One of the best parts about living in China is not just learning about Chinese culture, but actively getting involved in it! There are so many interesting activities Chinese people love to do in their spare time. Whether you’re wanting to learn more about a traditional Chinese game or you’re want to check out some of China’s modern pastimes, there are plenty of activities that will connect you with Chinese culture and give you more insight into the daily lives of local people!
While badminton is played in many other countries, in China it is extremely popular. This is a common sport played by old and young alike, and when walking around you’ll often see families and friends playing in the afternoons after class and in the evenings after dinner time. There are even many badminton competitions that attract big sponsors in China!
In Western culture, karaoke involves singing in public inside a pub or bar in front a bunch of strangers. But in China, karaoke (called KTV) is really different. You’ll rent a private room with a group of friends. This room will have impressive KTV tech inside: a big screen TV, a surround sound system, disco lights, microphones - the whole shebang! The whole set up creates a unique karaoke experience that allows you to have a great time out with friends. Chinese people love to KTV for birthday or big events, but they also don’t need a special reason to go to KTV and might do it just because! You can also order snacks and drinks and play a Chinese dice game while your friends sing.
It’s very easy to find dumpling shops everywhere in China that are both cheap and delicious - but if you want to take part in local Chinese tradition, have some Chinese friends teach you how to make them yourself. Many families make dumplings during the Spring Festival to celebrate the new year, and they also will make them during other times of the year if they have a gathering with family or friends. It’s not a short process - especially if you hand make the dumpling wrappers - but it’s a special bonding experience! Common dumpling fillings include pork, cabbage, and other vegetables and meats.
On any given night you can catch sight of older ladies dancing in public squares, parks, parking lots…basically anywhere with large empty space. This became a popular trend a few years ago and hasn’t slowed down! The ladies will follow a video or a leader in a coordinated dance routine. Many Chinese ladies love it because it’s a great way to stay active while also having social time with their friends. You won’t see men or young people doing this with the ladies very often, but don’t be afraid to join in the fun!
One of China’s most famous traditions, Tai Chi has been practiced for at least 700 years; some even say it’s been practiced for more than 1500 years! Tai Chi is a philosophy centered around yin and yang and involves three aspects: health, meditation, and martial arts. In the early mornings you’ll find many people practicing Tai Chi, and many middle and high school students are even required to take it as a class! Give it a try and see how rejuvenated your mind and body feel afterwards.
Maybe you’ve competed in online Mahjong games before, but you should also try playing the game on a real Mahjong Table! The tile-based game was developed during the Qing Dynasty and remains a popular past time for Chinese people. It’s a great game to practice strategy, and it will also help you learn some Chinese characters!
The written Chinese language is both beautiful and complex – especially in the form of calligraphy. Many Chinese people spend years practicing their calligraphy, as it is not only considered an art form, but also a way to cultivate your character. You’ll see calligraphy shops in many places where you can buy beautiful pieces, watch the masters at work, or take lessons. Sometimes you’ll even spot people practicing on street sidewalks!
There are a wide variety of special Chinese activities that are interesting to try no matter how old or young you are! Chinese people also enjoy other activities such as competing in ping pong games, going to parks, hiking special mountains, and playing a traditional Chinese hackey-sack game called Jianzi. One thing is for sure – you won’t be bored here in China!