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What You Need to Bring with You to China

Things That Aren't Available

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Assortment of toiletries and travel kit
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China is a shopper's paradise. But it's a shame to spend time trying to pick up things you forgot on your packing list rather than in the markets cruising for treasure.

Here's a list of items that you may want to bring with you because you won't be able to find them, or the brands will be limited, in China. Especially if you're going to be off the beaten track, not spending much time in big cities with big expat communities such as Beijing or Shanghai, you'll want to make sure you have these items along with you when you come.

  • Deodorant with anti-perspirant Deodorant can sometimes be found in supermarkets or drug-stores like Watson's, but I've yet to find anti-perspirant.

  • Shampoo and conditioner You can find some foreign brands such as L'oreal and Finesse, but the formula seems different. If you're picky, bring it from home.

  • Other hair supplies Again, some products are available but formulas vary from country to country so you should bring your preferred mousse, gel, hairspray, etc. with you.

  • Moisturizers

  • Sunscreen Its availability is limited and only in certain SPF factors.

  • Insect repellent I haven't found any local brand that's very effective.

  • Tampons Pads are widely available but tampons are only available at expat supermarkets in limited supply.

  • Medications Many similar medications are available in China but you don't want to have to spend time trying to figure out a local pharmacy when you just want some aspirin. Bring allergy, headache, nausea/diarrhea, birth control and other medications with you. See also this handy First Aid Packing List for travel to China.

  • Vitamins

  • Shoes If you have the time or the need, you can have just about any piece of clothing tailor-made for you, but shoes, if your feet are large, will be hard to find.

  • For kid/baby-specific articles, read my Kids' Packing List to find out what to buy in China and what to bring.
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