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8-step guide on how to plan your trip to China

Need to plan a trip to China? Our 8 steps guide will help you plan your travel itinerary and what to do it's cities and natural wonders!

Julio Osuna

March 7, 2024

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Traveling to China is surely a challenge when it comes to planning a trip. Depending on where you live, trips to China can take hours, but with enough preparation, you will be ready to enjoy what comes after your flight!

For those visiting the country, it’s important to consider that China is different from many other countries. With a rich culture, tons of places to visit, and many languages colliding into one place, having a guide to plan your trip to China will surely help you out.

That’s why we have prepared an 8-step guide that will help you prepare for your trip so you don’t have to miss anything when you arrive in the country.

Steps for China travel plan: tips for tourists

If this is your first time travel to China, chances are you need to know what to do when visiting the country, right? However, rather than simply getting to know famous places in China, it’s important to know what people need to visit the country.

People need to prepare for their trip with a flight, a place to stay, insurance, and make a trip plan to know as much as possible. All of this is possible by making a budget to travel to China, and that’s something we’ll talk about!

But we’ll also focus on recommending where to go and what the best time to visit the country is, and especially give some advice on what to take with you when it comes to documents, such as passports and visas!

So, let’s see how to plan a trip to China in 8 steps!

plan trip china
Lijian Mountains in China. Source: Pexels.

 1. Choose the best time to visit China

When you plan a trip to China, you need to choose the best time to visit the country carefully.

First, it’s a must to consider China can be really cold when traveling in winter or near that season, but it’s also a good option as there aren’t as many visitors in the country. Other seasons offer better weather and temperatures, which travelers would easily adjust to in less time.

Also, China is an extremely tourist country. It means there will be high and low seasons for those visiting the country, which means prices can go up or down depending on the date. 

Overall, the best time to travel to China is during Autumn, which lasts from September to the end of October. But why don’t we get to know what the advantages and disadvantages of traveling are in each season?

SeasonAdvantages Disadvantages 
Summer ☀️Fewer travelers during summer.
Lower prices on flights and hotels.
Better views when visiting natural destinations.
High temperatures from July to late August.
Raining increases during these months in certain regions.
Increased chances of typhoons.
Winter ❄️No need to worry about hot and humid days.
No need to be around crowds.
Natural destinations offer a snowy and beautiful view.
Lower prices for flights and hotels.
Temperatures can drop a lot during winter.
People need to take more winter clothes with them.
It will be difficult to enjoy certain natural destinations.
Spring 🌸Spring events take place all around China.
Better temperatures with less humidity than in summer.
The blossom season will gift travelers with unique views.
More crowds in popular destinations.
Price increases in flights and hotels.
Autumn 🍂The weather mixes cold and warm temperatures.
The perfect season for outdoor activities.
The ideal season for walking around big cities.
More crowds and price increases due to the high season in China.

2. Choose your destination cities

When visiting China, people might think about visiting the Great Wall, walking around Beijing and Shangai, or simply visiting the natural destinations of the country. But truth be told, China is one of the largest countries in the world, and there’s a lot to see and do while traveling there.

plan trip to china
The Great Wall. Source: Pexels.

Of course, you can’t miss the chance to visit places like the Imperial Palace in Beijing or the Terracotta Warriors in Xi’an. Both places will take you back in time to ancient China and, if you go with a guide, you will get to know all the history behind these places.

As for natural sites to visit, the Zhangjiajie National Forest in Hunan province is a must-visit. The inspiration for the Avatar movie will be right there for you, and if you decide to go on sunny days, the views are breathtaking.

But there are more, such as the Jiuzhaigou Valley, the Huangshan Mountains, and even the famous Tibet, where the most adventurous travelers can go if they feel like visiting the highest region in which to live on earth.

Tibet architecture. Source: Pexels.

Now, if you are leaning into visiting cities in China, Hong Kong is a must-go. It is one of the most famous places in China that travelers can visit if they want to combine traditional Chinese scenarios with outstanding skyscrapers.

Overall, there’s a lot to do in China, so you better get ready to visit the places you like most!

3. Plan your budget

When planning a trip to China, one of the most difficult things to do is plan a budget. Depending on where people are traveling, the expenses can either go higher or lower based on flights and visas.

So, before you plan your budget to visit China, prepare a budget to apply for a visa. It’s also important to know that if you are visiting other regions like Macau or Hong Kong, you need a different type of visa. You can find out more about how to apply for a visa in Mainland China here.

Other than this, your next thing is to get a flight ticket to China. These can cost from $1,200 to $3,000 USD, depending on where people are traveling and what type of seat they take.

Now, depending on where you stay, chances are you have to take around $500 to $1,500 USD just for accommodation. Hotel prices vary from $100 to $350 USD, but of course, the higher the price, the better the place will be. Also, consider that in the high season, prices might be a bit higher.

Lastly, we recommend that people take around $1,000 to $1,500 for their expenses during the trip. Whether they pay for a tour, go out for dinner in a local restaurant, pay to visit natural destinations, or book a tour, this is the ideal amount to take per person.

Visitors in a temple in China. Source: Pexels.

4. Flight and accommodation in advance

Your China travel plan requires a flight and accommodation. These two things must be booked in advance, as expected. 

Depending on where people are traveling to China, there will be different airlines offering their services. A recommendation for travelers is to get a complete ticket to China, as buying a one-way ticket is more expensive. Even though this is possible, entering China requires a round-flight.

As for the accommodation, it’s a must for people to know where they are staying before they visit China. This is due to the fact that once people apply for a Chinese visa, authorities will ask where they are staying and for how long, so get your tickets with you!

To book your flight and hotel, it’s recommended to visit sites like Booking or Skyscanner to find good deals for travelers.

5. Prepare your travel documents in time

Traveling to China requires preparation, so it’s better to read about what documents you need to take there.

First of all, it’s a must to get a visa to visit Mainland China. For the visa, people have to show the following documents:

  • Valid passport.
  • Travel itinerary.
  • Round-trip tickets.

If you need to read more about how to apply for a visa in China, you can do so through the China Embassy website.

Hong Kong at night. Souce: Pexels.

6. Get travel insurance

Travel insurance is recommended when abroad. Chances are people do have insurance back home, but if something happens while abroad, it’s better to be prepared for it.

In order to get travel insurance for China, you can rely on an international company or ask your provider if they offer coverage in China and how much they charge for that additional feature.

The idea is to get an insurance that offers the following coverage:

  • Medical assistance.
  • Loss of luggage.
  • Flight delay or cancellation.
  • Repatriation.
  • Civil liability.
  • Legal assistance.

Some of the best insurance for travelers are Allianz Travel Insurance, Travel Guard, and Aviva Travel Insurance. These offer the most complete packages and coverage for travelers to enjoy their trip, even if something happens while they are in China.

7. Essentials you should pack for traveling to China

It’s time to talk about what to pack to China. It’s important for people to be really careful when they are traveling, as this will help them choose what to take when it comes to clothes.

So, our first recommendation is to pack proper clothes for the season you are traveling to China. If it’s summer, don’t try to take a heavy jacket with you, and the same goes for winter, as you won’t need some shorts to go out. Prepare your clothes based on the season and places you will visit!

Second, don’t forget any of your important documents. Your passport, local ID, flight tickets, and hotel reservations are all a must to take when visiting China. And, of course, your travel insurance!

Local seller on the streets. Source: Pexels.

Third, depending on where you are traveling, we recommend checking if your electronics will work in China. If you are traveling from the United States, mobile and laptop chargers will surely work, but you need to check if other appliances will work, such as a dryer or something similar. If you are not from the US, then double-check your electronics before traveling!

Lastly, people need to have mobile internet in China. It’s important that travelers choose what service they prefer to take, whether it is roaming or an eSIM, as relying on local free WiFi networks is not advisable for travelers.

For those who want to use a mobile phone in China, our recommendation would be to get an eSIM. This is due to these being cheaper and allowing people to get access to the internet easier and faster. The Holafly China eSIM includes a VPN, which makes it a great option for travelers!

holafly esim china customization
Holafly eSIM China. Source: Pexels.

 8. Learn some phrases in Mandarin

Even though people in China know English as it is a mandatory requirement when studying, not everyone is as fluent as travelers would think they are. That’s why it’s important to know some basic phrases in Mandarin.

The best part about knowing how to say certain phrases is how useful these can be. In some cases, it’s also a great way to show respect to people! Here are some phrases you can consider learning before traveling:

  • Hello: 你好 (Nǐ hǎo)
  • Goodbye: 再见 (Zàijiàn)
  • Please: 请 (Qǐng)
  • Can you speak English: 你能说英语吗?(Nǐ néng shuō yīngyǔ ma?)
  • Where is the restroom: 公交车洗手间在哪里?(Gōngjiāo chē xǐshǒujiān zài nǎlǐ?)
  • Where is the bus stop: 公交车站在哪?(Gōngjiāo chē zhàn zài nǎ?)

Conclusions on how to plan your trip to China

Traveling from one day to another sounds like a great plan for adventurous people. But when it comes to how to travel to China, it’s better to consider planning your trip with enough time.

Overall, those interested in making a trip to China now have a guide on how to do it. Every detail that must be considered is clear in this 8-step guide, which will make trip planning easier for everyone.

And what’s also important is that people know how to stay connected in the country. For us, the best China eSIMs are a must-know, even though we prefer taking Holafly for these trips thanks to their unlimited data plus VPN service!

So, if you are preparing everything carefully, get ready to visit China and have the adventure of your lifetime!

FAQ about planning a trip to China

How much would a trip to China cost?

Leaving flight tickets and hotels aside, visitors can take around $1,000 to $1,500 for a week in China. If we add other costs, it could be around $3,000 to $4,000 for a week only for one person.

How many days is enough for China?

Depending on where people travel, 7 days would be enough to enjoy a trip to China. There are many historical sites and natural destinations close to each other, so people can plan a trip for 7 days and visit as many as possible!

For people trying to meet people from other regions in China, it’s advisable to extend the trip to 14 days.

What is the best month to visit China?

The best months to visit to plan a trip to China are late March to May or during September to late October. These are considered the best months to visit the country due to its weather and what people can enjoy on those dates. 

Where should I go for the first time in China?

China has many interesting places to visit, both natural and cultural. So, it’s better for people to choose what they prefer to see when they plan a trip to China. We recommend Hong Kong, Beijing, Xi’an, Shanghai, and natural places like the Zhangjiajie National Forest or the Huangshan Mountains.