China is a popular travel & expatriate destination. It has many spectacular natural landscapes and cultural heritage. However, moving to China with children can be challenging for expats. If you are planning your first family trip to China or becoming a expat there, this article gives you 10 tips for families moving, traveling or already living in China, including advice on language, weather, culture, medical insurance and more.
1. Learning Chinese Before You Arrive
Though many Chinese people can understand and speak English in urban cities, it is recommended that expats learn some Chinese language before traveling. For example, some key words and daily sentences such as how to ask for directions and eat in a Chinese restaurant. Chinese language is very useful when there is nobody around who speaks English. It also make sense to use one of the many translation apps that you can place on your phone.
2. Book Ahead Before Travelling Within China
Many popular Chinese cultural heritage and natural landscapes have fascinated Westerners to China today. For expatriates planning to travel within China, it is very important to book hotels and transportation ahead. Hotels near tourist destinations are usually very popular. And it is almost impossible to find another local comfortable hotel room after 9 pm during peak travel seasons. Same as transportation tickets. You don’t want to stay overnight with children in a public transportation center just wait to buy tickets of train or bus.
3. Know The Local Climate
China is a big country. The weather in China varies between place to place. In the Southern area of China, the climate is usually hot, mild and humid. Hainan Island, Guangzhou, Hong Kong and Yunnan all have tropical climate. The Northern part of China, however, has a subarctic climate. For example, Heilongjiang has an average temperature of – 30°C during winter season.
Generally speaking, the most popularly recommended time to travel to China is around Autumn. Starting October, most of the tourist attractions have cool down and the summer holiday travel crowds have gone. And the weather in many places are comfortable and mild. You should also keep updated on the pollution levels, especially in big cities such as Beijing.
4. Tell Your Children About Your Travel Plan Before Departure
To ensure a successful trip to China, it is recommended to discuss your travel plan with your older kids. You can design interesting activities for your family: visit lovely giant pandas in Chengdu, enjoy the beautiful natural scene by cruise and hiking, go to the Great Wall and Forbidden City in Beijing, learn paper-cutting and opera face mask painting, etc.
5. Medical Check-Ups Before Travelling
Don’t forget to schedule medical check-ups before departure. Especially when you are traveling with children. Talk to your doctor about your travel plan as early as possible. You don’t want to put you and your family’s health at risk of some communicable diseases.
6. Travel Medical Insurance versus International Health Insurance
Travel medical insurance is designed to provide emergency only protection while you are overseas. Unlike travel insurance that generally only covers emergency healthcare, international health insurance will not only cover routine medical care but also allow expats to receive medical treatment anywhere with their region of cover, including emergency medical evacuation and repatriation. Our most popular international health plan for expats in China is the Cigna Global Health Options plan. Contact us to to discuss your situation. To obtain travel medical insurance plan, please click here.
7. Bring Medicine
Do remember to prepare some drugs for emergency care, as well as a copy of your family’s medical history. This is very helpful in the event you need to see a doctor in China. Make sure you bring some information on your current health from your doctor along with clearly labeled prescriptions.
8. Encourage Your Children To Taste Chinese Food
In many places of China, there are McDonald’s, pizza restaurants, steak houses and the food is often as good as you will find back home. It is recommended to encourage your children to taste Chinese food. Chinese cuisine has diverse styles in different regions. For example, in Si Chuan and Chongqing, due to the cool climate, local people favour dishes with a lot of garlic and chili, with heavy spices on top. In Shanghai, local people would prefer braising and stewing dishes. And because of different sauce, the appearance of Shanghai cuisine is usually of dark colour. Peking duck and Cantonese dim-sum are popular dishes throughout China.
9. Avoid Non-Recommended Areas
When traveling with children, you should pay close attention to safety and health risks. Though kids are generally safe from crime in China during these years, there are still a few areas you would definitely want to avoid. In China, most big and middle sized cities are safe for tourists.
10. Engage Yourself in Local Festivals
It is recommended that expats immerse themselves into Chinese culture by participating local festivals. The major festivals are China National Day, Mid Autumn Festival, Chinese New Year, May Day holiday, Qing Ming Festival, etc. There are many parties celebrating of such events. Some expats tend to take the opportunity to return back to their hometown during the Chinese holidays. However, it is a great time for expats to make friends with local Chinese who will also assist you to overcome home sickness and culture shock. If your colleagues invite you to go to the local party during Chinese holidays, it is best to join for the fun.
Expat Financial offers several different international health insurance plans for expatriates in China and around much of the world. We also offer excellent service before and after you purchase your insurance plan. If you have questions about our international medical insurance plans or you want to discuss your needs and produce a customized quote, please contact us or complete the quote form.