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Deciding upon a packing list for China in fall doesn’t have to be hard. China is a massive country however it generally follows the seasonal rules apart from the far north and extreme south. Deciding what to pack for China is as simple as identifying which areas you’re visiting and taking note of any exceptions below.
This packing list covers what’s best to pack for most of China, including the popular tourist spots, with the main exception being the upper north where temperatures are colder (above Beijing). If you’re visiting the far north you’ll need to add a warmer coat and make sure you have enough warm bottoms (the clothing item, not the body part, although you’d want to keep that warm too).
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In my personal opinion China in fall is the second prettiest time to visit the country. The entire country is aflush with orange and green, and temperatures dropping down to comfortable temperatures. The national parks and mountain attractions are stunning during this time and shouldn’t be missed.
Depending on the year, sometimes the month of September can still be quite hot in the middle and south of China. Likewise, in certain areas November can already be quite cold, as I mentioned above. I’ll leave extra considerations for packing in the below sections for those areas.
Keep in mind this packing list for China in Fall is aimed at those trying to travel light. If you can fit more into your suitcase and stay within luggage limits feel free to add more items such as tops and pants. Keep in mind that you will often have to carry your luggage up and down stairs in China as escalators aren’t always working.
What you’ll read:
- Season related advice
- What to wear and what to pack
- Tips for safety and health while in China
- Sightseeing + hotel recommendations
When to Visit China: Weather and Seasons
What to pack in Spring in China (March, April, May): Spring time in China is one of my favourite times to visit. There are cherry and plum blossoms, the cities are alive with color and the temperatures are just right.
What to pack in Summer in China (June, July, August): If you can avoid it, I wouldn’t recommend going to China in summer. If its the only time you have free, be sure to pack a paper fan and stick to the northern areas when you can.
China in summer can be not only hot, but also humid. Click here to see the China packing list for summer.
What to pack in Fall for China (September, October, November): Fall is one of the more beautiful seasons to visit China, only rivaled by Spring in my opinion. Temperatures are just right, often leaning to the colder side, which in my opinion is better when you’re out walking around.
Keep reading to see more about what to pack for China in fall / autumn.
What to pack in Winter in China (December, January, February): Winter in China means the skies are hazy and the weather may be a little chilly. Or, a lot chilly depending on when you visit in winter.
I prefer winter of the sweltering summer, and while not as picturesque as Spring or Autumn, China is winter is still worth seeing. This is also the best time to see snow, the Ice Festival and the rime effect in the far north.
What to Wear in China in Fall / Autumn
- 1x warm boots: Choose a pair that is good for walks in national parks, and comfy enough for sightseeing. Please note that with the exception of the Great Wall, most national are paved and easily to walk through.
- 1-2 pairs of flats: You can get away with 1 x enclosed and 1x sandal if visiting the south (Guilin, Sanya) but its best to have both enclosed from the middle of China upwards.
- 4-5 x socks
- 6-10 pairs of underwear
- 3-5 bras
- 1 scarf
- 1 x pair of gloves: Just incase you need them (pick a light weight pair). These should definitely be packed if winter is close by.
- Woolen hat / beenie: As with the gloves, these are lightweight so pack one just in case you get some cold weather or are close to winter. This is likely not needed if spending your time in the southern parts of China.
- Cardigan or light jacket x 2: I’d recommend atleast one cardigan as they’re easier to hand wash than leather or other types of jackets.
- 1 x long jacket or coat: Pack if close to winter, or if temperatures estimated on the weather sites look cold enough to warrant them. If you’re not sure, pack a long but light coat rather than a large padded one.
- Tops x 4-6: Make sure atleast one if suitable for hiking / outdoor activity if planning to visit the national parks. Try to pick colors that will match most of your bottoms.
- Sleepwear: To keep it light ring a lightweight night gown, you can adjust the heat in your hotel room if it gets cold.
- Dresses x 2-3: Or add more tops if not a dress person (and visa versa). Long dresses would work well for sightseeing in the cities, don’t be afraid to dress up and be fashionable. Shorter dresses will also work here just bring a pair of stockings just in case. Opt for colourful prints that still look classy.
- Bottoms x 3-5: Depending on how light you want your luggage to be, keep these in colors that will match with the majority of your tops
- Leggings x 1-2
What to Pack for Fall in China: Other Items
- A small medical kit filled with medicine for headaches, a cold and dehydration. You can pick these up in China though as well with the aid of a translation app or miming.
- Any normal makeup you would normally wear, but limit as per what you have space for.
- Toothbrush and pint-sized toothpaste, however bear in mind almost every hotel in China will give out freebies in the room.
- Travel sized shampoo and conditioner
- Tampons if you use them as they’re not common in China (aka good luck finding them even if you know the word in Chinese). Pads are abundant however.
- Tissues in case you catch a cold, but more importantly to use as toilet paper as 95% of Chinese toilets don’t have toilet paper. You can buy these at most stores in China so just bring a travel sized pack to start you off.
- Phone charger
- International Adapter for China so you can charge your devices.
- Camera, batteries, memory cards, charger and lenses. I prefer the Sony a6500 + 19mm f2.8. I recommend 2-3x 16gb memory cards instead of one large one. Spread your photos out across them so if you loose one you don’t loose all your shots.
- External battery charger (train distances are long and you don’t want to arrive at your destination with a dead phone).
- More than one bank card: Try to have two different brands, especially in China not all atms / bank machines will accept the western cards (1 MasterCard & 1 Visa is a good idea).
- Photocopies of your passport – 1 on you (different bag to your passport), 1 left at home with family or friends.
- Backpack might be your best bet if you can fit everything in there. I’d recommend this 65 Litre or if packing boots or an extra jacket inside, this 70L.
- Suitcase: Most Chinese use suitcases themselves however keep in mind that you’ll have to carry these up and down stairs as escalators often aren’t on in train stations (but are on in shopping malls, airports). One of my arms is much stronger than the other after the suitcase stair workout it got in my time there!
Don’t Forget to Pack Travel Insurance | China Fall Packing List
Travel insurance is an essential part of every trip which can help cover you in the case of theft or accident. I use World Nomads as they let you book travel insurance from anywhere you are in the world, as opposed to most companies who only let you book before you leave home.
As a backpacker and someone who chooses countries at random, this is a massive plus for me. I also appreciate how simple it is to set up, and how uncomplicated the claiming process is. I’ve claimed over $1000 in the past once due to theft, and another due to water damage, and only have positive things to say about the customer service.
To get an obligation free quote put your details in the box above or or go to their website (click here)
Packing List for China in Fall / Autumn: Safety and Health
- Air quality can be hit or miss so try and pick up a PM2.5 mask once you arrive for smoggy days. Your hotel receptionist can write this in chinese for you, or you can show them a picture (type PM2.5 into Google and screen shot). You can find these at chemists and they’re quite cheap (a few dollars).
- Be very careful walking across roads or driving in China. Driving standards are not the same as they are in the West and you should never assume a driver is paying attention. This is not just a stereotype, after living in China for 2 years I’ve seen more accidents in that time than I have in my entire life.
- Use the Chinese character version of the address to show taxi drivers, a large number of them didn’t understand the pinyin version. The older drivers especially may struggle with this. Either screen shot the address on your phone or have your hotel write it for you.
- Taxi drivers are generally decent, tuk tuk drivers aren’t however. Still ask your receptionist for an approximate cost of your journey to get an idea of how much you should pay.
- If anyone ever tries to really rip you off make a scene. It’s unlikely anyone will come to your aid, however it will cause the scammer to ‘loose face’ (become embarrassed in public) and they’ll eventually give up. Don’t be scared to storm off or yell if someone is trying to rip you off.
- Look up the term loosing face online prior to your trip, this can help to explain a lot of situations that might appear rude or weird to you in advance.
- China is generally pretty safe, safer than the west in fact. But keep your wits about you in the bigger cities as you would anywhere in the world.
- If an accident happens, people may not rush to your aid. Try to find a police officer, guard, or someone working in a nearby store.
- Google translate and other apps are your friend! Chinese people are more likely to understand something you type rather than your attempt at pronunciation.
- Chinese characters: Simplified Chinese is used on the mainland, Traditional is used mostly in Taiwan.
Popular Day Tours in China in Autumn
- Bike riding through the iconic streets of Shanghai trying traditional food and seeing the sights. For more information click here.
- Afternoon and evening highlights tour: includes an evening cruise on the Bund to top off n afternoon of sightseeing. See prices and more information here.
- Suzhou and Zhouzhuang Day trip (traditional Chinese water towns). These are aguably two of the most beautiful water towns in China, and totally worth the trip. Find more information here.
- Visit Tiananmen Square, the Summer Palace, the Forbidden City and the Temple of Heaven on a guided tour so you don’t have to deal with taxi drivers and public transport. See prices here.
- Hiking the Great Wall of China. If you’re looking for transport or a tour for the Great Wall you can Exploring the Great Wall of China: Choose your section: Jinshanling (more information here), Badaling (see details here) and Mutianyu (see prices here).
- Volunteer with Pandas for a day just outside of the city: Find more information here.
- Visit the Panda reserve and the nearby epic Leshan Buddha statue: Click here to see the latest prices here.
- 3 Day Sunrise photo tour of Guilin, the picturesque Li River and Longsheng rice terraces: Find more information here. This is the tour I wish I knew about when I went here, it would have been so much easier to get around and photograph the sites in the best lighting.
- Cormorant fishing in Yangshuo + Xing ping ancient town tour: The fishing is actually a photo op and you can take some epic photos here, just make sure you bring a camera / lens that works well in low light (see night picture under ‘Other Items’ above for example). Find more details and prices here.
- Float down the Li River and explore Yangshuo town. For prices click here.
Where to Stay in China
- Budget: For budget check out the Kaidehua International Hotel which is near most of the main sites in the city. Click here for the latest prices here.
- Middle budget: The Park Plaza Beijing Wangfujing is a good mix for those with a medium budget. The hotel has restaurants on site for those days where you just want to go back to your hotel and chill. Find more details here.
- Luxury: My choice for those with bigger budgets is actually a tie. I like the New World Beijing Hotel (see more details here) or the Wanda Vista Beijing (find the latest prices here). Swimming pools are present in both hotels.
- Budget: For backpackers the Phoenix Hostel Shanghai-LaoShan is quite cute and stylish for a dormitory – Click here for more information here.
- Middle Budget: The Campanile Hotel Shanghai Natural History Museum is close to thee famous Nanjing shopping street and hence in walking distance of the Bund. There are two hotels with similar names so copy and paste the address (Chinese version preferred) to make sure there is no confusion. Find the latest prices and address here.
- Luxury: The Andaz Xintiandi Shanghai is s great option for luxury travelers due to the epic skyline view. Find more information about the hotel by clicking here.
- Budget: For a budget dorm, the Dreams Travel International Youth Hotel is a great option as its central to the city. Read more details and see prices here.
- Middle Budget: A good choice for a mid-range budget is the Grand Dorsett Chengdu. Th hotel offers breakfast for guests and a sauna for relaxation – click here for the latest prices and pictures.
- Luxury: The Temple House (see more informatio here) and Niccolo Chengdu (click here for more details) are both great luxury choices with modern decor and swimming pools.
Other cities in China:
- Visit the Hotels Combined website to see prices for hotels in other cities in China. Visit the website by clicking here.
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