China Travel Advice
Security travel advice for China
How safe is China?
Threat level: Low-Medium
COVID-19 Situation in China
During the COVID-19 pandemic, it is recommended to avoid non-essential travel to China. COVID-19 is believed to have originated at a market in Wuhan in China and the country was in lockdown during the period of January – April 2020.
As the number of infection cases has sharply fallen, China has lifted restrictions in stages but to control the spread of the virus and avoid a second wave, the country has implemented a series of measures. People are subject to temperature checks and screening on entry to public facilities such as transport hubs, shops, restaurants, and hotels, using health apps or by scanning a QR code. Restrictions on movement are still in effect when travelling to different parts of the country, with the obligation in some cases to self-isolate for 14 days.
International flights have resumed but are limited. There is a temporary suspension of entry to China by non-Chinese nationals who have a residence permit. Entry by olders of diplomatic, service, courtesy or C visas are not affected by the restriction. A health declaration form must be submitted to the nearest Chinese embassy and a negative ‘nucleic acid’ test result must be presented as well as a ‘IgM’ antibody test result, taken no more than 2 days prior to travelling. Health checks are conducted on arrival and travellers must then self-isolate for 14 days either at a centralised government hotel or their private residence.
See our healthcare section for preventive measures against the virus.
Security in China
The current travel advice for China is to remain cautious in built-up and busy areas due to petty crime, be aware of local scams and remain vigilant for natural weather events. There is a low risk of terrorist activity, however be mindful that tourists are attractive targets throughout the world for extremist terrorists.
Intelligent Protection International Limited provides Close Protection services across Asia, including in China. If you are interested in these services, please see our page: Close Protection Asia.
Recent Security Risk Events
Beijing is considered one of the safety cities in this region, however there have been previous terrorist attacks carried out by the Uyghur groups in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous region.
On the 26th of July 2018, an individual allegedly detonated a bomb outside the US Embassy in Beijing, that is now being reported by local authorities as a "firecracker" type device. The perpetrator injured himself but there was no other casualty.
In 2014, a brutal attack was carried out by 8 extremists at the Kunming railway station killing 33 and injuring over 140. Although tourists may not be directly targeted, these types of incidents may occur in popular tourist locations. Particular caution should be expressed within the Xinjiang area.
Petty crime is far more common than violent crime in the country. The best travel advice for China is for visitors to take normal safety precautions in securing your belongings, money and be aware in busy areas. Stay away from isolated areas and take caution when on remote parts of China's Great Wall. Incidents of muggings have been reported in such areas although these are infrequent. Be wary of show touts who will try and sell you expensive and overpriced outings in the area of around Wangfujing.
Scam artists target tourists in China - some will dress as officials such as the police and demand funds are transferred for the investigation of identity theft or money laundering investigation. There are also scams involving Chinese criminals who will invite visitors out for tea and not pay which can leave the foreign visitor with a large bill.
Only use trusted ATMs at financial institutions as counterfeit currency is a prominent problem in China. Carrying various denominations or exact change can help aid with limiting this risk.
Demonstrations do occur and can turn violent. Participating in unauthorized political activities and/or religious activities, such as public protests or sending private electronic messages critical of the government may result in detention and sanctions on future travel to the China.
Please note that visitors can be hounded by street vendors, it is best not to show interest to prevent further vendors harassing and approaching you; a polite no or shake of the head will suffice.
China's International Relations
Territorial disputes between China and its surrounding neighbours have been ongoing for many generations such as the Hong Kong mainland conflict which begun after the 1997 handover. Although issues are more likely to be resolved diplomatically in recent times, it has a long history of wars and tensions in the area. The current relationship with nations like Russia, India and Pakistan has improved in recent years and its foreign policies have favoured closer relationships with Europe. Its relationship with the United States of America and Oceania Islands has been somewhat tempered at times.
Travelling around China
Do not use unlicenced black cabs and when takin taxis, insist that the journey is metered and that you get a receipt from the driver. Above all make sure the driver unloads all goods from the trunk of the vehicle before payment is made.
One of the main risks in China is road transport. China has seen an increasing number of vehicles on the road including mopeds. Drivers often have little regard for other road users and official regulation and consequently, accidents can happen. Seat belts do not have to be worn but it is advised you wear them at all times.
When going out, you must always carry a form of ID as the police conducts regular checks.
Extreme weather and natural disasters
Tropical cyclones can affect the region from May to November and as such heavy rains, flooding and turbulent weather conditions can be apparent especially in the southern coastal regions of the country. Monitoring of the weather is advised during your visits and prior to arrival.
Earthquakes can happen frequently throughout China. You should make and know of contingency plans should you find yourself caught in an earthquake. Monitor local news and weather channels as these should provide you with sufficient information.
Commercial Travel Risk Services
Intelligent Protection International Limited provides companies and organisations with Commercial Travel Risk Services designed to mitigate risks of staff when they travel for business. If you are interested in these services, please see: Commercial Travel Risk Services.
Emergency Services in China
Police services: 110
Police text: 12110
Road accidents: 122
Emergency (Marine / Water): 12395
Weather Forecast: 12121
Religion: Atheism, Confucianism, Buddhism and Taoism
Currency: Renminbi yuan
Time now in Beijing:
Consular information for China
U.S. Embassy Beijing
No. 55 An Jia Lou Road
Telephone: +86 10 85314000
British Embassy China
11 Guang Hua Lu,
Jian Guo Men Wai
Telephone: +86 010 8529 6600
Visa requirements for China
A visa is required to enter China but not if you're visiting Hong Kong or Macou. It is recommended this is applied for well in advance as visa applicants need to make their visa application in person at a Visa Application centre and they must be authorised prior to travel. Note that biometric data (scanned fingerprints) has to be provided during the application process.
If you plan to visit Hong Kong during your time in China, you must obtain a visa that permits re-entry into China. Please check with your local Chinese embassy or consulate for further details.
Healthcare and Immunisations
It is advised that visitors to China are up-to-date with primary boosters such as MMR. It is further recommended that most travellers also get Tetanus and Hepatitis A vaccinations.
The coronavirus outbreak (COVID-19) that started in Wuhan in December 2019 had spread in the rest of China. It can be transmitted from person to person and there is no vaccination against it, so great care and caution must be taken. It is recommended not to travel to affected areas and avoid unprotected contact with live animals and close contact with people who have flu-like symptoms including cough, fever, and respiratory difficulties. To avoid contracting the disease, apply good hygiene practices, maintain social distancing, avoid public gatherings and using public transports.
Although there is no direct risk of Yellow Fever in China, if you are coming from a country where there is a risk of the disease, or transiting for longer than 12 hours in an at risk country, you will be required to provide a vaccination certificate. Check with your local health professional prior to travel if you are unsure.
It is recommended that you do not drink the tap water in China as it could lead to waterborne illnesses. Medical facilities do vary dependant on location, the medical facilities within cities can be overcrowded, however the standard is good. Street vendors are common in China may not adhere to any health and safety standards, eating and drinking from them could lead to illness. There have been previous outbreaks of Avian Flu.
Medical facilities in the big cities are generally exceptional but health care can vary beyond these. Health care is not free and can prove exceptionally expensive so ensure that insurance covers you for all necessary treatment.
Pollution is high in China and as such may aggravate pre-existing bronchial conditions. It is not uncommon to see people wearing face masks.