This post is your go-to guide on how to prepare a trip to China. I traveled to China two years ago and visited six cities in less than two weeks. With that much travel in a short space of time, I knew that I had to prepare a certain amount and the fact I had never travelled Asia before meant I needed to do research on what I needed.
After booking your flight and sorting your accommodation your first step is to acquire a Visa. Leave plenty of time for this especially if you live outside of Dublin. The Chinese Embassy is situated on Merrion Road in Dublin and has awkward enough opening hours. The Embassy is open from 9 am to 12 pm, Monday to Thursday. These hours change on Chinese holidays and Irish holidays. As I was working, I couldn’t take the time to travel up during the week so my sister dropped off the paperwork on my behalf.
All you need paperwork wise is the visa application form, a passport photo and a passport in date with blank pages. There are different visa forms to fill out if, for example, you’re visiting a relative, studying abroad or looking to work over there. Double check that you have the right forms it’ll save you time and a headache. The visa costs €40 and has to be a bank draft. It says that it takes about three to five working days however ours was a week and a half because of delays.
I’m not talking about the alcoholic kind. If you have a fear of needles you’re going to have to suffer through it. It is seriously important to get your shots done before you head on your travels. You should try and aim to get them down five or six weeks before you jet off. I went to the Tropical Medical Bureau in Galway city but there are branches in Sligo, Dublin, Cork, Kilkenny, Waterford, Wicklow and Carlow. Depending on where you are visiting in China you may have more or fewer shots to get. We got Tetanus, Hepatitis A and Typhoid shots. The nurse and doctor will go through your itinerary and recommend certain injections and offer advice in case you become sick or are bitten. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, however silly you think they are, it’ll put you more at ease.
Don’t forget to pack…
If like me you stay in contact with the majority of your family and friends through social media you’ll need a VPN abroad. Social media sites like Facebook, YouTube, Google, Gmail, Twitter and Instagram just to name a few, are banned in China. To use these sites you’ll need a VPN. A VPN stands for Virtual Private Network. The VPN creates a network to allow you to access the internet. So essentially, you set up the network in Ireland, the VPN replaces your location and you can browse the internet in China. Don’t forget to set the VPN up in Ireland or else it won’t work. I used Express VPN and I found that it worked really well, though there are many other services that do the same job probably cheaper.
Don’t forget to tell your bank you’re traveling abroad. The last thing you need is your account to be frozen. If you have online banking you can leave a travel note on your account to let your bank know that you’re abroad.
Have cash with you for vendors and stalls but don’t just bring cash. Bring your credit or debit card, it’s safer than carrying a big amount of cash. If anything goes wrong you can contact your bank.
If you plan to travel to a few different destinations, invest in good luggage. I bought a good four wheel suitcase and it made life so much easier.
You don’t need to bring family heirlooms or, anything expensive, there’s a good chance it’ll get lost or broken. Buy some inexpensive jewellery so that you’re 100 per cent comfortable traveling.
Don’t forget to pack more dressy clothes, it’s very easy to over-pack and only have more casual clothing. Think of the types of places you want to visit or restaurants you want to eat in.
Tipping is not mandatory however it is nice to leave something small to show your appreciation.
I generally felt safe in China, as a tourist you are more targeted to pickpockets but as long as you are aware of your surroundings and belongings you should be fine.
I’ll have more posts in the upcoming weeks about the different parts of China that I visited. Are you planning a trip to China soon? If so, what part are you planning to visit?