As a health precaution, it is advisable to drink bottled water, even in hotels and restaurants you should break the seals yourself or watch the seal snapping. Also be wary of bottled water and soft drink bought on the streets – check the seals — much is counterfeit.  All hotels will supply bottled drinking water (NEVER EVER drink tap water, or drinks with tap water ice).  Use the bottled water in your hotel room for brushing your teeth.  Water is so bad in some places, be careful when showering not to get it in your mouth or in your eyes.  When showering, turn your face down to avoid water in the eyes and mouth.

Do NOT ever use the kettle or boiling water device in your hotel room to make tea or coffee, frequently, Chinese tourists are know to use the kettle as a way to clean their own underwear at night.  If you need boiling water, tea or coffee, order it from room service.

Drinking canned carbonated drinks in 4/5 star restau­rants should be fine.

Chinese Tea

Tea as a drink prospered during the Tang Dynasty, and tea shops became popular.  Good or fresh tea has a green luster in a tight shape, but poor one is loose and dull.  Good tea, especially fresh one, has a natural aroma like orchid or jasmine while the poor one smells stale.  Good tea leaves have a fresh mellowness.  The major types include:

  • Green Tea
  • Black Tea (fermented)
  • Oolong Tea (gourmet)
  • Brick Tea (compressed)
  • Scented Tea (tea mixed with flowers)


Nearly all occasions are celebrated with alcohol in China.

Chinese Moutai

Chinese liquor can be made from various staples – broomcorn, corn, rice, and wheat and is typically clear in color with a strong odor.  The most famous brand is Maotai and this holds the title of the ‘National Liquor’. I personally think it tastes like rocket fuel.  Moutai is the preferred drink of choice to get people drunk at banquets, and usually drunk in shots.  Some Moutai can be very expensive.  I once sat in a 1st class seat from Beijing to New York to Des Moines, and across the aisle from me sat a case of Moutai buckled into the seat and carried for the official banquet in Des Moines — reportedly, each bottle was worth over RMB 20k.

Alcohol Warnings

China’s counterfeit alcohol is made from poor quality ingredients or toxic industrial chemicals, consuming it could lead to serious acute illness or worse in the short term, and potentially a host of medium- and longer-term health problems according to the WHO (World Health Organization). The chemicals the WHO refers to include ethylene glycol, which is antifreeze, methanol, which can cause blindness, and isopropyl alcohol: all commonly found in Chinese fake alcohol, all dangerous.

Every bottle in this bar is fake, without exception.

Many (actually most) bars and KTV outlets