11 Reasons You Should Go to China Right Now

Chinese New Year is on Sunday! Unfortunately for me I will be halfway over the Atlantic Ocean on a plane to Finland (which probably doesn’t have a high Chinese population, although I haven’t fact checked that).

I miss China. It’s kind of weird how much I miss it considering I spent most of my time there coughing and not being able to understand anyone. I guess anywhere will grow on you if you spend enough months there, but China is absolutely the most unique and interesting country I’ve been to.

It might be a bit presumptuous, but I really think you should go too. Don’t be intimidated by the language barrier and the pollution and the general crazyness. Go anyways.

Here is why:

Absurd Things Happen Hourly

Culturally, visiting China was like visiting another planet- one which was sometimes completely indecipherable. Motorbike moving vans, lettuce clothes lines and weird behavior. It’s the one country I’ve been to where I literally had no idea what was going to happen next at any given time. It’s odd and amusing and it constantly keeps you on your toes.

Their History is Longer Then Your History

This is what initially attracted me to China: it’s one of the world’s oldest civilizations with thousands and thousands of years of continuos history.

The Cheapest Yummiest Street Food

Some people are leery of street food, and it is always a bit of a gamble, but one well worth making. How else can you get a super tasty meal for 50 cents or less? I really miss being able to stroll from stand to stand and select whatever foreign looking snack caught my fancy (and I only ever got sick once- so there).

It’s Great For Your Immune System

Actually China is terrible for your health- the smog here is no joke. But I believe “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,” and it certainly makes the air quality everywhere else seem great by comparison!

They have the Cutest Babies EVER

At least that I’ve seen anywhere in the world.


Nough said.

Food to Die (Or Kill) For

It’s no secret that Chinese food totally blew me away. I’m so shocked when I hear from people who went to China and didn’t like the food, because it was so varied and so delicious. Chinese restaurants in the US can’t compare.


Always amusing, often confusing, English-language signs in China are an absolute delight.

Weird Cross Cultural Connections

Sometimes the best part of travel is seeing your own country reflected back at you. Finding little bits of the rest of the world in supposedly isolated China was always fascinating:

The Food!!

Yes, I said food three times in this piece but the food here is really that amazing. I miss it so much that I would probably go back to China solely for some yummy Szechuan cuisine.

You’ll Never Truly Get it Til You Go

What’s awesome about visiting China is that you get to see up close it’s so much more than communism, or a billion people, or smog, it’s an amazing living and breathing ecletic slice of life.


39 Responses to 11 Reasons You Should Go to China Right Now

  1. Olivia - young on the road February 10, 2013 at 9:27 AM #

    If I had been to China, I too would write about the food 3 times! I love fooooooddddddd

  2. Sally February 10, 2013 at 9:53 AM #

    I’m also surprised when I meet people who went to China and say they didn’t like the food. I’m like, “Um, what China were you at? Because there’s a reason why I gained 20 pounds in that country.”
    I would also add: being able to watch a country grow right before your very eyes. I was always amazed at how quickly whole apartment complexes and shopping malls would spring up seemingly overnight. Watching all that quick growth, made me feel like I was in America during the Industrial Revolution (well, that and all the smog).

    • Edna February 11, 2013 at 6:01 AM #

      Haha, “What China were you at?” Totally stealing that line next time someone tells me they didn’t like the food in China (which so far has been never, because it is the bomb, but you know just in case).

  3. Trevor Huxham February 10, 2013 at 11:07 AM #

    Hahahaha I really enjoyed this post. Sometimes China just seems incredibly intimidating to me, but your write-up (and photos) here reminded me of just how interesting that country is and why I need to travel there someday. Thanks!

  4. Stephen February 10, 2013 at 12:23 PM #

    Food for sure! Food alone has me considering Chengdu as a potential future base. Much more important than teahouses and pandas, after all! Nice (and delicious!) write-up. 新年快乐!

  5. Scott February 10, 2013 at 12:30 PM #

    May I clarify that we’re in Lunar new year, not Chinese new year! 🙂

  6. Maria-Emilia February 10, 2013 at 1:07 PM #

    China has never been on the top of my list. No particular reason why. But now, I’m terribly intrigued. Thanks!

  7. Colleen Brynn February 10, 2013 at 4:08 PM #

    Hahaha… no noising. Love that!
    That street food looks unbelievable! I am planning on being in China this summer (for the tail end of the Trans-Siberian)… CAN’T WAIT!

  8. Monica February 10, 2013 at 4:33 PM #

    I’d love to go to India and these photos have just made me want to go even more! The food looks absolutely amazing and it seems so different to anywhere else in the world. One day….!

  9. Andrea February 10, 2013 at 5:01 PM #

    I love the point “absurd things happen hourly.” That’s the same in Korea…never a dull a moment!

  10. Alouise February 10, 2013 at 6:49 PM #

    You had me at food, then at pandas, and of course again at food. China looks like a pretty amazing country to visit.

  11. Idiosyncratic Journeys February 10, 2013 at 6:54 PM #

    I agree Chinese food is good at some more upscale restaurants; maybe I was just unlucky but I found the more ‘local’ eateries and what the everyday people eat at their school/job cafeterias unbearable.

    • Steph February 11, 2013 at 5:33 AM #

      Hmm I dunno, I ate at the student cafeteria every day and loved it.

    • Becky February 22, 2013 at 9:14 AM #

      I definitely think that with food, it depends which region you’re in and the quality of the university cafeteria. I loved eating in the cafeteria in a university I attended in the northeast, but the one I attend now in the south (a poorer university in general) has pretty terrible food. Not to mention…I’m just gonna come out and say it…I definitely think Sichuan/Northeast food has all the rest of the Chinese food beat by a mile (can’t speak for Xinjiang/Tibet because I have no experience with those)! However, it’s not always easy to find a good Sichuan or Northeast restaurant. Definitely in regions of the far south, at least, they can be few and far between.

  12. Wftristan February 11, 2013 at 3:11 AM #

    It would def be the food for me – although the “absurd things happen”….. that always makes for an interesting time

  13. Theodora February 11, 2013 at 6:43 AM #

    Great list. I think it’s the bewilderment that’s part of the magic of China, even if it can feel like hard work at the time.

  14. Hogga February 11, 2013 at 4:22 PM #

    Pandas and delicious food? Who wouldn’t want to go to China?

  15. Nick - Goats On The Road February 11, 2013 at 9:05 PM #

    Great Post! We live in China and we can’t agree more! There are so many different types of food from Dong Bei, Cantonese, Sichuan, Jiangsu and Beijing… Amazing! The people here are so friendly too. We love learning about all the ways that the Chinese people are SO different from us. For instance, everyone who’s born in China is 1 year old on the day they’re born, and they turn 2 on Chinese New Year day… no matter when they’re birthday is! That means if they’re born the day before New Years, then they are considered 2 years old when they’re actually only 2 days old! Makes it hard to figure out the actual age of your students… usually just minus a year or so!

    China is also a very underrated backpackers destination… great hostels, amazing food, friendly people and 1st world transport.

    Visit China… it’s amazing.
    Thanks for the post Steph

  16. Amanda February 12, 2013 at 1:05 AM #

    From reading this, you’d think you really liked the food in China or something. 😉

    I love the one about absurd things happening all the time!

  17. Jess February 12, 2013 at 7:04 PM #

    I spent two weeks on Mainland China and nothing compares to it. I fell in love with the country, culture and people and am hoping to move there permanently some day. I agree-you won’t truly get it till you go!

  18. Audrey February 19, 2013 at 6:09 AM #

    While I do agree with your post, i felt it only showed all the good and positive parts. you didn’t include street food of weird insects, scorpions and even cockroaches. They eat dog meat :s
    The toilets in some parts of China don’t have doors, sometimes, there aren’t even toilet walls. :s
    The place is dirty! And also, while the economy is booming, the rich-poor gap is stupendous and there are tons of suffering people too.
    Good to know you had a good time there, but i just felt you painted too positive a post about China…

    • Steph February 19, 2013 at 7:05 AM #

      Well I did mention the terrible pollution and the chance of food poisoning. I spent 3 months living in China and I could write an equally long list of problems with the country, and but that wasn’t he subject of this post. Yeah china is dirty and poor and weird sometimes, but it’s also amazing, and and I wanted to highlight some of the great reasons to go despite its flaws.

    • Bernice Wuttke November 17, 2015 at 4:58 AM #

      I am sure the majority, in todays day and age do not go down the path of tradition anymore, BUT whilst China continues to hold the Yulin Dog Eating Festival every year where thousands of dogs are killed in the most inhumane circumstances (google it!), to me the Government lacks guts to stop this and I and thousands of others who signed the petition against the continual animal abuse will never travel there.

      • Bernice Wuttke November 17, 2015 at 5:02 AM #

        Activists say the killing is cruel and an online campaign to ban the festival has been signed by more than 3.8 million people so far and the campaign has attracted considerable support this year from celebrities both domestic and foreign.
        Celebrities including British comedian Ricky Gervais have spoken out on Twitter with the hashtag #StopYuLin2015. Chinese pop star Chen Kun and actor Yang Mi have said they are joining the campaign on micro blogging site Weibo.

  19. Heather May 13, 2013 at 10:23 PM #

    Hi Stephanie!

    I enjoyed this post and your others about China…I’m relocating to Shanghai in less than a month (never been) and really related to your story about not having ever been specifically drawn to China, but ending up there because of Mike. My boyfriend is moving to Shanghai for work and lo and behold, I’m now on my way there too. Can’t wait to embrace the wackiness and the new adventures (my own moving-to-china post is below). Thanks Steph!


    • Steph May 14, 2013 at 9:08 AM #

      Good luck!

  20. Mo May 14, 2013 at 6:02 PM #

    Lived in china for 1 and a half years, amazing place, and agree with everything you have written. oh how i miss the food, and so cheap too

  21. Peter Lee July 31, 2013 at 3:31 AM #

    I have also visited China quite a lot and I liked cuisines there the most. Infact, sometimes I really feel that food is calling me over there.

  22. Peter Lee August 1, 2013 at 1:15 AM #

    I have also visited China quite a lot and I liked cuisines there the most. Infact, sometimes I really feel that food is calling me over there as the cuisines over there are so delicious and mouth-watery.

  23. hainan jinang September 9, 2013 at 8:35 AM #

    i love china!hahaha =)

  24. Petar October 29, 2013 at 11:27 PM #

    I live in China (Xiamen). My wife is Chinese, I even drive here:).

  25. tori February 7, 2014 at 10:59 PM #

    I would love to eat all the food .. but i cant since my stomach is sensitive T T …
    going soon ! im excited!

  26. Tom June 28, 2014 at 9:40 PM #

    I would have believed all of this, however I actually went there. The 4th Asian country I have visited and definitely the worst.

    • Steph June 28, 2014 at 10:00 PM #

      Sorry to hear that. It’s definitely not an easy country, but I loved it!

  27. Kazari July 25, 2014 at 10:10 PM #

    Hiiii Steph:)
    Ur brief summary on reasons for visiting China is absolutely right!
    I live in Shenyang,capital city of a northeast province. Living in China all the time,but I’ve only been to the south once. I studied in Jiangsu Province when I was a junior high student.
    At that time,I found there is big difference between north and south. Take food for example, cuisine in north is a bit salty while in south is sweet and sour.and there is always soup.
    Parks in the south is more than my hometown. Environment there is better.( But 7 years later ,my classmates told me pollution is serious now.)
    People are just the same,there are always good people, but I also met bad ones sometimes…My classmates all treat me nicely,I’m missing them very much!
    Er…what was I talking about..seems nothing to do with your topic…haha,anyway. I think if you like Chinese food,you can taste it from all over my country,not only in Sichuan or Xiamen,but also in the northeast!
    Woow,I have to say I’m so glad to see so many people like Chinese food. A native as I am,I don’t think I will be tired of food and I don’t think I will taste all kinds of Chinese food during my lifetime.haha,it’s awesome.

    郑浛伽 :3
    A sophomore in Dalian
    2014.7.26 10A.M.

  28. Jay February 27, 2015 at 3:20 PM #

    i was raised in China but i have been living in NYC for 5 years…I thought it would be hard for americans to enjoy chinese food…. now that you make me more confident to open a real-deal chinese resturant in the U.S. ( yes!! no more chicken broccoli or fried rice!!!)

  29. Mee March 4, 2015 at 5:01 PM #

    I am just afraid of the toilet.

  30. John November 5, 2015 at 9:27 PM #

    China seems like it would be so polluted to stay in the major cities for more than a couple months for most westerners. Chinese culture is so rich it makes me feel special inside.

  31. Isaac December 30, 2016 at 12:00 PM #

    I would love love to go to China one-day.

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