China is one of the top three most visited countries in the world – and with its massive size, rich history, diverse landscape and quirky fashion – it has something for everyone.

But visiting China can be a bit of a culture shock for many visitors. In fact, you may even be wondering what you need to pack for a trip to China!

But we’ve got you covered. By the time you get to the end of this handy guide, you’ll feel more than equipped to gather all of your key China packing essentials before heading out. And then, after all that business is handled, comes the fun part – getting to China and starting your epic adventure!

So, let’s get right to it!

The Ultimate China Packing List

Packing for China can be daunting. But we’re here to help. In this guide we will run through exactly what you need to bring to China including the right bag, clothes and some handy gadgets.

The Backpack and Luggage: Nomatic Travel Bag

Nomatic Travel Bag

Before you even take on the task of figuring out what to pack for China, you’ll need an amazing backpack to pack it all into. For all types of travelers and destinations, our number one recommendation is the Nomatic Travel Bag.

The Nomatic travel bag covers every detail to make backpacking travel the best experience. Because of its smart design, it manages to provide loads of packing space in a convenient, carry-on size package! Its handy built-in pockets make plenty of room for all the necessities on your what to pack for China checklist – you’ll find separate compartments for important items like shoes, water bottle, electronics, underwear and socks. As an added bonus, there’s also an RFID-safe and cord management pocket.

You have a choice between backpack or duffel bag carry, and extra carrying comfort for your back thanks to its innovative strap system and detachable sternum strap. And its black, waterproof material is every bit sleek and modern as it is durable and tough. There is a reason why most Broke Backpacker staff swear by this backpack.

The Shell Backpack By Tropicfeel

Shell Backpack By Tropicfeel
Shell Backpack By Tropicfeel

If you like to keep your travel packing organised, ordered and beautifully compact then look no further than the lovely Shell Backpack by Tropicfeel.  This truly extraordinary and unique travel backpack is a 3 in 1 extendable backpack. What this means is that  it begins life as a humble little  22 litre pack, rolls up to a steady 30 litres and then with the addition of a detachable pouch goes all the way to 40 litres. 

However, the best feature by far is the detachable, pull out, hanging clothes cube. You simply zip the pack open, pul-lout the cube and you have a neatly packed and ordered hanging wardrobe ready to go!
This pack is ideal when packing for X as it allows fast and ordered packing and unpacking which is ideal when you are hostelling around and constantly on the move. It’s also an ideal size for carry on (great for domestic flights) and for sticking in the overhead compartment on trains.

Is This the Best Daypack EVER???

We’ve tested countlessday packs over the years, but the Tropicfeel Shell is something else. There are a lot of flashy backpacks on the market but not many come with a detachable wardrobe.

Weatherproof, eco-friendly, durable, feature-loaded, and comfy as fudge brownies: these are just some of the words people might use to describe the Tropicfeel Shell. But we just call it bloody beautiful.

Learn More • View on Tropicfeel

The Camera: GoPro Hero9 Black

For most of us, our smartphones now feature cameras with stunning photo capabilities.

But… if you are an aspiring photographer who wants to take next-level photos and video beyond iPhone selfies, I recommend going with an action camera like the GoPro Hero9 Black.

go pro hero 9 black

It does deliver pro-quality video and gives you a bunch of a different angle options and shooting speeds to work with for photos (including a selfie-mode).

Think of a camera purchase like this as a long term investment that will have you capturing epic shots well beyond your time exploring here.

If you are looking for something cheaper for video specifically, check out these epic GoPro Alternatives.

What To Pack For China: Personal Gear

China is the biggest consumer economy in the world and you get pretty much anything you need there, relatively cheaply. However, they do tend to do things a little differently and it pays to make sure you get the essential gear sorted before you do.

Let’s find out what you should bring to China.

What is the One Item Every Traveller NEEDS???

There is one item every traveller NEEDS. Some travellers don’t even know they need it, but those travellers need it more than anyone.

What is this forgotten essential of the backpacker-life? SPOILERS! Guess you’ll just have to click the button to find out. 😉

Find Out What It Is!

China Checklist

You’re all big boys and girls so we are not going to tell you what to wear (but do wear something). Instead we’re gonna focus on some essential gear that you may not have thought about.

Good Shoes – Salomon X Ultra 3 Low Aero

Salomon X Ultra 3 Low Aero

Visitors to China have a tendency to underestimate the amount of walking that is part of the day to day China experience. Shuffling between ancient sites and busy markets, checking out the Great Wall, and exploring the mountains outside of the city all make the miles on your feet add up.

I admit that most shoes that are also good for hiking are not the most attractive pieces of footwear. But they are some of the most comfortable and deliver good ankle support for a long day of walking about town.

Plus, China offer excellent day hiking opportunities, so packing a pair of hiking shoes gives you the option (and eliminates excuses) to go head for the hills when the city becomes too much.

Check out the women’s Salomon X Ultra 3 Low Aero

Good Rain Jacket – Patagonia DAS Hoody

Patagonia Mens DAS Light Hoody
I appreciate the trim fit of the Beta SL Hybrid…

China’s geographical expanse is huge (and getting bigger…) so it’s climatic diversity is pretty dammed varied. However, note that China does have proper season and Beijing can get bitterly cold in winter and can get wet at other times.

There is no such thing as bad weather, only the wing gear for it. Don’t let a bit (of a lot) of rain ruin your trip and make sure you are ready with some top notch rain gear.

This is our pick of the many rain jackets we have tried. It’s reliable & stylish and looks good worn out in the mountains or in city bars.

Thermal Layer For Winter

Icebreaker 260 Zone Half-Zip Base Layer Top
Our top pick for the best base layer for extreme cold is Icebreaker 260 Zone Half-Zip Base Layer Top

If you are visiting in winter of going up into the mountains or the Tibetan plateau, prepare adequately by bringing a thermal layer!

Don’t risk hypothermia, add this to your China packing list.

Travel First Aid Kit

packable travel medical kit

You don’t need to tote around half a pharmacy, but a well-stocked first aid kit should be in all our backpacks. Stuff happens on the road and it’s inconvenient and embarrassing when you can’t manage small situations like a cut finger or hangover migraine.

You can tuck this lifesaver away in a forgotten pocket – and it’ll be there when you need it.

Tip: Add a few bits and pieces to the first aid kit after you purchase it, like extra headache medicine, any personal meds you need (like allergy pills), whatever you take to calm your stomach and a few more plasters.

Travel Insurance From World Nomads

A banner creative for World Nomads travel insurance

It’s good to get lost sometimes, but it’s also good not to get too lost. There are people that want you home in one piece.

There’s one travel insurance provider The Broke Backpacker trusts for all his wildest shenanigans… World Nomads!

Click the button below to get a quote on your insurance or read our in-depth review of World Nomads’ coverage. And then… let the shenanigans begin. 😉

Planner/Travel Journal

Kodiak Journal

Keeping a journal is one of the best things to do when traveling. The Drifter Leather Journal by Kodiak is our favorite, it works great for digital nomads and organized backpackers and can be used as planner or a dream diary – whatever you want! 

Keep on track with your goals, travels and save those precious memories, especially the ones you do not want to share online. This one is bound in beautiful leather so it looks beautiful and will withstand life on the road.

Abaco Sunglasses

Abaco Polarized Sunglasses

A reliable pair of sunglasses is undoubtedly one of your China packing essentials. Our favorites are Abaco Polarized Sunglasses because they deliver on quality and style. 

They’re built tough with triple-layer scratch-resistant lenses and trademarked Adventure-proof Frame Material. You can also customize them with your choice of lens and frame colors to reflect your own style. 

Hanging Toiletry Bag

Such an underrated travel necessity – the hanging toiletry bag makes a great travel gift

Another backpacker/traveler favorite for staying organized is a hanging toiletry bag. It’s extremely helpful to have all of your accessories neatly gathered in one bag that you can hang for easy accessibility, especially when counter space isn’t plentiful or even available. A well-organized bag is worth having whether you’re tree whilst camping or a hook in the wall – it helps to have quick access to all your stuff.

Make sure you fill it with all you need before you leave. Whilst you can find most things in China, trying to explain the particular kind of hair pomme you need across a language barrier can be challenging.

Historically, I have been the guy who has my stuff all over the bathroom, so getting one of these things really changed the toiletry game for me. Plus they are not too expensive either. A no-brainer essential. 

Money Belt – By Pacsafe

Pacsafe belt

Whilst China is not particularly dangerous, crime can still happen and tourists are sometimes targeted.

Therefore it is always a good idea to use a money belt to hide your cash just in case something does go wrong.

The Basic Stuff To Pack For China


On top of the essential items listed above, here is an additional suggested checklist of what to pack for a trip to China:

  • a few pairs of comfortable pants/jeans
  • 1-2 pairs of shorts (summer/late spring)
  • A few pairs of socks
  • (Sexy) underwear x 2/3
  • Ladies: a few dresses, pants, outfits, or desired lady apparel for a night on the town.
  • Dudes: A few collard shirts or something half-way decent for a night on the town.
  • Smartphone with a good camera for photos if you are not bringing an actual camera
  • Portable power bank for charging your phone on the go
  • Phone charger
  • Amazon Kindle for quiet moments
  • Copy of your passport just in case
  • Cash (not too much, there are ATM machines in cities)
  • Packable Towel
  • A Chinese phrasebook!

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    Final Thoughts on What to Pack for China

    There it is, friends! Your China survival guide – unabridged with a detailed top needs of what to pack for China, tips on what to wear in China to travel comfortably, a breakdown by season and how to pack accordingly for the weather. Plus, we’ve included our recommendations for women’s and men’s packing considerations – and what NOT to pack for China.

    Just remember to pack smart, stay comfortable and stay safe. Let your senses be taken over with the beautiful landscape, rich cultural history – and definitely the delicious dumplings and wontons! Keep your mind and heart open, and you’re sure to have an experience of a lifetime!

    Thanks for reading – that was fun! 😀

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