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Advice on travel to China

Advice issued on 1 December 2000

Please note that there are separate advice notices for Tibet, Hong Kong and Macao.

Serious crime against foreigners is rare, and most visits to China are trouble-free. However crime does occur in Chinese cities,and visitors should take sensible precautions. Extra care should be taken around street markets and when visiting popular expatriate bar areas after dark. Resistance to attempted robbery can lead to serious violence (knives are common).

A small number of bus bombings have occurred in recent years. These bombings have occurred mainly in ethnic minority areas, and have not been directed against foreigners.

Areas bordering on Siberia, Pakistan, Vietnam, Laos and Burma are poorly policed. In Yunnan, drug smuggling and related crimes are on the increase. There is also a risk of attack from armed bandits in the more remote areas of China, such as those on the Gansu/Sichuan border.

China is periodically subject to earthquakes, and the Karakorum and Khunjerab pass routes can be hazardous during the summer months due to landslips.

Visitors to China should note that there are severe penalties for all drug offences, including, in some cases, the death penalty.

British nationals require visas to enter mainland China, but not Hong Kong. Visas cannot be obtained on arrival. Carefully check the validity of your visa as fines can be levied for overstaying. Visitors on a return trip to Hong Kong from the mainland should ensure they have a double or multiple entry visa to gain re-entry to mainland.

Visitors should be aware that there have been several incidents of overcrowded ferries sinking leading to loss of life.

The poor quality of many roads and generally low driving standards leads to many, sometimes serious, accidents.

It is not possible to change Scottish or Northern Irish banknotes.

The Trans-Siberian Express is noted for smuggling. Search your compartment and secure the cabin door before departure. Petty crimes and sexual harassment have been reported on overnight buses and trains.

When flying within mainland China we advise, where possible, using European or North American aircraft on China's larger airlines. We recommend that travellers check the type of aircraft used on their desired route, which is published in the airline timetable, and choose their itinerary accordingly.

There have been attacks of piracy in the South China Sea. Mariners are advised to be vigilant and take appropriate precautions.

Visitors who are travelling independently or planning an extended visit are advised to register with the British Embassy, Beijing (010  8529 6600, fax  8529 6081, e-mail  [email protected])  the British Consulate-General, Shanghai (021 6279 7650, fax 6279 7651, e-mail [email protected]) or the British Consulate-General, Guangzhou (020 8335 1354, fax 8333 8465, e-mail [email protected])

Useful links

For more travel advice: Foreign & Commonwealth Office
For travel insturance: Association of British Insurers
For health advice: World Health Organisation



What we can
and can't do

List of consular

Advice on travel
to China