Don’t leave for China without travel insurance.

The Chinese medical system is not the same as back home. Hefty medical costs may be required upfront, and English may not be spoken.

So, if something bad were to happen, would you be able to cope – both mentally and financially – if you didn’t have cover?

In this article, I’ll share information about China travel insurance, health and safety tips, as well as links where you can get a quote and buy an insurance plan.

Do I need travel insurance for China?

injured man seeking medical assistance china

If you’re not insured and you get injured, you could be up for thousands. Image by George Rudy on Shutterstock.

Travel insurance isn’t mandatory for China.

However, it’s recommended if you want cover for medical treatment while you’re there, which can be very expensive.

Accidents and medical emergencies happen all the time in China, and foreigners are not immune.

Whether you’re in Beijing or Shanghai, or somewhere off the beaten track, paying a little bit of money upfront for insurance can save you from potentially forking out thousands of dollars for medical care.

Hopefully you don’t need to use your travel health insurance in China. But it’s nice knowing it’s there if you do need it.

What’s the best travel insurance for China?

I recommend VisitorsCoverage when traveling to China.

With VisitorsCoverage, it’s easy to find, compare and buy the best travel insurance for your China trip.

For total peace of mind, a comprehensive plan is best for China. It’s especially recommended if you have any pre-existing conditions or if you’re elderly.

If you’re looking for basic coverage at an affordable price, a limited plan may suit you best.

It really depends on your personal circumstances (such as your health), how long you’re going for, and how much money you want to spend to look after you and your loved ones.

What’s the cheapest travel insurance for China?

If you want basic coverage and limited benefits, you can choose a limited plan with VisitorsCoverage. This is also known as a fixed benefit plan.

Just keep in mind that the cheapest plan may not include things like COVID-19 treatment or pre-existing conditions.

Whenever I travel to China, I take out comprehensive insurance and I’m relatively fit and healthy. I never scrimp and save when it comes to my health.

To keep your premium low, you can also choose a higher deductible no matter the plan.

Cover for COVID-19 in China

Do you want cover for COVID-19 treatment in China?

If so, simply choose a travel insurance medical plan with VisitorsCoverage that includes this benefit. You’ll find these plans clearly marked with a green tick.

You can also select a plan that doesn’t include COVID-19. Generally, these plans are a bit cheaper.

For me, it’s a no brainer. Cover for COVID-19 in China is a must-have!

Cover for medical evacuation from China

In the best interests of your health, sometimes you need to return home straight away.

Medical evacuation from China can be super expensive. That’s why it’s important to check that your insurance policy includes this benefit.

Sometimes it’s referred to as medevac insurance.

What are medical facilities like in China?

hospital surgery china

The quality of medical care depends on where you are in China. Image by Junrong on Shutterstock.

China has international-standard hospitals and medical services. However, treatment can be expensive which is why taking out travel insurance is recommended.

Some hospitals in the biggest cities, like Shanghai and Beijing, even have special departments for treating foreigners.

Outside major cities, however, the standard of medical care and the range of medications may be limited. Medical staff in rural areas may not be trained to the standard you’re used to.

Hospitals may ask for cash up-front before treating you.

Health and safety tips for China

family traveling in beijing

Take care while traveling in China. Image by Elizaveta Galitckaia on Shutterstock.

China is a safe destination for travelers.

Having said that, it’s always worth taking extra care when you’re traveling overseas. Here are some tips to help you.


There’s still a risk that you can get COVID-19 in China and become very sick. Try to avoid very crowded places if you can (this can be hard in China!).

If you test positive for COVID-19 and your symptoms are mild, you should rest in your hotel or hostel until you feel better.

However, there are no longer any legal requirements to self-quarantine, so you’re free to keep sightseeing if you choose. Just make sure you wear a mask to help protect others.

If your symptoms are more serious and you’re very sick, you should see a doctor straight away.

Food and drink

To minimize your chance of getting a tummy bug or food poisoning, eat thoroughly cooked food that has been prepared in hygienic conditions.

Please don’t drink the tap water in China. It’s unsafe to drink, even in hotels. You should drink bottled water instead, which is available everywhere.

It’s OK to brush your teeth with the tap water – just don’t swallow it.


Stay away from both domestic and wild animals in China as you can get sick or even die if you’re bitten.

For example, you could get rabies from a pet dog or cat. And, people have died from bird flu in China, so stay away from live poultry too.

Insect-borne diseases

Japanese encephalitis and malaria exist in southern China, particularly in rural areas in the warmer summer months.

Dengue fever cases have also recently risen sharply, especially in Guangdong. Risks increase during the wet season.

There are numerous vaccinations for China you should get, depending on which parts of the country you’re visiting and the time of year. You can also protect yourself from insects by using repellent and covering up.

Sexually transmitted diseases

If you’re going to have sex with a local, make sure you use protection. HIV/AIDS is a significant risk in China.

And, although prostitution in China exists, it’s actually banned and there are severe penalties if you get caught including fines and deportation.


Wash your hands thoroughly and regularly throughout your trip.

Public toilets in China can be unhygienic, and there is usually no toilet paper or hand soap. You’ll need to bring your own paper and hand sanitizer.


Chinese roads are busy and accidents happen all the time, so take care when crossing the road. Cars may not stop for you, even at pedestrian crossings.

If you plan on riding an e-bike or e-scooter in China, make sure your insurance plan covers these kinds of vehicles. And always wear a helmet!


High pollution in China is a big problem in many cities, particularly if you have pre-existing conditions or respiratory issues. Consider buying a face mask that blocks out pollution, and stay indoors on the worst days.

You can check this page for the latest pollution levels in the cities you’re traveling to.

Altitude sickness

Some regions in China, such as Tibet and Qinghai, are at altitudes of over 3,000 m (almost 10,000 ft). Altitude sickness is common among travelers to these areas.

Take plenty of rests especially if you have pre-existing conditions such as heart or respiratory problems.

Psst! A quick travel tip

tourist in china traveling with map

Download a VPN before you arrive in China. Image by Gemmy on Shutterstock.

You may not have heard that the Chinese internet is censored.

So, when using Wi-Fi, you won’t have access to your favorite sites and apps like Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, Gmail, Google and heaps more, unless you get a VPN before you arrive.

You can read my review about the best China VPN (or skip the review and go straight here).

A summary of travel insurance for China

Too long, didn’t read? Here are the most important bits.

Although travel insurance isn’t an entry requirement for China, it’s recommended you get cover. If something bad were to happen to you in China, you could be up for thousands of dollars as medical care can be expensive there.

With VisitorsCoverage, there are two main types of medical insurance for China – comprehensive and limited.

Comprehensive gives the best level of protection. Just make sure it includes everything you need, such as COVID-19 and medical evacuation cover.

Although China is a safe place to visit, accidents happen all the time, and there are risks associated with other people, food, animals, insects, traffic, hygiene and pollution.

That’s why having travel insurance for China is so important.

Heading to China soon?

As well as getting medical insurance, make sure you’ve got the other essentials sorted:

  • Visa – if you’re only staying for a few days, you may be eligible for visa-free travel.
  • Payments – your credit card may not be accepted, so bring yuan or get Alipay.
  • Packing – knowing what to pack can be hard, so use the China packing list.

Have an amazing, safe time in China. And don’t forget your travel insurance!

Help in China

Here are some helpful, local phone numbers if you need help in China.

Emergency assistance

  • Medical – call 120
  • Police – call 110
  • Fire – call 119

Your insurer should have a 24-hour emergency number as well.


  • United States: +86 10 8531 3000
  • United Kingdom: +86 10 5192 4000
  • India: +86 10 8531 2500
  • Canada: +86 10 5139 4000
  • Australia: +86 10 5140 4111
  • Singapore: +86 10 6532 1115
  • Indonesia: +86 10 6532 5486
  • Germany: +86 10 8532 9000

You can look up your country’s embassy or consulate in China here.

FAQ about travel insurance for China

Is travel insurance required for China?

No, it’s not required to enter China. However, it’s recommended if you want to avoid paying potentially huge medical bills if something bad were to happen.

Why would I need travel insurance for China?

It’s worth getting travel insurance for China in case you get sick or injured while you’re there. A suitable insurance plan can cover big medical expenses if you end up in a Chinese hospital and require care. If you don’t have travel insurance and something happens to you, then you could be up for significant out-of-pocket costs, which you may have to pay upfront.

What’s China’s medical system like?

China has an advanced medical and hospital system, despite the fact that it’s still classed as a developing country. Medical facilities in the big cities like Beijing and Shanghai are better than those in smaller towns.

Is China a Schengen country?

No, China isn’t part of the Schengen area. This means if you’re traveling to Europe on a Schengen visa (with Schengen travel insurance) and China is included on the trip, then you wouldn’t be covered in China unless you took out separate insurance.

Can I take out Beijing travel insurance?

Not specifically. Your travel insurance plan would cover all of China, not just Beijing. This is actually beneficial as you make take trips to other cities in the country.

The China travel insurance information on this page is a brief summary only and does not take into account your individual circumstances. Please carefully read your policy wording for a full description of coverage, terms, conditions and exclusions. Coverage may not be available in your jurisdiction.


Get the peace of mind you need in China with VisitorsCoverage.

Main image credit: Humphery on Shutterstock.