China Packing List:
A few months ago, I stayed in China for 2 months with my parents and sister. During our stay in China, we primarily spent time in Shanghai, where I attended a Chinese language school. We stayed in an apartment and lived like locals, exploring the city and practicing my newly learned Chinese language skills.
Prior to visiting China, it was difficult to know what to pack since it would be my first time visiting China. To solve this problem for travelers planning on visiting China I’ve created this packing list:
Climate In China:
Since China can get very cold in the winter and hot in the summer you should choose clothes depending on what month your are visiting China. If you are planning on staying in China long term, you should pack everything from jackets to t-shirts.
Beijing’s weather is similar to Shanghai, except a bit colder. In both Shanghai and Beijing, it tends to rain the most in the summer months, so you may want to bring your rain jacket and umbrella.
Depending on your style of travel, you may want to bring either a suitcase or a backpack. I happened to pack relatively light, so I only needed a backpack. I took my Kelty Redwing 50, which is a large and durable travel backpack.
Since my Kelty Redwing 50 was too large to take around as a day pack, I also brought the small REI Flash 18 backpack. I used the Flash 18 as a small bag to take with me to school and when exploring Shanghai. The best thing about the Flash 18 is that it is super lightweight and compact, so I can roll it up when I don’t need it.
Below is a list of the clothes which I packed when I went to China for 2 months. You may need to pack more or less clothes depending on when and how long you are planning on staying in China.
2 Pair of Pants – I brought 1 pair of jeans and one pair of convertible pants. Jeans can be heavy and take up lots of space in your suitcase, but their versatility and durability makes up for the extra weight.
Pants that convert into shorts are especially useful when traveling because they can be used for any occasion, such as hiking or just sight seeing. Some convertible pants such as the prAna Stretch Zion Convertible Pants are water resistant and UV protective. Convertible pants are also much easier to hand wash than jeans, but not necessarily stylish.
2 Shorts – I took one athletic shorts and one cargo shorts
3 T-Shirts – I usually like to buy polyester shirts rather than cotton because they’re lighter weight, easier to hand wash and faster drying. I’ve noticed that it’s hard to find drying machines; so quick drying shirts have an upper hand. I would highly recommend are the Patagonia Capilene 1 Silkweight T-Shirt, which is quick drying, UV protective and odor resistant.
2 Polo Shirt
2 Long Sleeve Shirts – I brought two long sleeve shirts, one being the Columbia Baselayer Midweight Mock Neck Long Sleeve.
1 Rain Jacket – Waterproof jackets with waterproof and breathable technologies such as GORE-TEX, are fit for serious outdoors enthusiasts and can handle the most extreme conditions. They can be expensive, but worth are the cost if you wear them often. If you aren’t planning on using your rain jacket often, you can just bring a poncho.
1 Jacket – It can get cold at night in Shanghai and Beijing, so you should definitely bring a jacket with you, unless you’re visiting in the summer. I wore the First Ascent MicroTherm Down Hoodie, which is extremely lightweight and moderately warm.
Undergarments – Amount depends on the length of your trip, though I wouldn’t bring more than 7 pairs of underwear.
4 Pairs of Socks – I brought 3 pairs of below ankle socks, and 1 pair of long warm merino wool socks.
1 Pair of Sneakers – An interesting thing about China is that there are always places to buy cheap fake shoes, so I ended up buying a pair of fake Nike Free Runs for USD $25 after my normal shoes had worn out. A while later, I saw a girl with the real version of my shoes and they were exactly the same. It turned out to be a shrewd purchase, not that I’m condoning the counterfeit market.
1 Pair of Sandals/Flipflops – I also brought a pair of Adidas Superstar Slides. They are really comfortable and great for wearing casually.
Toiletries and Hygiene:
There are several places in China to purchase toiletries, so it isn’t completely necessary to bring all of your toiletries from home, but this is what I brought:
- Etc. – See the general packing list for a full list of toiletries you may or may not need to bring.
China uses 220V outlets while outlets in the US are 110V. Because some electronics cannot use both voltages, you may want to purchase a voltage converter. Also, the charger prongs of American electronics sometimes won’t fit in the Chinese outlets.
Shanghai isn’t a dangerous place and many locals in the big cities have the newest iPhones and gadgets, but it won’t do you any harm to be watchful over your electronics and valuables.
Here is a list of the electronics I brought with me:
- iPhone and iPhone Charger
- MacBook Air and Charger
- External Battery – To keep my electronics powered up on the go, I brought the Anker External Battery, which can recharge an iPhone 4-5 times and an iPad 2 once
- Flashlight – just in case there was an outage, or in an emergency
- Voltage Converter
- Hard Drive – for backing up images
Note About Internet In China:
Before going to China, I constantly heard about how China’s economy was growing and how everything was so modern. Unfortunately one thing which wasn’t modernized was their internet speeds.
I’ve been to many so called ‘developing countries’, and their internet connections were exponentially more consistent and fast than that in China. Internet in China was worse than Paraguay and on par with Bolivia.
Hopefully by the time you’re reading this, speeds have gotten faster.
- Umbrella – I purchased this when in China. It was about USD $2.
- Money belt – I used my money belt to securely carry large amounts of cash
- Camera – I’m not a photographer, so my only camera was the one on my phone. If you are serious about taking pictures, you may want to consider taking a DSLR camera.
- Lock – Though all of my bags were carry-on, I still opted to lock the primary compartment of my backpack. I used the Master Lock TSA Luggage Lock.
- Sunglasses – Don’t forget this. Sunglasses can be really useful, especially in the summer.
What do you usually pack when traveling? Leave your comment below.
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