China, officially known as the People’s Republic of China is a huge country located in Eastern Asia. The country is actually about the same size as the United States of America, and it has the world’s largest population. In total it borders 14 nations: Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam to the south; Tajikistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan to the west; Russia and Mongolia to the north and North Korea to the east. This impressive number of neighboring states is equaled only by China’s neighbor to the north, Russia.
The world’s oldest continuous civilization offers a unique mix of history, culture and contemporary technology: expect breathtaking sections of the Great Wall, temple-topped mountains, forgotten villages, absolutely unique and beautiful Buddhist grottoes and ancient desert forts. Most major cities in China are extremely safe. Violent crime remains rare and it is generally safe even for women walking alone at night. There are some scams, as in any country and petty crimes can happen especially in crowded areas. However, Chinese people are very warm and ready to help, so it is likely that your trip will end without any incidents whatsoever.
Warnings & Dangers in China
OVERALL RISK : MEDIUM
Overall, China is safe to travel to, but crime rates vary depending on the area of the country. Some cities are very safe, while in some there are areas that are best avoided, but in general, you should be wary of petty theft and look closely after your belongings which will minimize the chances of anything going wrong.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : MEDIUM
Taxis can be unsafe in China, because it is filled with unlicensed taxi vehicles that don't use meters and might try to rip you off. Always negotiate everything in advance and never pay upfront. Transportation stations are also risky, as they are known to attract criminals, often at the ticket booth, as do overnight train cars and Trans-Siberian express lines.
PICKPOCKETS RISK : HIGH
There is high risk of pickpockets in China. They frequently operate in packs by having one member distract you while another steals your wallet or purse. Take extreme caution when in China, be twice as vigilant in Chine as you'd be anywhere else - don‘t leave anything valuable in your back pockets. If you do encounter a pickpocket, be very loud in order to attract attention and, hopefully, the police. Thieves in China also tend to operate in restaurants, so keep your bag on your lap.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : MEDIUM
There are threats from earthquakes happening, but they are typical for non-tourist areas. In southern parts of China, especially around Yangtze river, there's a risk of flooding or landslides due to heavy rain during the rainy season. Other risks are typhoons along the southern and eastern coastlines, and extremely high air pollution.
MUGGING RISK : LOW
China on the whole is extremely safe. Crime against foreigners is rare, and violent crime, and incidents such as mugging and rape, against foreigners is extremely rare.
TERRORISM RISK : MEDIUM
Terrorists are likely to try to carry out attacks in China. Even though foreigners haven’t been targeted, these attacks may be executed in places frequented by visitors. You should take particular care during national holidays. Most attacks take place in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous region and, according to the Chinese government, are carried out by Uyghur separatists with possible links to the East Turkestan Islamic Movement
SCAMS RISK : HIGH
Like in any other tourist destination, China is a place where there it's likely you'll get scammed or someone will try to scam you. It is actually extremely likely. Have your wits with you and double check your change or try to use small bills.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : LOW
China is safe for solo women travelers. Just use your common sense and be aware of your surroundings at all times. Avoid wearing purses and do not walk alone or ride in taxis at night.
So... How Safe Is China Really?
China is a huge country with extreme variations in crime rates depending on the area. Violent crime rates are mainly low in this country, but it is advised to avoid some areas. Petty theft is common and expected, mostly near tourist attractions, Beijing International Airport, expat bars at night or street markets. Yuyuan Garden, a major tourist and shopping area in Shanghai can be a risky spot when it comes to pickpocketing. Avoid carrying anything in your pockets or purses in general.
The petty crimes seem to be on an increase during February (Chinese New Year), and only rarely do they turn serious, with reports appearing every now and then of violence or committed against tourists.
Another issue is that you must carry your passport with you at all times when you visit China, since there are random checks performed on tourists. The tricky thing is that when you carry your passport around, there is a greater chance of it being stolen, so be very careful when carrying it.
Another common issue are beggars, who may turn aggressive or sometimes follow you for a block or more even if you choose to disregard them. Child begging is another problem in China, and there is a general suspicion that the country‘s high rate of missing children has to do with this fact.
- Visas - Visa is required when traveling to China. Your passport needs to be valid for at least six months after the expiry date of your visa. Citizens from 51 nations (among which are US, Brazil, Canada, France, the UK and Australia) can stay in Beijing for 72 hours without a visa as long as it is a layover, they are traveling outside of China, and have a ticket out of Beijing. The similar thing applies for Shanghai. If you are not sure about your visa status, visit www.doyouneedvisa.com which will let you know whether or not you need visa based on your nationality and the country you want to visit.
- Currency - Renminbi or "yuan" is the official currency in China. ATMs are widely used, but credit cards are not as commonly accepted and used as you would expect.
- Weather - The climate in China varies depending on the area of the country, since it is massive. Rainy season generally lasts from February to September, and July and August are scorching hot. The best months to visit China are September and October. Places like Xinjiang, which are usually extremely hot in the summer and still a bit too cold in spring, are in perfect season.
- Airports - Beijing Capital International Airport is the busiest airport by passenger traffic in China and the second busiest airport in the world. Other major airports are located in Shanghai and Hong Kong.
- Travel Insurance - Just like anywhere else, we recommend getting travel insurance when traveling to China, since it covers not only the costs of medical problems, but also theft and loss of valuables.