How to Ask for Directions in China
Have you ever asked for directions in China and ended up confused, in the wrong place, or frustrated by ‘the point’?
It can be a challenge getting the right directions in China – and this is true whether you are asking in English or Mandarin. Luckily, it’s not impossible, and this post will show you ways to seek out the right directions in the shortest amount of time.
Where to Ask for Directions in China
The best place to ask for directions in China is a guide book or Google – the next best place is a hotel. After this, the options diminish rapidly – a policeman makes a decent guide, but a guard often does not. The typical taxi driver knows more than the next guy or girl on the street. Beyond this, there are clear rules.
The bottom line: Try not to leave home or your hotel without directions. Finding them on the street, even if you speak Chinese fluently, can be a challenge. Why? Let’s look at some of the reasons below:
Some People Don’t Know, Don’t Care, or Aren’t Clear (The Point)
Why is it so hard to get directions on the street? There are several reasons:
- Some people don’t care – Although as a foreigner you will likely get more help than the typical Chinese person, it’s still a fact that strangers are often ignored or given unclear directions:
- Some people don’t know how to give clear directions – Some people in China either don’t know how to give detailed directions, or don’t care to do so. In this case, you will get the point – a finger pointed in the general direction of where you want to go.
- Some people don’t know the directions, but tell you anyway – They give you ‘the point’, but usually in the wrong direction
How Can You Tell if You Are Getting Real Directions in China?
It’s actually surprisingly simple to tell when people are unsure of the directions but give them to you anyway. They hesitate before ‘the point’.
Since many people in China give sparsely simple directions (‘the point’), most don’t even have to think about them before telling you. Those that do have to think about them are usually giving you fake directions.
Basically, if you get ‘the point’ after a long moment of hesitation, the person giving directions probably doesn’t know the way. If, however, you get detailed directions after such a moment of hesitation, they usually know what they are talking about.
Any Additional Tips?
If you have advice about getting directions in China or anything else to add, it would be great to hear from you below.
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