• Avoid blunders and impress locals by remembering tourist etiquette.

Avoid blunders and impress locals by remembering tourist etiquette. (Photo : Getty Images)

First-time travelers might be in for quite a culture shock once they step on Chinese soil. To calm those nerves and become not just any other tourist but a bonafide traveler, Vogue has come up with etiquette rules every visitor should remember.

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Perfectly acceptable behavior

Visitors who have been invited to a Chinese home must remember to take off their shoes before entering the house. Once inside, slip those feet into guest slippers, which are almost always available in Chinese homes.

Looking to make friends with locals? An appropriate greeting will surely impress and do the trick. Saying hi is not enough. Visitors who are meeting somebody in a business setting should stick to the classic hand-shaking and smile combo. Older Chinese people, especially those with rank, must be greeted with a slight bow to show respect.

Chinese people love to give business cards. Tourists should remember to accept it with two hands as a sign of respect. Another bonus is to pretend to read the card before putting it away, but never in the back pocket.

Invited to a dinner? Etiquette must also be observed. Elders are revered in China, and they lead the dinner service. That means they’ll get served first, and that everyone should wait until they take their first bite before eating.

In some cultures, slurping the soup is a sign of disrespect and impudence. In China, it has a whole different meaning. Slurping the soup is a sign of appreciation for whoever prepared the dish.

Things to avoid

Visitors can easily steer clear of awkward situations by remembering these tips. For example, white flowers are only used for funerals. Clocks as gifts, especially to elders, is quite disrespectful and implies that the receiver’s days are numbered. That can lead to quite an embarrassing encounter.

When it comes to meals, here are some important reminders. Splitting the bill is rare in China; the common practice is one foots the bill, usually the eldest or the one who invited to eat out. Tipping is also uncommon in China, but it is acceptable if the service is exceptional, regardless of the setting.