25 In Asia/ Guest Posts/ Travel

Guest Post – A Guide To Preparing For Travel in China

This post is sponsored by Career China

Ever since it opened its doors to the world nearly five thousand years ago, China has enjoyed a period of rapid economic growth and transformation. These days, more and more people across the globe are not only traveling to China to experience its rich culture and history but to also witness its current development and perhaps catch a glimpse of its bright future! For those looking for more than a quick visit, more than 600,000 foreigners have now chosen to take their careers in China! Just like traveling to any other foreign country, there are always a couple of things you’ll have to take into account, and China is not an exception. Today in this particular post, we are going to provide you five practical, straightforward and useful tips on how to enjoy your stay in China. We hope that these tips will help you realize how China is both a beautiful and equally a challenging place to be.

Carry an electronic translator or a dictionary

China is the most populated country globally, and currently is home to at least four and a half billion people. Even though most citizens here do speak English (perhaps as a result of the mandatory English language education) the universal language of the Chinese people is Mandarin Chinese. To make your stay there stress-free, you’ll probably need to have either an electronic translator or a dictionary with you. Thankfully, the Chinese are amicable and welcoming. If you need to carry out your banking services as well other activities, you may need to bring a native to help with the translation. As previously mentioned, very few workers will have adequate English to offer help, and this implies that you must have a dictionary or install a simple translation app on your smartphone.

Photo credit Kristine Thorndyke

Managing your health in China

It is imperative to note that Chinese pharmacies offer both eastern and western medication at a reasonably affordable cost. However, it is widely believed that the best medical treatment in China is reserved for the military. So unless you have a special connection with the PLA, you’ll have to strain for a ticket to see a qualified medical practitioner. What’s more, the Chinese hospitals can be crowded at times, even though some major cities have specialized medical centers catering to the foreigners in the country.

Larger cities in this country have significant air pollution problems, especially Beijing. This only means that you’ll likely suffer from respiratory infections more regularly. It would be a good idea to bring your own medication, especially if you know you’ll need constant minor medical assistance.

Photo credit Kristine Thorndyke

Bring toilet paper as well as sanitary wipes.

If you were not aware, most Chinese toilets do not provide free toilet paper. Of course, some top-class restaurants and hotels will have it available. However, the public toilets are not as well maintained as you may be used to in your home country and they certainly do not provide complimentary toilet paper (or hand soap, for that matter). Tissue papers also have other essential functions, including wiping off utensils and cups at hotels. Though it sounds bizarre, carrying your own toilet paper is hugely beneficial and a very regular occurrence for both locals and foreigners alike in China.

Finally, bring some hand sanitizer, wipes or soap since you’re not likely to come across hand soap in most Chinese bathrooms. Just to be on the safest side, carry a bottle of hand sanitizer with you! It will make your stay in China not only enjoyable but comfortable and safe as well.

Photo credit Kristine Thorndyke

Make sure you’ve packed a power and a plug converter.

China utilizes an entirely different power output in their power sockets. Even though a significant number of electronics are equipped with built-in power converters, it would be necessary to examine the overall power output limits of all your electronic appliances. Many electronics in the United States will only support between 110 to 120V.

Apart from having different electrical outputs, China also uses different plugs. In this regard, the Chinese plugs will support Australian, US and Hong Kong plugs, but will not support the conventional three-prong US plug. Again, it won’t recognize the US plugs where one prong is relatively larger than the other one. To avoid encountering lots of problems, arm yourself with a functional universal plug converter. They are available at every airport at reasonable prices or can be a quick online purchase.

Photo credit Kristine Thorndyke

Invest in a virtual private network.

If you intend to stay in China for an extended period, then this would be a fantastic option for you. Even though the Chinese internet is easy to access and with good speeds, it should be noted that Youtube, Facebook, as well as Twitter, are not available. What’s more, most Google services are blocked, and the same also applies to some blog services.

To access the majority of your social media, you really have no other option than to purchase a virtual private network (VPN). Thankfully, VPN’s are reasonably affordable and support open access to the whole web. When shopping for VPN’s, just check and confirm that they cover China, since many free options do not.

The Bottom Line

These are some of the most important things that you’ll have to take into consideration before planning to travel to China. With all these at your disposal, you are destined to enjoy a stress-free, fulfilling, and a memorable experience in this great nation.

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  • Reply
    Danik (Daniels)
    November 4, 2017 at 4:04 pm

    I traveled to china for the first time recently and totally agree with this list. The most essential for me was the VPN. What a life saver that was 😀

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      November 5, 2017 at 7:54 am

      I’ll definitely have to remember that when I make it there myself!

  • Reply
    November 4, 2017 at 5:30 pm

    I never knew there was a way around the social media ban with a VPN. A great set of tips for anyone planning to travel to China – the toilet paper and hand sanitizer one is something I very often do when I am travelling somewhere I haven’t been before

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      November 5, 2017 at 7:55 am

      I didn’t either! Interesting to know! This is why it’s great getting those insider tips, huh? I’m the same way – always with the toilet paper!

  • Reply
    Jema @ Halftheclothes
    November 4, 2017 at 6:53 pm

    I’ve been very curious about VPNs, too. I’m really surprised China doesn’t find a way to block the use of them. Any guesses on why they close access to FB, Google, etc. but look the other way on the relative ease of accessing them via VPN? Also – wouldn’t have thought ahead on the medical front – good advice!

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      November 5, 2017 at 7:56 am

      I honestly didn’t know that, either! The medical front is great advice for many places. We did that before starting off on our trip!

  • Reply
    Kavita Favelle
    November 5, 2017 at 2:12 am

    China is very high on my list to visit, so I found your guide very handy. I have been to Hong Kong and Macau (and also Taiwan, which I do feel is a distinct country, regardless of the political question) but never to mainland China and I’d love to make it there soon. A translation tool is a good thought, we have found the technological advance with the apps you can get for your phone such a boon over last few years. Health wise, I do always travel with all my regular meds and a small emergency selection, provided they are legal for the destination. But the respiration issue is a very good reminder, as I used to suffer asthma, and that may be aggravated by the pollution. Things like toilet paper, convertors and ways to access the internet are on our standard list…

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      November 5, 2017 at 8:00 am

      I also consider Taiwan its own country – along with Tibet, but it’s so interesting that you’ve been all around it! I suffer from asthma, so I take the pollution thing super seriously. I started my big trip that I’m currently on with more than enough inhalers for the year. It can be super scary.

  • Reply
    Medha Verma
    November 5, 2017 at 3:28 am

    These are very helpful tips, especially VPN. From what I’ve heard, Google, Facebook etc are blocked because China has its own search engine which they want people to use (promoting domestic products rather than international) so to be able to access international websites, you’d definitely need a VPN.

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      November 5, 2017 at 8:01 am

      That’s interesting. I’ve not heard that, but I’m glad that VPNs are there to help travelers out!

  • Reply
    November 5, 2017 at 4:11 am

    Thats for the systematic low down on China travel. its a must go according to me and surely will get there. Thanks for the tips!

  • Reply
    November 5, 2017 at 8:45 am

    If I’m staying in China for only a week than I can survive without access to YouTube and social media sites. But if I’m staying longer then I’ll definitely get a VPN.

  • Reply
    November 5, 2017 at 10:13 am

    The hospital scene is scary. How does one have connection with PLA? I guess short duration visits would be best to avoid all health problems. Other tips are equally helpful.

  • Reply
    November 5, 2017 at 3:45 pm

    You’ve pointed out some vary valid points here, although I’ve not traveled to China as yet, I know where your coming from having spent a lot of time in SE Asia before. The bring your own Tissue paper runs true with the whole of Asia I think. Investing in a private virtual network is something I need to start looking into now that I blog, it would come in useful no matter where you travel. Thanks for the tips

  • Reply
    Elaine Masters
    November 5, 2017 at 9:02 pm

    Some really practical advice for visiting China. I didn’t know that a VPN would allow for access to FB, etc. Also, I wonder if traditional Chinese medicine would work in translation. I always travel with a set of plug converters for charging batteries too. Thanks.

  • Reply
    November 6, 2017 at 8:23 am

    I went to China for the first time 2 years ago and I totally agree with having an electronic translator which is handy especially in smaller cities. Even ordering food can be a challenge, so when I came across a menu with English translations, I took a photo of it and just showed it at every restaurant I went to. Made my life so much easier! 😛 Great tips and love the name of your blog! 🙂

  • Reply
    November 6, 2017 at 9:16 am

    You are right, China has gained a lot of traction among traveler in recent years. In fact, I also want to be there soon and your guide is perfect to start. Carrying tissue paper and napkin is much important when you travel to that part of world. I agree and other have also told me about VPN to connect with outer world. But such restriction must go now and people should be free to connect.

  • Reply
    November 6, 2017 at 12:04 pm

    Haven’t made it to China yet, but most of this doesn’t come as a surprise – even though the reminder is HUGELY valuable. The VPN piece is the one I hadn’t heard much about, but it sounds like a completely worthwhile investment!!

  • Reply
    Anne @TravelTheGlobe (@TTGLOBE4L)
    November 6, 2017 at 2:13 pm

    Some great tips here and very timely as I head to China for the first time in August. I love the idea of the translator and frankly I would never have thought to carry toilet paper. Thanks for sharing.

  • Reply
    Drew Seaman
    November 6, 2017 at 6:20 pm

    I live in China, and definitely agree with your points about traveling here. The VPN is a lifesaver (especially for a blogger) while traveling. Of course, internet speeds are notoriously slow here, and the VPN only slows them down further. And good point on the TP. Still find it strange that you have to bring your own.

  • Reply
    November 6, 2017 at 8:41 pm

    Lots of really helpful tips! We have a stopover in Guangzhou on the way to Japan in March next year and I’m already hella stressed about the potential language barrier even for that tiny 14 hours. I can see that translation apps would be absolutely essential for longer visits in China.

  • Reply
    November 7, 2017 at 12:54 am

    Sad that you can’t access Google Maps without VPN. What translator did you download? And do you think a map is necessary? Like a hard copy map?

  • Reply
    November 7, 2017 at 10:02 am

    I have read several posts on China till day but something never as important and useful like this. These points are worth remembering and taking care of before preparing to travel to China. Thanks for sharing.

  • Reply
    Claudia Laroye
    November 7, 2017 at 3:52 pm

    This is some great, basic advice that you’ve shared here. I always carry tissues and wipes with me, but it sounds like you really need to ensure you have a good supply when you’re in China! A digital translator is also an excellent idea – my Mandarin is a big spotty. 🙂

  • Reply
    Veronika Tomanova
    November 8, 2017 at 3:27 am

    China is really a place like no other. The language barrier, the internet barrier, limited photography locations. Everyone who is travelling there need some kind of advice, and your post responds many questions. Getting your own internet in brilliant idea!

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