China is brimming with rich culture, breathtaking scenery, and never-ending adventures. Relax in the tropical paradise of Hainan, trek the Great Wall, or explore the waterfront metropolis of Shanghai—the possibilities are endless. This massive country is known for its great regional diversity, which means packing can get a little tricky. But don’t let the question of what to bring stress you out because we’ve got you covered, no matter what plans you have in store. Keep reading to see our China packing list!
The different regions of China all have distinct climates, and traveling throughout the country can feel like jumping between seasons. Up north, the winters and summers are extreme, while the spring and fall are milder. The south has a subtropical climate year-round and Western China has overall lower temperatures throughout the year due to its high elevation and mountainous landscape. For a more in-depth look at the different regions’ weather throughout the year, check out our guide on the best time to visit China. You’ll want to base what you’re packing on the season and where you’ll be visiting.
The number one rule when traveling is don’t over-pack. It’s no fun lugging around a heavy suitcase and worrying about weight restrictions. The best way to combat this issue is by focusing on layers when creating your China packing list. Layers are a great way to make the most of your wardrobe, and they give you a lot of outfit options. Neutral-colored items that go well together will make it easier to put together various outfits from a small selection. It’s also advised to bring at least one nice outfit for a possible dressy occasion, such as an evening out. Keep in mind that the country dresses on the conservative side. When choosing fabrics, look for sweat wicking, quick-dry fabrics. Whether you’re traversing a mountainous trail or touring a city, these fabrics will be your friend. Summers are extremely humid and winters can be wet and frigid, and you’re unlikely to come across any driers during your stay. As for shoes, make sure to bring what you’ll need. It’s hard to find larger shoe sizes in China, as the average size is significantly smaller than in America. Although you’ll want to pack rain gear in the form of clothing, it’s easy to find inexpensive umbrellas once abroad.
Here’s all the essentials to pack for your Chinese getaway. Keep in mind that these guidelines span all seasons. Create your own China packing list by narrowing down this general list to suit your specific needs.
Pants—if you’ll be spending a lot of time walking and exploring, go for hiking styles with breathable, quick-drying fabrics
Waterproof pants—a must if you’ll be trekking through the snow
Shorts—be mindful of the length as Chinese tend to dress more conservatively
Short-sleeve shirts—perfect for layering
Long sleeve shirts
Light, waterproof jacket—ideal for the summer when some buildings blast chilly air conditioning
Waterproof, winter coat—preferably a down coat if you’ll be visiting the far north during the brutal winter months
Comfortable, walking shoes—make sure your shoes are broken in before your trip
Waterproof, hiking boots—these are for those who’ll be spending time walking in the snow
Adventure sandals—such as Chacos
Wool cap, gloves, and scarf
Hat—to protect you from the sun
Deodorant—it’s very hard to find deodorant in China, so make sure to include yours
Shampoo and conditioner—while you can find these items, you’re unlikely to find your brand, and many Chinese brands are made for the country’s general hair type
Beauty products/skincare—you may be able to find your desired brands, but there’s a high import tax
Sunscreen—most Chinese sunscreens have 50+ SPF with whitening properties
Any other products you can’t live without
Passport and important documents
Power Adaptor—invest in a universal adaptor so you can take it wherever you go
Voltage Converter—if you plan to bring hot tools, a converter is a necessity (check which voltage you’ll need in your region)
VPN—this is crucial; because some sites are blocked, it’s vital to buy and set up a VPN before you go abroad so you’ll have access to all of your top websites
Apps—consider downloading offline translation apps and maps, so you’ll be prepared wherever you go; WeChat is a popular chatting app in China
Daypack—a small option is good for everyday travel
Quick dry towel—perfect for toweling off in muggy weather or during heavy rains