The Great Wall of China is the biggest tourist attraction of China, which is reportedly visible from space. Additionally, the Forbidden City, Summer Palace and Tiananmen Square are noteworthy hot spots to see on your visit.
Over 570,000 British nationals visit mainland China every year, although given its distance from the United Kingdom, it is only viably accessible by airplane.
Beijing, China’s capital, is 5,055 miles from London, with flight times between the two capital cities taking around 12 hours, on average.
If you are unsure as to how best to stick to your medication schedule then it is best to discuss a plan with your diabetes team.
China is seven hours ahead of British Summer Time and eight hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time, which will likely require alterations to your diabetes management.
You should plan for any changes to your medication schedule with your diabetes team prior to departing.
China is the third largest country in the world, dependent on area, so climates may vary depending on which city you are visiting.
In Beijing, average temperatures start to increase to 20°C in May, which then settles at around 25°C during the summer months of June-August.
If you are visiting China during the summer months, you should check blood sugar levels more often if you take insulin.
Warmer weather can enhance insulin absorption and possibly lead to decreasing blood sugar levels, especially if you are planning physical activity.
The Renminbi is the official currency of China, with ATMs very common in urban and tourist areas of the country.
Some major credit and debit cards, such as American Express, Visa and MasterCard - without a Union Pay symbol - are not widely accepted at stores and restaurants.
There are no mandatory vaccinations to enter China, however some are recommended. You should consult your doctor eight weeks prior to your departure in order to receive the vaccinations in time.
All travellers are recommended to get vaccinations for hepatitis A and typhoid, which can both be contracted through contaminated food or water.
Some travellers are also recommended to receive vaccinations for other diseases, including hepatitis B and rabies, which can be carried by dogs, bats and other mammals in China.
Vaccination against Japanese Encephalitis may also be recommended for travellers visiting remote areas of China for more than a month, depending on what time of year you are travelling.
You should also talk to your doctor about how to prevent the contraction of malaria while travelling. Your doctor may prescribe you medication before, during and after your stay and will advise you on what to do to avoid getting malaria.
You may also require a polio vaccine if you are visiting the Xinjiang province or working in a health care facility, refugee camp, or humanitarian aid setting. This kind of work might put you in contact with someone with polio.
Polio vaccination will also be required if you were vaccinated as a child but have not had a polio booster as an adult, or if you were not completely vaccinated as a child and do not know your vaccination status.
There is no risk of yellow fever in China, although the government of China requires proof of yellow fever vaccination if you have travelled from a country with a risk of the disease.
Otherwise, the opportunity should be taken to ensure existing vaccinations such as your yearly flu jab and tetanus are also up to date.
Ensuring access to medication
UK citizens with diabetes will not be entitled to any free medication services while in China. Securing comprehensive medical insurance will be essential in order to obtain even basic treatment.
Diabetic medication is available in China, but payment will be required from all pharmacies. Blood and urine testing kits are available from most pharmacies.
The emergency services telephone number to be called in China is 120.
It is advisable to contact the manufacturing company of your medication prior to leaving the UK to find out what is available in China if your medication gets lost, stolen or damaged. It is also worth checking to see what different names your medication may be listed as.
It is important to note the diabetes associations in the country you are travelling to in case of an emergency
There is one diabetic association in China that can be contacted for information prior to your stay. The address of this association is:
- Chinese Diabetes Society (a member of the International Diabetes Federation since 1985),
42 Dongsi Xidajie,
Tel: +86-10-8515 8145
- How is blood glucose measured in China? Blood glucose levels are measured in mmol/l, as they are in the UK
- What language is spoken in China? Chinese (of which many dialects are spoken), although English is fairly widely spoken
- Will I need an international driving license when driving in China? Yes
- If I want to hire a vehicle during my visit, will I face any form of discrimination? No
- What sugar free drinks are available in China? Diet Coke and mineral water, although diet drinks will vary depending on establishments. Tap water should be avoided.