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Xi'an advice please

Old Aug 3rd, 2015, 03:33 PM
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Xi'an advice please

I'll be in Xi'an for a 3 day conference (coming from US) this fall at the Sheraton Xi'an North City and have a few questions (I have been to India numerous times but never to China).
- Can a vegetarian survive in China?
- Did you take the typhoid pills as recommended by the CDC?
- Take the same food and drink precautions as in India? Is diarrhea likely to happen?
- Any personal/public safety issues I should be aware of?
- If anyone has been there on business or for conferences, any business "must know" etiquette?
Any and all advice is appreciated! Thank you.
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Old Aug 3rd, 2015, 05:22 PM
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I'm not a vegetarian and haven't been to India, so I can't help with many of your questions. Here's what I can offer:

"Did you take the typhoid pills as recommended by the CDC? ... Take ... food and drink precautions"

I followed ALL of the CDC advice for the parts of China I visited -- including advice about prophylactic treatments, immunizations, etc. I used only bottled water for drinking and for brushing my teeth. I actually brought a very small bottle of water with me from the US to use on my contact lenses. I didn't eat fresh fruits or vegetables unless I was confident that they were safe (and that wasn't often). I didn't actually eat street food in Xi'an, but had I done so, I would have only eaten food that I had seen being cooked.

"If anyone has been there on business or for conferences, any business "must know" etiquette?"

Don't tip. That's true no matter what the purpose of your visit.

Insist on a metered cab and make sure the meter is turned on when you pull away from the curb.

If you don't speak Chinese, remember that tonality is critical and can mean the difference between a compliment and an insult.

I don't know if it is still true (or ever was!), but before I visited China in 2010, I read that eating rice during and especially at the end of a meal was understood to mean that you hadn't been given enough food.

Consult a good guide book or two (always a worthy investment, IMO, but you can also go to your local library) to see what other rules of etiquette are discussed.

"Any and all advice is appreciated!"

Xi'an has a great deal to offer to a visitor, so do consider adding on a day or two or even three, if you can, just to see the place and its surroundings! I spent 4 nights there in 2010; if you are interested, you can click on my name to find my VERY long trip report. But it's searchable, so just enter "Xi'an" into the search box.

Hope that helps!
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Old Aug 3rd, 2015, 06:31 PM
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IMO, China is less "dirty" than India. Yes, I did take the typhoid oral vaccine as directed. Yes, I did take food and water precautions as I do in all developing countries. If you follow all the instructions, you will reduce your chances of illness considerably. (And don't forget to wash your hands before eating, and before touching your face.

In terms of personal safety, you will be safer in China than you are at home.

Vegetarian food should be pretty easy. I ate vegetarian while I was in China years go with no problems. I had someone write out instructions in Chinese for me - you can also buy signs online telling what you don't eat.

Enjoy your trip!
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Old Aug 3rd, 2015, 07:01 PM
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Jaya, I just realized it was you asking this question! Good to see you back here on the Asia forum.
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Old Aug 4th, 2015, 04:37 AM
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Jaya..we stayed at the Sheraton North when we were there. We ate their food and did ok without any sickness. We did take thyphoid pills prior to going. As for being a vegetarian you should have no problems. Most of the stir fry dishes can be made without meat( they use very little any ways...which doesn't help you). As said above save time for the city as well as the Warriors. We ate down town and out at the area outside of the warrior park with out problems. Hope you have enough free time to enjoy the area.
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Old Aug 4th, 2015, 06:00 AM
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be prepared for very polluted air... bring eye drops

x'ian is a huge city but has charm.. warriors are a ways outside town... i suggest a car and driver or tour.

you will be fine there, just relax
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Old Aug 4th, 2015, 03:51 PM
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Hi all, Kathie, and Bob...

Thanks for your replies - very helpful!
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Old Aug 4th, 2015, 04:05 PM
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"warriors are a ways outside town... i suggest a car and driver or tour."

It is very easy to visit the Terra Cotta Warriors by bus.
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Old Sep 15th, 2015, 08:46 AM
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Hi Jaya,

I am currently in china, been here for almost one month now as was in Xi'an 10 days ago. I hope I can help with your questions.

- Can a vegetarian survive in China?
Yes, some delicious veggie meals (especially if you like spicy food, there is a lot of chillies used here. Lots of Tofu, Green been dishes (but be careful with the little peppercorn like things sprinkled on top, it's like eating clove and sends your mouth numb for some time, egg and tomato based dishes, eggplant, veggie dim sums)
- Did you take the typhoid pills as recommended by the CDC?
I had a Typhoid vaccination for travelling through central asia, I'm not sure I would have taken this if I was only travelling to China, but this is very personal so you should go with what you think best.
- Take the same food and drink precautions as in India? Is diarrhea likely to happen?
My stomach has been very happy whilst in China and my toilet visits 100%, I was very ill through most of Central Asia however. I have not drank tap water here only bottled or filtered but i have been brushing my teeth with tap water.
- Any personal/public safety issues I should be aware of?
Not in xi'an, just be careful crossing the road, the green man on the pedestrian crossing does not guarantee a safe crossing!! As a tourist you are obviously a hot target for inflated prices at taxi ranks, markets and main tourist attractions, taxi's use meters so if they are wanting to agree a fixed price which happens a lot at the central station refuse and insist on the meter.
- If anyone has been there on business or for conferences, any business "must know" etiquette?
It's not common to hand shake, but to present your business card using both of your hands and a gentle head bow.
Any and all advice is appreciated! Thank you.

It is very easy to get to the warriors by bus at the central bus station, there is also a free tourist bus from Xi'an North Station if you have proof of tourist travel documents, also if you go to the warriors you will be pestered by guides all the way to the ticket office who charge 150Yuan, Ignore them and go to the museum shop and buy the book for 120Yuan, lots more info and you can keep it

Hope you have a safe and fun trip.
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Old Sep 15th, 2015, 01:46 PM
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We took the public bus from the east square of the railway station last December. I forget which bus we took, but I have written down that it's either number 306, 914, or 915 (I think we took 306). The bus also stops at Lishan Mountain, where you can take a cable car up for views of the surrounding area. The bus should cost 8 RMB each way. It was really easy to find and get to/from the warriors and we were glad we didn't do a tour. Make sure you have cash when you go to the warriors as there was only 1 ATM there and our US cards didn't work at that particular machine.

When taking taxis in China, you'll be safe, but they very likely will try to rip you off. You have to be very stern and insist that they turn the meter on. Keep an eye on the meter as you're approaching your destination because we had taxi drivers quickly turn off the meter at our destination and insist that we owed a higher price. Once, another drive tried to hand us a receipt that showed we owed nearly twice as much as what the meter read. If you get out your phone and start taking down the driver's taxi ID number, this may get him to relent. If you plan on taking a taxi from the airport to your hotel when you arrive, make sure that you have the hotel's name and address written in Chinese characters because the driver will likely speak and read little to no English. You can usually get the hotel's name/address in the local language on the hotel's website, or on the hotel's page on Trip Advisor.

We ate a lot of excellent street food in the Muslim Quarter and I think you'll find plenty of vegetarian options. As others suggested, just make sure you see them cooking the food fresh in front of you and you should be fine.
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Old Sep 16th, 2015, 03:36 AM
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We also ate excellent food on Muslim street. Sanitation is much less of a problem than in India, but you should always use caution.
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Old Oct 19th, 2015, 09:21 AM
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I was in Xian in 2007, I think. One big lesson learned for me while I was there was never, ever order food from a menu that did not list the price. I went into this quaint dining place just outside of the Warriors museum entrance. I ordered a bowl of wontons from the priceless menu. How much could a bowl of wontons cost, right? The "nice" old man gave me a bill afterward of 500 yuans! Ugh, I knew I was had, and it was my fault. Outside of that experience, I enjoyed Xian and would love to go back someday. I loved the Muslim quarter, and there was a neat water show next to the Big Pagoda that was lit up in the evening. My favorite food eaten there was the persimmons, each the size of a U.S. quarter. I bought a tub of it and just popped each into my mouth. They were delicious.
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