Ideas for Local {Small-Town China} Dates


Living in small-town China, it can sometimes be hard to find things to do for dates… we’ve had to get a little creative, and many of our dates end up taking place inside the house mostly for privacy but also because it’s hard to find activities to do outside that are actually enjoyable.

But for days when we just want to be out and about, doing something fun in the culture, I made this list of some activities that should be available to do locally (in local small-town China, that is…) Some of these may require just a little research and asking around beforehand to find out where to go. You’ll have to decide which ones are actually fun for you:

  • Go for a walk together… explore local countryside roads or walk to a new village.
  • Good chocolate can be hard to find… Go chocolate hunting together. Buy a bunch of different kinds and have a chocolate tasting.
  • Go shopping together to put together a care package for a friend or family member. Write fun notes for them & make taking it to the post office or hand-delivering it (for nearby friends) part of the date so you’re not creating more work for yourself to do afterwards.
  • Go get foot or whole-body massages from a local shop. These are usually just 5-10 USD/ person.
  • Shop for some meat and veggies and cook dinner together outside on one of those small barbecue grills. We can buy them for just 13RMB in our town. Cook outside in a park, or on the roof of your building.
  • Make a fun, random list of things that you know you can find, but may take some looking to spot in your town (Christmas trees still set up in April, a family of 5 on a scooter, a man with a beard, etc.) and go on a photo scavenger hunt together or separately as a competition.
  • Go to a local store that sells some really interesting clothes– these shouldn’t be hard to find. Act like a serious customer and take several items into the fitting room, then have a fashion show for each other.
  • Each person gets 30-50RMB (whatever’s a reasonable amount for your town and fits your budget) and 45 minutes to go buy a ridiculous piece of clothing/ earrings/ etc. for the other one. Wear them out to dinner together.
  • Hop on some bikes and go adventure biking– explore a new place. Pack a picnic lunch/ dinner or bring some money to eat at some middle-of-nowhere restaurant you run across.
  • Climb a local mountain.
  • Go paddle-boating if you live near a river (or rent a bamboo raft, ride on a river boat, whatever is available…).
  • Find a local photo booth (sometimes attached to a photo shop, sometimes randomly situated in the back of a purse shop, etc.). Take fun pictures together… it should cost just 5-10 RMB to get a whole sheet printed.

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  • Some towns have local DIY shops for sushi-making, cake-decorating, etc. Ask around.
  • Have a street food dinner… Go browsing. Choose some things you’ve rarely or never tried. Take your finds to the roof of your building if you have access and eat dinner as the sun sets.
  • Got a handle on a few Chinese characters? Go to a local book store and try reading some local children’s books to each other. (Sometimes they have pinyin, too!)
  • Celebrate Christmas in July. Each person gets 10 yuan and a red sock. Visit a  two yuan store together and shop for each other.
  • Walk around a local market or visit some small shops (not during peak time). Ask a vendor if he or she is willing to teach you how to make what they make, or at least to let you watch. Many of them will be happy to teach you how to make zongzi, dumplings, etc. Even if you’ve made them before, you can brush up on your technique and build a relationship.
  • Choose three local ingredients that you’ve rarely or never cooked with before. Similar to the cooking show Chopped, each of you must create a dish that includes these ingredients. (It can include any other ingredients as well.)
  • Choose a few local fruits that you rarely or never buy. Blend them into a smoothie.
  • Go shopping for fresh local honey. Some vendors may let you taste some samples, or you can just buy some and bring it home to try.
  • Visit a local fruit farm and pick fruit.
  • Participate in a local dance or yoga class… this will take a little confidence on the man’s part since he’ll probably be the only guy there!
  • Take your laptop and a blanket outside and watch a movie in a local park.
  • Join evening dance activities at a park or morning Taichi if you’re into morning dates.
  • Visit the local town square for dancing, games, crafts, or having your picture taken wearing minority clothing.
  • Go to an arcade. Play.
  • Visit a tea shop. Ask the owner questions about tea and see how much you can learn.
  • Go out for local barbecue late at night– Share a barbecue fish, some meat and veggies on sticks, etc. There’s some fun local night culture to be experienced.
  • Go to a local buffet or sushi bar if there is one. Enjoy a nice-ish meal out.
  • Visit an outdoor supply store. Buy something and immediately go use it on a date (something for cooking outdoors, something to use while biking, etc.)
  • Go out for a progressive dinner. Order small amounts of food at several different restaurants. Try some dishes you’ve never tried before.
  • Order drinks (for each other) that you don’t usually order at a local tea/ drink shop.

These are just some ideas to get you started. More to come…


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