The People’s Republic of China is the largest country in Eastern Asia, surrounded by a total of 14 nation including Russia, Vietnam, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and North Korea. China’s coasts are in the Korea Bay, East China Sea, South China Sea, and the Yellow Sea. The population is about 1.3 billion and over 100 of its cities has over a million residents. It has five independent regions and 22 large provinces providing homes for fifty-six ethnic groups.

Why you should visit China

It is impossible to see all of China in just one visit. Therefore, if you are visiting China for the first time, make sure you visit one of these natural wonders and iconic monuments. For example, The Forbidden City, the Great Wall of China, Shanghai, The Terracotta Soldiers in Xi’an, or the Chengdu’s Pandas.

When to visit

Summers can be scorching while winters can be freezing in the northeastern parts of China. The Southern half of China, however, experiences more of semi-tropical climate. Therefore, the recommended and the best time to visit China is during spring and fall.

What you need

As a foreign citizen who wants to visit mainland China for leisure, you will be required to have a Chinese visa and a passport. Having a Chinese visa and a passport does not necessarily guarantee you entry to China’s mainland. The decision on whether you can enter China is made at the entrance port by Chinese Border Control Authority, however, most tourists do not experience any difficulty.

You can get a Chinese visa that you did not apply for initially. Do not panic or think that it is a mistake. The consular officers have the permission to make a decision on whether or not you should be granted a visa, your visa’s category, and the permitted duration of stay. Unless a technical error exists in your visa, the decision is final.

Health and Safety

It is important that you are in good health every time you want to go not only to China but also to other parts of the world. Therefore, it is highly advisable that you book an appointment with your physician 4-6 weeks before the time of the trip. With the help of your doctor, you will be able to get medicines or vaccines that you may need. Here are some of the drugs and vaccines you may need before you pay a visit to China.

Before you begin your journey to China, see to it that you are up to date on mundane vaccines such as the chickenpox vaccine, yearly flu shot, measles mumps rubella (MMR) vaccine, polio vaccine, and diphtheria.

The CDC advises most travelers to take Hepatitis A vaccines and Typhoid vaccines before they can make their way into the mainland of China. There are high risks of these diseases in China. If you will be staying with your relatives or friends, or you will be visiting rural areas or small cities of China, CDC recommends that you take the vaccines of the diseases. However, regardless of where you are staying or eating, you have a high chance of getting Typhoid or Hepatitis A through contaminated water or food in China.

It is important that you seek advice from your physician about the vaccines and medicines you will need before you begin your trip to China. Therefore, it is advisable that you tell your doctor the exact place you are planning to go and what you will be doing during your entire visit. Let him or her know how long you are planning to stay in China. Based on the information you give your physician, you doctor is likely to give you vaccines and medicines to help you prevent diseases such as Hepatitis B, Polio, Japanese Encephalitis, Rabies, Yellow Fever, and Malaria.

Stay healthy and safe is crucial for any traveler. You should have it in mind that vaccines and medicines are not sure protection against the infections. There are many diseases that you cannot get protection from by vaccines. It is important that you listen to your body and take care of yourself.

After your journey from China, you should see your physician whether you are feeling well or not. Make sure that you disclose to your doctor all the information about your traveling. It is important for your physician to know the exact places you visited and what you did during the visits to help him or her understand what is wrong or what possible disease you might have.

If your physician had initially prescribed antimalarial medicines for you on your trip, make sure you go on taking them even after the journey. If you stop taking your prescription too soon, you are at high risk of getting infected.

How to behave when you are in China

Before you enter the Chinese mainland, you must agree to follow and obey all the laws and regulations governing the country. Therefore, you must at all time make sure that you adhere to your promise. Make it your responsibility to stay out of trouble with the Chinese Authorities. All you have to do as a foreign citizen is behave decently and use your common sense. Let your moral responsibility and personal sense be your guide, as you should be on your best behavior while you are in any foreign country. Do not become an object of a nuisance to the authorities, to avoid being charged or jailed.

You need to be particularly wary in China. Things are complicated as the laws vary from one city to another, one town to the other, or even from village to village. Additionally, there are sensitive topics that should be avoided with strangers. Although it can be interesting to discuss politics and religion with people from other countries, be careful to be extra sensitive in China. Some of the things that you may have learned about China in school are censored in China.

1. Carry your passport

Due to the fear of losing your passport, you will find it hard to carry your passport to every place you go. But, since you do not want to get in trouble with the Chinese authorities, it is best that you carry your visa’s photocopy, and a photocopy of your passport’s identification page wherever you go. Make sure you keep your passport in a secure place such as a hotel safe, a hidden pouch under your shirt, or in a secure bag. Backpacks are not as secure as strong (not easily snipped) cross-body shoulder bag that you can keep in front of you in crowded places.
You can go for years without being asked the identifications, but there are those few that are unlucky to be asked for identification on their arrival day to China.

2. Register your place of residence within a day

Foreigners can feel frustrated on their first day in China. You must go through the registration of your presence, which is usually time-consuming just for you to reside anywhere overnight. The record serves you until you decide to leave the place. If you want to relocate your residence, or if some of your details change, for instance, visa renewal or change in address, you will undergo the same registration procedure again.

If you are traveling from one place to another and you happen to be staying in hotels, the process is catered for by the hotels, as you register with them. The thing becomes complicated if you want to stay with a relative or friend. You will need to produce the residence proof of your host, your passport, your host’s photograph, his or her identity card, or even further documentations.

Once you land on China, make a reasonable effort to complete the residence registration process before 24 hours elapses, especially if you are planning to stay there for quite some time. The best way to ensure that you do this quickly, within the speculated time, is to locate a Public Security Bureau (PSB) office. At the PSB’s office, you can register in advance. If you do not know the Chinese language, make sure that you bring with you a Chinese translator.

3. Update your visa before it expires

Make sure that your visa is up to date at all times to avoid harsh financial penalties. Apart from paying the penalties, you can be held indefinitely by the Chinese authorities at one of China’s foreigner centers. If you happen to realize that your visa is on the verge of expiring, immediately visit the nearest visa office and explain your situation. Be sure you have a valid reason as to why you are doing late permit renewal. The officers can be sympathetic as they know how taxing the laws can be.

4. Avoid restricted areas

At all times do not go to restricted areas, especially restricted hotels. The restriction legislation is dormant in China as you will not even realize that the law exists because it most foreigners ignores it. But, on some occasions, you will find some officials reviving it. When such an incident happens, make sure that you are not on the wrong side of the law.

The law prohibits not only foreigners but even China’s residents from going to restricted military areas and establishments. You can find yourself popping up in these regions unexpectedly. The signs that are used to show that you are entering such places are rarely conspicuous, and some display Chinese and not English, or there can be no sign at all. You may be enjoying the beautiful scenery of the country, and all of a sudden an officer approaches you with a scowl. When you a caught up in such a situation, there is not much you can do. Just be patient and polite and hope the they get English assistance so that you can explain your mistake.

5. Baggage safety

It is important that you choose what you carry in your luggage. Through customs, keep your baggage to yourself. Do not trust anyone with it. Areas of concerns include:

· Recreational drugs: China has zero tolerance as far as drugs are a concern. You can get stiff penalties including execution if charged with drug importation, even if you were not aware.

· Wildlife and wildlife products: You can endure harsh penalties if the authorities find a product of a protected species of Chinese wildlife in your possession.

· Antiquities: China has done well in enforcing laws prohibiting antique exportation. The rule is, if it’s old, its stays.

· Unfavorable reading material: the Chinese government is liable to confiscate any material deemed improper according to the Chinese customs.

In conclusion, have fun but stay safe. If something feels like it may be wrong, there is a good chance it is. Listen to that little voice in your head.