Tips for China First Timers – Customs, Security and Travelling Laws to Be Aware Of

China boasts one of the oldest civilizations, around 6,000 years old. It has a rich culture and there are so many things that make it attractive. Since the country is one of the most populated in the world and covers around 9.6 million square kilometers, it has a humongous amount of diversity so be prepared to adapt to change. This country has a rich history and a profound culture. It is abundant with historical sites and cultural relics. Just to mention an example, it has 56 ethnic minorities nestled within its walls, which are far different in customs and traditions.


Great Wall of China, Mutianyu
By Colin Capelle under CC BY 2.0


This article is intended for the China first timer. It will help you to be well equipped and have a holiday that is well planned. It is not hard to have a hassle free trip and avoid all problems with the law, your personal safety and the customs.  Equipped with the required awareness, a trip anywhere, no matter how far from our mother land or how different in culture, can be fun and safe.

Custom Regulations

When entering the region, the tourists need to fill out the special ‘Baggage Declaration’ form. Custom officials will check it. The carbon copy of the form needs to be retained by the tourist and needs to be shown when leaving. There is no fee charged on personal belongings like a wristwatch, cell phone, cameras, and radios and so on but selling or transferring them to somebody else is prohibited and should never be done. Other articles or gifts that are the property of others are allowed but need to be declared when entering the country. Any items bought in China can be transported while leaving or mailed home except arms and ammunition, any media that is harmful to national security, precious metals/stones, valuable plants or any items that are declared prohibited according to national regulations.

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Travel and Security

China is rather safe for the travelling tourist but it’s always recommended to follow these tips when visiting:

  • Don’t carry your passport with you, unless it’s absolutely mandatory as losing it can be rather troublesome.
  • When hanging out in crowded areas, such as markets or using public transport, one should be extra aware of his belongings so as to avoid theft.
  • Never return back to the hotel too late at night.
  • Always drink water from a packed bottle or boil it for at least 10 minutes as the tap water is the general reason for traveler’s diarrhea.
  • Exchange money only with the Bank of China or at the hotel counters.
  • Travelling with change handy is recommended in case you might want to buy something from a street vendor.

Travelling Laws of China

A valid visa, a passport and other travelling credentials are required for a person to enter China. Any visa needs to be approved before visiting the country. If you are considering a visit to Tibet, you need to obtain a copy of ‘Tibet Travel Permit’ half a month in advance. Staying only in Hong Kong exempts you from Chinese visas.

A Health check is enforced and obligatory to enter the country. Anybody suffering from infectious diseases such as AIDS, VD, tuberculosis or HIV is not allowed to visit China.

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About the author


I love to travel and explore new places around the world. Meeting different people from various intercultural background and spending time with locals is something that makes me feel great. You can connect with me at Google+ or follow me on Twitter.