The health risk information presented here is summarized from Shoreland Travax®, a decision-support tool used by health care providers to perform a detailed health risk analysis based on specific locations, individual travel styles, and traveler risk behaviors. Travax provides practitioners current, independently researched malaria risk and prevention recommendations in a map-based format that goes beyond the annual WHO and CDC statements included here. Not included here are current reports from Travax of disease outbreaks or environmental events that may pose elevated risks to travelers’ health and safety. The Providers section of this site offers a directory of health care providers who utilize Shoreland Travax for travel health counseling. Learn more about the detailed reports and maps available from these practitioners (includes links to samples).
China is a developing nation classified as upper middle income. Located in Southeast Asia and bordered by 14 countries, the climate is extremely diverse, with classifications that range from dry (arid) in the north to humid temperate (no dry season) in the southeast, with cooler temperatures in some high-altitude areas. (Note: Hong Kong and Macau are treated separately and have their own listings in the Destination directory.)
See also: Library article for Yellow Fever
Although yellow fever does not occur in China, an official yellow fever vaccination certificate may be required depending on your itinerary.
- Requirement: A vaccination certificate is required for travelers aged ≥ 9 months coming from countries with risk of YF transmission. This also applies to all airport transit stops in risk countries.
Depending on your itinerary, your personal risk factors, and the length of your visit, your health care provider may offer you vaccination against hepatitis A, hepatitis B, influenza, Japanese encephalitis, measles, mumps, rubella, meningococcal meningitis, rabies, tick-borne encephalitis, typhoid fever, or a one time polio booster if you haven't previously received one for travel. Routine immunizations, such as those that prevent tetanus/diphtheria or "childhood" diseases, should be reviewed and updated as needed.
See also: Library article for Malaria
The following is current information as reported by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC):
WHO—International Travel and Health (current online update, Country List)(2019) China has achieved tremendous success in malaria elimination. Since 2017, no indigenous cases have been reported.
- Recommended prevention for non-border areas in Yunnan: A - Very limited risk of malaria transmission. Mosquito bite prevention only.
- Recommended prevention for border areas in Yunnan: D – Risk of P. falciparum malaria in combination with reported multidrug resistance. Mosquito bite prevention plus atovaquone–proguanil or doxycycline or mefloquine chemoprophylaxis (select according to reported side effects and contraindications) a,b
aAlternatively, for travel to rural areas with low risk of malaria infection, mosquito bite prevention can be combined with stand–by emergency treatment (SBET).
bIn certain areas with multidrug–resistant malaria, mefloquine chemoprophylaxis is no longer recommended. At present these areas include Cambodia, Thailand, and south-eastern Myanmar.
WHO Country List footnote: When available, the date of the most recent update or confirmation is indicated in parentheses in the country list. If no date is indicated, the most recent update or confirmation was provided before 2013.
CDC—Health Information for International Travel (current online edition)Areas with malaria: Present in the counties along the China-Burma (Myanmar) border in Yunnan Province. Limited transmission in Motuo County in Tibet. No malaria in areas where most major river cruises pass.
- Estimated relative risk of malaria for US travelers: Very low.
- Drug resistance4: Chloroquine and mefloquine.
- Malaria species: Primarily P. vivax; P. falciparum in Yunnan Province.
- Recommended chemoprophylaxis: Along China-Burma (Myanmar) border in the western part of Yunnan Province: Atovaquone-proguanil or doxycycline. Motuo county in Tibet: Mosquito avoidance only.
4 Refers to P. falciparum malaria unless otherwise noted.
See also: Library article for Travelers' Diarrhea
Moderate risk exists throughout the country, with minimal risk in deluxe accommodations. Food and beverage precautions may reduce the likelihood of illness.
Travelers should carry loperamide for self-treatment of diarrhea and, if risk is moderate to high, an antibiotic to add if diarrhea is severe. Consult a knowledgeable health care provider regarding which antibiotic is appropriate for you and most effective for your destination.
Other Food-Borne Illnesses
Insect- and Arthropod-Borne Diseases
Other Disease and Health Risks
Additional concerns include air pollution, altitude illness, avian influenza, Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever, enteroviruses, hantavirus, helminths, leptospirosis, marine hazards, melioidosis, monkey bites, plague, schistosomiasis, snakebites, tuberculosis.
The material below includes information from the U.S. Department of State (DOS), U.K. Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO), Global Affairs Canada (GAC), and Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), as well as from additional open-source material. Standard safety precautions that apply to all international travel can be found in the Library article Safety and Security.
Risk of attack by domestic terrorist groups exists throughout the country, especially in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. Targets may include domestic and international organizations and businesses; public places and events, including those frequented by tourists; and transportation systems.
Low risk of violent crime (armed robbery, sexual assault, assault, and murder) exists in remote areas and areas popular with expatriates, mainly in shopping and nightlife areas of major cities.
Moderate risk of petty crime exists throughout the country, especially in major cities; on public transportation and overnight trains; at popular tourist sites; in areas frequented by foreigners.
Scams involving counterfeit currency, ATMs, and exorbitant fees for services (including for tea ceremonies or massages) have been reported.
Risk exists of robberies and/or assaults occurring after consuming intentionally drugged food or drink; tourists are frequently targeted.
Protests and demonstrations may infrequently occur and have the potential to turn violent without warning.
Armed conflict may occur in Xinjiang Autonomous Region.
Piracy (involving commercial and private, leisure vessels) may occur in coastal and international waters of the South China Sea.
Passenger boats may be unsafe, including ferries. Decline water transportation in vessels that appear overloaded or lack personal flotation devices or life jackets.
Rent water sports equipment from reputable operators. Scuba dive only with personnel certified by PADI or NAUI, and use equipment only from PADI- or NAUI-certified dive operators.
High risk of traffic-related injury or death exists. The road-traffic death rate is 12 to 24 per 100,000 population. The rate is less than 10 in most high-income countries. Driving at night is not advised. Seek local advice before traveling on roads outside urban areas after dark.
Traffic flows on the right-hand side of the road. Travelers (including drivers and pedestrians) accustomed to traffic moving on the opposite side should be vigilant when navigating traffic.
U.S. Federal Aviation Administration has determined that the civil aviation authority of this country oversees its air carriers in accordance with minimum international safety standards.
The typhoon season is from May through November, especially in southern and eastern coastal areas. The monsoon season is from April through November. Floods, mudslides, and landslides may occur, especially in central, western, and southern areas, including areas bordering the Yangtze River.
Seismic and volcanic activity frequently occur, especially in Xinjiang and Tibet autonomous regions and Sichuan Province.
Selected Embassies or Consulates in China
- United States: [+86]-10-8531-3000; china.usembassy-china.org.cn
- Canada: [+86] 10-5139-4000; www.china.gc.ca
- United Kingdom: [+86] 10-5192-4000; www.gov.uk/world/organisations/british-embassy-beijing
- Australia: [+86] 10-5140-4111; www.china.embassy.gov.au
China's Embassies or Consulates in Selected Countries
- In the U.S.: www.china-embassy.org/eng
- In Canada: ca.china-embassy.org/eng
- In the U.K.: www.chinese-embassy.org.uk
- In Australia: au.china-embassy.org/eng
HIV testing is not required to obtain a tourist, work, or residence visa. Travelers, including short-term travelers, may be detained or deported after arrival if found to be positive for HIV or hepatitis.