A Detailed Guide on How to Plan a Trip to China

Updated On October 7, 2023
Beijing China

The rich history and culture, variety of customs, and beautiful architecture in China are the top reasons why people plan a visit to this country with breathtaking landscapes.

Let’s not forget the food, which also attracts foodies who cannot wait to indulge in different cuisines.

It sounds fun, right?

But planning a trip to China might feel challenging, especially when you want to tour more than just Beijing.

We show you how to prepare sufficiently for your upcoming trip so you can enjoy it as much as possible:

Things to Do Before Leaving for China

You can get the most out of your trip by looking into the following things:

1. Outline What You Want to Do in China

China is a big and beautiful country.

So, you will unlikely see all its top destinations in one trip.

The best way to leave the country feeling satisfied is to list the things you don’t want to miss.

Here’s how you do it:

  • Go through the lists of the top things to do in China and tick the ones you like the most,
  • Create a list of what you think you want to try, and
  • Narrow down the list to the most important activities and create a secondary list of alternatives. That way, you can cover the top options and try the secondary list if you get time.

While having a list might feel mundane, it works wonders in ensuring you don’t miss out on the most suitable travel opportunities.

2. Calculate the Time it Takes to Cover Your Itinerary

Now that you have a list of what you want to do, you should consider how much time you will need.

Can you cover the activities in a week?

How about two weeks?

Remember that it affects your visa needs and requirements as you do this.

Plus, you may want to factor in how much vacation time you can get.

A two-week trip should be sufficient to cover the top destinations, but you can always reduce or add the time.

Shanghai China

3. Consider the Travel Season

China has four seasons, and the travel experiences differ in each period.

For example, Autumn has calm weather, which attracts many tourists.

Traveling during this period means you will likely pay higher prices and encounter crowds.

But traveling during the colder and hotter months will result in lower costs and fewer crowds.

Is this something you want to consider? 

Also, China is home to many festivals.

If you’d like to be part of one, you can schedule your dates around this time.

But if you’re actively avoiding crowds to pay lower prices, this would not suit you.

Please remember that China is a huge country.

So, the travel conditions in Beijing might not be the same as those in Chengdu.

Use your travel itinerary to gauge the conditions you will encounter.

4. Find a Place to Stay

Where will you live while in China?

It would help to find suitable accommodation near the places you want to visit.

There are very many options, including hotels and apartments.

And the sooner you book a place, the cheaper it will be.

Some websites allow you to book without paying and only charge your card once you arrive at the hotel/apartment. 

PS: Proof of accommodation is important when securing a visa.

So, ensure you have accommodation for the duration of your stay.

5. Book a Return or Onward Ticket

You are probably aware of how surge pricing works.

The sooner you book a ticket, the less you spend – it is all about supply and demand dynamics.

So, you can even pay prices below the market rate if you use the time to your advantage.

You cannot secure a visa to China without a return or onward ticket.
Guiyang China

6. Get Your Documents Ready

Knowing what you will do, how long you will stay, and when you will travel gives you everything you need to know about your travel documents.

China has strict travel document requirements, and you risk getting turned back or detained for not having the right documents.

So, what will you need?

  1. A valid passport: You must ensure your passport is valid for at least six months past your departure date. Moreover, it should be in good condition and have at least two blank pages. If your passport does not meet these requirements, you can always get a new one or renew your current one. Also, make copies of your passport to cover you if you lose your original one.
  2. A visa: You must process a visa that covers your stay in China. Plus, it must align with your activities. For example, tourist visits call for tourist visas. And you cannot use such a visa for other reasons like education or business. 

Please note that the visa requirements in Mainland China differ from those in Hong Kong and Taiwan.

So, if you plan on visiting all these regions, ensure you get the right China visa before leaving the U.S.

7. Buy Travel Insurance

Do not forget to get reliable medical cover before leaving the U.S. While most people enjoy trips without suffering injuries or illnesses, this is not a guarantee.

You should get a good cover to protect yourself in such cases.

Many companies offer discounted rates to travelers, so you can always bag a good deal.

8. Get Acquainted with Chinese Culture

Before traveling to a new place, it is always advisable to learn about it.

Focus on the following things:

  • The norms: You don’t want to keep getting surprised each time something happens. Learn about the culture in China, the food, and what is acceptable and what is not. It will help you interact with the locals and choose what to pack for your trip. Also, learn about the laws to avoid getting detained.
  • The money: Not many Chinese businesses accept U.S. dollars. So, you will need to learn the conversion rates to help you when transacting. You will also need to figure out if your card accepts international transactions. If not, you should get a card you can use in China to avoid getting stranded.

Also, read a lot about what you will do to prepare for them.

Your trip to China should be safe and memorable if you check all these boxes. Have fun!

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