Travel to China

What to Bring to China

The Society of American Travel Writers interviewed 10 professional travel writers to find out what they never leave home without.

  • Good walking shoes
  • A photocopy of the first page of your passport, carried separately from your passport
  • Plastic zip-lock baggies
  • Imodium
  • Photocopies of prescriptions for medication and eyeglasses you can't do without
  • A Swiss army knife
  • Spare camera batteries
  • Your address book
  • Photocopies of your credit cards
  • Wheels or shoulder straps (i.e., backpack)
  • Travel Light!! When in doubt, don't take it.

*Because of your status as a student studying in China, you may need round-trip airfare to/from China. Due to the varying schedule of students' return dates, should the student change their date of return they will incur and be responsible for the late fees.

Other recommended personal items include:

  • Complete supply of necessary prescription medicines, properly labeled*
  • Prescription medicine for urinary tract infections (consult your physician)*
  • Contraceptives*
  • Aspirin or other pain reliever
  • Cold & allergy relief medicine (antihistamine, Benadryl)
  • Digestive aids or antacids (Pepto-Bismol is recommended)
  • Anti-Diarrheal (Imodium is recommended)
  • Laxative
  • Throat lozenges
  • Ben Gay (if you plan to exercise)
  • Topical Hydrocortisone
  • Decongestants
  • Extra glasses or contact lenses*
  • Disinfectant wipes*
  • Tampons
  • Deodorant
  • Eye drops
  • Multivitamins (with iron)*
  • Calcium tablets*
  • Shaving supplies
  • Anti-bacterial hand wash gel* (Hard to obtain in China)
  • Insect repellant (During the summer, mosquitos and other biting insects are a problem)

Suggested Appliances

  • Power converter/transformer compatible with your appliances*
  • Laptop or pocket PC

Bringing a laptop

  • It is recommended that you bring a laptop computer. It can be used for homework, surfing the Internet and email, watching Chinese-language DVDs, and listening to Chinese-language radio. Please be aware, however, that the quality of Internet connections varies due to the uneven quality of Chinese phone lines.
  • If you decide to bring a computer to China, here are some helpful hints to keep in mind:
  • To protect yourself against theft or damage during travel, your computer should be insured under your homeowner's policy;
  • You need to make certain beforehand that your computer will operate properly in China. Most computers feature built-in automatic converters which enable them to be used anywhere, despite different standard voltages across the world. If your computer is approved for use in China, you will only need a plug converter and a surge protector, both of which are easy to obtain in Tianjin.

**There will be individuals that offer to help you with your luggage (they usually expect a tip). Always use common sense in regards to your safety.

Passports and Visas

If you have not already, please be sure to apply for a passport as soon as possible. For more information on applying for a passport, please visit

As Flagship students studying abroad at Nanjing University, students will need to apply for a study X2 Visa. (X2)Visa is issued to an alien who comes to China for long-term study, advanced studies or intern practice. Nanjing University will be sponsoring your visa from September through January, while Qingdao will be sponsoring the internship portion from February – May. Policies for applying visas have changed slightly so please be sure to check the embassy website frequently for updates. Generally, to apply for an X visa, students will need:

  1. Invitation Letter (to come from Nanjing University)
  2. JW 202 (to come from Nanjing University). Students will need to provide some required information to Zhang laoshi before she can provide the JW202.
  3. Visa application (please see below)
  4. Valid Passport
  5. Submit fees (subject to change)

Please note that the visas will be valid only for the dates of the program, which will be stamped into your passport. This visa will expire at the end of the program and Nanjing University will not extend it beyond the dates of the program. If you are planning to stay in China after the program ends, you will need to attend to this matter while in China. American Councils cannot provide assistance with individual visa requests; any major travel agency should be able to assist you.

China visa application

Chinese Embassy Information on Visas

Fines for Violation of Visa Rules: It is important to let students know the Visa rules and regulations are strictly enforced in China. Students need to pay attention to their Visa status; fines for violations could end up being 500 RMB per over-stay day for a maximum of 5,000 RMB total.

Wedding and Birth Certifications for Family Members: Family members should bring both the wedding and birth certificates of spouses and children in order to get the appropriate visa that will be the same length as the student visa. If the certificates are not used, it will create problems with the spouse and family visas. These documents must be authenticated BEFORE departing for China. For more details on document authentication, please visit the Chinese Embassy website.

Fly America Act

All air travel paid for by funds from the Language Flagship Program must comply with the Fly America Act, which requires that all air travel supported by federal government funds be on American flag carriers when departing from the United States to the foreign destination and when returning to the United States, and on all internal foreign flights where such service is available. Fly America applies not only to travel funds for your institution but also to any student support funds used for air travel.

What this means: The Fly America Act is a law that essentially requires that everyone receiving funding from the U.S. government flies on an American carrier as far as possible to and from their overseas location. Often international flights are code‐share flights. Code share flights happen when two (or more) airlines share the sameplane. This can cause confusion with regards to Fly America compliance. Tickets on code share flights are only Fly America compliant when they show the flight number as being that of the U.S. carrier.

Example 1

Acceptable Ticket: United Air Flight 123 (operated by Air China)

Depart: Dulles at 9 PM on May 25

Arrive: Beijing at 11 PM on May 26

Unacceptable Ticket: Air China Flight 456 (operated by Air China)

Depart: Dulles at 9 PM on May 25

Arrive: Beijing at 11 PM on May 26

Example 2

Acceptable Ticket: United Air Flight 789 (operated by United)

Depart: Dulles at 9 PM on June 6

Arrive: Beijing at 11 PM on June 7

Unacceptable Ticket: Air China Flight 231 (operated by United)

Depart: Dulles at 9 PM on June 6

Arrive: Beijing at 11 PM on June 7

In example 1, the key distinction between the acceptable flight and the unacceptable flight is that the acceptable flight has a United Air (which is an American carrier) flight number.

In example 2, the key distinction between the acceptable flight and the unacceptable flight is, again, that the acceptable flight has a United Air (which is an American carrier) flight number. The fact that both options fly on a plane operated by United does not matter.

If you would like further advice regarding this topic, please contact the appropriate office at your institution (sponsored projects, research, travel, etc.) or American Councils staff.

Medical and Health Insurance

All participants in the Chinese Overseas Flagship Program are required to purchase CISI insurance from their home universities or through American Councils. Purchase of this coverage will ensure that participants receive adequate financial protection in case of accident or ill health.

The coverage must include or exceed the following: Medical expenses (per Accident or Sickness):

  • Accidental Death and Dismemberment $10,000
  • Medical Evacuation $100,000
  • Repatriation of Remains $50,000
  • Security Evacuation $100,000

*Vaccinations: Before going to China, you should consult your physician about updating vaccinations. Some physicians recommended that you have a hepatitis 91 inoculation (A and B) and it is very important that your immunizations for diseases such as tetanus, diphtheria, measles, mumps, polio, and rubella be up to date. Here is the most recent information on China from the Center for Disease Control and we recommend that you read it carefully.

Frequent Flyer Notes

If you have a frequent flyer number with a US or with another carrier you can have miles credited to that account when you fly partner airlines in Asia and elsewhere. If you do not have a frequent flyer account, you can easily establish one by calling the airline, going to their websites, or asking at the airport desk. If you think that you are likely use one of the Asian airlines in the future, you can sign up for those directly. It is best to open an account before leaving so that you can be sure of getting the current trip credited. If you do not have an account, it is worth opening one. You may be able to get a free domestic ticket just with mileage we accrue with our travels during Flagship.

US Airlines with Alliances with Asian Airlines

Getting Credit for Your Miles:
To get your miles credited present you frequent flyer number to the check-in agent (if they are not too busy with our group check-in) or a gate agent after security. You may also be able to have your number added to your account by calling the airline with the flight numbers ahead of our departure. If for some reason, you are unable to get your miles credited. Save your boarding passes and go on-line or call the airline after your return.

Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP)

All students need to register for STEP before going abroad. This will allow you to receive important information from the Embassy regarding safety conditions, and travel alerts in your destination country, The information you provide will also allow for the U.S. Embassy to contact you in the event of a natural disaster, civil unrest or family emergency.

Reference Materials

Related Links:
Nanjing University Website

A good source for specialized and useful travel items is Magellan's Travel. Check it out!
Lonely Planet Guides are an excellent source for travel and living in China. They also have a website with useful information.
US Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs This site has resources for travelers, including special links for students and those preparing to travel to China, and much more.
Free Travel This site has large amounts of travel information and extensive links to other helpful sites (airlines, airports, luggage and packing, etc.)

See Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has information on foreign travel and health, including a section on Asia and China.

Safety Abroad First-Educational Travel Information (SAFETI) also has an index on health and safety issues.