China is changing fast, but you still need travel insurance to protect you and your wallet from risks you may find here.
As a constantly developing country, China still poses its share of risks to travellers.
Travel insurance will protect you from the pickpocket who can spot a tourist from a mile away, the kid on the scooter who knocked you over after running a red light and the street food that didn't agree with your stomach.
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Why do I need travel insurance for China?
Whether you plan to travel via bike across the countryside or join the masses in Beijing, accidents in foreign countries can be pricey, and an emergency evacuation is even more expensive.
Add to that the fact that you could lose or damage your invaluable luggage and personal items, find out that your hotel has been cancelled last minute or be left to wait overnight for a delayed flight, and you will notice that your pockets feel a lot more shallow by the time your trip is complete.
By having a comprehensive travel insurance for China, you and your loved ones can rest easy before and during your exciting adventure knowing that you won’t be left alone to deal with the situation at hand if any unexpected mishaps were to occur.
Is it safe to travel to China?
China is a tourist-friendly country with more than 100 million tourists visiting its cities and towns per year. By and large, travelling in China is safe, but as with every other country, you should practice general common sense and exercise precautions.
As a foreigner in China, you may be targeted for petty crimes such as pickpocketing and scams. By being alert to your surroundings and not carrying expensive watches, jewellery, cameras or large wads of cash, you can prevent yourself from being a tempting target for thieves.
With a combination of common sense, alert senses and comprehensive travel insurance, China remains a highly safe destination for travellers.
Do I need any vaccinations before going?
To find out what vaccinations you will need for visiting China, you should see your doctor well ahead of time, as some vaccinations must be given 4 to 6 weeks prior to departure. As well as making sure your routine vaccinations are up to date, your doctor may recommend shots for:
- Hepatitis A and B
- Japanese Encephalitis
- Tick-borne Encephalitis
- Malaria medicine if applicable
What should I look for in a policy when getting travel insurance for China?
So you’ve booked your trip to China and set an excited count down to your departure date, but you’re stuck on where to even begin with your China Travel Insurance policy. While there are a lot of travel insurance brands out there and they will offer differing amounts of cover, some common features will include:
- Overseas emergency medical cover for medical. This benefit covers you for costs such as hospital, surgical, nursing and emergency dental treatment.
- Cancellation fees and lost deposits. I an unexpected circumstance forces you to cancel your trip, such as an injury or accident, this benefit covers you in case you lose your accommodation bonds or flight costs.
- Luggage and personal effects. If your items are lost, damaged or stolen this benefit provides you with cover up to the policy limit.
- Delayed luggage allowance. If your bags are lost this provision allows you to get on with your trip feeling fresh while you wait for your bags to arrive.
- Additional expenses. In case you have to unexpectedly spend an extra night somewhere, this benefit will cover your reasonable costs.
- Accidental death. If you pass away from an injury you have suffered on your trip, this benefit will provide your family with a death benefit.
- Personal liability. This benefit covers you for legal liability and legal expenses.
- 24/7 worldwide assistance. Make sure the policy offers 24/7 worldwide assistance, so you’re never left alone without help in an emergency, no matter where in the world you are.
Why should I visit China?
China is a destination that sells itself with over 5,000 years of history, magnificent architecture, a mouth-watering variety of local cuisines and a fascinating way of life.
Also known as the awakened giant, China’s economy is currently booming, which means that as travellers you will be the first to experience and witness first hand the intensity of China’s expansion with new exciting things to explore each day.
If you want to witness the cross of the old with the new, visit Beijing and get lost in the old alleyways known as 'hutongs' amongst all the high-rise buildings. To witness the beauty of ancient art and ways of life, you could find your way to the Terracotta Army or walk around the Forbidden City. Within the same country, you could also escape the bustle of the city to find complete tranquility in the scenic mountain hills of Guilin City.
Whatever it is that you are looking for in China, the incredible diversity of its landscapes and lifestyles dotted around the country will exceed your expectations.
When is the best time to visit China?
Just like the variety of trip styles available for your taking, China is beautiful all year round. The best way to figure out the ideal time to visit Asia’s giant will ultimately depend on what sort of trip you have planned.
For example, if you are hoping to inch closer to the north of the Great Wall and explore the China-Mongolia border, you will want to avoid visiting between November-December and March-April when the Winter chill can be as brutal as -40°C.
In general, the most comfortable season to explore China with limited amounts of rain is Autumn, between September to early October.
If budget is a significant factor for your decision, you may also wish to look out for public holiday periods or ‘high seasons’ such as Labor Day (May 1-3), National Day (October 1-8) or university holidays in June-September or January-February as these are popular times for travel by locals and you will be looking at higher accommodation and travel prices.
China travel tips
China is a land still largely undiscovered by tourists despite the high number of travellers, because there is such a vast range of cultures scattered throughout the cities and communities. Culture shock is a common shared experience between many travellers and there are bound to be some experiences that you will find entertaining at best, and confronting at worst.
But as they say, preparation is key, so here are some tips to wrap your head around the Chinese culture:
- Saving face. The Chinese are extremely concerned about their ‘face’, which doesn’t refer to the physical head but refers to one’s image or reputation. The locals may not always say what they mean in fear that they will insult you and cause you to ‘lose face’. You should reciprocate the same manners and never embarrass the Chinese in public. Be alert to body language to read what they really mean.
- Taxis. Taxis are often used by travellers for their convenience and cheap prices. However, don’t be lured into a false sense of security and always use a taxi with a meter to avoid scams and unnecessary arguments.
- Eating. It is common practice to raise the bowl of food to your lips and push the food in with chopsticks. This is all normal for locals, so have fun testing out your chopstick skills and letting your normal table manners fade for a while.
What are the visa and entry requirements for China?
If you are travelling to China on an Australian passport, you will need to apply for a visa to enter the country. The only exception is if you are visiting for 72 hours or less (i.e. a stopover), in which case you can apply for 72-hour visa-free transit. This will allow you to visit certain Chinese cities, but you will need to notify your airline at check-in, so Chinese customs can be forewarned and fill in the necessary paperwork when you land in China prior to passing through immigration.
To apply for a visa to visit China for longer than 72 hours, you will need to either apply in person at an application centre in Australia (located in Canberra, Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth) or by Express Post or registered mail. To apply, you will need:
- A passport with at least six months validity that contains blank visa pages plus a photocopy of the data and photo pages.
- A photocopy of your previous Chinese visas or passports if applicable.
- A fully completed visa application form.
- A 48mm x 33mm passport photograph.
- Evidence of a return ticket to Australia and hotel reservations in China or a letter of invitation from someone in China.
- A money order or payment authorisation form and a prepaid self-addressed envelope, if applying by mail.
Processing normally takes 4 business days for applications made in person and 10 business days for applications by mail and you should apply at least 1 month, but no more than 3 months prior to travel.
Will my phone work in China?
China has an excellent GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) network and you can use your Australian mobile phone in most populated areas. However, you’ll need to take certain precautions to avoid coming home to huge mobile phone bills;
- Switch off data roaming and voicemail before you leave Australia
- Buy a prepaid Travel SIM before you leave, which is cheaper than mobile roaming charges (your phone must be unlocked)
- Or when you get there, buy a local Chinese SIM for the province you are in, which is even cheaper again
- Top up your credit using vouchers available from convenience or phone stores in the province, but if you move to a different province, top up online using an international service such as worldremit.com
- Free Wi-Fi is available in many hotels and many cafes including Starbucks
- If using the Internet, be aware that the Chinese government limits access to major sites like Google, Wikipedia, Twitter and Facebook
Do I need to bring cash with me to China?
The official currency in China is the Yuan Renminbi (RMB), usually referred to by the locals as Kuai Renminbi (AU$1.00 = approx 4.6 RMB). When visiting China, you should make sure you have a range of options for accessing money including;
- Cash. Currency exchange is available at hotels, banks and exchange booths, but only at the official government rate.
- ATMs. There are plenty of ATMs in populated areas, but some won’t accept foreign cards (stick to Bank of China, Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China and China Construction Bank).
- Credit cards. These are now fairly widely accepted in hotels, restaurants and shops, but you may be charged a commission and your bank will charge you a conversion fee.
- Travellers cheques. These are not recommended, as most Chinese establishments won’t accept them and they can only be cashed at the Bank of China.
- Prepaid travel money cards. These secure and convenient cards can be pre-loaded with Chinese yuan in Australia and used like a debit or credit card.
Whichever types of payment you choose to carry, remember to split them up and carry them separately, so if one is lost or stolen, you will still have access to your money.
If you find yourself in an emergency in the China, some of helpful contacts include:
- Your travel insurer. The company you took out cover with will have an 24/7 helpline for claims and medical emergencies.
- 24 Hour Emergency police center. Can be reached on 110.
- 24 Hour emergency medical centre. Can be reached on 120.
- Australian Embassies and Consulates. You can find the contact details of Australian Embassies and Consulates in the China below.
Still have questions about travelling to China?
Q. When should I buy travel insurance for China?
- A. The best time to get travel insurance for your trip to China is the same time that you book your flights. This way, not only will you remember to actually buy travel insurance for China, you’ll also be covered for any unexpected cancellations that you may have to make even before you leave Australia.
Q. Can I add my partner and/or my children to my travel insurance for China policy?
- Many insurers offer easy methods of adding your partner or your entire family to your chosen travel insurance so that everybody can be protected, ask your travel insurance brand directly.
Q. What if I have a pre-existing medical condition?
- A. Some travel insurance brands will offer automatic cover for a number of pre-existing medical conditions. It is best to first check the full product disclosure statement (PDS) for all information relating to pre-existing medical conditions and also read over the fine print regarding exclusions to make sure you know exactly what is and is not covered. You should also let the travel insurance brand you have your policy with know at the time of application so that they are not blindsided when you put in a claim after a related incident.
Apply for travel insurance for China
You’ve booked your incredible journey across the giant of Asia and understandably excited to explore all that this fascinating country and culture have to offer. By having comprehensive travel insurance for China, you’ll be well equipped to get adventurous during your travels by knowing that you’re covered for your activities abroad.