1. Join an exercise group in the park.
If you wake up early and head to the closest park, you will inevitably find boom box wielding old women dancing in line behind their favorite fitness leader. You won’t understand a word of what’s going on, but your body will understand the language of the beat.
2. Take a stranger up on their invite.
Just a walk down the street or your presence in a shop could score you an invite to a stranger’s home. Take them up on it and before you know it, you will be served more tea than your bladder can handle and given more food than your stomach can take. You’ll work it all off through the charades you will play in order to communicate basic conversation.
3. Play dice with the locals.
Seen at restaurants, bars and clubs are the unassuming looking dice game. A couple of dome shaped containers filled with dice will inevitably be lying on tables almost everywhere you go. Typically used as a drinking game, engage locals to teach you how to play and watch how these heated matches will call for endless rounds of beer, a lot of laughs, cigarette offers and a stumbling walk home.
4. Have a rowdy dinner with a group of locals you meet at the bar.Photo: Eric Chan
If you can get yourself invited to the table of a local group, you are in for an awesome experience. Endless plates of food will arrive and a shared meal will quickly turn into a beer and Baijiu-fueled party. Get ready for games, shouting and singing all over some deep fried frog legs.
5. Act or model in a small film.
Foreign faces are in demand for many filmmakers and modeling campaigns. Sniff around, chat with the locals and other expats to find out if they know how you can get on the set. You will most likely make some easy money for your time and get your 15 minutes of fame in an interesting way.
6. Visit a Chinese supermarket and buy something you don’t recognize.
Bring your camera, wear sturdy shoes, and head into the whirlwind of live animals, iced organs and dried squid. Things come in quite some interesting flavors so make sure to pick up a box of winter melon juice and durian flavored cookies before you leave.
7. Wait in line to climb a mountain.
Where there is a mountain, there will be snack stalls, shops selling beer, and families in their best attire, climbing to the top, high heels in hands.
8. Float down the Li River on a bamboo raft.
One of the most beautiful places in China, visitors really shouldn’t miss seeing the scenic city of Guilin. The best way to see the moss covered mountains and rock formations is most certainly via bamboo raft down the Li River.
9. Visit Wuyishan for a cup of tea.
This tiny town in the southern province of Fujian is largely focused around its trade in tea. Climb the stunning mountains, check out the tea terraces and make sure to stop into a traditional tea house to have a taste. The best part of all? An entire theatrical performance dedicated to the importance of tea in Wuyishan! Don’t miss it!
10. Eat grilled eggplant and skewered mushrooms at the street stalls.
In cold months you can grab some barrel steamed sweet potatoes, grilled corn on the cob and sugar coated Hawthorne apples. Year round you will be able to find vegetables and meats skewered on sticks, seafood grilled over an open flame and pots of noodles and rice quickly fried up into a meal. If you’re really feeling brave, try the deep fried scorpions at the Donghuamen night market in Beijing. Don’t let the street food scare you. It’s everything!