The pollution is dangerous
This isn’t a myth, per say, but it often gets blown way out of proportion. Beijing’s air can be bad, but not all the time. The most important thing to remember is that unless you are asthmatic, elderly or an infant, it’s unlikely to affect you, and certainly won’t do you any long-term damage. Only those living in a city like Beijing for 6 years or more will begin to suffer long term. Read our definitive article on pollution here.
There will be dog and other unmentionables on the menus…
We’ve never seen dog on the menu up here in Beijing. Except in the North Korean restaurants, where they do eat it. But you will see a lot of dogs in the capital – they’re just usually wearing mini Superman outfits (Beijingers are obsessed with their pet pooches). As for other unmentionables… Yes, local tastes can encompass everything from deep fried scorpion to sea slugs.
The good news? You don’t have to encounter any of this if you don’t want to. You’ll only find these ‘delicacies’ on Chinese-tourist-heavy snack streets and at expensive banqueting restaurants, neither of which make up the bulk of the restaurants in the city.
Chinese food is pretty much sweet and sour pork, crispy duck and dim sum right?
No! China actually has one of the most diverse cuisines in the world. There are more than 12 food traditions in the country, and many more specialty cuisines from its 33 different provinces. If you know where to look, even fussy-eaters will discover that the food is not just supremely delicious, but will change your entire outlook on what Chinese cuisine consists of.
Some of our favourite lesser-known-in-the-West cuisines include that of Yunnan Province (southwest China, bordering Vietnam – think spicy mint salad, goat cheese and crispy fried red-beans), Xinjiang (west China, bordering Afghanistan, lamb kebobs, cumin-sprinkled naan and yoghurt) and Shaanxi (north-west China – noodle heaven). So leave your preconceptions at the door and get ready to be blown away!
China is cheap
Ten years ago China was comparatively cheap. And the truth is, if it’s low quality goods and services you’re after, then it can still be! But the Chinese yuan has appreciated more than 30% in the last 6 years, wages have risen in leaps and bounds and fuel costs are continuously rising, making not only getting around more expensive, but the food you eat in restaurants too.
China is a great place to buy cheap electronics
Nope, sorry guys, that’s Japan. Despite many of the world’s electronic goods being produced in the factories in South China, the government still slaps a huge tax on non-Chinese brand products, meaning you’re better off buying at home. You can of course visit the huge electronic malls to buy cheaply, but we don’t recommend it. Often the goods are faulty, stolen or factory rejects, and you have no recourse if something you buy breaks within a day of you using it.