According to the U.S. Department of State, China is the fourth largest country in the world in size, and the largest in population, with more than 1.3 billion people. The country offers a number of diverse experiences for travelers. Visitors can enjoy the urban wonders of the large cities, or travel the countryside, backpacking or cycling for a more rural experience. Before traveling to China, a person should be aware of some essential information.
Foreign visitors may be under surveillance during their stay, warns the U.S. Department of State. Telephones conversations may be taped, and hotel rooms monitored. Chinese security may search rooms and personal possessions, even including computers. During your stay, do not take photos of any government or police operations. Register with the U.S. embassy upon arrival. Also, it is illegal to purchase counterfeit or pirated products in China. Bringing these items back to the United States is also illegal and can result in large fines.
The overall crime rate in China is quite low, however in larger cities and at tourist attractions, petty thieves prey on tourists. Keep your money in a money belt worn under clothing. When drinking at a bar or restaurant, keep an eye on your drink and drink responsibly. Tourists who are inebriated are much more likely to be targets for crime.
When traveling by taxi, pay with small bills. There have been a number of reports of counterfeit change being given by taxi drivers. Airport tax is always included in the price of your airline ticket. Some thieves carry out a scam in which they ask to carry your bags for you at the airport, then insist on collecting a tax.
Traffic accidents are common in China; the rate of accidents and deaths is one of the highest in the world. Be particularly careful when walking near traffic and be aware that buses and taxis often travel in the wrong lane. When riding a bicycle in China, be vigilant for drivers. Always wear a helmet. If you are involved in a traffic accident, do not move your car until the police arrive. This may take longer than 20 minutes in some cities.
The U.S. embassy in China has a list of English-speaking doctors available. This is published on its website. Ambulance service in China is spotty and may lack technologically advanced medical equipment. If seriously injured or sick, you may be advised to take a taxi to the nearest hospital. Large cities have medical facilities with up-to-date technology and competent staff; small, rural areas may not be able to offer reliable service.
Entry Into the Country
Travelers are required to possess a passport and a visa to enter China. You may find out additional information regarding requirements for a visa on the Chinese Embassy website. Permits are required to travel to Tibet and many areas of Tibet are not open to travelers. You may be detained and fined if found in these areas.