Essential Things to Pack When Visiting China
China will be one of the biggest culture shocks of your life and is also diverse in terms of places, weather and terrain and choosing what to pack for a trip to China requires some forethought.
The normal luggage allowance for China usually isn't that big so it doesn't cover nonessential items, a lot of which are not needed anyway. If you planning to visit China, you can avoid the extra charge by simply packing wisely.
If you are wondering what you should take we have put together this guide to help. Check out our ultimate China packing list below which includes important things to remember and things which you can leave behind.
Be prepared before arriving and have Chinese Renminbi in notes ready for when you get to China. Not everywhere will accept card payments or international currencies e.g. GDP, Euros or US dollars so it is important to have local currency at hand. Exchanging money in advance also usually ensures you get the best price possible for the exchange.
2. Sensible Clothing
Check to see what time of the year you will be visiting in China and then decide what clothes and footwear to pack. A good pair of trainers is always recommended as you will usually end up doing a lot of walking when sightseeing. China in summer gets extremely warm so you should pack light for this season and you might even want to consider taking an umbrella.
In winter you should be prepared with warm clothing as temperatures throughout China can drop during this season. Gloves, a hat, a warm insulated coat, a fleece and jumpers are all recommended. If you are going to be outdoors or doing adventure activities like hiking for example walking the Great Wall of China then it is important to take a raincoat and comfortable footwear. Remember though, do not overpack. If you forget anything you can always buy it there.
3. Power Adapter
The voltage in China is pegged at 220 volts. For those traveling from countries like the UK, this isn't a problem. But if you're coming from the United States, your 120-volt charger will not work.
There are several socket types typically used in China such as Type I, B and C. In order to stay juiced up anywhere you go,, just pack a universal adapter and you’ll always be able to charge your devices, no matter the socket type.
The language barrier can be one of the biggest challenges when travelling in China as most people you meet will not be able to speak English. you won't need to be an expect in Mandarin or Cantonese, but knowing at least some basic words and phrases will help make the whole experience easier and more enjoyable.
You could buy a phrase book, print off some essential Chinese phrases for travel in China or download an app which will help you to communicate with local people.
5. Pollution Mask
The air in China is notoriously polluted especially in some urban cities like Beijing, X'ian and Shanghai. Sometimes the air quality is so bad the Chinese authorities advise people to stay indoors!
You’ll see many local people with face masks on as they go about their daily lives - this is almost normal now. Don’t have to worry about looking silly while wearing one, get a good face mask before you leave to ensure you pick one that is breathable and comfortable on your skin.
6. A Sensible Wallet
Although crime against international tourists is rare, you'll need a wallet to keep your money and credit cards safe when exploring China. When flying never put these financial lifelines in your checked baggage! The type of wallet you should pack must be a slim wallet and should have safety features like RFID blocking.
Check out the Kinzd slim wallet which is recommended. This is a perfect choice for travelers because you can easily keep digital thieves out. Most importantly, it will fit perfectly in your front pocket providing more security when you're on the go. You might also want to consider a money belt.
7. Guidebook + Map
China is a huge country and it's important to know where to go and what to do. A paper guidebook might be a heavy weigh to carry around with you but it will really help you to enhance your experience and find the best things to see and things to check out.
You may come across looking like a tourist, but seriously, guidebooks are a blessing when you get lost and can't speak the language. You could even download a internet guide to your phone or tablet. Make sure you have a map of all the places you want to visit too, this will really come in handy when in China as most of the street signs will be in Chinese!
8. Travel Insurance
Most travelers to China enjoy their visit immensely and without any significant incident. But, what if an unfortunate and unexpected event occurs? When traveling abroad, it’s highly recommended to take out coverage for the unforeseen circumstances and emergencies.
China is a country that is fun to visit, but most experienced travelers will recommend travel insurance as a must-have. It will really save you time, money and a lot of headaches when dealing with issues like theft or medical emergencies. Travel insurance is probably the most important thing on our list!
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9. Copies of All Your Documents
This is another important thing not to forget, take a all your documents and keep them in a safe place. For example a printed and online copy of your passport, visa, travel insurance and hotel reservations.
10. Universal Waterproof Phone Case
This is one of the most optional items on our list but a waterproof phone case is a favorite travel item because it provides excellent protection against dust, dirt, water, and scratches. The good news is that these phone cases can cost under $10!
No matter where you are traveling to, your phones is one of the most important items that you will need. So, you must ensure that it is protected and safe from damage.
11. Rolling Suitcase
You’re will probably travel some distance by foot. No matter the type of trip you're on, you will discover that the Chinese are physically active and walk short or long distances to get to their point of interest.
Even at the airport, you'll need a handy rolling suitcase to get through the hassles of check-in. Your luggage will probably be bounced around, pulled and dragged behind you as you move about. So there's no better option than a rolling suitcase. It's a good idea to invest in a durable and quality suitcase. You want to choose something that's lightweight and easy to travel with so that you don't get body aches and back pain after your trip.
12. Packing Cubes
Staying organized while abroad is the key to a stress-free journey. Rummaging around in your luggage for something you need urgently can take a toll. This is especially challenging if you need to get it out in the nick of time. When you are on the road, packing cubes are a great choice because they help you manage space and pack smartly.
It's a wonder why these little cubes were not invented earlier. They are lightweight and can be used to section your travel gear. With better organization, you can find what you need in seconds.
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13. Travel Backpack or Daypack
Backpacks are comfortable and convenient for travelers. You don't have to be hiking through China to need a sturdy backpack. You can use it as your hand luggage at the airport or when exploring China.
When choosing a pack, pick one with a padded laptop sleeve and a good ergonomic design to ensure that you don't feel the weight of your gear. Backpacks these days are made with innovative features, so choose one that will suit your needs and make your trip easier.
14. Activated Charcoal Capsules
If you're going to be active, it’s important to stay hydrated during your trip. Medicine are great if you want to avoid traveler’s diarrhea; an unfortunate situation that comes with traveling to new places. For people who plan on trying new foods and visiting unfamiliar territories, it’s a good idea to take some activated charcoal capsules with you just in case.
The charcoal will absorb any toxins and irritants that may cause an upset stomach and will rejuvenate your system. This is a lifesaver that can get your back into traveler mode in no time.
15. Sanitary Products
These are some important things to take which will help to keep your healthy - hand sanitizer, antiseptic towelettes, antibacterial wash, tisues/toilet paper, lubricating eye drops, saline nasal spray, cold medicine and moisturizer and lip balm. These things will all help with daily sightseeing, pollution and the climate.
16. Female Urination Device
You're probably squirming at the thought of a urination device, but this is one of the essential travel items that women need to carry with them to China. Did you know that the most common toilet types in China are squat toilets? These are toilets that are built low in the ground and require women to take a squatting position when they have to relieve themselves. Because of this position, you are open to all kinds of nasty infections if the toilet isn't clean.
There are also western-style toilets in bigger cities, but you’ll quickly discover that squat toilets are very common. They are somewhat difficult to get used to, that's why female urination devices come in handy, particularly if you're unable to squat for any length of time.
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17. Headphones / Ear Plugs
China can be a shock to the system - the amount of people, noise, traffic and sights and sounds might be totally different to what you are used to. A good pair of headphones or ear plugs will be useful to block out any outside noise and let you relax!
18. A Good Camera
And last, you should take a camera to capture the incredible time you will have! You will get to see some incredible places and to make sure you document the trip either a good phone or a professional camera will help you to create memories to keep forever.
Hopefully our essential packing list of China has given you some suggestions for what to take when exploring this incredible country. If you are keen to book a trip and need ideas view China tours and remember before departing it is important to get your tourist visa organised well in advance of arriving.