Is China a safe place to visit? (Tips for Westerners to know it is safe to travel to China)
Is China a safe place to visit?
We’ve been asked this question by many of our western customers who want to know it is safe to travel to China, especially those planning a holiday for 2021 or 2022.
Let’s dive into tips you can use for traveling safely in such a big and busy country.
Is it safe to travel to China right now?
With the advent of a new level of border control all over the world due to COVID-19 restrictions, asking Is China a safe place to visit? and Is it safe to travel to China in 2021/2022 ? are fair questions. With our goal to provide peace of mind to our customers, whether they’re planning or participating in one of our tours, we’ve provided this update to our advice regarding if it is safe to travel to China.
At any time, planning the best China tour is no small exercise, let alone in the new global operating environment. Not only does visiting China usually involve long distance travel depending on where you come from in the world, but it also requires attention to detail to ensure your trip is safe, especially now that it’s vitally important to observe health considerations wherever you are. If you’re wondering is it safe to travel to China, 2021/2022 is likely to be the timeframe you’ll be thinking when international travel will resume. Although the resumption of non-essential travel has been delayed for now, it doesn’t mean you can’t still dream, plan and prepare for holidays.
In a country with quite different cultural and social expectations from the west, taking this approach can be incredibly helpful. Most western travelers find their first experience of China a cultural ‘eye-opener’. Apart from the need to remain alert and aware while on tour, just as they would with any international travel, there are other considerations too, like what’s accepted cultural and social etiquette. Of course, now with the added requirement for locals and visitors alike to adhere to COVID restrictions, all visitors must consider this for travel anywhere, not just in China.
Personal safety: Is it safe to travel to China?
In terms of personal safety, western travelers can feel that it is safe to travel to China. Actually, there’s a consensus that many of our customers feel China is one of the safest countries in the world for travel; in some cases even safer than their own country. With a crime rate that is comparable to places like Switzerland and Luxembourg, it is easy to understand why people enjoying a China tour can do so in the knowledge that crime is unlikely to be an issue.
That said, as with all international travel, tourists can expect to apply the same caution in China as they would wherever they travel in the world.
We recommend you take care of personal belongings, keeping cash, credit cards and passports safe and close to hand. It’s wise to have copies of your cards and passport too and to keep these separate from the originals.
What about the crowds? Is China a safe place to visit?
At busy locations (and let’s face it, just about everywhere is busy in China!), be aware of pickpockets and beggars who tend to work in an organized fashion and target unsuspecting foreign tourists.
Generally tapping into your sympathy vote, it’s very easy to part with cash to one person, only to find yourself inundated suddenly by many others immediately afterwards. A word of advice: resist the temptation to be lured by what is an act in most cases.
Travelers can be reassured by the security cameras which are prevalent in China. These alone make it difficult for crime to occur. However, if the worst does happen and you have something stolen, be sure to speak with your personal tour guide immediately. They will know exactly who to contact and where to go. We recommend notifying the nearest Foreign Affairs Branch of the Public Security Bureau. Effectively operating as the local police, you will be required to complete a formal report for your loss. You’ll need this in any case to assist with any travel insurance claim you make.
Of course, if you believe something has been stolen from your hotel or the vehicle in which you’re traveling, your ChinaTours.com guide will be there to help out with taking immediate action to retrieve your items. Our team is committed to taking care of every detail and should you fall prey to thieves, we will assist you through this process.
Keep your travel cash close (and real)
The Chinese government continues to improve the quality of western travelers’ experience by making China a safe place to visit. One area that has demanded attention is the trade in counterfeit cash notes.
While there are many genuine business owners and employees who make China safe and enjoyable to visit, like anywhere, there are scammers and con artists too.
Most people travel with cards, however, some cash is a necessity, particularly for tipping guides and drivers, or if you are traveling to more remote regions. For this reason, it’s wise to exchange money at reputable outlets such as banks. You can even do this prior to departure.
Be aware that counterfeit cash is common in China and many retail outlets have facilities for checking note authenticity at the point of sale. If you’re unlucky enough to end up with a counterfeit note (or notes!), it literally is a waste of your money.
Of course, there is also the option of paying like a local. Just about everyone and many businesses in China use WeChat Pay. Foreigners can also take advantage of Alipay Tour Pass. Making cashless and cardless purchases via one of these platforms is an ideal way to buy with confidence and feel it is safe to visit China.
Traveling with a guide can be very beneficial as it provides trustworthy eyes and ears on the ground for you. They understand the culture and know what the challenges are. While you’re traveling together, your guide is focused on making your travel experience enjoyable, memorable, and safe.
Transport safety: Is China safe to visit on the roads?
Traveling by road can be a challenge in China with road accidents a major cause of fatalities and injuries for locals. Be especially cautious when crossing roads. It is well known that red lights and traffic rules are often ignored by local drivers.
One of the many benefits of traveling with an experienced China tour operator is the peace of mind that comes from having knowledgeable, local guides who are with you for the duration of the tour. With guides accompanied by a driver, western travelers can be transported between sights with ease - and without having to worry about navigating through challenging traffic conditions.
Another bonus of guided tours is baggage security. Instead of carrying unwieldy luggage between sights because of safety concerns, ChinaTours.com customers enjoy the freedom of being able to leave their belongings in a secure environment that is monitored and looked after by our carefully selected drivers. On a small group or private tour, you can relax knowing you can have complete confidence in the trustworthiness of your tour team.
Safety and security in China
Apart from personal safety and the precautionary considerations associated with any travel, many western travelers query whether it is safe to visit China when political changes occur internationally. This is a legitimate question, particularly when travel advice is amended by governments due to shifts in policy.
We recognize the concerns some western travelers may have, however, unfortunately, independent China tour operators like ChinaTours.com have no influence over government policies or the political position adopted by different countries. However, regardless of politics, ChinaTours.com will continue to provide the highest possible standard of service always to make your tour with us memorable and safe. Our mission is to provide our customers with an experience of real China and beautiful travel memories while building important bridges of understanding between different cultures.
Top tips to make it safe to travel to China
We recommend people who want to book a China tour should follow the same guidelines they would for travel elsewhere in the world:
- Consult with the relevant travel advisory authority in your country of origin for current travel advice to China (we’ve provided a shortlist below).
- Liaise with your tour operator and ask for clarification about transport arrangements in the country, personal safety measures, and care of belongings while on tour, and any other concerns you might have.
- Obtain travel insurance to account for any unforeseen loss, theft, medical or other emergencies.
- Notify your government’s travel department, bank and family members about your travel plans.
- Have a contingency plan in place for emergencies, including the contact number for your country’s embassy in China.
- Keep copies of your passport and cards separate to these items in the event they are lost or stolen.
Other safety considerations for a visit to China
From time to time reports of scams directed at foreign tourists emerge, with many of these based on offers of a teahouse service or massage. Foreigners have been duped into paying large amounts of money and even threatened physically. We encourage all travelers to consult with their local guide about the best places to dine and enjoy optional tour activities in every destination they visit. Always raise any concerns or questions about a particular offer or product with your guide first before making a selection.
Want to learn more about how to enjoy the safest and most enriching travel in China? Reach out to our tour design team. We can answer all your questions.
Australian Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade: www.smarttraveller.gov.au
British Foreign & Commonwealth Office: www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice
Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs & International Trade: http://travel.gc.ca/travelling/advisories
New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade: www.safetravel.govt.nz
US State Department: http://travel.state.gov
Thinking about booking a China tour in 2021 or 2022? Why wait? ChinaTours.com is offering a booking fee waiver to all customers who book a China tour before 30 September 2020. With creatively designed tours encompassing over 20 destinations in China, our small group, private and custom tours consistently receive five star reviews from international adventurers just like you. The ChinaTours.com team is waiting to help create your next travel memory, so enquire now.