HEALTH AND VACCINATIONS |
Do I need a Passport to visit China
All US and Canadian citizens must have a valid Passport to
visit the People's Republic of China . It must be signed and not expire within 6
months of entering China . In addition, it must have at least one blank
VISA page (two or more are preferable).
My Passport expires in less than 6 months of my travel to China. What do I do?
You must renew your Passport before applying for a
I have less than 2 blank VISA pages in my Passport. What do I do?
You must amend your US Passport to have more pages added, before
applying for a China Visa. There are two
ways to add pages to your VALID Passport.
and follow the directions. There is no
fee, but you have no way of tracking your Passport.
2) Use a Passport Expeditor, like TravelDocs Travel Visas and Passport Services.
Go to: TravelDocs
and follow the instructions. While there is a fee for this service, it has been our experience that the security of
knowing where our Passport was, and its status outweighed the cost of the service.
Canadian Citizens: Please go to http://www.ppt.gc.ca/ for more information
How do I obtain or renew a Passport?
There are two ways to obtain or renew a Passport:
can apply for a Passport at many US Post Offices around the country. To find the US Post Office nearest to you,
and other valuable information go to http://www.usps.com/passport/
You'll need to apply in person if you are applying for a
U.S. passport for the first time: if your expired U.S. passport is not in
your possession; if your previous U.S. passport has expired and was issued
more than 15 years ago; if your previous U.S. passport was issued when
you were under age 16; or if your currently valid U.S. passport has
been lost, damaged or stolen. Need more
information? Go to: http://www.travel.state.gov/passport/passport_1738.html
You can renew by mail if: Your most recent passport is
available to submit and it is not damaged; you received the passport within the
past 15 years; you were over age 16 when it was issued; you still have the same
name, or can legally document your name change.
You can download the form and get more information
2) Use a Passport Expeditor: We have had excellent results using TravelDocs Travel Visas and Passport Services:
For a fee, Passport Expeditors will hand carry your application and/or Passport to the appropriate agencies for approval. You can track the status online, so you know
where your Passport is at all times. Personally, we feel that the cost is worth the security of knowing what
is going on with the process.
Canadian Citizens: Please go to http://www.ppt.gc.ca/ for more information
What else should I know about Passport requirements?
April, May and June are the
busiest months for Passport processing. If possible, apply early. Depending on the demand, passport processing time can take as long as a
few months. Using a Passport Expeditor
shortens this to a few days, but you will have to pay a fee to the Expeditor
for this service.
| HEALTH AND VACCINATIONS
Do I need a Visa to visit China
All US and Canadian Citizens must obtain a China Tourist
Visa prior to departure.
How do I obtain a China Tourist Visa?
There are two ways to obtain a China Tourist Visa:
the Embassy of the PRC in the USA,
fill out the appropriate forms and mail your Passport, application and fee to
Frankly, we feel this is risky at
best! It is impossible to track the
whereabouts of your Passport, or the status of your application. If you chose this option, be aware that ALL
business STOPS during Chinese holidays. We had our visa applications delayed for 3 months due to holiday
a Passport Expeditor. By far, this is
the safest and most reliable avenue to obtain a China Tourist Visa in a
reasonable period of time. While there
is a fee charged for this service, it is well worth the money spent.
Does Explore! TCM Tours offer a Visa Service?
Our partner TravelDocs Travel Visas and Passport Services will help our Explore! TCM Tours clients. Click here to go to the TravelDocs website and follow instructions to obtain your documents.
Where do I get an application for a China Visa?
You can go through the application process for a China Tourist Visa
using TravelDocs http://www.traveldocs.com/Resources/TDS/AffBanner.ashx?affid=1791ExploreTCM15
How do I fill out the questions on the application?
Click here to download our interactive Visa application.
This document requires Click here to download.
What else should I know about Visa requirements?
Single entry and double entry
tourist visas cost the same. If you plan
to visit China
again within 6 months of your departure, apply for the double entry visa. Otherwise, apply for a single entry tourist
A tourist visa allows you to
remain in China
for a maximum of 30 continuous days. Overstaying your visa creates enormous problems. Don't risk it! If you plan to visit China for more than 30 days, exit China
on day 30, and re-enter (provided you have a double or multiple entry
visa). Note: Flying to Hong
Kong, Taiwan or
Macau is considered an exit from China.
Is it helpful to pay a Passport and Visa Expeditor?
In our opinion, Passport and Visa Expeditors make the
process hassle-free. For a reasonable
cost, they hand deliver your passport to the correct person at the Chinese
Embassy, and receive it again when the process is completed. Another benefit is the ability to check the
progress of your application online 24/7. You always know where your passport is, and what its status is. We find this feature both convenient and
HEALTH AND VACCINATIONS
Do I need vaccinations before visiting China?
At present, there are no specific vaccinations that are
required before entering China . However, we
strongly urge you to be vaccinated for Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B, if
you haven't already done so. Be sure to
do this well in advance of your departure. In addition, a current Tetanus Toxoid is recommended. Check with your family physician or your
local Public Health Department for their recommendations.
You can also check out the Centers for Disease Control (CDC)
website for updates on health risks in China. http://wwwn.cdc.gov/travel/destinationChina.aspx
Are there health risks with travel in China?
There are health risks with travel
to ANY foreign country. That being said,
the predominant risks to health with travel in China include traveler's diarrhea, food
and water borne illnesses and airborne contaminants leading to breathing
The risks of contracting serious
diseases like: yellow fever, malaria,
rabies, typhoid fever, Japanese encephalitis, H5N1 "Bird Flu" and
schistosomiasis are extremely remote. With the exception of travel in Tibet
and some of our "Adventure Explorations", your travel in China will be centered around major cities.
For further information, we highly
recommend reading the suggestions that the CDC made for travel to
China during the 2008
How can I decrease the chance of becoming ill in China?
We recommend the following:
See your physician
before traveling to China
Get vaccinated for
Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B (the earlier, the better!)
treatment for Traveler's Diarrhea. Or, if you experience Traveler's Diarrhea,
treat it early and aggressively. http://wwwn.cdc.gov/travel/yellowBookCh4-Diarrhea.aspx
Wash your hands often...
use alcohol-based hand sanitizer, especially after using the toilet and before
Use common sense. Keep your fingers out of your mouth unless
they are clean.
Regard all water from
the tap as if it was LAKE
. Sure, lake water is clean enough to bathe in
and wash our hands with, but we wouldn't want to drink it. Likewise for ice. Except in 5 Star Hotels, consider all
ice contaminated. Use bottled water for drinking and brushing your teeth. Place a washcloth over the tap in the
bathroom to remind yourself not to drink the water.
The tops of canned
drinks are not clean. Be sure to wash
them thoroughly with bottled water before using. Better yet, stick to bottled drinks and skip
"Peel it, Wash it,
Cook it, or FORGET IT!"
fruits and vegetables are abundant and delicious in China. Everywhere you look there is something wondrous
to eat and enjoy. But remember the
saying above: Peel the fruit or vegetable with YOUR knife, wash fresh fruits or
vegetables with BOTTLED WATER, make sure fresh vegetables are COOKED prior to
eating (that means that fresh leafy salads are OFF THE MENU unless you are
convinced that they have been washed in clean, fresh water). For the most part, food served in the hotel
restaurants will meet or exceed these health standards. These warnings are aimed at food that you
purchase away from hotel restaurants.
For more information on these and
other recommendations, go to http://wwwn.cdc.gov/travel/contentOlympicsStayHealthy.aspx
Are your tours recommended for wheelchair travelers?
No. Wheelchair accessibility is limited or non-existent in China. Many of the venues have multiple stairs to
climb with no ramp or elevator available. In addition, wheelchair storage aboard the busses and smaller vehicles
that we use for transportation is highly problematic. ADA
compliant hotel rooms, at many hotels, are non-existent.
I don't require a wheelchair, but I can't walk long distances
or climb many stairs. Can I still go on
Explore! TCM Tours takes our
guests to "off the beaten path" destinations. Many venues require the guest to walk considerable distances and climb
many stairs. While you don't have to be
a track star, you should be in shape enough to walk at least half a mile at a
leisurely pace without stopping. If you can't climb stairs, we don't recommend
that you join us in our Exploration. Destinations at higher altitudes, such as Yunnan Province, Tibet and Mount Everest Base Camp
require higher levels of physical mobility and endurance. For those
Explorations, we require documentation from your physician of your fitness to
travel to high elevations, and that your blood pressure, pulmonary and cardiac
status is normal.
We want you to fully enjoy your Exploration
with us; so if you're not sure you can handle a particular Exploration,
please discuss the itinerary with us prior to registration. We will help you
design an Exploration that meets your needs.
What happens if I
get sick in China
during my tour?
In large cities in China, the hospitals are quite
modern and can handle most immediate health needs. However, in remote areas like northern Yunnan Province
hospitals may be long distances away, requiring air transport. Furthermore, they may not be equivalent to
Western hospitals or clinics. In any
case, it is likely that you will be required to pay for services upfront,
receiving compensation from your health insurance company at a later date.
Since most healthcare insurance companies in the USA
and Canada do not cover healthcare
REQUIRE THAT YOU PURCHASE TRAVEL INSURANCE THAT COVERS TRIP CANCELLATION, HEALTHCARE AND
EMERGENCY EVACUATION IN CHINA.
Click here to
purchase Travel Insurance from Access America that covers healthcare and emergency evacuation in
Can I get my
prescription drugs refilled in China?
Maybe - depending on the prescription and the city in
which you're touring. Be aware, however, that the drugs you
purchase in China
may not be equivalent to what you take at home. We strongly suggest you
travel with an ample supply of prescription drugs you may be taking to avoid
having to interrupt your time in China to tend to prescription
drug needs. Furthermore, we recommend you keep any prescription medicines in
your carry-on luggage and that all prescriptions remain in their original,
marked containers. In addition, carry a copy of all of your prescriptions (name,
dosage and times taken).
What happens if I
lose or break my prescription glasses while I'm on a tour?
First, we suggest you bring an extra pair of prescription
glasses, in the event you lose or break a pair. If you don't have a spare
pair, bring the prescription with you. Optical shops in large cities are both
friendly and efficient. Have a spare pair made while you are in China. Many locations can make replacement
prescription glasses in one day. Prices are reasonable, but the quality of the lens materials may not
be equivalent to those purchased in North America.
over-the-counter drugs available in China?
Yes. But to avoid taking time from your tours to shop for
aspirin or pain relievers, bring along small bottles (in their original
containers) of aspirin or non-aspirin pain relievers, decongestants,
anti-inflammatories and other common, over-the-counter drugs.
Are personal care items available in China?
For the most part,
yes. Hotels provide toothbrushes, combs, toothpaste (not as tasty as at
home), soap, shampoo and occasionally cotton swabs, sewing kits and skin care
products like lotions. In larger cities,
local stores and markets sell a wide variety of soap,
individual packets of toilet paper, toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, lotions
and skin care products. Many carry deodorants, although you may not recognize
any of the brand names. Feminine hygiene
products including pads and tampons are readily available. Oddly enough, we could not find rubbing
alcohol anywhere in China . Other items that may be difficult to find
include sunscreen lotions and hand sanitizing gels. (Although
this may have changed following the Olympics in August, 2008.)
| HEALTH AND VACCINATIONS
a safe place to visit?
Yes. Compared to most Western countries China
may be one of the safest
countries in the world for visitors. Since the Olympics in 2008,
Chinese cities have become even more safe and friendly. We frequently walk
the streets alone, at all hours, without worry or difficulty.
However, we suggest you use common sense and take normal
precautions: keep valuables in sight at all times, don't wear (or even bring) expensive jewelry, and travel only
with small amounts of cash on your person.
Personal money pouches or belts are a good idea. Keep
your passport in an extremely secure place on your person at all times. Leave your wallet at home, or locked up in
your room. Keep only small bills in your front
pockets. Back pockets are easily
accessed by pickpockets.
Every hotel provides a safe for valuables - USE IT! Many
are located in a closet in your room. Remember to lock your luggage when you
leave your room. Leave nothing out that can't be replaced.
We can not
stress enough the advantage of leaving expensive jewelry at home. Large jewels, gold chains and pendants are
an invitation for loss. Sleep well,
knowing that your valuables are safe at home.
What about the
airlines, cruise ships, railroads, busses and vans?
Transportation systems within China - air, rail, bus, boat -
are safe, particularly those chosen by reputable companies such as Explore!