the senses

China has many wonderful features but its best attraction is its food. As this tasty introduction illustrates, cuisine varies from region to region – even breakfast time can be an assault on the senses – so try as much of it as you can.


Exercise with Words & Phrases:

Group 1:

Despite the fact that, vast, diverse, venture, first-timer’s, the language barrier

to enrol, impenetrable.

1. Every time I go to the bank I have problems with _________________ , they sometimes don’t understand me.

2. The universe is a _________ and wonderful place.

3. I am going to start my great new idea for a business ____________, _____________________ I don’t have any money !

4. There is a special price for ____________ drivers.

5. The numbers in the course are limited, you have to ____________ before September.

6. In the lastest heist film, the walls of the bank are described as “_______________”.


Group 2.

advisable, passer-by, itinerary, a jungle, grasslands, cute, rice, peaks

1. Carla’s baby photo is very _________ . They both look very happy.

2. Have you written the ____________ for the business trip?

3. The doctor advices eating ________ and vegetables for at least 1 month.

4. Let’s face it, we are lost! Let’s ask the next ____________ for directions.

5. When we climbed the mountain we passed though a _____________ before reaching the __________ .


Group 3.

to ensure, sun-scorched, to ditch, (to be) on hand, to put you back on track, tasty, an assault on the senses

1. Yesterday I found an old __________ photograph of my parents in the 1960’s.

2. When the baby is born, I will be ___________ in the waiting room.

3. There’s a burger bar in Borne called Pim Pam that makes a very __________ burger.

4. Eating Indian food can sometimes be _____________________ .

5. We need to hire 3 more people, work on weekends and then I think we’ll be _________________ .

6. I just need to run home and __________ my bag and then I’ll meet you at the cinema.



Using the words from the vocab section, discuss the following topics.

Chinese people are cold and sometimes rude.

My must-visit destination in the world is …..


Additional Material:

Nightlife in Beijing – Lonely Planet Travel Video


What type of food can you eat?

What does he say is in the ceiling ?

About Author

Justin Donlon

English Teacher & Content Developer Over 15 years of experience in engaging educational content

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