Over the last decade, tourism to China has significantly increased. This has forced a modernization in processes, amenities and services to enhance the travelers experience. Nonetheless, traveling to China takes some additional preparation to ensure a smooth travel experience and make your travel less stressful. Here are my top 5 things to do before your trip to China.
Make sure to get your Visa
Most visitors are required to obtain a visa before travelling to China so research whether you require one or not in the early stages of your planning.
Depending on the purpose of your travel is the type of visa required. Therefore, with the nearest Chinese Embassy or consulate to determine what applies to you. You can also use their website to be prepared with everything you will need to support your visa application.
Some of the information you will be required to provide with your application is your detailed travel itinerary and lodging locations while visiting China so have a plan before you request visa.
Purchase a Virtual Private Network
If you intend on using Facebook, Twitter and other social media plan on purchasing a Virtual Private Network (VPN). This will ensure you can access the above sites and applications including Google while connected with your VPN. Otherwise, you will find yourself disconnected during your entire trip.
I also recommend you ensure the VPN covers China before you purchase it. Be sure to install the VPN and test it before your trip.
Notify your bank
Make sure you notify your bank that you will be travelling to China before you depart on your trip. If you don’t, you may find yourself unable to use your card at the local ATM’s as a fraud precaution by your bank.
Not all bank ATM’s work with international bank cards so make sure to only use ATM’s that clearly indicate they operate with international bank cards.
Many texting and communication applications such as Whatsapp are blocked in China. Therefore, they have been forced to develop their own versions which include the popular Weixin (WeChat in English).
Make sure to download the app before you travel so you can communicate with the locals while you’re there.
Notify your mobile phone carrier
As with any travel abroad, ensure you notify your mobile phone carrier that you will be travelling to China to assure your phone works when you arrive.
You can also buy a local SIM card when you arrive in China. You can buy it at the airport when you arrive and in many stores in major cities. They are not expensive and will be much cheaper than your international roaming charges.
Note that if you travel outside of the province you bought the SIM, you will incur roaming charges as well. However, the local roaming charges are much less than international roaming charges.
Planning a trip to China will be unlike any other so do your research and make sure you are prepared. It is a great destination with wonderful people and amazing things to see and do but if you forget any of these five basic tips, be prepared for some inconveniences that may hinder your experience.