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4 things you always need on you when travelling through China

toilet paper

Travelling through China can be a challenge for Europeans not only due to the language barrier. Besides the usual travel gadgets and necessities I would recommend everyone going to China to carry the following items on you at all times:

1) Scarf

Despite the high temperatures one can encounter in China during the summer months one should always carry a scarf as it proves to be more multi-purpose oriented in this country then anywhere else: it keeps you when it is cold both outside or inside (due to the strong air conditioning everywhere during the summer), you can put it over your mouth and noth when you encounter a sand storm (which are not uncommon in the north of China) or bad oudours as well as keeping you save from burns when the sun is too strong.

2) Tissue or toilet roll

Yes, it can happen to you anywhere in the world to come upon a bathroom where the toilet paper may have run out, but in China the great majority of toilets I encountered were without tissue. And who wants to be without any tissue at the ready when you are on the road realising that last night´s dinner, while being delicious, did not sit as well with your tummy as one would hope? An important point to make in regards to toilet paper is that it is important in rural areas not to flush it, but pop it in the bin next to the toilet instead. You may think that this must start smelling unpleasently very fast, but do not worry, just put use your scarf to protect you from the smells.

3) Hand sanitizer

Other than the lack of toilet paper the lack of water (not to mention soap) at a lot of public toilets even at tourist attractions actually suprised me. Carrying a wee bottle of hand sanitizer can therefore come in handy when you use the bathroom and plan having some food soon after. I would always recommend the wee bottles to sanitizing tissues as once empty they can be recycled whereas the the tissues make a lot of non-recyclable waste from beginning to end.

4) Schnapps

Our local guide urged us to always have some schnapps with us, which you can buy locally. Having a tablespoon of it before and after eating reduces the chances of get sick in the stomach he said, and I never had any issues. It can also be used to desinfect your plates or cutlery if you see it not clean enough in some cafès or restaurants.

Extra tip: While I would personally recommend to anybody who does not already know how to eat with sticks taking  their visit to China as opportunity to learn this skill, if you want to be on the safe side bring your own re-usable fork and knife in your hand bag since a lot of places are not able to offer these for your convenience.

Photo credit: Mark Nye via


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15 thoughts on “4 things you always need on you when travelling through China

  1. I’ve never heard of that with schnapps before. Thanks for the tip. I won’t have thought of that one.


    • Hi Lesley, yeah, our guide was insisting on it in the beginning and at the end we could hardly have a meal without the schnapps before and after. Give it a go and let me know what you think! 🙂


  2. I like the schnapps idea. It sounds like a great excuse to drink. Great tip on bringing your own fork and knife. I always travel with a roll of toilet paper. I have never regretted having a roll.


  3. I was one of those people who forgot to bring toilet paper with me when we visited Forbidden City. I was not prepared to see the hole in the floor with no toilet paper in the stall but lucky for me, my guide had a handy role to give me. I’ve never heard of Schnapps but I’m going to pick some up next time I’m in China. We ate with chopsticks the whole time but I never thought of the dishes not being super clean. Great tips for China!


  4. donoghuemc on said:

    Good suggestion on the toilet roll – we actually travel everywhere with an extra toilet roll, because you honestly really never know!! The AMOUNT of times Ive been in Western city’s like New York or Paris to find there’s no paper. Lol so it now is a travel essential :D!


  5. travelwithmrst on said:

    Great tips! I always carry tissues as well, though bringing your own fork is a wonderful recommendation for when I visit the area!


  6. BYO TP is always good advice–particularly with little ones in tow. Good idea on the utensils; we’ll have to put that one to use here in Mexico right away.


    • Hi Stacey, thanks for the comment. Yeah, while not little anymore, I had to ask my mum for tissue several times during this trip as I kept forgetting it in the beginning :-O


  7. sarah on said:

    Ditto on the TP, there were many times that it came in handy traveling through Europe this year. I like the Schnapps tip and may just use it in southeast Asia later this year.


  8. I hate forgetting the tissue or toilet roll! yes, you pretty much need it in any rural area in the world. The scarf is a great idea, the only thing I would add is a menthol oil (very asian) and drop some on the scarf, that way when you use it as a mask, it will smell nice too!


  9. I’ve never heard of using Snapps but that’s a great idea. Carrying toilet paper in Latin America is always advised as well.


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