Ruta 8
China Beijing

Tips for travelling
to China

China is still uncharted territory for many westerner travellers. But this has been changing over the last decade or so as we try to find out more about the country which covers the main headlines and becomes more powerful in the international arena.

Although I´ve only been once, Al has been many times. If you want to have a smooth landing, here are some things to bear in mind.
  • Getting the Visa

    First and foremost think about how you´re going to get the VISA to visit the country. Allow at least 2 months to get the visa (or contact the chinese embassy in your country) as it´s an arduous and bureaucratic process. Having said that, you can´t apply for it too early because the visa expires after 90 or 180 days after you obtained it.

    I was personally frustrated with the amount of information requested in the forms we had to fill out. Your parent´s and employer´s details and every single place you´re going to stay during your stay in China are some of the questions they ask you.

    So, get yourself a nice cup of coffee before starting to fill out the form, patience and determination will come in handy in the process too.

    For non-US citizens visit,
    For US citizens visit,

    Visa to China
  • VPN

    Will you need to have access to any of these websites while you´re in China?


    If so, you´ll need to download a VPN (Virtual Private Network) before travelling as these websites are blocked in the country. Al´s favourite app is ExpressVPN. Make sure to have the latest version downloaded before you leave. If you try one server location and it doesn´t work, you can play around with several different ones to see which works best.

    Another free application we found extremely useful was We could go anywhere when visiting different towns following the routes on the app. But again, to download a new city map while you´re there, you´ll need a VPN. And talking about applications, that takes us to our next topic.

  • Get Baidu App

    More and more people in China can speak English but communication can still be difficult if you don´t speak a word in Mandarin.

    If you want to avoid being lost in translation, download Baidu Translate application. It´s the number 1 voice translation app used in China which means it´s guaranteed to work. Although it´s been designed for Chinese people, it´s easy enough to use and it´s said to be pretty accurate.

    Baidu Translate

    We also used Pleco, but we didn´t find this app as helpful. Being able to communicate can give you a chance to better interact with the locals and have a far more enjoyable experience.

  • Booking Trains

    Try to book train tickets in advance to get better prices and guarantee availability; You´ll be in the most populated country in the world!
    We mainly used as the prices are competitive. However, tickets only become available 2 months in advance.

    Trains in China
  • Toilet Paper

    Take toilet paper with you every time you go out. We didn´t find any when using the toilet in Shopping centers, Train and bus stations.

  • Be open to try,
    taste and learn

    It´s amazing how much we can learn when we have the awareness that not everything from our country is the best thing in the world and that we can always learn from leaving our comfort zone and be open to the new.

    Confucius Beijing

    I was personally impressed by how tasty the food was and I remember reading a blog before going that the food was not that good or too oily. Big mistake! I loved Chinese food so much I felt the urge to write a post about it Food in China -what to expect.

    If you want to stick to burgers and steak you don´t know what you´ll be missing. Not to mention its history, customs, people...