North vs South China – 7 Things You Never Knew About China

By Ruixi Hu, Lost Plate Founder

China has a long history grounded in strong traditions that date back thousands of years. Perhaps more than any other country, these are still seen clearly today and make China a very interesting place to explore! The best way to see what you never knew about China is by taking a look at the traditions in the North and South of China, roughly defined by the Yangtze River.

We have Food Tours in the North and South of China, which gives you the opportunity to see how different the cuisine and culture really is as you travel through China!

The North: Food Tours in Xian & Beijing
The South: Food Tours in Chengdu & Shanghai

Here are the the 7 biggest ways that Northerners and Southerners differ:

1. Is Tofu Sweet or Salty?

North: Salty, without a doubt!
South: Must be sweet.
My Preference: Neither, I only like Mapo tofu (super spicy)!

2. Plate or Bowl?


North: Plate to eat, push unwanted food to the corner of the plate or on the table.
South: Use bowl (filled with rice) to eat, put unwanted food on the plate.

3. Rice or Noodles?

North: Only noodles for them…it’s too dry to grow rice!
South: Rice please, preferably at the end of the meal.

4. Giving Directions


North: Head North then go East and it will be on the South side of the street.
South: Go straight, turn right and it will be on your right.

Cities in the north are built in a grid-like system with straight roads and blocks. Cities in the South are circular like a spider web.

5. What do you eat for Lantern Festival (the last day of Chinese New Year)?

North: Dumplings
South: Glutinous Rice Balls with Sweet Fillings
My Preference: Can’t we have both?

6. Weather

North: South of China is not cold, because it’s the South!
South: Northerners are strong and tough because the north is so cold.

Cities in the North have government enforced central heating in all residents and buildings. It turns on the 15th of November and turns off on April 15. The South gets nothing!

7. Language

North: Tell me about the dialect from your province.
South: Do you know how many dialects we have in one city?
Me: Most people can’t understand my dialect and I can’t understand theirs. Thank goodness everyone speaks Mandarin!