What to pack for China in every season - The Real Word

Brace yourself! Knowing what to wear in China in summer or winter, and what to pack for that matter, depends greatly on where you’re going and when.

This geographically vast Asian country is the fourth-largest in the world, which means you could switch up the Siberian chill in the north for steamy weather in the south all in one season.

Discover Chinese culture

Start planning what to wear in China by looking at your itinerary. The most popular destinations for travellers remain Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu, Hong Kong and Xi’An. These will captivate you with their rich heritage and culture no matter what you decide to wear. Ready to get packing?

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What to wear in China

What you wear back home will be acceptable in China if you're wondering what to wear in summer and winter

Whatever you wear back home will be more than acceptable in China. Western-style clothing is the norm so all you’ll need to worry about is making sure you’re packing for the right season. Don’t worry, we’re taking the guesswork out of it for you by adding our top tips on what to wear in China in winter and summer.

The shopping in Beijing and Shanghai is out of this world, which means there’s always a Plan B if you do forget to pack your favourite sunglasses or a portable charger. Take care though, when it comes to clothing, Chinese sizes are smaller than what you may be used to. Consequently, you should buy a couple sizes bigger than your usual.

Our top tip if your travels coincide with a Chinese festival? Pack something red as the colour symbolises good fortune. The locals tend to wear red during special events and celebrations.

Chinese lion statue

RELATED CONTENT: Discover China’s New Year traditions

What to wear in China in winter

Bundle up warm. China is chilly in winter and borderline freezing in the north. So, when planning what to pack, make sure you’ve packed plenty of thermal layers if you’re headed up there.

When planning what to wear in China in winter, pack a warm coat and layers as it can get very cold

Since indoor heating is inconsistent in China, pack for cooler weather, even in areas that are milder during winter like Shanghai.

Master your layers and be sure to pack a warm hat, gloves, scarf and padded jacket. Don’t forget to pack a pair of sturdy and warm walking shoes. The shoe sizes in China are much smaller than what you’re used to elsewhere in the world so you may not find a pair that fits.

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What to wear in China in summer

Again this depends on where you’re travelling to but, generally speaking, prepare for heat and humidity along the coast, and hot and dry weather in the interior during the summer season.

Light and loose outfits are a good choice of what to wear in China in summer

Since heat is the common denominator, choose light and loose outfits made from natural fibres for what to wear in China in summer.

You’ll also want to pack a light jacket or sweater for evenings and air-conditioned indoors, while a light scarf or pashmina will help to shield your shoulders and arms from the harsh sun. Don’t forget your sunglasses and sunscreen!

If you happen to be travelling in summer in China’s more tropical areas, pack a raincoat, quick-dry towel, waterproof shoes and quick-dry clothes. Nothing quite like an unexpected downpour interrupting your adventure.

What to pack for China

Virtual Private Network

WhatsApp is banned in China. Don't leave home without a VPN installed.

Perhaps not something you have to pack, but important nonetheless to equip yourself with before leaving home, is a VPN. China’s censorship laws mean you may struggle to connect with certain websites, so you’ll want this installed before leaving home. China has banned WhatsApp so sign-up for WeChat, its local equivalent.

Hand sanitiser, tissues and handwipes

A good back-up for when you need to use public restrooms in China which are not always equipped with soap, toilet paper and paper napkins. Carry a quick-dry towel if you have space so you can wipe off the dust and smog of your surrounds with ease.

Add hand wipes to the mix when you plan what to pack for China

Universal plug adapter

There are several different plug sockets in China so cover all eventualities and carry a universal plug adapter and a converter, as well as a portable charger so you can keep fully charged at all times.

Over-the-counter medication

Add a good anti-histamine, eye drops and nose spray to your medical arsenal before travelling to China. The high air pollution levels in urban areas will have their way with your respiratory system and you’ll be grateful for these handy remedies. Also in the first-aid kit should be charcoal tablets or some form of medication for stomach ailments. The food is incredible, but may not always agree with you.

Chinese cuisine may not always agree with your Western constitution

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Disposable face masks

You’ll have to pack one anyway, but include a couple of N95 rated masks to filter out China’s notorious air pollution.

Heading to China in summer or winter? What are you most looking forward to? Or perhaps you’ve already been. We’d love to hear what you’ve added to your list of what to pack for China so share your tips in the comments below!

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