Is China Safe to Visit? China Safety Travel Tips

Traveling to China is a unique and rewarding experience. It is such a beautiful country, with an engrossing culture. Without a doubt, China differs from any other destination, which is why it is a magnet for traveling enthusiasts. However, even if traveling to this country is a unique experience you’re bound to remember, it’s pretty inevitable not to wonder: how safe is China for tourists?

For the most part, we could say that China is safe for tourists. In spite of that, though, political unrest is bound to happen in specific areas, for example. Aside from that, common crimes such as pickpocketing or theft could also occur – which requires taking the necessary precaution measurements. With that in mind, we believe that you’ll find our China safety travel tips helpful. They should guarantee a risk-free journey so that you can enjoy the most out of your visit to this unique country.

Highest Risks You Expose Yourself to to When Visiting China

Overall Risks in China: Low to Medium

Our China safety guide commences with indicating that there are several risks that come with the territory when visiting this country. For one thing, tourists should note that the typhoon season lasts from May to November, posing a range of dangers that are better avoided. However, we will expand on the topic of natural disasters in China later in the article.

Concurrently, China has utterly strict restrictions concerning the use of drugs. That is to say, the penalties are really severe – the death penalty even applies in given situations. For example, the police tend to raid the bars in order to pinpoint the use of illicit substances. Aside from that, it is not uncommon for the police to raid private homes as well.

Aside from that, the levels of pollution in China are considerably high – especially in highly urbanized areas. Hence, if you’re suffering from a respiratory affection such as asthma, bronchitis, or anything of the kind, this might worsen your condition. Children, in particular, are at a higher risk. You can check the level of pollution by accessing this source.

Moving on, territorial disputes between China and its neighboring country are prone to happen. In the past, these incidents have led to significant regional tension. For example, several cities across China have hosted anti-Japanese and anti-Korean demonstrations.

Pickpocketing and Theft Risks in China: Medium to High

Moving on to pickpocketing and theft, incidents like these are prone to happen. This is rather common, unfortunately, regardless of your traveling destination – whether it’s China, a European country, or a country based in Africa.  Nevertheless, in China, in particular, pickpocketing is really common, according to official reports.

Pickpocketing incidents are due to occur especially in crowded areas. At the same time, purse snatching is a widespread tactic. The reason behind this is that pickpocketing, distinct from armed robbery or another type of serious crime, is easier to get away with. That’s because there is no hard evidence involved.

With that in mind, you should be wary of our China safety travel tips.

  • How to avoid pickpocketing and theft in China?

Evidently, pickpocketing occurrences are prone to happen especially in touristy areas and crowded spaces such as bus stations, train stations, markets. In addition, note that pickpockets, most of the time, work in groups. In this way, they aim at distracting you. A typical scenario entails having a person distract you by either bumping into you, or accidentally dropping something on you. In the meantime, the accomplice will attempt to steal your bag, camera, or anything of the sort.

Make sure you don’t keep your valuables – namely your iPhone or wallet in your backpack. This is like an open invitation to pickpockets. At the same time, it would be a good idea to separate your cash, as opposed to keeping it in the same place. In this way, if something were to happen, you won’t be left out in the open, penniless.

To be more specific, many incidents happen at the train station. Therefore, exercise extra caution whenever you’re in line to buy a ticket. In general, the Chinese tend to push up really tight, as they want to prevent other people from cutting in line. So, always pay attention to your surroundings, avoid displaying signs of wealth, and you should be on the right path.

Also, if an incident does happen, you should make a loud scene. Even if most people might not understand what you’re saying, a scene will get other people’s attention – which is the last thing the pickpocket wants. If you’re lucky, a police officer might come to assist you, considering that you’re in a big city.

Scam Risks in China: Medium to High

Moving on, scams are overly widespread in China. As a result, each China safety guide usually contains comprehensive information regarding how to prevent scams, how common they are likely to happen, their nature, and so on and so forth. Bear in mind that these scams are really well-thought, meaning that even the savviest travelers are bound to fall victims of scamming.

One of the most common types of scams is that of the tea tasting scam or the massage scam. What does this involve, though? In essence, without any notice whatsoever, you might be invited to visit a bar, in order to benefit from a tea tasting or from a massage.

Nonetheless, when you actually reach that place, you will be put in the position of having to pay a huge fee. If you refuse to pay the requested sum of money, then, you might be threatened. At the same time, the situation can result in credit card fraud.

Moving on, there is another widespread scam regarding rented bicycles. There have been situations in which, instead of legitimate barcodes, there were false codes, which directed the money to a different account.

On a different note, disputes regarding taxi fares are prone to occur. This is why you should avoid traveling in unmetered or unmarked taxis, to avoid being scammed and paying an overpriced fare.

However, perhaps one of the worst scams in China is that of the counterfeit money. Note that there is a significant amount of counterfeit bills in circulation. Essentially, clueless tourists fall into this trap, most of the times. This is why you should always carefully inspect the bills you get for change.

  • How to avoid getting scammed in China?

Essentially, you could significantly reduce the likelihood of being scammed during your visit to China by considering a bunch of quintessential China safety travel tips. First and foremost, you should be wary when someone initiates contact with you – regardless of how innocent they might seem. This applies, in particular, in touristy areas.

As a rule of thumb, you shouldn’t underestimate the acting skills of this type of scammers, as they are better than you would think. Additionally, you shouldn’t agree to any service, not until you are provided with specific information regarding the price.

Aside from that, you shouldn’t allow a stranger to take you to a place you know nothing about. In order to test a stranger’s intentions, you can always suggest going to another place. If the other person remains insistent on taking you to a particular place, then, they are more certainly planning a scam or something of the kind.

Kidnapping Risk in China: Medium to High

Kidnapping is a serious issue in China. In fact, child trafficking has been a stressing problem in modern China. Oddly enough, this has been a problem back in the 19th century, as well – at that time, kidnapping was one of the most widespread crimes in China. Nonetheless, children kidnapping isn’t the only problem worth noting.

A few decades ago, the kidnapping of businessmen was overly common, as well. More specifically, in 1994, in Guangdong, the incidence of economic crimes was surprisingly high. Nevertheless, this has changed, over the last couple of years, as the penalties for kidnapping have become really severe.

To that end, the risk level for tourists traveling to China has remained unchanged, for the most part. Even so, exercising the basic range of precaution measurements can’t do any harm – quite the opposite.

  • How to avoid being kidnapped in China?

In general, if you are cautious, you can avoid kidnapping incidents – especially if you steer clear of the most dangerous areas in China. Thus, avoid going to remote places by yourself. At the same time, it is contraindicated to hike alone – particularly in isolated areas. If you do, however, make sure you inform someone of your itinerary, mobile number, and so on.

Moving on, stay away from unmarked taxis, as there have been cases in which foreigners were victims of robbery or sexual assault.

Terrorism Risk in China: Medium to High

The incidence of terrorism in China ranges from medium to high. While it is true that foreigners aren’t necessarily a target when it comes to terrorist attacks, some of these incidents are likely to occur in the places highly frequented by tourists. That is to say, a few years ago, namely back in 2014, there have been attacks in an open air market and at a railway station.

Recently, though, such incidents haven’t occurred in popular spots. At the same time, the risk of terrorism attacks depends on the location. That is to say, these are prone to occur in the most dangerous areas in China. For example, in 2014, no less than 31 people were stabbed to death in a southern city of Kunmig, at a railway station. Additionally, in 2013, five people were killed in Beijing, because a car drove into a group of tourists outside Tiananmen gate.

  • How to avoid terrorism in China?

In order to avoid terrorism while in China, you have to know which areas are likely to be targeted by terrorists. In this respect, we recommend you to avoid those areas that tend to get really crowded – such as shopping malls or districts, bus and train stations, public markets, or such. Moreover, increase caution is recommended when visiting places of prayer and official buildings.

Given the medium to high risk of terrorism, it is advised that you keep an eye out on your surroundings at all times. If you notice anything suspicious, it is better to just leave and alert the authorities. Be extremely careful when walking on the street, even if you are in a pedestrian-only area. Being on your toes and aware of your surroundings can save you in most of the cases, as terrorist/ terrorist attacks are based on surprising the targets and such.

Risks for Women Traveling Alone in China: Low to Medium

If we were to answer to rather trivial question: is China safe for solo woman travelers, then, you should know that, our answer would be positive. China is a nation that has a cultural connection with long travel. While some local Chinese people might have their set of questions and curiosities regarding your motivation to travel by yourself, on the whole, it is safe to do that.

This might depend on your age, as well. For example, in the case of younger women, the locals might inquire the reason why your parents permitted you to travel by yourself to a faraway destination. Bear in mind that local Chinese people tend to be curious. Therefore, if you are asked this sort of questions, they aren’t ill intended. With that in mind, you shouldn’t convey them as being offensive, as they usually come with the territory.

Unfortunately, most people aren’t accustomed with the concept of solo traveling – particularly for women. So, you should know what to expect in this view.

Evidently, this doesn’t exclude the likelihood of unpleasant accidents or incidents altogether. As a solo traveler – both male and female, you should use common sense and be wary, specifically at nighttime.

  • How to avoid crime as a solo woman traveler in China?

For example, if you find yourself surrounded by people that seem unusually friendly, in a bar or public space, you should be wary of your valuables and keep an eye on your things. These people might be interested in more than simply getting to know you. In general, you should look after your purse and bag at all times, and avoid accepting drinks from strangers. By all means, don’t leave your drink unattended either.

There are numerous urban legends according to which people slip drugs into drinks, when the other person isn’t looking. This is why you should be smart about it and not throw precaution to wind.

Even if walking around at night is generally safe, you should remain in well-lit areas. This isn’t the time to start exploring remote areas.

These being said, traveling solo in China is an accomplishable purpose. Nonetheless, make sure you remain wary and vigilant at all times, to steer clear of unpleasant incidents that could emerge.

Rape Risk in China: LOW to MEDIUM

According to several reports, sexual assaults in China – especially when targeting tourists/ travelers -, are quite rate, but they do occur. There have also been reports of spiked drinks being used to rob or assault people. Moreover, even serious crime is considered as rate in China.

With this in mind, you should take only some basic safety measures when traveling.

  • How to avoid getting raped in China?

Approach a decent dress code and don’t try to draw any attention to you. When taking a taxi, it is advised that you avoid those that are not metered or marked, as there have been a number of incidents of robbery and even sexual assault involving such taxis. Make sure to always use a reputable/ trusted taxi service and to avoid getting in the car with any other people/ strangers.

When visiting a night-club, pub, or bar, you should order your own drinks and refuse any offered by strangers. Obviously, you should keep an eye on them at all times so that no one gets the chance of spiking them.

Risks for People Traveling with Children in China: Low to Medium

Traveling with children comes with its range of challenges, regarding of the destination. Parents will definitely agree with this.

With that in mind, there are several guidelines that apply when traveling with children to China. To avoid unwanted scenarios, you should comprise a reasonable itinerary. Evidently, children are innately adventurous and curious, which is why you should assess their physical strength. Hence, the routes you select shouldn’t be too tiring or grueling.

  • How to avoid unwanted scenarios?

Nowadays, you shouldn’t worry too much about eating in China, as there are numerous places to eat. Of course, this applies if you don’t plan on exploring the rural parts of the country, which could pose a range of challenges. Thus, if you do plan to discover the rural part of China, make sure that all the fruit is thoroughly washed beforehand, and that the meals are cooked accordingly.

Moving on to drinking tap water in China, it isn’t safe. So, you should carry bottled water with you at all times. As we mentioned beforehand, air quality is a serious concern in major Chinese cities – specifically in the areas near factories. In fact, the air quality is so poor, that you are likely to feel a notable difference right away. Conversely, if we were to compare the air quality in Los Angeles, it would be infinitely better than the air quality in China.

In this view, you might consider packing a bunch of masks. It’s better to bring them with you, as, when the pollution index is high, you will find it difficult to find them in China.

Another problem worth noting when traveling with children is that the traffic is pretty crazy. In fact, you might feel as if you’re in a Fast and Furious movie. The majority of standard Chinese cabs aren’t equipped with usable seat belts. Unfortunately, Uber isn’t an option for non-Chinese people. Not only that using it requires you to read and type in Chinese, but you’ll also need to have a Chinese bank account to pay for the ride.

Moving on, even if most hotels and venues are equipped with Western toilets, squat toilets are much more common. Obviously, children might find it difficult to use these toilets, not to mention that there are a range of sanitary risks that shouldn’t be overlooked. Plus, most public bathrooms in China don’t have soap.

These are some of the main risks that come with the territory when traveling to China with children, aside from the aspects we mentioned beforehand. Of course, don’t overlook the vaccination requirements, as well as the risks of natural disasters and kidnapping.

Natural Disaster Risks in China: Medium to High

Is China safe to visit when it comes to natural disasters? In this view, it’s worth noting that China is subject to numerous natural disasters – such as typhoons, flooding and earthquakes. That’s specifically because China is situated in an active seismic zone – meaning that major earthquakes are overly common. In order to know what to do in such a situation, you should visit this source.

More specifically, flooding and storms are likely to occur during the wet season, which lasts from May to November. This is why it is highly recommendable to keep an eye on local weather reports and factor in the advice provided by local authorities – this applies to evacuation orders, in particular.

Moving on to the typhoon season, it runs from May to November. To that end, if you plan on going to China within this timeframe, you should be doubly wary. As a rule of thumb, always monitor the local weather reports. Bear in mind that the eastern and southern coastal regions are mostly affected by the typhoon.

Transportation Risks in China: MEDIUM to HIGH

In order to drive in China, you need a Chinese driving license – you must have valid insurance as well.

In terms of road travel, the quality of the roads is poor, making road accidents common in China. The driving standards are usually low and the streets come with high volumes of traffic. In this respect, caution is advised when driving and even when walking on the street. When it comes to driving under the influence of alcohol, keep in mind that the penalties for such actions are harsh in this country, no matter the level of intoxication.

If you choose to travel by train, remember to bring your passport with you, as you will need it in order to buy a ticket. Overnight trains come with the risk of petty theft, so be careful to secure your cabin before and during the trip.

Approach a decent dress code and don’t try to draw any attention to you. When taking a taxi, it is advised that you avoid those that are not metered or marked, as there have been a number of incidents of robbery and even sexual assault involving such taxis. Make sure to always use a reputable/ trusted taxi service and to avoid getting in the car with any other people/ strangers.

Traveling to Tibet and the Tibet Autonomous Region is only possible through an organized tour and a permit issued by a specialized travel agent. Travel to these areas can be restricted by the authorities without any given notice.

Night-Clubs, Pubs, and Bar Risks in China: MEDIUM

As mentioned before, there’s a risk of your drink getting spiked while in a night-club, pub, or bar. Therefore, it is advised that you order your own drinks – don’t accept any from strangers – and that you keep an eye on them at all times.

Moreover, you should not be visiting alone such location. Obviously, you may encounter the usual pub brawl, but you also risk being approached/ harassed just because you are a tourist. If you are a woman, you should definitely not visit a night-club, pub, or bar alone.

When leaving one of the aforementioned locations, it is better if you rely on a taxi from a reputed/ trusted agency, rather than hailing one on the street. Make sure that the taxi you get in is both metered and marked.

Also, when choosing which bar to visit, make sure to avoid those located in remote or bad-reputed areas, as they come with the risk of you being attacked by armed criminals.

Health Risks in China

First of all, keep in mind that China doesn’t come with free healthcare and that treatment/ medicine can be quite expensive. In this respect, it is recommended that you travel with proper travel health insurance and with enough funds/ money to cover the costs of any treatment or medication that you might be subject to. If you are referred to a medical facility – for treatment or such – you should contact your medical assistance/ insurance company as soon as possible.

If you are in need of medical assistance, dial 120 and ask for an ambulance.

China’s industrialized and major urban areas come with high levels of air pollution – this can aggravate sinus, bronchial, or asthma conditions. It is recommended that you either take the necessary precautions or avoid such areas. Moreover, you should rely on bottled water only, as tap water is usually not safe to drink throughout China.

If traveling during the country’s rainy season, you should take the appropriate precautions in terms of avoiding Dengue fever – in short, don’t get bit by mosquitoes. Pack a bug repellent and choose your accommodation/ area of stay – so to say -, with care. You should also stay away from birds or such, as there have been reports of human infections of avian influenza. Get informed on how to protect yourself and avoid this or any similar type of infections.

List of Vaccines You Need in China

Is China safe to visit if we were to assess the health risks? Or, better said, are there any health risks when visiting China? First and foremost, before introducing you the vaccines you should have before planning a visit here, note that healthcare can be really pricey in China. This is why you should have insurance as well as medical evacuation/repatriation for the entire duration of your stay.

With that in mind, here’s the list of vaccines you should have:

  • Typhoid
  • Hepatitis B
  • Hepatitis A
  • Polio
  • Rabies
  • Japanese Encephalitis
  • Influenza

Most Dangerous Areas in China

In regards to the most dangerous areas in China, you should be doubly cautions when it comes to the following locations.

  • Tibet and the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR)

Traveling to Tibet is possible only with a special permit. You can obtain a permit through a specialized travel agent based in China. When in Tibet, steer clear of getting involved in large public gatherings or other public demonstrations. Security measures are tight. Thereupon, unauthorized gatherings inevitably result in outbreaks of violence.

  • Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region

The security level in Xinjiang is fragile. This is why the conditions may deteriorate without additional notice. In fact, there have been instances of violent unrest in Xinjiang, which led to casualties. In the case of allegations, the use of lethal force is quite common for dispersing the crowds.

Hence, at all costs, you should avoid being caught in the middle of such a demonstration.

Concluding Remarks: Is China Safe to Visit?

Our China safety guide has come to an end. As you can see, a journey to China isn’t risk-free. The political situation is unstable, especially in specific areas, the high levels of pollution might aggravate common health problems such as asthma, not to mention that it can trigger notable discomfort. Simultaneously, you should be wary of scammers, who, most of the times, seem like friendly local people. But you shouldn’t underestimate their acting skills.

Of course, don’t overlook the natural hazards that could occur throughout the year, as well as the vaccines you should have before your journey. The bottom-line is that by exercising caution and by being a savvy, responsible traveler, you can enjoy China and unravel its unique culture. As with anything else in life, knowledge is power – so make sure you know what to expect beforehand.