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Travel arrangements for China

What you should not forget and what you have to pay attention to

In the last 20 years, China has caught up and is comparable to a western country in many aspects; however, one should consider a few points before traveling to China to fully enjoy the stay.

Insurance
Before the trip, it is advisable to take out a travel cancellation insurance with repatriation and a travel health insurance. These are relatively low cost yet very important.

What if something happens in China?
There are international hospitals and private clinics in all major cities. As a rule, you pay in advance and will be reimbursed by the insurance afterwards. Please collect all receipts for later submission.

Money
The money in China is called yuan or renminbi. It is not recommended to exchange beforehand in the US or Europe; the exchange rates are often unfavorable as the Chinese yuan must be requested first. A small amount of Euros or USD in cash would be enough to bring and then exchange at the airport. You could also withdraw money with your credit card at an ATM. Before the trip, you should contact your bank to make sure that your cards are not blocked for international transactions or for China.

Credit card
In China, cashless payment is very popular. MasterCard and Visa are common credit cards that can be used at most ATMs and larger stores. The important thing is that to make sure the credit card has a 6-digit pin, so you do not have any unexpected difficulties with Chinese ATMs.

Vaccination
Before the trip, you should consult wit your doctor regarding your vaccinations, and renew them if necessary.

The following vaccinations are recommended:

  • Tetanus vaccination
  • Diphtheria immunization
  • Polio vaccine
  • Vaccination against hepatitis A
  • Vaccination against hepatitis B (for stays longer than three months)

Your doctor may recommend further vaccinations based on the itinerary and travel time.

VPN
The Internet in China is censored, and many foreign sites (for example All Google services, Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, YouTube, etc.) are not available in China. With a VPN program, you can bypass this lock and use the Internet as usual. Well-known suppliers are Astrill or Espressvpn. For a longer stay, it is worth to get a premium membership, which often has the better connections. However, you have to be aware that the internet in China can be slow as soon as you call foreign sites with VPNs.

Flights
From many airports, like Zurich, Vienna, Frankfurt, Dusseldorf, and Munich you can travel directly to China. In about 9-12 hours you will land in the Middle Kingdom. If you can’t fly direct, there are good connections with stopovers in Helsinki or Moscow. There are also quite cheap routes via Turkey, Dubai, and Qatar, but the departure times are not ideal, and you must calculate with more travel time. The connection via Moscow with Aeroflot has become a real insider tip. The Russian airline has the best value for money from Europe.

What to wear?
The clothes should be chosen according to the season and the destination in China. In northern China, it gets cold in winter (up to -30 degrees Celsius), and in southern China, it stays pleasant at about 18 degrees. It also depends on whether you will be in the highlands or on the coast. In the south and eastern parts of China it rains a lot in the summer months, so you should bring tropical rain gear.

A small tip: If you want to shop in China, you should remember that the clothing sizes in China are smaller then the western size. The price of branded goods is often higher as in Europe or the US. Also, it is difficult to find men’s shoes over 44 and women will not find shoes over 39.

Seasons
China is a huge country with different climates and different seasons. In general, it can be said that for large parts of China, the months of April, May, September, and October are best for travelling. The far north is better to travel in summer, in contrast, the tropical south is more pleasant in autumn and winter.

Travel Guide
China is a big country with different regions, people, and cultures. To get an overview, it is indeed good to read a travel guide covering the whole of China, for example from DuMont. We also recommend books that introduce you to Chinese culture before you travel, like “China – Culture Smart!: The Essential Guide to Customs & Culture” by Kathy Flower.

Power supply
In China, the universal power outlet is very common, so you rarely get embarrassed that your power plug does not fit. The electrical voltage is the same as in Europe. Nevertheless, it is recommended to take a travel adapter, if there aren’t enough power sockets in a room. The new adapters also have several USB ports so that you can load multiple devices at the same time. If necessary, you can also buy them cheap in China.