This page provides important information to help you plan and prepare for your journey. Please contact us with any questions.

Traveling in China

At the best of times travel in China will be deliciously awe-inspiring. You’ll be blown away by the many diverse foods, the density of people, and the charming and unique cultural gems tucked away in mountains and valleys. All of our previous clients have left completely blown away by the real China, which is intensely rich in culture, color and flavor.

There are, however, a few small things that complicate travel in China, and we want to make sure that you’re fully aware and prepared for your trip so that you can enjoy every part of it.

Best Time to Travel

The best times to travel China are late spring, early summer, late summer and fall. You’ll definitely want to avoid China’s Golden Week (the week following the Chinese New Year) because many businesses shut down, the big cities are empty, and transportation is both expensive and overbooked. It is, in fact, the largest human migration to take place every year. Additionally, you’ll want to avoid the first week on October–the national holiday–when a lot of businesses close down, popular sites are overrun with Chinese travelers, and ticket/housing prices shoot through the roof.


China is one of the most populated countries on earth. One the one hand this creates a diverse culture and this intensely welcoming sense of community and really great transportation infrastructure, on the other hand, it creates traffic. In the bigger cities, traffic will be your biggest concern, and can be easily mitigated by traveling during non-rush hour times. Public transportation is abundant but can get crowded, and while bikes are a great way to get around, you have to exercise caution, as is China the right of way belongs to the fastest person.

While traveling in crowded areas, you’ll want to be sure to keep your possessions safe, and always bring a book or a loaded iPod. Snacks are available everywhere (no Chinese would go without snacks willingly!), and if you are prone to carsickness, be sure to bring some Dramamine or your motion sickness band.

Health Considerations

While the water in big cities is considered safe, you want to make sure to drink boiled water, tea or bottled water in more rural regions, and avoid eating raw vegetables in restaurants. (Fruit is generally considered safe, because it’s not handled as much).

Air pollution is a major problem in China, which is why we try to keep you out of congested urban areas as much as possible. If you are sensitive, please remember to bring your medications and you will be able to purchase a mask in China (or bring one) if we happen to be in Beijing on a bad day.

If you are going to Yunnan with us, you might also consider bringing some altitude sickness medicine to avoid having to miss part of the trip due to sickness.

If traveling during the summer months, be sure to bring your choice of bug spray, as there are limited options in Beijing.

Things to consider bringing: bug spray, sunscreen, hand sanitizer, diarrhea medicine, motion sickness medicine, etc.

Also, when traveling in more rural areas you will want to bring tissues, as some places do not provide toilet paper or napkins. Most Chinese, no matter where they live, always carry tissues.

Physical Preparation

Being physically prepared for your trip is essential. We recommend you begin a regular exercise program well in advance of your trip, and let us know if you need to make any modifications to your itinerary.

Travel Insurance

Travel insurance is a great way to cover yourself for injury, lost luggage and travel delays (anything that could go wrong, outside of reckless behavior) for dollars a day.

Chinese Visa 

The visa to enter China can be obtained from a Chinese consulate that has jurisdiction of your residential area. All individuals entering China must hold a passport that is valid for at least six months for a single or double entry visa and at least nine months for a multiple entry visa. There are two ways to apply for your visa: (1) you, a family member, or a friend can go directly to the consulate or (2) you may use a visa service agency.


We strongly advise travelers to get up to date on their vaccinations, since we will be spending a lot of time outdoors in more rural areas.

Currently the CDC recommends that you be immunized for Hepatitis A & B, Typhoid, Polio (when visiting western China), Japanese Encephalitis (rural areas only), and Rabies.

The CDC has a fascinating podcast about preparing for travel to China.