Some regions in China, including Tibet, XinJiang, SiChuan and Yunnan are at high altitudes. If traveling to these areas beware of the effects of altitude on health. It can take some people days to acclimatize to higher altitudes. If you are not in good health, it is a good idea to refrain from arduous exercise or trekking until you feel comfortable.
The standard of medical care varies throughout China, but facilities in major cities are generally very good. If you take any medication on a regular basis, take enough to last through your trip. Pack your prescriptions with your medications to avoid any problems at customs.
To avoid illness that can occasionally accompany a change in environment and diet, a few easy precautions can be taken. If you are prone to stomach upset, wash your hands frequently, drink bottled water or other drinks rather than tap water, avoid undercooked meat and shellfish and take the freshly made yogurts that are widely available in ceramic jars.
Keeping a supply of tissues with you is a good idea because these are not always available in restrooms.
Be sure to keep your fluid intake up in hot weather and avoid sunburn.
For daily weather forecasts, check the China Daily or CCTV 9, China Central Television's English channel. There is also a weather hot line (tel. 121) in both chinese and english (3 yuan per minute). Five day forecasts are available from a number of internet sites.
Tap water in mainland China is often said not to be drinkable, but this author used it all the time for tea and coffee in various hotels (but does not drink tap water in London where it tastes terrible). If you prefer, bottled water is widely available on every street, and provided for free in all the better hotels.
While not perfect, talk of poor air quality in Beijing is greatly exaggerated. Indeed, Beijing has little in the way of industry and is well forested in every street and has many parks.
Because Beijing is flat and has many large parks and wide avenues offering distant views, an occasional haze, that all big cities have, is more noticeable. In addition, humid weather during the summer is often mistaken for smog.
Beijing has a high percentage of 'blue sky' days and it is often possible to see the mountains along which the Great Wall passes from an upper floor of an apartment or hotel building - and that's 50km away.
Beijing in particular, and China in general, is making great efforts to protect its eco-environment. Increasingly stringent pollution control standards are being put into place and all new projects must undertake an environmental impact assessment.
In the unlikely event that you get on the wrong side of the law, contact your consulate immediately.
Service Quality Supervision
In order to help visitors in distress and resolve complaints, the China National Tourism Administration (CNTA) and the Beijing Tourism Bureau have set up a 24 hour Tourism Service Quality Supervision and Control Office.
Tel: 010-6513 0828, Fax: 010-6515 8251 (Languages: Chinese, Japanese and English).