Travel Documents, Passport, Visa

A valid passport and visa are required for all travelers to China. Your passport must be valid for at least 6 months after your date of return. You are responsible for carrying your passport and other essential documents (airline tickets, etc.). Make photocopies of your passport, visa, travelers’ checks and credit card numbers; keep a copy with you (but separate from the originals) and leave an extra copy at home in case any of your belongings are lost or stolen.


A customs card, health declaration form and entry card must be filled out by all travelers entering China. These will be provided on the plane prior to arrival. A separate departure card and a customs declaration form are necessary to depart China and will be provided at your departure airport. You may carry 8mm or 1/2” video cameras without approval, provided that all films and tapes are for private and not commercial use. Special permission may be needed to bring in 16mm or 3/4″ video cameras.


Due to airline restrictions and very strict intra-China flight baggage limitations, you should bring only one checked suitcase and one carry-on bag. On internal Chinese flights, usual weight limits are 44.2 lbs. total for checked bag; 11 lbs. total for carry-on bag. You will be charged a fee for overweight luggage. All airlines are becoming stricter with regard to carry-on size. For any questions about luggage restrictions, please check your airlines website or call their toll free number. Label all luggage with an outside tag plus an identification card inside.

Country Information

The internet offers unlimited resources to get information about your destination: culture, history, local customs, weather, etc. Your local library also offers great resources.


Do not pack valuables (passport, laptop, money, etc.) in your checked bag. Pack the minimum amount of items you think you’ll need—then reduce by half. Remember, you’re responsible for your personal belongings throughout the trip. Clothes can be layered and laundry done if necessary. Pack any item that might be considered a weapon (razors, scissors, Swiss army knives, etc.) in your checked bag. Matches or lighters of any type are prohibited on all Chinese flights. Liquids and gels must also be packed in your checked bag. Carry-on liquids or gels must be in 3 oz. containers or smaller and all must fit in one single quart-size clear plastic bag. Place this bag in a bin at the security checkpoint for screening.

Some packing hints:

  • Pack your passport, medications, valuables, travel documents, and everything you’ll need for 1 night (change of clothes, small toiletries) in your carry-on bag.
  • Squeeze air out of shampoo and other containers, then store in sealed plastic bags in your checked bag in case they pop open.
  • Pack tightly, rolling or folding your clothes. Leave ample space for souvenirs. Bring an outfit suitable for a nice evening out.
  • Pack according to the season and climate. Check local weather conditions online. In warm weather, shorts are fine for most sightseeing venues but not in religious sites. Err on the side of conservative dress. Bring a sweater or jacket for cool evenings and air conditioning, and protection from rain and sun (compact umbrella, sun block, sunglasses, hat, etc.)
  • Pack (or wear) a good pair of comfortable, broken-in walking shoes. Bring a second, nicer pair for dinner or other occasions.
  • Bring a collapsible backpack to carry during day trips. Always carry tissues, moist towelettes or hand sanitizer.
  • Consider packing single use or digital camera, battery and cell phone chargers, alarm clock, extra plastic bags, high fiber snacks.


The currency in China is the renminbi (RMB), meaning “the people’s money.” The basic unit is the yuan. Many places accept major credit cards, but for incidentals and smaller vendors you’ll need to exchange US dollars into local currency. This is automatic when using ATMs and credit cards. There is generally a service fee for using ATMs and credit cards in China. Confirm that your ATM/credit cards and PIN will work in Asia. (Note: Chinese ATMs often use a 6 digit PIN.) Consider bringing some travelers’ checks. These can readily be exchanged at major banks and exchange facilities at major airports, hotels, etc. All charge a fee to exchange travelers’ checks; some may also charge a fee to exchange cash. Remember to budget for any meals, beverages and incidentals not included in your tour, as well as tips (see below).


For current health- related recommendations for travel to China, check with your medical practitioner. You can also check the CDC’s website. Prescription medications: Bring enough to last at least the length of your tour. Refilling prescriptions in China can be difficult. Keep all prescription medications in their original, labeled containers. Bring aspirin, over-the-counter remedies for colds, allergies, motion sickness, and digestive problems (a common occurence for many visitors to China). Pack all medicine in your carry-on bag.


Do NOT drink tap water in China. Boiled or bottled water is available in hotel rooms. Carry bottled water with you. Avoid ice cubes in restaurants. Most hotel breakfasts are buffet-style and local restaurant lunches are family-style, offering a variety of food choices.Authentic Chinese cuisine can taste different from the American version. Those with food allergies/special diets: We give our partners the information that you give us, but we can’t guarantee strict compliance with your diet. You have final responsibility for what you eat.