China Travel Advice: Everything You Need to Know Now

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Travel is returning to (a new) normal within China and we’ve successfully helped a number of guests already in China to travel around the country. However, we know how difficult it can be to understand how to travel again. 

Do you need a green health code for each new place? Yes. Do you need a COVID-19 test? Potentially not, but we recommend it just in case. Can you travel with your children? Of course!  

We’ve rounded up our tips, ideas, and best practices to help you better understand what traveling in China means at this time for foreigners and expats living in the Middle Kingdom.

First Things First: Can Foreigners Travel Within China? 

If you’re already in China then that’s a big ol’ YES from us! With a few caveats depending on where you’re traveling to and from, but we’ll get into that more later.  Most provinces are open to foreigners now. Some, like Tibet and Xinjiang, are still not open to foreign tourists, but we’re hoping that will change soon and we’ll keep you updated. 

You can travel by train, plane, car, bus, or boat (if you so choose!) although schedules are more reduced. If you are traveling domestically, you will not need to quarantine when you enter a new province nor will you need to quarantine when you return to your original province (unless an unforeseen outbreak occurs or you’re traveling from a high-risk area).  

China’s borders are still closed for international travel as of August 2020, but we’ll let you know as soon as that changes.

Where can foreigners not travel to?

China Travel Advice: Everything You Need to Know Now

As mentioned above, there are some regions that foreign travelers (who are already in China) are not currently allowed to visit. Those are as follows: 

  • Tibet 
  • Xinjiang 
  • Parts of Ganzi 
  • Parts of Aba 
  • Taiwan 
  • Hong Kong/Macau 

All other provinces and regions are open to foreign travelers at the time of writing. 

Some national parks are still not open to tourists, such as Jiuzhaigou (expected to open after Golden Week), but most are now open to foreign travelers with the usual set of records needed (see below). If you have any questions about specific parks or attractions and whether they are open to foreigners, please contact us directly.  

What do foreigners need to travel in China?

China Travel Advice: Everything You Need to Know Now

What the app interface looks like as the full app (left) and the WeChat Mini Program (right)

Although different provinces and cities have different requirements, at a minimum, travelers need the following:

– A Green health code for your intended destination and current location. Usually, this involves a record of your last 14 days of travel

– A valid passport with residency or work permit + your last exit/entry stamp 

– A mask 

Additionally, depending on where you are traveling to, you may also be required to provide:

– A negative COVID-19 nucleic acid test

– A record of your travel for the past 14 days (usually required when you apply for a Green health code anyway) 

– An accommodation registration form  

– Any health forms required by hotels 

– A certificate of employment (usually not required when a work permit is provided) 

In general, we advise all of our travelers to ensure that they have a Green health code, their negative nucleic acid test results (taken within 7 days before arrival at intended destination), and a written or electronic record of their previous locations for 14 days.  

As always, if you are unsure what documentation you need for a particular destination within China, please do not hesitate to contact us.  

Traveling with children? Here’s how…

Don’t worry. Traveling with children is pretty straightforward. You will need to apply for a Green health code for them as well, but it can be done at the same time as you apply for your own.  

If your child does not have his or her own WeChat account, you can easily apply for additional health codes using your own account. Following the usual steps to apply for your own Green health code within WeChat, Alipay, or the government app, once you have been approved for your own Green code, you can register another person at the same time.  

For instance, using the government’s English-language “Health Code Traveler Version” app within WeChat, Alipay, or as a native application, once you fill out your own personal details and apply for a health code, you have the option at the very bottom of the screen to “Add family members”. From here, you can add up to two other individuals, such as your parents, spouse, or children.  

You then need to input their information (full name, passport or identity number, etc) and can then apply for their health code as well. Simple!  

Hotels, Transportation, and Attractions

Unfortunately, not all hotels or attractions are open to foreign travelers, although more and more are opening up to domestic tourists from any country.  

In general, we advise that you check with your intended accommodation for their policies before booking or work with a travel company to arrange accommodation with hotels and guesthouses that allow foreign guests.  

Similarly, most attractions around the country are also opening up to foreign nationals, including those that need pre-booked tickets online, but we recommend checking before you travel if there is something in particular that you want to see.  

Your Travel Checklist

  1. Check that the province you want to travel to is open to foreigners and determine what information you will need to provide to travel there 
  2. You can check our Travel Advisory page here for province-specific information or contact us directly 
  1. Check that your hotel or other accommodation will accept foreign guests  
  2. Apply for your Green code in the province/city you are traveling to  
  3. Ensure you have the necessary documentation. We recommend having to hand your Green health code, COVID-19 test results, and your previous 14-day travel itinerary 
  4. Check that the public attractions you would like to visit are open to foreign nationals. We can always help you with this, but many museums, landmarks, and national parks also have websites (sometimes in Chinese) with information on how to book tickets and who can book tickets 
  5. Book transportation and allow for additional wait times when in transit (we recommend arriving at least 3 hours early to domestic train and flight departures in case of additional health checks) 
  6. Ensure you have enough masks and hand sanitizer to last you throughout your journey. If you’re traveling with us we’ll also provide this but it’s nice to have a mask that you feel comfortable with.
  7. Check the locations of hospitals or COVID-19 clinics at your destination(s) 
  8. Inform your employer/school of your travel intentions in case there are company-specific policies you may need to adhere to on your return 
  9. Enjoy your journey

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