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When you travel to mainland China, it’s a good idea to take out travel insurance. Just like with any trip abroad, there’s always the chance something may go awry. If you’re unfortunate enough to need to make a claim, you could end up footing a huge bill without the right level of cover.
If you’re looking to buy travel insurance for a trip to China, you can do so using the quote engine above or by calling us on 0330 400 1383.
But now that you’ve got the protection you need, what else should you know?
We’ve covered the most important services you might need to contact if something goes wrong on your travels. Below you’ll find a list of the important resources you might need, from the police to information on buying medication from local pharmacies.
There is no one number in China for all national emergencies, but dialling 112 on a mobile phone plays a bilingual message in English and Chinese about other accessible emergency numbers. The first number to call in an emergency is 110. This number is free and gets through to the Public Security Bureau, who handle most matters related to crime and safety. You can also text 12110.
The number for the fire service is 119, you can call 122 for a traffic accident, and the number for a first-aid ambulance is 120. There is also a private ambulance service available in Beijing on 999.
There is no national number for medical emergencies except for 120, which can get a first-aid ambulance. With any populous country, especially one as huge as China, healthcare varies between regions and cities, but it’s widely available in the major cities. Healthcare in China is hospital-centred, meaning that you generally wouldn’t use a GP. Experts recommend finding the number for the local hospital and getting a taxi there in an emergency, rather than relying on the ambulance service.
Here’s a list of public hospitals in the major Chinese cities:
+86 10 6513 2266
Peking Union Medical College Hospital
+86 10 6529 6114
Global Doctors Chengdu Clinic
+86 28 8522 6058
First Attached Hospital Chongqing Medical University
+86 23 6881 6534
No.1 People’s Hospital
+86 20 8108 2090
Emergency: +86 20 8108 5509
Jiangsu Provincial People's Hospital
+86 25 371 4511
The First People’s Hospital
+86 21 6324 3852
Shenzhen People’s Hospital
+86 755 2553 3018
General Hospital of Tianjin Medical University
+86 22 2781 3159
No.1 Affiliated Hospital to Hubei Medical University
+86 27 8804 1919
Some public hospitals have international clinics within them where staff speak English. Private Western-style medical facilities are available in Beijing and Shanghai but their fees tend to be high. Buying medical travel insurance is recommended as healthcare can get extremely costly.
Pharmacies are widely available in the major Chinese cities, usually marked with a green cross. Prescriptions work similarly to the way they do in the UK, but in most cases you may find the staff in your local pharmacy don’t speak English. This is a common issue when buying medicine in China, but some will keep a bilingual medical directory where you can identify the drug you need. If you’re looking to replace medication you’ve already bought or brought with you from home, many people bring the box so it can be identified. Foreign imports of medicine you use at home may be very expensive.
The major Chinese cities are quite safe to visit. The country has one of the lowest murder rates in the world at around 1 per 100,000 people, lower than the UK and United States. Tourism is an important industry in this country and the government imposes harsh penalties for crimes against foreigners, so tourists rarely encounter any form of violent crime. It should be noted, however, that rural areas and smaller towns have a much smaller (in some cases almost non-existent) police presence.
Theft and fraud is more commonplace, especially in busy areas like street markets, train stations and popular bars, so it pays to be vigilant in the bigger tourist spots. When you’re using taxis at night, ensure they are officially licensed taxi services.
The police force in China is known as the Public Security Bureau. Most major cities have their own PSB presence, but in the more rural areas they operate on a provincial level, meaning that there is little or no direct PSB presence. If you need to report a crime, you should contact the nearest Foreign Affairs Branch of the PSB. You’ll have to fill out a report and you may need to be able to report your last registered location (see ‘Are there any local laws or customs I should know about?’ below) before they start any investigations.
You should be up-to-date on routine vaccinations before traveling to any destination. In China, especially if you’re travelling internally between regions, you may be required to get a particular vaccination (such as yellow fever). For more information, visit www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/china.
There are a number of local laws you are required to observe on your travels – taking care of these will make it much easier if you need to contact the police, go to hospital or extend your visa.
Wherever you travel in mainland China – including if you move internally between towns or regions – you’re required to register where you’re staying with the local Public Security Bureau within 24 hours after you arrive. Some hotels or hostels will take care of this for you. All foreign visitors older than 16 are required to carry their passports at all times. The PSB have the power to withhold your passport and prevent you from leaving the country if you’re suspected of crime.
It’s not uncommon for lawyers to be reluctant to take on cases involving foreigners. If you need to seek legal aid during your travels, you should get in contact with the British Embassy or Consulate as soon as possible.
There are embassies and consulates available in the major Chinese cities. They offer a range of services including emergency travel documents, passport renewal and a list of lawyers and interpreters. Their address and contact details are:
11 Guang Hua Lu
Jian Guo Men Wai
General enquiries: +86 (0) 10 5192 4000
Consular assistance for British nationals: +86 (0) 10 8529 6600
Open from Monday to Friday, 8.30am to midday/1.30pm to 5pm
2nd Floor Guangdong International Building, 339 Huanshi Dong Lu, Guangzhou
+86 (0) 20 8314 3000
Open from Monday to Friday, 9am to 12.30pm/1.30pm to 5pm
Consular services are open from Monday to Friday, 9am to 1pm
68 Zourong Road
Yu Zhong District
+86 (0) 23 6369 1400/+86 (0) 23 6369 1500
Open from Monday to Friday, 9am to 12pm/1pm to 5pm
Monday: 9am to 12pm/1.30pm to 4pm
Wednesday: 1.30pm to 4pm
Friday: 9am to 12pm
1376 Nanjing Xi Lu
+86 (0) 21 3279 2000
Open from Monday to Friday, 8:30am to 5.30pm
Monday: 9am to 12pm/2pm to 4pm
Tuesday: 9am to 12pm
Wednesday: 9am to 12pm/2pm to 4pm
Thursday: 9am to 12pm/2pm to 4pm
Friday: 9am to 12pm
Anything can happen while you’re abroad, and we know that your plans might change. If you need to contact us about your travel insurance whilst you’re in China – if you want to extend your stay or you just have a question – you can contact our customer services team on +44 (0)330 400 1383, or you can start a live chat by visiting our website. Our lines are open Monday to Friday, 8am to 10pm, and Saturday to Sunday and bank holidays, 9am to 5.30pm.
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