On a first vacation to any country, packing the correct things can be the difference between a great vacation and one full of problems. Packing for China has its own set of problems as it’s a country unlike any other. That’s why, when I went to China, I was happy to have Chinese friends who told me what to take.
Packing Clothing For China – Before you even think about packing, you need to figure out what the weather will be like. China is a country of extremes. Freezing cold in many places in the winter and boiling hot in the summer. If you take the wrong clothes, you’ll be miserable. So, figure out what the temperature is likely to be, then pack accordingly.
As far as what style of clothing to pack, China is a conservative country so wearing tight, short or revealing clothing isn’t a good idea. Even in the big cities, most of the people wearing revealing clothing are westerners and, it just looks tacky. Shorts also are not usually worn by the Chinese, so you’ll stand out if you wear them. Pack casual, comfortable clothing that’s light to carry. Jeans and casual pants are great. You also don’t have to pack too much as, even if you’re going for a month or more, there are small laundries everywhere that will wash, dry and iron your clothing in 24 hours or less for an inexpensive price.
Comfortable Shoes – I travel all over the world, but I’ve never walked anywhere as much as I did in China. Just about every popular tourist attractions seemed to be huge and required hours of walking. Thankfully, my friends had already told me, even if I went completely naked, the one thing I must take with me was a pair of shoes I could actually walk in.
Toiletries – Although you might want to have shampoo, conditioner, deodorant etc. with you, take small travel bottles only and, of course in the craziness of today’s airport security, pack them in your check-in luggage. You can buy toiletries all over China cheaply, so you don’t need to be lugging huge bottles of your own there.
Pack Entertainment For The Flight – Don’t forget, flying from the US or Europe to China is a lot of time in a plane. That’s why you don’t want to forget to pack a few things to entertain you on the plane. A book, magazines, crossword puzzles, an MP3 player with Chinese language files on it, your laptop, anything that’s going to make 18-10 hours in a plane more bearable.
Cash and Travelers Checks Are Preferable – Luckily, before I left on my vacation to China, my friends told me to take lots of cash and travelers checks and not to rely on credit cards or ATMs. While in cities like Beijing or Shanghai, you’ll find ATMs all over and credit cards are readily accepted, particularly in malls and large department stores.
In smaller towns though it’s more difficult to find a working ATM and the small shops don’t accept credit. Plus, let’s face it, on a vacation to an amazing country like China, you want to be able to shop at all the funky independent shops, and not be stuck at departments stores as they’re the only places taking credit cards.
Medications – Although you can get just about any medication you’ve heard of in China and thousands of medications you haven’t, take any medication you might need with you. Pharmacists don’t always speak English and, if you have a sudden medical emergency, having the medicine with you will be less stressful. Even though I have a stomach like cast iron, I still took medication for an upset stomach and diarrhea, just in case.
Photocopy Of Your Passport And Travel Visa – Since I started traveling on my own years ago, my mother has had it drummed in my head to always have a photocopy of my passport with me. That way, I don’t have to take it out with me while on vacation but can leave it in the hotel safe and, if I do lose it, I have a photocopy to take with me to the American embassy for emergency travel documentation to get home.
Also make sure you have a photocopy of your travel visa to China with you, in case your passport gets lost. That way you can prove to Chinese authorities you’re in the country legally.
A Guide Book And A Map – Take your guide book and maps in English with you. I took my guide book, with all the places I wanted to see already marked in it, so I could hit the ground running when I got there. Having maps already perused and with destinations marked on them was a big help. Plus, once I got outside Beijing, finding maps in English wasn’t always as easy as it would be in many other countries. Take your own with you, then there’s less chance of getting lost.
Overall, packing the right things for China isn’t that difficult. Just use some common sense, don’t take skimpy, revealing clothing and pack lightly. You’ll be bringing so much stuff home with you, you’ll need room in your suitcase to carry it.
China: Average Temperatures and Weather – China Orbit