Read this before you leave for your China trip. Being prepared will help keep you safe and healthy on your travels. Here are our Top 12 must-have items for traveling to China.
1. Visas Come First
Before any other preparation, make sure you have a valid visa. It is required for entry and exit. If you lose your passport, or your visa expires while you are in China, you will not be allowed to leave until you get a new one. Allow at least a week for renewal in major cities and longer for smaller cities or you’ll be changing your travel schedule at your own cost.
If you plan on traveling to Tibet, you need to apply for a Tibet Travel Permit at least 15 days before entering. Some people apply for that visa in Hong Kong because the processing times are often faster.
2. Allergy Food List in Chinese
If you have any food allergies, carry a list of the foods you are allergic to on a card in Chinese. You can show this at restaurants when ordering food. Peanuts and some other ingredients that commonly cause allergies in the West are frequently used in Chinese cooking.
3. Medicine, Multi-Vitamins and Toiletries
Standard medicines in the West are not standard medicines in China. Even if your medicine is available in China, it probably has a different name and brand that would make it hard to recognize, or it may have different ingredients to what you expect, it may even be counterfeit.
Avoid ordering medicines whilst in China from overseas as you may have trouble getting them through customs and you might have to pay hefty customs fees. Body deodorants are generally not used by Chinese people, so don’t expect to be able to buy them.
As a general rule, if you use something regularly, make sure you bring enough of it with you to last the trip.
4. Diarrhea and Flu Medicine
It’s not uncommon to suffer from diarrhea due to the poor water quality in China or the intake of different foods. Outbreaks of the flu are known to occur and can ruin your trip.
Although there are hospitals and doctors in China, the medical system is very different to Western countries. You’ll save time and money by bringing your own medicine with you.
5. Surgical Masks are a Must
Many people are wearing face masks outside to avoid breathing in the smog. Don’t be shy to wear it to protect your lungs and overall health. You are going to notice the difference as soon as you land in China. Also consider getting an air purifier if your hotel doesn’t have one.
6. List of Places You Will Visit in Chinese
Keep small cards with the name of your hotel and any destinations that you want to travel to written in Chinese. You can show these whenever you need help getting transportation or finding a specific location.
7. Bring a Fork If You Want to Eat Local
If you can’t use chopsticks, most restaurants can provide Western-style cutlery for you, but small local restaurants may not. If you are learning to use chopsticks, wear dark clothes to help hide any spills, and go for it!
8. Toilet Paper is Not Provided
Unless it is a five-star hotel, toilet paper is not provided, so always carry some with you. If you forget, make sure you have change on hand to buy it on the spot.
9. Bring Extra Layers of Clothing
Unless you are staying in 5-star accommodation, Chinese generally use less heating and insulation in their buildings than in more developed countries.
In winter you’ll need plenty of layers, including a thick woolen sweater, an overcoat, feather down jacket or vest, lined coats, hat, gloves, and lined shoes. Rain clothes are needed for summer and autumn months.
10. Photography Equipment Will Take a Beating
If you are serious about taking good photos in China, make sure your camera bag seals very well to minimize the amount of dust from pollution that gets onto your gear. A polarizing filter is a handy tool to intensify any blue skies if you encounter extreme smog.
11. Earplugs for Public Transport
Unless you are used to the non-stop sounds of hundreds of people talking loudly around you at all times of the day, bring earplugs. They will help you sleep or concentrate on a noisy bus or train trip.
12. Gas Detectors If Renting an Apartment
Natural gas in China is not scented, so if you are renting an apartment with gas appliances you will not be able to smell if there is a gas leak. There have been fatal accidents involving foreigners. Gas and carbon monoxide detectors are not readily available in China, so unless you are staying in hotels or with family, bringing one with you is a good idea.
13. Converter for 220 Voltage
China uses the metric system, not the imperial system of measurement. If you are bringing any electrical appliances with you, such as a hair dryer or electric shaver, make sure to bring a converter for 220 voltage.
If you are coming from America, a pocket or digital measurement converter will help you manage measurements in kilometers instead of miles and grams instead of ounces.