Safety Tips and Travel Insurance for Visitors China
China is a hot new destination for world travelers and visitors in more ways than one. Travel here is booming. It is the 4th most visited destination in the world (after traveling to France, the travel to the United States, and travel to Spain). The country also ranks first in the world regarding the travel industry’s contribution to employment. And it’s a country on the cutting edge of cuisine, fashion, technology, and entertainment.
China wasn’t always so accessible. In fact, between 1949 and 1974, the tourism industry was closed to all but select foreign visitors. And today’s tourists are often playing catch up when it comes to their knowledge about the country. Our guide to China covers Chinese travel insurance and safety advice to help every traveler have the best possible trip.
Travel Insurance for China
When traveling to China, you will want one of two different types of coverage. Travel medical insurance plans cover medical emergencies and offer additional benefits like medical evacuation and trip interruption coverage. Your other option, trip cancellation insurance, offers the same benefits but also covers the cost of your flight to Asia and other travel expenses.
Travel Medical Insurance Plans for Visitors
Comprehensive travel medical insurance is essential in China. The treatment at the best private hospitals is extremely expensive compared to the more basic public hospitals. And if serious health services are needed in a remote area, expensive airlift services are required. It’s best to be prepared. Choose a travel insurance policy from a company that includes translation services, medical evacuation, and private hospitals to maximize your comfort. Both include cover for Covid-19 (Coronavirus).
For all nationalities (excluding Canada and Australia) the Atlas Travel Insurance plan is an excellent option, providing affordable healthcare in China for visitors and a wide range of benefits.
Atlas Travel Insurance
- COVID-19 coverage outside your home country
- Choose between the basic and more extensive coverage
- Meets Schengen visa insurance requirements
- 24/7 worldwide travel and emergency medical assistance
Another excellent option with affordable coverage is the Liaison Travel insurance plan.
Seven Corners Travel Medical Insurance
- Comprehensive medical coverage with benefits up to $5,000,000.
- COVID-19 coverage that extends up to your medical maximum.
- Emergency Medical Evacuation protection up to $500,000.
Trip Can Insurance for US Citizens Traveling to China
We recommend Seven Corners travel insurance for US citizens traveling to China. An alternative option would be the GeoBlue Voyager plan which offers comprehensive travel medical benefits but does not include trip cancellation benefits.
Seven Corners Trip Protection Insurance
- Comprehensive trip protection for U.S. residents traveling abroad.
- Optional rental car collision coverage available.
- Optional Cancel for Any Reason coverage available (if eligible).
GeoBlue Voyager Plan
- For U.S. citizens up to age 95
- Coverage for COVID and pre-existing conditions
- 24/7/365 service and assistance
Medical Insurance in China for Foreigners
If you are looking for health insurance for foreigners living in China, the Cigna Global Plan is a comprehensive annually renewable plan. This plan provides an unlimited amount of coverage annually, and benefits include cover for doctor office visits expenses, prescription drugs, maternity, surgery, hospitalizations, diagnostic testing, lab work, emergency medical evacuation, repatriation, etc. This plan will cover your medical expenses all over the world – including China – and you can choose to include or exclude the US in coverage. Learn more about international health insurance plans.
Cigna Global Insurance Plan
- The flexibility to tailor a plan to suit your individual needs
- Access to Cigna Global’s trusted network of hospitals and doctors
- The convenience and confidence of 24/7/365 customer service
Related:Expatriate Insurance Plans
General Travel Tips and Safety Advice for Visitors to China
China is larger and more diverse – in ethnicity, in geography, in food, in tradition – than most travelers realize. Regardless of where you visit, keep these tips in mind.
Work hard to break the language barrier. English language skills are growing rapidly, especially among young people and urban dwellers. However, knowing several basic Mandarin phrases is invaluable. Hire a tutor for the most efficient learning experience. Even a few hours of free online instruction will make a huge difference when you arrive. (And if you need extra motivation, note that a typical scam is taxi drivers who don’t turn on the meter. Ask your tutor for a phrase or two to use in this situation!)
As with travel to all major cities, please keep your wits about you. Pickpockets love large crowds and distracted foreigners. In addition, if you are worried about getting lost and are not sure you will be able to find your way back to your hotel, take a photo of the hotel’s business card (written in Mandarin) and a photo of the exterior.
Research the weather while planning your trip. The country is vast, with an equally significant amount of climate zones. Knowing what to expect will help you have a more comfortable time during your trip.
Make communication plans. Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube are officially banned in China. Make arrangements to keep in touch by email or invest in a VPN (a virtual private network).
Expect pollution and congestion. Air quality is poor to bad in many locations. Smog levels are notorious in China’s cities. The U.S. Embassy in Beijing and U.S. Consulates in Hong Kong, Chengdu, Guangzhou, Shanghai, and Shenyang make air quality data available to travelers so they can prepare themselves prior to travel. As well, cigarette smoking is widespread. Speak with your doctor before your trip if you are prone to asthma.
Also Read: Dept. of State Travel Advice for China
Vaccines Required for Visitors to China
Before any trip, check that your routine vaccinations are up to date. This list includes tetanus, measles, mumps, rubella, diphtheria, chickenpox, polio, and influenza. Additionally, travelers to China should be vaccinated for Hepatitis A and B. In particular, Hepatitis B is widespread in China, with approximately 10% of the population infected.
The CDC also recommends travelers speak with their doctors about vaccines for typhoid, yellow fever, rabies, Japanese encephalitis, as well as a preventative treatment for malaria. Whether or not you’ll require these different forms of protection depends on where you’ll be traveling and what you’ll be doing.
Depending on where you are traveling to in China, the following diseases are common so take normal precautions:
- hepatitis A and B
Diet, Water, and Medication Considerations
Tap water in China is not potable. Bottled water is widely available, as are bottled soft drinks, beer, and hot coffee and tea. Identify safe street food vendors by a long line of locals eager to eat their fare. Look for a very busy cook who is continuously cooking to fill orders (and not letting food sit and cool). Treat undercooked or raw meat and eggs with serious caution.
Most cities, including those in Tibet, Qinghai, parts of Xinjiang, and western Sichuan, are at altitudes over 10,000 feet. Altitude sickness can be a problem so take precautions.
Cash payment for services is often required prior to treatment, including emergency cases. Travelers will be asked to post a deposit prior to admission to cover the expected cost of treatment. Hospitals in major cities may accept credit cards.
When with prescriptions or other medications, always check with the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China to ensure the medicine or drug is legal in China. Carry prescription medication, along with your prescription, in its original packaging. Many common drugs and medications are not available in China, and counterfeit, low-quality knockoffs are prevalent. If you try to have medications sent to you from outside China, you may have problems getting them released by Chinese Customs, and/or you may have to pay high customs duties.
Your packing list should always include sunscreen, a bug spray with 20% Deet, and a basic first aid kit. Prescription medication must be in the original packaging from the pharmacy, with the prescription label attached.
Emergency Assistance Numbers for Visitors
- Emergency services Beijing: dial 999
- Emergency services Shanghai: Dial 120
- Fire department services: dial 119
- Police services: dial 110
Note: Chinese ambulances can be slow to arrive and often do not have modern medical equipment or trained responders.
Embassies in China
- United States: 86 10 8531-3000
- United Kingdom: 86 10 5192 4000
- Canada: 86 10 5139 4000
- Australia: 86 10 5140 4111
- France: 86 10 8531 2000
Understanding the Chinese Medical System
Healthcare in China is a mix of public and private services. Nearly 95% of the population has some form of basic public health coverage. However, only a portion of the cost associated with personal medical treatment is covered by the public plan. The system is restructuring, in part to shrink the coverage gap between rural and urban regions. Cities like Beijing and Shanghai offer Chinese hospitals world-class care and have excellent specialist services. However, rural regions may have very basic or even essentially non-existent health services.
Traditional medicine has been practiced in China for more than two thousand years. It is often practiced alongside Western techniques and treatments, though not always harmoniously. Few practitioners are equally competent in both fields. In rural areas, health care options are often limited to only traditional medicine, which includes herbal remedies, acupuncture, and acupressure.