Registration and Travel Documents
Upon arrival, visitors to China must possess not only a passport, but also a visa obtained from a Chinese embassy or consulate, according to the State Department. Obtaining a visa may require an in-person interview with a Chinese official. Those who do not possess these documents may be fined and deported at their own expense. China maintains one embassy in Washington, D.C. and consulates general in Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco.
Only certain hospitals in China honor American health insurance. Blue Cross Blue Shield maintains a list of these international providers. To prevent illness, the CDC recommends preventing insect bites by using repellent and wearing pants, hats and long-sleeved clothing. Avoid contact with all animals and use caution while eating or drinking. This includes drinking only bottled beverages or water that has been boiled, avoiding dairy products that have not been pasteurized, avoiding food from street vendors and washing hands before and after eating.
Crime and Safety
Travelers are advised not to drive, as Chinese roadways and common driving courtesy vary greatly from those in the United States. Pedestrians should use extreme caution while walking near the street or attempting to cross.
Additionally, the State Department advises travelers to avoid the country’s long border with North Korea, a country in which the United States does not maintain an embassy or consulate general.
Chinese word construction and syntax differ greatly from English, making it a difficult language for Westerners to learn. While travelers would do well to take courses in basic Chinese, they may find it useful or necessary to use an interpreter–particularly if visiting on business. Chinese has thousands of regional dialects, and few Chinese nationals speak English fluently.