China travel guide
Colossal, dizzying and fiercely foreign, China isn’t easily compared to anywhere else on the planet. Home to approximately one fifth of the human race, it variously dazzles, befuddles, frustrates and thrills. The key visitor attractions are renowned around the globe – think the Great Wall, the Forbidden City, and the Terracotta Warriors – but it’s the sheer scale and off-kilter energy of the place that leave the most lasting impression.
The economic drive of recent times means many of China’s cities are as shaped by modernity as anywhere you care to mention, but it’s also somewhere underpinned by dearly held customs and a near-unfathomable amount of diversity. China's landscapes unfurl across the map in vast swathes of territory, and its sights, sounds and infinite oddities collectively amount to one of the world’s truly great travel experiences. The food’s fantastic too, and getting to grips with the different regional cuisines can be hugely enjoyable.
In other areas, tradition only counts for so much. The pace of development in its key cities – Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou and increasingly others – has thrown up skylines to rival almost any in the world. They’re emblematic of the ‘new’ China, a powerhouse both economically and politically; somewhere eager to make the rest of the world sit up and take notice. Even the ego-driven rulers of the past, from Qin Shi Huang through to Mao, would surely be amazed at just how influential their country has become.
Shift away from the urban sprawl and out into China’s rural areas, however, and you’re confronted with a very different reality. The scenery veers from lush terraced rice paddies and the harsh peaks of the Himalayas to the gorges of the UNESCO-protected Yangtze River. In some of the rural heartlands, indeed, the tableau of life can seem little changed from 50 years ago, at least on the surface. China is full of endless quirks and contradictions, but that’s half the charm.
9,596,960 sq km (3,705,406 sq miles).
1,382,323,332 (UN estimate 2016).
142.5 per sq km.
People's Republic. China comprises 23 provinces (China considers Taiwan its 23rd province), five autonomous regions, two special administrative regions and four municipalities directly under central government.
President Xi Jinping since 2013.
Premier Li Qiang since 2023.
Before you travel, check the ‘Entry requirements’ section for China’s current entry restrictions and requirements. These may change with little warning. Monitor this advice for the latest updates and stay in contact with your travel provider.
If you plan to pass through another country to return to the UK, check the travel advice for the country you’re transiting.
It is more important than ever to get travel insurance and check it provides sufficient cover. See the FCDO’s guidance on foreign travel insurance.
Avoid any demonstrations or large gatherings. The Chinese authorities enforce public order strictly and you may face arrest, detention and/or deportation. See ‘Safety and Security’ for further information.
The ability of the British Embassy and Consulates to provide face-to-face assistance within China is limited, and will need to be arranged in advance. If you’re in China and need consular support, call +86 (0)10 5192 4000 or the FCDO in London on +44 (0) 207 008 5000 or contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission.
The British Embassy and Consulates-General in Shanghai and Guangzhou provide travel documentary services to British nationals. However, you will need to make an appointment online before coming to a Consulate. See Notarial and Documentary Services Guide.
Following protests and demonstrations in Hong Kong, there were reports of greater scrutiny from mainland authorities at border crossings between the mainland and Hong Kong when the border was last open. This included reports that travellers’ electronic devices had been checked at border crossings. You should be aware that the thresholds for detention and prosecution in China differ from those in Hong Kong. See Local laws and customs and Safety and security.
China has a zero tolerance policy on drugs. There are severe penalties for drugs-related offences including the death penalty. Police often raid bars and nightclubs checking for the use of illicit substances. Raids on private homes have also occurred. Police also have the power to detain or prevent you from leaving China if you are involved in or connected to a business and/or civil dispute. See Local laws and customs and Safety and security.
Terrorists are likely to try to carry out attacks in China. Although foreigners haven’t been specifically targeted, attacks may occur in places visited by foreigners. You should take particular care during national holidays or when transiting public transport hubs, and always follow the advice of the local authorities. Previous attacks have targeted public places including on one occasion at a railway station and an open air market in 2014. There have been no recent attacks in the main tourist areas. The risk is higher in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous region. You should take particular care and remain vigilant when travelling to or within Xinjiang. See Terrorism.
Do not attempt to travel to Tibet without getting the correct permits. The Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR) can be closed to foreigners without notice. See Tibet and the Tibet Autonomous Region.
China doesn’t recognise dual nationality. If you have both British and Chinese nationality you may be treated as a Chinese citizen by local authorities, even if you enter China on your British passport. If this is the case, the British Embassy may not be able to offer you consular assistance. The FCDO has published guidance on nationality in China. If you’ve formally renounced Chinese citizenship, you should carry evidence that you have done so. See Local laws and customs.
High levels of air pollution can occur in major urban and industrialised areas in China, and may aggravate bronchial, sinus or asthma conditions. Children, the elderly and those with pre-existing medical conditions may be especially affected. You can check the pollution index levels for many cities in real time. See Health.
The typhoon season in China normally runs from May to November. You should monitor the progress of approaching storms and follow the advice of the local authorities. See Natural disasters.
The Overseas Business Risk service offers information and advice for British companies operating overseas on how to manage political, economic, and business security-related risks.
Coronavirus travel health
Check the latest information on risk from COVID-19 for mainland China on the TravelHealthPro website.
See the TravelHealthPro website for further advice on travel abroad and reducing spread of respiratory viruses during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Direct flights between the UK and mainland China have resumed. Check with airlines for routes, schedules and ticketing.
Entry and borders
See Entry requirements to find out what you will need to do when you arrive in China.
You should check local testing facilities information on the National Health Commission website.
Be prepared for your plans to change
No travel is risk-free during COVID-19. Countries may further restrict travel or bring in new rules at short notice, for example due to a new COVID-19 variant. Check with your travel company or airline for any transport changes that may delay your journey home.
If you test positive for COVID-19, current Chinese government advice is that you should remain at home if you’re asymptomatic or have mild symptoms. Those suffering more severe symptoms should seek medical assistance.
Plan ahead and make sure you:
- can access money
- understand what your insurance will cover
- can make arrangements to extend your stay and be away for longer than planned
Travel in China
There are no mandatory COVID-19 related requirements or restrictions for domestic travel. Mandatory mask wearing on public transport, including on flights, has now been lifted, although many people still choose to wear face masks on public transport (as per government advice).
Masks remain mandatory when a person has tested positive for COVID-19 or is displaying symptoms, during local outbreaks and in medical institutions and nursing homes.
COVID-19 restrictions on movement and quarantine arrangements for travel between different parts of the country have been removed.
If you’re planning to leave China in the near future you should regularly check with your airline for updates.
Healthcare in China
COVID-19 cases exist in China. You should ensure you have a supply of medication for COVID-19 or flu-like symptoms in case of infection. View Health for further details on healthcare in China.
For contact details for English speaking doctors, visit our list of healthcare providers.
Your emotional and mental wellbeing is important. Read guidance on how to look after your mental wellbeing and mental health.
See also the guidance on healthcare if you are waiting to return to the UK.
For information on financial support you can access whilst abroad, visit our financial assistance guidance.
Help and support
If you need urgent consular assistance, contact your nearest British embassy, high commission or consulate. All telephone numbers are available 24/7.
Personal attacks, including sexual assaults, are rare but they do occur, including through drinks being spiked. You should take reasonable precautions - do not leave drinks unattended and avoid accepting drinks from strangers. Women, travelling alone or with female friends, could be at greater risk - see our advice for women travelling abroad.
Serious crime against foreigners is relatively rare, but incidents do occur and less serious crime is not unusual. You should take care of your belongings at major tourist sites and other busy places, particularly where foreigners gather. If your passport is lost or stolen, you will need to go to the nearest police station or Public Security Bureau and get a report of the incident.
Avoid travelling in unmarked or unmetered taxis, as there have been incidents of sexual assault and robbery against foreigners. In marked taxis, make sure someone knows where you are and try to take a note of the taxi’s number.
Disputes over taxi fares can occur and quickly escalate. Insist on paying the metered fare and ask for a receipt; this has the taxi number on it.
Do not hike alone in isolated areas, including on the Great Wall. If you do, always leave your itinerary, mobile number and expected time of return at your hotel or with a third party.
There is a risk of attack from armed criminals in remote areas. The areas bordering on Siberia, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Vietnam, Laos and Burma are poorly policed. In Yunnan Province, drug smuggling and other crimes are increasing.
Beware of scams in popular tourist areas. A common example is the ‘tea tasting’ scam or ‘massage’ scam. You may be invited to visit a bar, to participate in tea tasting or for a massage, but then face demands for an exorbitant fee. This can be followed by threats or actual violence, and credit card fraud.
Check QR code stickers on rental bicycles carefully before using them. There have been cases of the legitimate barcode being replaced with a false code, which redirects money to a different account.
Before entering into a contract in China you should take legal advice, both in the United Kingdom and in China. Contracts entered into in the United Kingdom are not always enforced by Chinese courts.
If you’re involved in or connected to a business and/or civil dispute, the Chinese authorities may prohibit you from leaving China until the matter is resolved. This is known as a travel ban. For more detailed advice on business risks and commercial disputes, see our guide on commercial disputes in China.
Incidents of British nationals being detained against their will to extort money or intimidate them have occurred. It is rare for violence to be used, but the threat of violence is a recurring theme. You should report any threats of violence to the Chinese police.
Tibet and the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR)
You can only travel to the TAR on an organised tour and you must get a permit first, through a specialised travel agent in China. Chinese authorities sometimes stop issuing these without notice, and also restrict travel to Tibetan Autonomous Prefectures in neighbouring Provinces, even if you have a permit. You should check with tour operators or travel agents and monitor this travel advice and other media for information.
Once in Tibet you should avoid demonstrations and other large public gatherings. Ongoing political and ethnic tensions can lead to unrest and protest, sometimes violent. Security measures will be tight and unauthorised gatherings may be dispersed by force. Do not film or photograph any such activities or outbreaks of violence. Local authorities will react negatively if you’re found carrying letters or packages from Tibetan nationals to be posted in other countries.
Photography in Buddhist monasteries needs permission and carries a fee.
You should be aware that the ability of the British Embassy Beijing and British Consulates in China to provide consular support in the Tibet Autonomous Region is limited.
Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region
There have been instances of violent unrest in Xinjiang, causing deaths. There have been allegations of the use of lethal force to disperse protests.
Be alert to the possibility of being caught up in any unexpected demonstrations or outbreaks of violence. The Chinese authorities will increase the security presence in the area and tend to react quickly and harshly to these incidents. The Chinese authorities may restrict communications and travel to some areas of Xinjiang at short notice.
There have been widespread arbitrary arrests and extra-judicial detention in Xinjiang, mainly affecting the local population, particularly Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities. You may be at increased risk if you’re of Uyghur descent and/or have lived previously in Xinjiang; or if you appear to be Muslim.
You should expect airport-style security measures, including passport and security checks, at entrances to public places such as shopping centres, markets and parks. You may need to inform the security forces of your phone number, have your photograph taken, or be questioned as to the nature of your travel. Related to reports of the use of forced labour in Xinjiang, there have been reports of due diligence auditors being detained and harassed.
Carry your passport at all times, avoid all protests and large crowds, be vigilant and monitor media reports. Do not photograph or film protests, large crowds, security officials or installations, or anything of a military nature. Mosques and other religious sites are also considered “sensitive” sites by the authorities.
You should be aware that the ability of the British Embassy Beijing and British Consulates in China to provide consular support in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region is limited.
Fire protection standards in Chinese accommodation are not always the same as in the UK. Check fire precautions including access to fire exits. Make sure your accommodation has a working fire alarm and regularly check that the fire exits aren’t blocked.
Carbon monoxide poisoning
Make sure your accommodation has a working carbon monoxide alarm. There have been incidences of carbon monoxide poisoning and death due to incorrectly installed gas equipment. The ‘Be Alarmed’ campaign gives practical advice on how to stay safe, and lists the symptoms to look out for.
You need a Chinese driving licence to drive in China. You must also have valid insurance.
Accidents are common in China due to the poor quality of roads, high volumes of traffic and generally low driving standards, so you should drive with caution. If you’re involved in a serious traffic accident, call the police. Do not move your vehicle until they arrive but make sure you and your passengers are in a safe place. In cases where there are injuries, you may be held liable for medical costs. You will also be held liable if you run over a pedestrian.
There are harsh penalties for driving under the influence of alcohol, even at very low levels.
Mariners should avoid the disputed territory between China and other countries in the East China Sea and the South China Sea. There have also been incidents of piracy and armed robbery against ships in the area. See the Regional Co-operation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia Information Sharing website for further information.
You will need to produce your passport to buy a ticket and again to board the train.
Trans-Mongolian express trains (Beijing-Moscow via Ulaanbaatar) are noted for smuggling. Search your compartment and secure the cabin door before departure.
Petty theft from overnight trains is common.
China is a one-party state. Though China is open to foreign visitors, you should be aware of political and cultural sensitivities.
Avoid any demonstrations or large gatherings. The Chinese authorities enforce public order strictly and you may face arrest, detention and/or deportation. Foreign journalists have been intimidated, assaulted or detained for trying to report demonstrations.
You may also risk becoming a target yourself when general anti-foreign sentiment runs high. Keep yourself informed of developments and follow the advice of the local authorities. During periods of tension, some news reporting, access to text-messaging, the internet and to international telephone lines may be blocked.
Following protests and demonstrations in Hong Kong, there were reports of greater scrutiny from mainland authorities at border crossings between the mainland and Hong Kong. This included reports that travellers’ electronic devices had been checked at border crossings. You should be aware that the thresholds for detention and prosecution in China differ from those in Hong Kong.
Terrorists are likely to try to carry out attacks in China.
Although foreigners haven’t been specifically targeted, attacks may occur in places visited by foreigners. Since early 2014, a number of explosions and knife attacks have occurred in public places, including in busy railway stations, resulting in injuries and fatalities. You should take particular care during national holidays or when transiting public transport hubs, and always follow the advice of the local authorities.
There have been no recent attacks in the main tourist areas.
There is a high threat of terrorist attack globally affecting UK interests and British nationals, including from groups and individuals who view the UK and British nationals as targets. You should remain vigilant at all times.
Carry your passport with you at all times; a photocopy is not regarded as valid ID. Police carry out random checks, especially during periods of heightened security and major sporting or political events. Failure to produce your ID can lead to a fine or detention. If you renew your passport while you’re in China, you must register your new passport with the authorities promptly or face a fine.
All foreign nationals traveling to or around areas deemed as “sensitive” might attract greater scrutiny from the authorities, including when taking photographs near sensitive sites and when engaging with political groups or charities.
You should be aware that issuing or supporting political statements critical of China, Chinese authorities, or that are deemed to be politically sensitive, including online, could be viewed as an offense under Chinese law.
Sensitivities can change over time and may heighten around particular dates or events.
Foreigners traveling in mainland China, including but not limited to current or former employees of foreign governments, media outlets, and NGOs, might attract additional scrutiny in and around China, particularly when travelling to areas with large ethnic minority population, including but not limited to Xinjiang (see also the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region section under “Safety and security”).
China’s authorities have previously detained foreign nationals citing breach of national security legislation. Both ‘national security’ and ‘national interest’ appear regularly in Chinese legislation and have broad scope. You may be detained without having intended to break the law. Activity that occurred outside of mainland China – including online activity – could fall under scope of mainland legislation. There is a risk of arbitrary detention – including of British nationals.
There are restrictions on certain religious activities, including preaching and distributing religious materials. The Falun Gong movement is banned in China.
Gambling is illegal in mainland China.
China does not recognise dual nationality. If you enter China on a Chinese passport or identity card, the British Embassy may not be able to offer you help. If you were born in China to a Chinese national parent you will be considered by the Chinese authorities to have Chinese nationality, and will be treated as a Chinese citizen, even if you used a British passport to enter China. If you have formally renounced Chinese citizenship, you should carry clear evidence that you have done so. The FCDO has published guidance on nationality in China.
Chinese laws and procedures relating to the arrest and detention of suspects of crime are different from in the UK. If you’re suspected of a crime, the Chinese authorities have the power to prevent you from leaving China (by withholding your passport or applying a travel ban) or detaining you for up to 37 days without charge.
We are aware of an increasing number of foreign nationals subject to exit bans. Exit bans may be imposed on individuals involved in commercial or private disputes to prevent them from leaving mainland China. An exit ban can relate to investigations into an individual, their family or an employer, and can be used in criminal and civil matters, including business disputes.
Exit bans are distinct from detention or imprisonment. They are part of the Chinese legal process and can stay in place until resolution of the legal process in question. This means an exit ban may endure for months or years. You may not be aware that you are subject to an exit ban until you try to leave mainland China. If you’re detained on grounds of national security, which is interpreted more broadly than in the UK, you may be detained for up to 6 months before formal arrest and may be denied legal representation before charges are brought..
There are extremely severe penalties for drugs offences in China, including the death penalty. The Chinese authorities undertake random drug testing on foreign nationals including on entry to the country. If you test positive, the Chinese authorities can prosecute you regardless of where or when you consumed drugs. Police raids on homes also occur; if drugs are found in your property, penalties can be extremely severe.
There have been increasing incidences of police raids on nightclubs and bars. When such raids take place, patrons will be subject to on the spot drug testing and immigration checks. This may involve being kept at the location, or a secondary location, for several hours whilst hair and urine samples are taken and passport and visa checks conducted. Testing positive to drugs, or being found in breach of your visa conditions, can lead to heavy fines, detention and deportation.
The Chinese authorities maintain controls on internet access. Some services, including Google, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter are permanently blocked. Other websites may be blocked from time to time.
China’s cyber security laws are changing and online products and services (eg VPNs) need to be licensed by the Chinese government. More information is available on the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology website (in Mandarin only). Make sure you stay informed and follow Chinese law.
Although homosexuality is not prohibited by law, public attitudes are less tolerant than in the UK and public displays of affection may attract negative attention. There’s no provision under Chinese legislation guaranteeing freedom from discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation. You can find information on LGBT life in China on the British Embassy website. See our information and advice page for the LGBT community before you travel.
This page has information on travelling to China.
This page reflects the UK government’s understanding of current rules for people travelling on a full ‘British Citizen’ passport, for the most common types of travel.
The authorities in China set and enforce entry rules. If you’re unsure how China’s entry requirements apply to you, you can contact the Chinese Embassy or one of its consulates in the UK.
British nationals need a visa to enter mainland China, including Hainan Island, but not Hong Kong or Macao. Separate Travel Advice for Hong Kong can be found here.
All visa applicants aged between 14 and 70 inclusive need to make their visa application in person at a Visa Application Centre. As part of the application process, biometric data (scanned fingerprints) has to be provided. The Chinese Visa Application Centres in London, Manchester and Edinburgh are operating and details of opening hours are on their respective websites. The Application Centre in Belfast remains closed.
For further information on categories, and the process for submitting forms for those eligible, please visit this page on the Chinese Embassy website.
Biometric data may be checked/collected by the immigration authorities when entering China to register your entry to the country.
Since 8 January 2023, visa-free transit and transiting airside has resumed. All travellers entering into China must comply in full with entry requirements; there are no exemptions to this.
If you visit Hong Kong from the mainland of China and wish to return to the mainland, you will need a visa that allows you to make a second entry into China.
It is your responsibility to check your visa details carefully. Do not overstay your visa or work illegally. The authorities conduct regular checks and you may be fined, detained or deported (or all three).
If you remain in China longer than 6 months, you may need to get a Residence Permit.
COVID-19 Entry Requirements
There are no COVID-19 testing or vaccination requirements for travellers entering China.
Passengers entering China displaying symptoms of fever, may be asked to undertake a rapid antigen test on arrival. Those who test positive will be asked to wear a mask and may be advised to self-isolate whilst symptoms remain (there is no mandatory self-isolation for COVID-19).
Children and young people
Children aged 5 and under are required to apply for a Customs Code Health Declaration Form.
Transiting through a third country to arrive in China
Transiting is when you pass through one country on the way to your final destination.
Transiting through a third country to China is permitted and you are no longer required to undertake a lateral flow/rapid antigen test. Those transiting should still complete the Health Declaration Form via the China Customs website or through the China Customs App, WeChat or Alipay account.
Registering with the Chinese authorities
You must register your place of residence with the local Public Security Bureau within 24 hours of arrival. Chinese authorities enforce this requirement with regular spot-checks of foreigners’ documentation. If you’re staying in a hotel, they will do this for you as part of the check-in process.
Yellow fever certificate requirements
Check whether you need a yellow fever certificate by visiting the National Travel Health Network and Centre’s TravelHealthPro website.
Working in China
You can only work in China if you have a Z visa - tourist and business visit visas do not allow you to do so. You must also hold a valid work permit. The local police regularly carry out checks on companies/schools. Violation of Chinese immigration laws can result in severe penalties, including imprisonment, fines, deportation, a travel ban preventing you from leaving China, and an exclusion order, which prevents you from returning.
Before you leave the UK you should contact the Chinese Embassy to check visa requirements. When submitting your visa application, and when you receive your work permit, check that the details are correct, including the location you’ll be working in. If they’re not, you can be detained.
If you intend to change employer once you’re in China, you should check with the Chinese authorities whether a new visa and work permit is needed before doing so.
Teaching in China
Teaching in China can be a rewarding experience, but before you travel it’s important that you research thoroughly the school or university that is hiring you and are confident that they are following the law. There have been many incidents of teachers being detained and/or deported for working on the wrong visas. It is your responsibility to check you’re working on the correct visa.
Check your passport and travel documents before you travel
If you are visiting China, your passport should be valid for 6 months from the date you arrive.
If you have a health condition, or you are pregnant, you may need specialist healthcare abroad. Check whether your destination country can provide the healthcare you may need and ensure you have appropriate travel insurance for unexpected medical evacuation or local treatment.
See the Coronavirus travel health and Healthcare sections in the Coronavirus page for COVID-19 health information.
At least 8 weeks before your trip, check the latest country-specific health advice from the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) on the TravelHealthPro website. Each country-specific page has information on vaccine recommendations, any current health risks or outbreaks, and factsheets with information on staying healthy abroad. Guidance is also available from NHS (Scotland) on the FitForTravel website.
General information on travel vaccinations and a travel health checklist is available on the NHS website. You may then wish to contact your health adviser or pharmacy for advice on other preventive measures and managing any pre-existing medical conditions while you’re abroad.
The legal status and regulation of some medicines prescribed or bought in the UK can be different in other countries. If you are travelling with prescription or over-the-counter medicine, read this guidance from NaTHNaC on best practice when travelling with medicines. For further information on the legal status of a specific medicine, you’ll need to contact the embassy, high commission or consulate of the country or territory you’re travelling to.
While travel can be enjoyable, it can sometimes be challenging. There are clear links between mental and physical health, so looking after yourself during travel and when abroad is important. Information on travelling with mental health conditions is available in our guidance page. Further information is also available from the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC).
If you’re on prescription medication, make sure you bring enough with you or have access to a supply in China. Certain medicines may not be available and you may be prohibited from bringing others into the country. For more information and advice, check with your GP and the Embassy of China before travelling.
Healthcare is not free in China and can be very expensive. Make sure you have comprehensive travel and medical insurance covering healthcare and medical evacuation/repatriation for the duration of your stay. For more information, see Medical treatment in China.
If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, dial 120 and ask for an ambulance. You should contact your insurance/medical assistance company promptly if you need treatment.
The high levels of air pollution in major urban and industrialised areas in China may aggravate bronchial, sinus or asthma conditions. Children, the elderly and those with pre-existing medical conditions may be especially affected. You can check the pollution index levels for Beijing and other cities on the Air Quality Index website.
Tap water in China is generally not safe to drink. You should drink only bottled water.
Altitude sickness is a risk in parts of China, including Tibet, parts of Xinjiang and Qinghai Province. More information about altitude sickness is available from TravelHealthPro (from the UK’s National Travel Health Network and Centre).
The Chinese authorities react quickly to any outbreaks of any infectious disease, including enforcing quarantine for those showing symptoms.
Human infections of avian influenza are being reported in China, particularly among those individuals who have been in close contact with infected birds. Before travelling, you should read more information and follow the prevention advice on Public Health England and NaTHNaC’s websites.
Dengue fever is present in some parts of China mainly during the rainy season. There has been a large increase in cases of dengue fever in Guangdong province. You should take appropriate precautions to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes.
Flooding and storms are common during the wet season (May to November). You should monitor local weather reports and follow the advice and instructions of local authorities, including any evacuation orders.
The typhoon season in China normally runs from May to November, affecting southern and eastern coastal regions in particular. Air travel and other forms of transport can be affected. You should monitor the progress of approaching storms on the Japan Meteorological Agency and the China Meteorological Administration websites.
See the FCDO’s Tropical Cyclones page for further advice about what to do if you are caught up in a typhoon.
China is subject to various natural disasters, including earthquakes, flooding and typhoons. You should monitor the China Meteorological Bureau
China is located in an active seismic zone and can experience major earthquakes. To learn more about what to do before, during and after an earthquake, see the US Federal Emergency Management Agency website.
The latest tsunami warnings can be found on the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre website.
Cashless payments via smartphone applications such as WeChat Pay or Alipay are extremely common, especially in major cities.
Outside major cities, credit cards are not always accepted and the availability of ATMs is limited. It is not possible to exchange Scottish or Northern Irish bank notes.
Counterfeit bank notes (especially RMB100) are increasingly common, including when taking money out of an ATM. Banks will not replace them. It is quite normal to check notes carefully before accepting them from others.
If you’re abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission. If you need urgent help because something has happened to a friend or relative abroad, contact the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) in London on 020 7008 5000 (24 hours).
Foreign travel checklist
Read our foreign travel checklist to help you plan for your trip abroad and stay safe while you’re there.
The FCDO travel advice helps you make your own decisions about foreign travel. Your safety is our main concern, but we can not provide tailored advice for individual trips. If you’re concerned about whether or not it’s safe for you to travel, you should read the travel advice for the country or territory you’re travelling to, together with information from other sources you’ve identified, before making your own decision on whether to travel. Only you can decide whether it’s safe for you to travel.
When we judge the level of risk to British nationals in a particular place has become unacceptably high, we’ll state on the travel advice page for that country or territory that we advise against all or all but essential travel. Read more about how the FCDO assesses and categorises risk in foreign travel advice.
Our crisis overseas page suggests additional things you can do before and during foreign travel to help you stay safe.
Refunds and cancellations
If you wish to cancel or change a holiday that you’ve booked, you should contact your travel company. The question of refunds and cancellations is a matter for you and your travel company. Travel companies make their own decisions about whether or not to offer customers a refund. Many of them use our travel advice to help them reach these decisions, but we do not instruct travel companies on when they can or can not offer a refund to their customers.
For more information about your rights if you wish to cancel a holiday, visit the Citizen’s Advice Bureau website. For help resolving problems with a flight booking, visit the website of the Civil Aviation Authority. For questions about travel insurance, contact your insurance provider and if you’re not happy with their response, you can complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service.
Registering your travel details with us
We’re no longer asking people to register with us before travel. Our foreign travel checklist and crisis overseas page suggest things you can do before and during foreign travel to plan your trip and stay safe.
Previous versions of FCDO travel advice
If you’re looking for a previous version of the FCDO travel advice, visit the National Archives website. Versions prior to 2 September 2020 will be archived as FCO travel advice. If you can not find the page you’re looking for there, send the Travel Advice Team a request.
If you’re a British national and you have a question about travelling abroad that isn’t covered in our foreign travel advice or elsewhere on GOV.UK, you can submit an enquiry, or contact us on Twitter or Facebook. We’re not able to provide tailored advice for specific trips.