China is a breath-taking country, with its natural wonders, a rich culture, a civilisation dating back thousands of years and, of course, the giant panda.
It can also be a daunting place to travel to and around, with a challenging language and teeming crowds. But with the right planning, a holiday in China is amazing.
Travel Insurance China: what cover do I need?
We divide travel insurance into three zones:
- Worldwide excluding the USA, Canada and Caribbean
You’ll need worldwide travel insurance for the right cover in China.
We offer three tiers of cover, with increasing coverage and product benefits.
Choose from three levels of cover
Emergency medical treatment & repatriation
(Limits up to)
Cancellation or cutting short your trip
(Limits up to)
(Limits up to)
We also offer a choice of single trip travel insurance and annual travel cover. Travelling to a country as far away as China means you could be gone for longer than usual. Our single trip policy offers cover for up to 365 days and is ideal for extended holidays, as well as gap year travel.
If you’re on a gap year and are planning to work or volunteer while you’re there, our China travel insurance will cover you to carry out some jobs, such as working in an office or as a waiter or waitress, but not manual work.
Our annual, or multi-trip, travel insurance, covers you for several separate trips each year, for up to 31 days per trip.
What do I need to know before I go to China?
According to the Foreign Office, more than half a million British nationals visited mainland China in 2017. China has one of the lowest murder rates in the world – lower than the UK and America – and most visits are trouble-free.
However, the country’s strict laws and zero tolerance approach to, for example, drugs, means visitors need to take extra care regarding their behaviour.
China visa requirements
Before you arrive, you’ll need a visa. Anyone aged 14-70 needs to apply for their visa in person at a Visa Application Centre and provide biometric data (scanned fingerprints).
Foreign nationals over the age of 16 always need to carry their passport, while visitors need to register their place of residence with the local Public Security Bureau – the police authority – within 24 hours of arriving (this is often done for you depending on the hotel or hostel you choose to stay in but be sure to check).
Check the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website for more information on China tourist visa requirements.
Best travel insurance for China
Having comprehensive travel insurance in place before you go is essential in covering you and your belongings against anything going wrong, such as:
- Theft or loss of your possessions
- Flight cancellation
- Emergency medical treatment
- The cost of getting home if you need to return suddenly – repatriation from China can be very expensive!
It’s a good idea to carry with you the details of your insurance policy, including emergency phone numbers, and to leave copies with family or friends back home. If you’re taken ill in China, we have a multilingual, 24-hour emergency helpline for all policyholders to use.
China doesn’t recognise dual nationality, so if you have both British and Chinese nationality you may be treated as a Chinese citizen by the authorities even if you have a British passport, and the British Embassy may not be able to help in an emergency.
Healthcare in China
Healthcare in China can be very expensive and, if you’re unlucky enough to have a medical emergency, your travel insurance will prove invaluable. Hospitals in the major cities are excellent, with many English-speaking staff.
If you’re taken ill in a remote area, however, it’s likely you’ll need to be evacuated to better facilities, and the language barrier could prove challenging. In an emergency, dial 120 and ask for an ambulance.
China has high levels of air pollution in its cities and industrialised areas, which can aggravate conditions such as asthma and bronchitis. Tap water is generally not safe to drink, so always buy bottled water.
Four to six weeks before you travel to China, visit your GP’s surgery to check if you need any vaccinations. You may need a yellow fever vaccination certificate if you’re arriving from or transiting through a country with a high risk of transmission, although this doesn’t apply if you’re only travelling in Hong Kong or Macao.
It’s recommended you have hepatitis A and B vaccinations, as well as ensuring your diphtheria, tetanus and poliomyelitis injections are up to date (within the last 10 years).
Travelling in China
China offers the trip of a lifetime for tourists, whether you choose to visit its major cities or head further out to experience rural life.
You might think no holiday would be complete without walking along a section of the Great Wall, seeing the Army of Terracotta Warriors up close or visiting the UNESCO-listed Forbidden City in Beijing.
If hiking, mountain climbing and rafting are more your thing, head to one of China’s breath-taking national parks – there are more than 200 in total! Remember that, while our standard travel insurance covers many activities, you may need some add-on cover for extreme sports, such as bungee jumping.
With more than 1.3 billion people living in China, its urban areas are among the most crowded in the world, and the jostling crowds in cities can be overwhelming for some travellers.
You’ll find more space and peace the further you go into the countryside, whether visiting China’s rice field communities, canalside villages or sprawling lakes.
Bear in mind, however, that there’s often only a small police presence or none at all in rural areas, compared to the efficient policing in cities.
Take a look at our China travel guide for more tips.
Your questions answered
Do I need a visa for China?
Yes you do, and you’ll need to apply in person at a Visa Application Centre. Find out more on the FCO website. Your passport will need to be valid for at least six months when you enter China.
Do I need vaccinations for China?
There are no specific vaccination requirements for China but your doctor may recommend the following:
- Hepatitis A
- Hepatitis B
- Tick-borne Encephalitis
Cholera and Japanese Encephalitis are recommended for the highest risk people.
You should make sure your usual recommended vaccinations and boosters for life in Britain are up to date.
Do I need travel insurance for China?
It’s not a legal requirement, but think about what you’d do should the worst happen when you’re in China. Having travel insurance is a good idea to make sure you don’t end up out of pocket, particularly if you need medical treatment.
Is China safe to travel alone?
China is a relatively safe country to travel around by yourself. But all travellers should keep an eye on their money and valuables – don’t fall victim to pickpockets or scammers.
Other than that, the most challenging thing is likely to be the language barrier.
Is China safe for tourists?
The FCO advice states that China isn’t an unsafe country, but scammers do tend to operate in tourist areas. You may be invited to a bar for a massage or tea tasting, only to be told you need to pay a huge fee and possibly even threatened.
You should also check the QR sticker on bikes before renting them, as there have been instances in the past when the correct sticker has been replaced with a fake one, with the money going into an incorrect account.
Does travel insurance cover pickpocketing?
Your travel insurance covers theft of your personal belongings, money or documents, but you must report the theft to the police or your travel operator within 24 hours of discovering it. You’ll need to get a written police report (or a Property Irregularity Report from your transport operator if the theft happened when they had your things).