Getting Online with your Laptop
Wireless is available in all major cities in China, but you have to know where to look. Refer to Place Descriptions for city-specific wireless hotspots in SW China. Or, take any phone line and plug it into your computer, and type in 16300 for the dial-up number, user name and password. Cost ~4 RMB/minute.

Mobiles/Cell phones

Your cell phone won't necessarily work in China (GSM 900). Find out, and if it does (any international cell phone works on GSM 900), make sure it's enabled for int'l roaming. Unless you've already got a good plan for making/receiving calls in China, the most economical option is simply buying a prepaid SIM card once you arrive China. If your mobile is locked against using a different SIM card, get it unlocked before coming over. Alternatively, all Chinese cities are littered with mobile phone stores - simply buy a new or 2nd hand one here.

Voltage Converters
China uses 220V (same as Israel and most European counties) with a frequency of 50Hz. If your country has a different voltage from China (the US uses 110 volts), you need a voltage converter for your appliances.

Note: there are 50- and 1600- watt converters. Most small electronics need a 50-watt converter - check the label on your appliance.

Dual voltage appliances and multi-voltage appliances eliminate the need for voltage converters. Dual voltage appliances (i.e., most travel hair dryers) can run on both 110 and 220 currents. Multi-voltage appliances (most laptops, for example) can run on voltages ranging from 110-240.

Note - you'll still need adapter plugs to fit the appliance into Chinese outlets.

Adapter Plugs
These change the shape of a plug. If your country has a different outlet type from China, you need adapters so you can plug in your appliances. Chinese outlets take flat angled 3-pinned ("I" type), round 3-pinned, flat 2-pinned, or round 2-pinned.

Specialists in small group, in depth travel throughout SW China and Tibet, including Yunnan, Sichuan, Qinghai, Kham, Amdo & U-Tsang Tibet.Communication/Electronics in China/Tibet

On a general note, leave the whites at home. Wool great for cold weather and dries fast. If you're only going to wear it once, leave it at home. Choose clothes that wear well, and that are good for layering. Dress in China is very casual. Temperatures vary throughout the day - pleasant warm and breezy to some downright chilly mornings and nights, especially in the higher areas. The rainy months are June to August.

Long-sleeved shirts - 1/2 for hot weather, 1/2 for cold days.
Trousers - dark coloured. Jeans too heavy.
Skirt - very practical, more acceptable than shorts.
Swimsuit - this area of China riddled with hot springs.
Underwear/socks - 5 pairs each. Blended material good.
Thermals- evenings get cold up here. Tops and bottoms.
Walking shoes - water-resistant.
Sandals/Teva-type shoes
Jacket - water resistant, suitable for very cold weather.
Sunglasses & Hat - a must at these high altitudes.
Gloves & Woolly hat

Nylon toiletry bags - dead useful. For women, pads widely avail. but tampons are not.
Deodorant - not readily found.
Sunscreen/Chapstick - absolutely required for this area.
Skin cream - skin dries very quickly up here.
Wet wipes - come in very handy.
Prescription medicine - enough to last the journey.

Other Items
Camera - bring extra battery. Film can be got here.
Journal - get a sturdy one
Addresses - for sending those postcards you'll never write.
Neck-support pillow - poss. useful for long car journeys.
Flashlight/torch - head torch especially useful.
Good book or two - see our reading list!
Alarm clock
Zip-lock bags - storing liquids, clean/dirty clothes, etc.
First-aid Kit - Band-Aids, headache pills, antiseptic cream, anti-diarrhoeal drug/antibiotics for traveller's diarrhoea.
Electrical adapter - for mobiles, hair dryers, etc.
Multi-function pen knife

B-ball/football cards/memorabilia - for the kids...
Famous snack foods from your country
Outdoorsy type gadgets

Ice Breakers
Family photos
Small picture books of your hometown
Phrase book (for you)

Specialists in small group, in depth travel throughout SW China and Tibet, including Yunnan, Sichuan, Qinghai, Kham, Amdo & U-Tsang Tibet.Clothing for Travel in China/Tibet

Ensure your passport is valid for another 6 months from your return date, and that you have enough pages.

China Visas

Obtained at any Chinese embassy/consulate - can take from 4 days up to 1 month, dep. on how you apply. Fees from ~45 USD (single-entry 30-day).

In Hong Kong, Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Vientiane, can get a visa in as little as 1 day. Going via a travel agency is more expensive but less hassle, and can be faster. Generally, HK will give up to 3 months, while Bangkok gives only 1 month (~US$50).

Note - since 2005 or so, US passport holders have been limited to 30-day tourist visas.

Visa extensions in China are easy to obtain. The PSB gives up to two 1-month extensions (~160 RMB each).

Money Matters

Money Belt - we've never known anyone who's had anything stolen from their money belt, period. It needn't be bulky - just the basics: passport, credit cards, cash reserves, plane ticket; couple of Traveller's cheques.
Cash - hard cash always the easiest to exchange.
Credit/debit cards - becoming more and more widely accepted. Note that a 3% surcharge is added to ALL credit card transactions.
Traveller's cheques
- can only be cashed in mid- to large-sized towns.
Passports, visas, tickets - keep photocopies of all somewhere separate.

Bank of China branches found in all mid- to large-sized cities; villages and small towns will not have one.

Specialists in small group, in depth travel throughout SW China and Tibet, including Yunnan, Sichuan, Qinghai, Kham, Amdo & U-Tsang Tibet.Visa & Money Matters in China/Tibet

Insurance & Other Health Precautions
Travel insurance is affordable. Shop around, and be sure to get some which includes emergency repatriation. Leave the following with someone who cares - a way of contacting you (e-mail/ ph. numbers); photocopies of your itinerary, passport (incl. visa page), insurance policy (plus 24-hour hotline number) and ticket details. Keep one set of the photocopies for yourself.

Vaccinations / Immunisations
No shots officially required for China/Tibet, however some very advisable. Highly recommend 4-8 weeks prior to departure you go talk to a medical professional for the latest info and to set up a shot schedule.

Be up-to-date on the following routine vaccinations:
Tetanus-diphtheria (revaccinate every 10 years)

In addition, others to consider for travel in China include -
Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR)
Hepatitis A
Japanese encephalitis
Hepatitis B
Varicella (chickenpox)

Prescription medicine
Get enough to last duration of trip. Pack it in your hand luggage and have a note from your doctor.

Traveller's Diarrhoea
The most common travel-related affliction when coming from an industrialised nation to third world countries. Taking care what you eat/drink is the best way to avoid it. All travellers should bring along an antibiotic and an anti-diarrhoeal drug to be started promptly if significant diarrhoea occurs ("three or more loose stools in an 8-hour period or five or more loose stools in a 24-hour period").

Altitude Mountain Sickness

Below 2500m, AMS is not a real concern. The common factor behind coming down with AMS is simply ascending too fast. General rule is once above 3000m, sleep no higher than 300m above the previous night, and for every 1000m, stay a second night at the same elevation. In general, at higher elevations, go easy on alcohol, drink lots of water.

Specialists in small group, in depth travel throughout SW China and Tibet, including Yunnan, Sichuan, Qinghai, Kham, Amdo & U-Tsang Tibet.Health & Safety in China/Tibet
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Specialists in small group, in depth travel throughout SW China and Tibet, including Yunnan, Sichuan, Qinghai, Kham, Amdo & U-Tsang Tibet.
Specialists in small group, in depth travel throughout SW China and Tibet, including Yunnan, Sichuan, Qinghai, Kham, Amdo & U-Tsang Tibet.

Here the basics are covered about preparing & packing for a trip to China. Common questions, from getting online in China to avoiding AMS, also covered.