What to Pack
What to pack or bring on condition that you have followed China Customs Regulations. Pack as little as possible. Pack lightly rather than heavily. International flights will limit you to two check-in pieces and will also limit you (sometimes) to a combined luggage weight of no more than 44 pounds. Bring casual clothes.
Lightweight and concise are two words that should be etched on your mind when you are deciding what to bring. Therefore, you are advised to bring only one piece of luggage to China. You can buy another piece of luggage when you reach your last stop in China and then you will be able to check two pieces of luggage home. If you have extra luggage when traveling within China, you may have to pay an excess baggage charge at each airport. For domestic traveling in China, there is a weight restriction of 20 kilos per person for checked luggage. You can carry up to 150 kilos, but you will be charged extra (not a lot) for the overage.
Essential is a sturdy, large, soft-sided internal frame backpack with several compartments to fit all your things. Don't bring anything too expensive as it may get damaged, but durability is a must. Label everything with tags inside and out in English and Chinese. Today's China is well stocked with most personal items; you will have many opportunities to buy. I'm sure that it is much better to buy things as you need them rather than to throw them away because you have too much to carry.
However, there are some things you will need to bring from home. A business suit and tie for men and one or two dresses or pant suits for women will adequate for most formal occasions.
Investing in a good backpack is one outlay you will never regret. A sturdy backpack or a rucksack is much easier to carry than a suitcase. Bring suitcases only if you know you won't be carrying your luggage on buses and trains. A frameless or internal-frame pack is preferable, which is generally easier to store on buses and trains and also more comfortable to walk with. A small shoulder bag or a bum bag is essential for carrying your camera and other daily items around after you have deposited your backpack at the hotel or railway station. But do not use it for valuables such as your travelers' cheques and passport as it can be an easy target for pickpockets. Note that all checked luggage should be lockable.
Remember light is better. Lightweight (canvas or nylon) luggage is the most practical. Make certain that you can carry all your luggage at once. in train stations where you will climb up stairs and then down, at airports where it is a long walk from customs gates to bus pickup points, at our hotels in Thailand and Vietnam where there may be a lot of stairs.
Above all, do not pack anything fragile, valuable, or perishable in the luggage that you intend to check. Valuables of any kind--money, jewelry, important documents, prescription drugs--as well as matches or cigarette lighters should be placed in your carry-on luggage. Leave all expensive jewelry and furs at home in safe storage--and enjoy peace of mind in your travels.
Clothing - Take half as many clothes as you think you will need. This is one half of a simple traveler's rule worldwide: Take twice as much money as you think you will need and half as many clothes. In general, visitors to China should pack casual, comfortable attire. Shorts are acceptable attire for most activities. Comfortable and durable walking shoes are essential since there will be much walking. It is recommended that you not bring expensive jewelry since you may not have the occasion to wear it and you will also not have to worry about losing it.
China has a continental and seasonal climate. Most parts are in the temperate zone but southern areas are in the tropical or subtropical zone while northern areas are in the Frigid Zone. Climates in different areas are complicated. For instance, northern Heilongjiang Province has a winter climate the year round without summer, while Hainan Island has a summer climate the year round without winter. The following is a reference table for tourists to prepare clothing on their trips.
In summer, most parts of China are hot and very humid. Lightweight clothing is advisable. Cotton is the most comfortable fabric for hot weather. Bring clothes that are easily washable, especially by hand.
In winter, most parts of China are under the influence of cold weather, especially in the north China. So it is advisable to wear layers of garments, normally, thermal or silk underwear with a sweater and padded jacket outside. Padded jackets and wool-lined boots are one of the best buys in China, you could easily buy one when you need.
Travel in spring or summer, your clothing should be casual and designed for comfort, without being too revealing. Take light cotton clothes that are easily washed and not too delicate. Washable clothing is a must. Remember, cotton takes a long time to dry and washing machines will not be available when you are on the road. For women and men, things like synthetic/silk underwear are best, bathing suits that will dry quickly an absolute necessity. Trousers are still necessary for women traveling to China, since many temples are forbidden to those who wear skirts.
When traveling in northern China in winter, pack woolen clothes, thermal underwear, warm coats, hats, and gloves, and an extra sweater. Traveling in the south requires between-season clothing.
In cool or uncertain weather, it is better to wear several layers of clothing instead of one bulky outer garment. For instance, wear a sweater on top of a shirt on top of a turtleneck.
Travel during the rainy season, namely from May to August, a raincoat is also necessary.
Season Month Temperature (°C ) Temperature ( F ) Suggesting Clothing
Spring Mar - May 10-22 50 - 71.6 Western suits, jackets, sports coats, woolen jackets, long sleeve shirts and travel shoes
Summer Jun - Aug 22 and above Above 71.6,
T-shirts, short sleeve shirts, skirts, sandals, caps, rain wear
Autumn Sep - Nov 10-22 50- 71.6 Western suits, jackets, sports coats, light woolen sweaters, rain wear and travel shoes
Winter Dec - Feb 10 or lower Below 50 Overcoat, thick woolen sweaters, lined coats;In northern China, cap, gloves and cotton-padded shoes are required .
Articles of Daily Use - Except for washable clothing like a coat, a couple of shirts, sweaters, a jacket (depending on the season), and a sturdy, comfortable pair ofwalking shoes, which can be worn in layers to accommodate China's variety climates, take some toiletries, medical supplies and carry-on items of such kind for daily use.
A good pair of sunglasses, a hat, a sunscreen lotion and a water bottle are essential, particularly in the desert regions or when at high altitudes.
Tooth brush, towel, common toiletries, wet tissue, cold and indigestion medications, lip balm and any other medicines you generally use. If you have to take regular prescription medicines are sure to bring adequate supplies for your trip.
More Equipment and Miscellous - Bring your camera, enough films and batteries. Be aware that while print film is available in most places, slide film may be difficult to find. But a digital camera has no this trouble. Electrical multi adaptor is must if you plan on bringing electrical appliances.
A China guidebook
A pen and a notebook help keep track of all the exciting things happening on the trip.
An alarm clock is also of help.
Passport Bring three to four photocopies of the first page and the visa page.
Emergency card with a U.S. contact, address, and phone number.
Extra passport photos (at least three to four)
Last but not least, do not forget your passport, visa, traveler's checks , ATM cards and airline tickets. When entering China, foreign travelers shall be required to provide Chinese frontier authorities with their passports, Chinese visas and the "Entry-Exit Registration Card" for verification. They will be allowed to enter the country after Chinese frontier authorities verify their passports, Chinese visas and the "Entry-Exit Registration Card" and affix on them official seals for verification.
For foreigners carrying gifts, sample products or goods whose import is restricted by Chinese customs authorities or carrying major articles taxable or exempted from import duties, they shall earnestly declare them in the "Traveler's Luggage Declaration Form" and clear customs through the "Red Passage." For travelers carrying articles for their own use only, they can clear customs through the "Green Passage".
Nalgene one-liter see-through hard plastic water bottle. The water can't be drunk straight out of the tap in China so most places have boiling water available. It takes a really long time to cool in those big thermoses they offer but not long at all in the Nalgene. These bottles, once filled and sealed with the boiling water are also good hot water bottles in the winter. They are also odor proof. Other ID International Student ID may be helpful (they have several types of insurance too).
Neck or waist pouch which you can wear under your clothes. This is to keep travelers' cheques, passport, and other important papers very safe and together. This is the safest way to go when you're traveling. Travelers' cheques US$500-800 for four months should be enough for extra travel on the weekends, gifts, or travel after the program. Double or triple this amount if you plan to stay longer, depending on your circumstances. Travelers' cheques are pretty secure so bring more than you'll need.
A credit card (Visa, MasterCard, and American Express are recognized) may be a good idea for security especially if you plan to travel on your own for a long period of time. Cash cards are still not widely used in China, and almost every cash machine you will find requires you to have an account with the Bank of China (not a good idea).
China Guide Despite some of its faults, the LP is really great for getting around a town. It also gives interesting historical backgrounds on cities and provinces. This is almost an essential if you're going to travel around on your own.
Zip lock bags are a basic that are wonderful. They are reusable, very dependable, and clear. Bring lots of sizes to fit your shoes, clothes, toiletries, etc. When you travel it's a good idea to wrap everything in your pack in its own bag. When a man lost his lunch in a rickety long-distance bus in Yunnan all over one of our packs that was on the floor, the bags saved our stuff.
First Aid kit Medical facilities are not reliable or of the highest quality in China, and if you don't speak Chinese, seeking help will be even more troublesome. This is very important.
If you are going to travel in some of the more remote cities, items such as shaving cream, decent razor blades, mosquito repellent, deodorant, dental floss, tampons and contact lens solution may not be readily available. It is therefore necessary to ensure you have them with you.