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What to Pack for a Trip to China

What to pack

If you’re reading this and you enjoy packing for a long trip, raise your hand. Did you raise your hand? Very doubtful. Nobody likes it; it’s stressful.

For your first trip to China, China Highlights has got you covered. From passports and visas, to itineraries and toiletries, follow this guide for a more enjoyable packing and planning experience.

Essentials: Paperwork, Money, Internet

Ensure you have all your passport and visas, as well as all other documents readily accessible. We would also recommend making copies of these in case the originals are lost, and checking this China checklist before you go.

Store your wallet and credit cards safely. If you opt to bring cash, don’t put it all in one place. Spread it around your luggage to keep it more secure. Brush up on Chinese currency and ATMs in China before you go too.

Another thing to bear in mind is the fact that the internet in China is a little different. There is no access to Facebook, Google services (including Google search engine, GMail, Google Maps, etc), Instagram, Twitter, and WhatsApp to name a few. Download one of these recommended VPNs before you go if access to these is vital for you.

Itinerary Information

Passport copies and other information can be stored securely online for emergency use.Passport copies and other information can be stored securely online for emergency use.

Note the names, addresses, phone numbers, and confirmation numbers of the places you’ll be staying throughout your trip. Keep this information on a single sheet of paper, rather than bringing your whole address book. This will save weight in your bags. 

Having hotel names and addresses readily available in Chinese is important too, especially if you're expecting to grab a taxi from the airport to the hotel. Don't expect Chinese taxi drivers to know the English names of hotels off the top of their head.

Keep your airline, train, and cruise ticket information in a secure location as well. E-tickets do not need to be printed out, so if you prefer this option, be ready to show your phone for confirmation.

Clothing

great wall hiking

It’s always a good idea to check the climate of your destination before deciding what type of clothing to bring. Generally, pack lightweight clothing for the summer months, warm clothing for the winter months, and layers for the fall and spring months.

Having a comfortable, durable pair of walking shoes is always recommended, regardless of the time of year. A trip to China often involves a lot of walking, often on hard, uneven surfaces and stairs.

Many attractions are quite exposed to the weather, so be sure to pack waterproof clothing for the rainy seasons and sunscreen, sunglasses, and hats for the sunny seasons.

Especially if you wear larger sized clothing or shoes, you'll find it hard to buy clothes or shoes that fit in China, so do make sure you bring enough.

Toiletries and Medications

Don't forget your medicationDon't forget your medication

Bring any medications you take regularly and be sure you have enough supply to last the length of your stay.

We would also recommend bringing medications for common ailments, such as pain, allergies, indigestion, and diarrhea. These are often difficult to find in China especially outside the bigger cities.

Toiletries are also often hard to find in Beijing, especially deodorant and things like sanitary towels and tampons. While sanitary towels are relatively easy to find the brands are different and not always as comfortable. Tampons are only available in the big cities' import-goods supermarkets.

Insect repellent is important to bring along, particularly during the summer months and for travelers who are visiting more rural areas.

We would also recommend always carrying some toilet paper or tissues, as well as wet wipes. Most public bathrooms do not provide toilet paper or soap.

Electronics

laptop and mobile phone

Aside from your smartphone and digital camera, pack adapter plugs. China’s electrical system operates at 220 volts with two or three thin-pin sockets, so converters may be necessary. 

Some Google technology won't work in China AT ALL without a VPN that works in China. A VPN is also needed for all the blocked websites in China: Facebook, Youtube, etc.

Don’t leave your chargers at home either!

Other Tips

China Packing List

  • Appropriate clothing for the weather
  • Comfortable footwear
  • Rain gear and umbrella
  • Sun protection
  • Toiletries (Shampoo, conditioner, hairbrush, toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, lotions, sunscreen, shaver, shaving cream, tampons/sanitary products, and other personal hygiene items)
  • Medicine (Small first aid kit, pain reliever, diarrhea medicine, contact lens products, motion sickness medicine, allergy medicine, sleep medication, personal prescriptions)
  • Vitamins
  • Phone with charger
  • Camera or video camera with charger
  • Power adapters 
  • Reading materials (why not some books about China?)
  • Guide books, maps, dictionary
  • Games/music
  • Insect repellent
  • Snacks and a water bottle
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Tissues and wet wipes
  • Travel day backpack 
  • Power bank for long train rides

For a list of whjat to do and pack for your trip, see our China Travel Checklist.

What NOT to Bring to China

  • A phone locked to a network
  • A lot of unnecessary electronics
  • Expensive jewelry
  • Politically sensitive material
  • Delicate clothing
  • Too much weight if it can be avoided (see more on 6 Smart Packing Tips to Travel Light in China)

First Trip to China?

The Great Wall and China Highlights customersThe Great Wall and China Highlights customers

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With over 20 years of travel experience, China Highlights can help you with far more than what to pack.

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