Suitcase Essentials: Packing for China

A holiday to China is high up on every tourist’s list; it’s rich with culture and full of exciting and interesting sights. Packing can be a little more difficult though. With such a varied climate and weather prone to shifting in an instant, deciding what to pack is a challenge of its own! Years ago I went to China on a school trip, and packing was really tricky – I wasn’t expecting temperatures exceeding 35° centigrade, if not higher. In such hot weather, it was tempting to wear shorts and a crop top, but in some less-touristy areas it’s not appropriate to dress this way – discreet and modest clothing is the order of the day when travelling in more rural parts of China. For your holiday, think loose-fitting, light clothing, in light colours.

  1. Maxi dresses/long skirts

When keeping cool is a high priority, loose and flowing material is a must. Enter the maxi dress – your best friend in China’s heat. These dresses help to generate airflow around your legs, helping you to keep cool when everyone else is struggling in the heat. If dresses aren’t your cup of tea, a maxi skirt can provide a great alternative. Try these three from Monsoon (£49), Next (£30) or River Island (£65).

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  1. Comfy shoes

Whether you’re heading for the Forbidden City in Beijing, the Great Wall, or the Terracotta Warriors at Xi’an, I can guarantee you’re going to be doing a lot of walking. Comfy, but breathable shoes are a must for any visit to China – think solid-soled wedges or sandals, or breathable trainers. Check out these espadrille flatforms from River Island (£24), these wedge sandals from FitFlop (£75), or these black leather sandals from Clarks (£55).

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  1. Sunglasses

Sunglasses are a must to shield your eyes from the brilliant sunlight – even if it is sometimes hidden behind a shield of smog. Keep your eyes protected with these sunglasses from New Look (£8.99), Topshop (£18), or Monsoon (£8).

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  1. Loose jackets/shawls

Needing to keep your arms covered but trying to combat the heat is a tricky combination, but thankfully the trend of loose embroidered blazers and denim jackets fits the description! Stick to thin jackets that you can layer over shirts and tops and you can’t go wrong! Try this navy floral jacket from River Island (£50), this embroidered jacket from Monsoon (£59), or this canvas jacket from Topshop (£40).

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  1. Waterproof coat

Although China seems to be the land of perpetual sun, summer in China is monsoon season, and when it rains in China, it really, really rains. Raincoats are a must, but make sure you keep them thin and collapsible, or else you’ll find yourself sweating even more underneath it! Try this khaki parka from Primark (£23), this lightweight jacket from H&M (£39.99), or this rainmac from Topshop (£50).

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  1. Loose tops/shirts

Keeping tops light and layered will make dealing with the Chinese heat a lot easier for you, so keep an eye out for well-ventilated, light tops that you can slip a thin jacket over with ease. Try this stitch-panel crop top from Topshop (£32), this lacy white top from H&M (£16.99), or this black mesh 2-in-1 top from New Look (£19.99) for some inspiration.

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  1. Dresses

Dresses are a great way to stay cool while still looking great – choose looser midi dresses, rather than tight or super-short dresses, that you can move easily in. Go for looks similar to this floral wrap smock dress from River Island (£45), this yellow print linen dress from Next (£36), or this woven shirt dress from Boohoo (£18).

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  1. Loose shirts

Whether layered over other tops, or just as a button-up over pants/skirts, shirts are an easy way to add something extra to an outfit without much effort! Thin shirts are a great way to protect your skin from the sun without overheating! This super-cute shirt from Topshop (£30), or this simple striped one from Next (£32) would be great with some basic trousers, or use a looser-fit shirt like this one from River Island (£38) to wear open, with a simple top underneath.

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  1. Loose pants/trousers

If skirts aren’t your thing, wide-leg trousers will be your new best friend! Look out for canvas and linen, to keep you cool, and avoid jeans – they will trap heat around your legs and just make you warmer! To inspire you, look at these wide leg trousers from H&M (£19.99), these snazzy pinspot cropped trousers from Topshop (£36), and these cargo pocket trousers from Next (£38).

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  1. Light wool sweaters

You might not think sweaters are particularly good for hot weather, but light wool tops are surprisingly handy – they wipe away sweat quickly and easily, helping to keep you cool in the sticky China heat. They’re also useful for keeping you a bit warmer when the sun sets; try this fine-knit jumper from H&M (£17.99), this gauzy open-back jumper from Topshop (£32), or this pink cut-out tunic from New Look (£14.99).

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China is an amazing place to visit, and you’ll enjoy your trip no matter what you wear – but these items will help you keep cool while still looking stylish! Some last-minute tips, though: make sure to take a sun hat with you, and plenty of high-SPF sun cream! You might want to top up your tan while you’re there, but the sunlight is incredibly harsh in China, even through the Beijing smog. Remember to buy lots of bottled water while you’re there as well, and don’t use the tap water to drink/brush your teeth with/anything besides showering or washing hands. Final tip – get stuck in! Try everything you can and you’ll be sure to enjoy yourself! Have fun!

Ellen Smithies

Featured image courtesy of ‘Craig Sunter’ via Flickr. License here.

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