China is a beautiful and diverse country, full of breathtaking scenery and brand-new experiences of a culture that’s vastly different from western cultures. Whilst it’s mostly perfectly safe, there are certain things that every traveler should be aware of in order to make their visit as safe as possible in China.
Food and Water Safety
Food poisoning is quite a common problem in China for foreign travelers and expats, so it is important to practice some of the food and water safety measures below.
- Don’t drink tap water anywhere; boil it if there is no other option
- Buy a water filter or drink only bottled water
- Street food vendors sell fresher food than low-end or even mid-tier restaurants
- Stay away from food that looks, smells or tastes too spicy
- The wide choice of meat may not agree with you (nor you agree with it)
- Fresh food is easily available in Chinese markets, so if you’re on a budget cook your own food instead of buying it
Get Health Insurance
Expats in China require health insurance to ensure proper medical care, so it should be one of the very first steps towards securing your stay in the country. Get a customized medical insurance comparison of quotations from all the top insurers in the country and find out where the hospitals that are suitable for foreigners in China are located. Make sure the plan you choose is appropriate for the number of people you want to include in the coverage and also, in proportion to the time you plan to spend in China.
Beware of the Air Pollution
The air pollution in China is no joke, especially in cities like Beijing or Shanghai. In order to protect yourself from the infamous Chinese air pollution, consider applying some of the safety measures mentioned below.
- Wear a pollution mask while traveling within the city
- Be mindful of the air pollution index via the local news channels, newspapers, FM channels, and weather sites.
- Avoid outdoor activities on days with high air pollution warnings
- Install an air filter at home and keep the doors and windows closed on high-pollution days
Don’t Underestimate the Value of a Translator
Given the complexity and diversity of the Chinese language, it is quite difficult to learn it within a short amount of time, especially if you are a westerner. Instead, rely on technology and use a smartphone translator application to handle most of the translation jobs for you. You will likely need a human translator too at times, but for the most part, these apps will make getting through the day and traveling in the country a lot easier.
Traveling Alone in a Taxi is a Bad Idea
Unless you really know your way around the city, it is always a bad idea to take a solo taxi ride when you are a foreigner, even more so as a woman. Criminals view foreign women as easier targets in both cabs and on public transport, where pickpocketing and snatching are common occurrences. However, China actually has an extremely low rate of violent crimes against foreigners, so it is a safe country to travel to in that respect.
Nothing can beat common sense really, so the general idea should be to get used to the changes first, before trying to take on new challenges, especially if you are an expatriate who is going to be in the country for a while.