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Essential Travel Tips for China with Kids (or without)!

Essential Travel Tips for China with Kids (or without)!

China has been high on my bucket list for years but I worried that I wouldn’t be able to visit with kids. We took the plunge and went with our toddler and had a great time but there are definitely some things that you need to know before you travel to China with kids! Here we round up all our top tips and advice so you can have a successful trip to China with kids! 

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Essential Travel Tips for China with kids

Do I need a visa to travel to China with kids?

Walking the Great Wall of China with Kids

Walking the Great Wall of China with Kids

If you are considering travel to China with kids the first thing you will need to know is if you need a visa. Everyone visiting China, that includes children and babies require a visa however there are different types of visas depending on how long you intend to travel China with kids. ! There is a 72-hour visa-free transit policy in China allows air passengers from 53 countries to transit and stay for up to 72 hours (3 days) in 18 China cities without a visa, this includes Beijing and is perfect for those people who just want to do a trip to the Great Wall as they transit through Beijing!

As we were traveling for longer than 72 hours we were required to get a longer Chinese visa. To do this UK citizens must have a passport with six month’s validity along with a completed application form, passport photocopies, supporting documents, photographs and an invitation letter to apply for the Chinese visa by post or in-person at a Chinese Visa Application Service Centre. We went to the Chinese Visa centre in Manchester and actually the process, so long as the online instructions were followed, was very simple!

More information about the application process can be found here (US-Citizens) and here (EU-Citizens).

Please note: Visa requirements can change – please make sure you check that you have up to date information before travelling to China!

For more tips on planning a trip to China check out this post!

China travel with kids – what you need to know about healthcare. 

One of my biggest concerns about doing China travel with kids was regarding the healthcare system. Though there are lots of pharmacies and hospitals in the large cities of China, the prevalence of spoken English varies in these places. Be sure to bring any required medication with prescriptions with you (check what is allowed before you travel of course).

I also always bring my child medicine box for things like calpol and bonjela with me!  

Travel tips for china – VPNs and the Great Firewall of China 

One of the biggest travel tips for China we got was finding about what websites are blocked by the Chinese Government. While China was once protected by the Great Wall of China today  it’s more like The Great Firewall of China!

The restrictions on certain websites can make traveling with children to China difficult! Things like downloading your child’s favorite shows is almost impossible so you may want to make sure you have an ample supply before you arrive or be sure you have a good VPN that works in China! Express VPN is the one that was recommended to us and worked really well during our stay! However I had downloaded a whole series of Octonauts onto our table before our arrival in case we hadn’t been able to use our VPN. 

Also if your children like to use a tablet when you are travelling in hotels be sure you have apps downloaded for them that do not require the internet. Our little girls loves the Khan Academy App but this requires an internet connection so we use things like Cbeebies Playtime Island instead on our travels as this can be used without internet. 

Need more convincing why you need A vpn while traveling? Check out this post!

Eating while traveling to China with kids

Before we got there one of my biggest concerns about traveling to China with kids was about food! However, I needn’t have worried! Our little one loved noodles and steamed eggs which is one of the first foods children eat in China! Our guide at the Great Wall of China made sure the restaurant we want to limited salt in our food for our toddler so if you have a guide be sure he knows any dietary restrictions or requests you have! If you are travelling alone, ask your hotel to write down some food staples like noodles and stir fry vegetables so you can hand these over when going into a Chinese restaurant!

Also when travelling with my daughter I try and introduce her to a few of the flavours before we travel so she has become a bit more accustomed to the types of things to expect. 

For those with less adventurous kids there are many of the main chains in China now! While we were there we saw KFC, Starbucks and McDonalds to name a few! So if you are worried head to a mall and you are bound to find some Western food!

However if you are worried, why not pack a few Ella’s Kitchen pouches and other snack foods that your children like!

A highlight of our trip was trying the Peking Duck at the Grand Hyatt Beijing!

Please note that you shouldn’t drink the tap water in China so stick to bottled water!

Chinese Air Pollution

When you are in Beijing it is pretty easy to gauge the quality of the air just by looking out of the window. There is an unmistakeable yellow haze that paints the sky and visibility becomes severely reduced. However it is important to know exactly how bad the pollution levels are. We used two main resources to monitor the air pollution levels while we were in Beijing. The first is run by the US State Department and has a useful guide on interpreting the air pollution numbers.

We also downloaded the Air Visual App which provided hourly updates on pollution levels and was easy to use and understand.

We also found having a good hotel was an essential when traveling to Beijing. We stayed at the Grand Hyatt and we found that the hotel played a large part in us having a great time in Beijing when the air quality was poor. The hotel was attached to a mall so it meant we could go out without going outside and most importantly it had an absolutely fantastic pool. This meant the whole family could be entertained even in bad weather.

Also remember to pack a well fitting face mask with filters to keep out the worst of the pollution! There are lots of masks available on Amazon such as this children’s air pollution mask

These masks can be a little intimidating for children to wear at first so maybe let them pick one with a design they like before you go and maybe try it out a couple of times so they can get used to wearing one. 

For a full guide on visiting China with asthma check out this guide! 

Getting Around China with Kids

Walking the Great Wall of China with Kids

Walking the Great Wall of China with Kids

For Visiting some of the bigger attractions such as the Great Wall of China we definitely think it is worthwhile getting a guide! Although possible to travel to places like the wall yourself it is definitely easier having a local guide organising everything for you!

Traffic can be awful and taxis don’t necessarily have seatbelts! While buses can be very crowded and intimidating for little children. We recommend using private hire companies to get around for the first time China traveller with kids!

For the airport we prearranged our transport with Black Lane as they had guaranteed seatbelts. We always travel with our toddler car seat but be sure to ask the company if they can provide seats if you aren’t. 

What to Pack for China with Kids

Remember when travelling to China that the country has extreme of weathers in both winter and summer so be sure to pack appropriately!

For children remember to pack those reins for some of China’s extremely busy tourist attractions and face masks especially if you are visiting in winter when the pollution is at its worst!

Chinese Bathrooms

At Western hotels and at some tourist attractions you may find western toilets but if you are traveling more remotely/locally expect Squat toilets! Children will need help with these if they have never used before and remember to roll up trousers before going! The floors were definitely not the cleanest in the ones we went in. 

At places like the Great Wall there are no toilets (obviously) so be sure to make use of toilets before you head up!

As we were travelling in China with our toddler we tended to use nappies when we were in really busy places just in case there were long queues and to avoid using the squat toilet.

Swimming in China

We loved our hotel pool at the Grand Hyatt Beijing but one thing we noticed while we were there were all the notices about tying up hair and/or using swimming caps. This is Chinese etiquette and everyone in the pool we were at did this. Be sure to take a cap or bands with you for the whole family. 

Selfies in China

Our daughter is blonde curly haired and blue eyed and is of much fascination when she visits anywhere in Asia! I never have problems with people asking for photos and she enjoys the attention but if you child fits this description it is worth warning them about this before they travel and deciding on a strategy for how you are going to handle those requests. 

Tips for Travel to china with baby or toddlers in tow

Every parent will tell you that with each new stage of childhood a new set of challenges will present themselves to you. If you are considering travel to China with baby or toddlers in tow then you might have a few specific queries which we will address in this section. 

Should you Take a Stroller to China? 

In the modern buildings such as malls then strollers are absolutely fine however at China’s great sites such as the Great Wall of China and the Forbidden City, it is definitely easier to use a carrier due to uneven surfaces! However if you child doesn’t use a carrier be sure to take a pair of toddler reins with you as some places can get very busy!

When we were travelling in Hong Kong we also found that the public transport was not very accessible and if we went again we would prefer a carrier over a stroller. If you do this then be sure to get a carrier that is good in hot weather as Hong Kong can get very hot while baby wearing. 

We also always travel with child reins especially when we are in busy places – and China is definitely one of those! Our preference is to take the backpack style such as these Back Pack Reins

Milk and Baby food in China 

We decided when travelling to China with baby/toddler that we would prefer to take our our formula milk and baby food with us. 

Where to travel to China with toddlers, kids or babies?

As I have previously mentioned if you want to travel to China with toddlers kids or babies I would consider where in particular you want to go as some places are more child friendly than others. When we decided to travel to China with toddler in tow we decided that we wanted to stick to the larger cities where we knew there would be some English spoken and where we would find things for kids. Some of the places we visited or would consider visiting on a first visit to China with kids include: 

Beijing with kids 

Although busy and polluted is any visit to China complete without seeing the Great Wall of China. We actually found it every easy walking the Mutianyu Section of the Great Wall with kids. WE visited Beijing and the Great Wall of China in Winter. Personally if we were travelling to China again I wouldn’t visit Beijing in Winter because it can be at its most polluted but we didn’t have another option on our trip and we were prepared to stay indoors if necessary. 

There are lots of things to do in Beijing with kids and we stayed in Beijing for four days and I think this was a good amount of time to see the city with kids. 

Hong Kong with toddlers, kids and babies

Hong Kong with toddlers - one of the best places to travel to China with toddlers

Hong Kong with toddlers, kids and babies is a really great option especially for your first trip to China. There are lots of things to do in Hong Kong with toddlers and there is even a small Hong Kong Disneyland which kids will love. 

Shanghai with Kids 

Another modern city so this city might be easier for first time visitors. Again there is even a Disneyland in Shanghai. This is definitely next on our China Bucket List. 

Have you been to China with kids? What are your top tips? 



Thursday 7th of February 2019

During my travels I've tested both NordVPN and ExpressVPN. Both worked very well actually so I just stayed with NordVPN because it was quite a bit cheaper. Very interesting point about your daughter getting all the attention because of her looks, definitely can be shocking to some. Thanks for sharing :)