Ultimate travel checklist: What to pack before your trip to China

What To Pack Before Your Trip To China – The Ultimate Travel Checklist

Stumped and don’t what to pack before your trip to China? Don’t worry. We’ve got your backpack (see what I did there?) While you might be thinking that packing for China wouldn’t be too different from your other vacations, think again. OK, many of items we suggest are similar, but because China is so unique, we have a few suggestions that might seem strange.

So, if you’re blankly staring at your suitcase and have no idea where to start, here is our ultimate travel checklist.

Mini Tissue Packs

Let’s start off with one of the more unique items. What many travelers to China don’t know is that a vast majority of the public restrooms are not equipped with toilet paper. I know, it’s a shock, but it’s true. If you don’t carry around mini tissue packs, you might find yourself stranded in the bathroom stall calling out for help. So, stock up on tissues or wet wipes to make sure that you’re prepared.

A Universal Power Converter

Your electronics will not plug into the wall in China. Because the outlets are different, you won’t be able to plug in your laptop or your blow dryer without a universal power converter. Don’t forget it because you could find yourself with no power for important things you’ll need during your stay. For those who have iPhones, the chargers can actually be plugged into the wall. Because of different wattage, it could put some strain on your phone, but it’s unlikely.

A Face Mask or Bandanna

Ultimate travel checklist: What to pack before your trip to China

Photo Source: CNN

If you’ve seen photos of people in China, you may have noticed that many of them are wearing face masks. While some people wear them when they are sick, most people have them on to help keep out pollution. A mask isn’t necessary at all times or places in China though. Cities like Beijing that have high levels of pollution might prompt a mask, especially if you’re sensitive. And, if you happen to be riding a motorbike, or getting on the back of one, a mask could help protect you against the car fumes.


While a VPN is not something tangible that you can pack, it’s an important thing to get for your phone or computer before heading to China. Since China blocks many sites like Google and Facebook, you won’t be able to get on them to do research or post your photos. It’s a total bummer, but there is a way around it. You can pay a small fee to download a VPN for your device. This will allow you to log on to servers in other countries so that the sites forbidden in China will work on your device.

A Variety of Clothing

Ultimate travel checklist: What to pack before your trip to China

Photo Source: Daily Express

Like anywhere, it depends on what the weather will be like during the time of year that you visit. Regardless, you should bring a variety of clothing because some places in China can get cold even if you go in summer, and vice versa. Visitors tend to fill their itinerary with a combo of city dwelling and natural landmarks, so make sure to bring active wear as well as nice outfits for restaurants and bars.

Hygiene Products

Savvy travelers often save room in their bags by leaving their shampoo/conditioner, body wash, deodorant, and hand lotions at home. In many places, you can just buy them when you get there which might save you both room in your bag and also money on baggage fees. However, it’s unlikely that you’ll find what you need in China. They don’t often carry the brands that you know and love, and even when they do, you can expect high prices and different ingredients.

Sun Block

Ultimate travel checklist: What to pack before your trip to China

Photo Source: Allexpress

If you plan to spend a lot of time outside, you’ll want to bring your own sunblock. The brands that they sell in China are almost always full of skin whitener which can be a little startling for foreign visitors. If you’re worried about this added ingredient, make sure to bring your own sunblock because it will be hard to find something without it.

A Chinese Phrase Book

Even though China is visited by people from all over the world, the level of English there is quite low. Even in cities like Beijing, it can be difficult to get around, read signs, and order something to eat in the restaurants. Don’t be intimidated though; it’s all part of the fun. However, it would make your life a whole lot easier if you came prepared with a phrase book. Sure, you could also download an app to help you with that, but you never can fully rely on technology to work or stay charged.

Hand Sanitizer

Do yourself a favor and bring a decent sized bottle of hand sanitizer. China can be dirty, and you’ll want to keep your hands clean after being on public transportation and in public bathrooms that often don’t have any soap and sometimes no running water.

A Money Belt

Ultimate travel checklist: What to pack before your trip to China

Photo Source: ACE Gadget

A money belt is similar to a fanny pack except it is thinner and is worn under your clothes. It’s a great place to keep your passport and any important bank cards while you are traveling around cities and on buses. Thieves, like in any big city, tend to strike on the crowded subway systems and in popular areas of cities. By keeping your belongings in your money belt, no one will be able to see or reach them.

A Camera

China is wild, wonderful, and sometimes, just downright strange. If you’ve never visited before, you will be in for a lot of new and strange scenes that you’ll want to capture. Make sure to bring your camera because your friends and family back home are going to want some documentation to prove that your bizarre stories are true.


China can be LOUD! In fact, more so than other places. Honking car horns and people loudly talking to each other in the streets will certainly be background music while you’re trying to get some sleep. Packing a few sets of earplugs will help you get the rest that you need to explore.

If you pack properly for China, you should have no problems enjoying your trip! And, for the stranger items, take my word for it, you’ll be happy you brought them.

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Shannon Ullman

Hey! I'm a published American travel blogger and teacher. My travel writing has been featured on Huffington Post, Elite Daily, Matador Network and Thought Catalog. I spent over a year living and traveling around China while I taught English there. I have also visited dozens of other countries around the world.