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Is it safe for women to travel alone to China?

Single travel in China for women

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Is it safe for women to travel alone to China?

A lone Chinese girl traveling by train sleeps soundly during a stopover in Shanghai.

© 2008 Sara Naumann, licensed to About.com.
Should women travel alone to China? Is it safe for a woman to travel alone?

The short answer is a resounding yes. Here's the long answer.

Historical Context

The list of ills bequeathed upon China by Mao's legacy is long (and not the subject here). However, under Communist rule, women were lifted from a culturally subservient role into one of greater equity. With massive relocation during the Cultural Revolution when millions of city-dwellers were uprooted and sent to live agrarian lives, many young women found themselves suddenly alone, without their families to support them. The work units became the family and women found themselves with much more freedom (in certain respects) outside the confines of traditional family around them.

Under this historical backdrop, women did similar work to men in the fields and in the factories. Today, there is really no industry, maybe with the exception of heavy construction and mining, where women don't work. Of course women are not represented equally in positions of power - both government or corporate - but we know this isn't a Chinese issue but rather a global one.

Since China's economic opening-up, masses of internal migration have taken place with young people leaving the land and heading to coastal cities for better jobs and brighter futures. Many young women take off from home spending sometimes multiple days making a slow train or bus journey to their destination - alone. They might hook up with a cousin or someone from their hometown once they arrive, but many just make the journey with nothing more than a bag, a mobile phone and a hope to land a decent factory job.

Women Today

Therefore, as a lone woman traveler, you will find yourself traveling in a nation that, in the first place, has a cultural association with long travel; and secondly, culturally accepts women traveling on their own. People might think it's odd that you're on your own but more in terms of where are your friends and why don’t you have a boyfriend along with you (i.e. what's wrong with you?)

Bottom Line

Therefore, generally you do not have to fear for your physical safety when traveling alone. It would even be very unusual for you to hear catcalls or whistles. Of course, you want to take precautions and be cognizant of your situation. Follow general health and safety advice. Be careful with your money and belongings.

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