Saturday, April 13, 2013

What to take on a backpacking holiday to southwest China

South West China is a diverse and beautiful area which is particularly popular with backpackers, who hope to experience different cultures and enjoy breathtaking scenery that is found, for example, at the Yangshuo River, Guizhou Waterfall, Tiger Leaping Gorge and in the tropical rainforests.

A trip to South West China in summer months tends to bring humidity, possible heavy monsoon rains and temperatures as high as 38 degrees centigrade; autumn and spring months are cooler although subject to bouts of rain and drizzle. Winter is cold but not as cold as the North of China.

Clearly backpackers who are travelling to South West China need to pack according to the time of year and what areas are being explored. However there are items which need to be included whatever the temperature and area.

Of importance to all backpackers is to remember that their rucksack will be with them most of the time and therefore should not be filled with unnecessary items.  An overfilled rucksack can be cumbersome, tiring to carry and make it awkward when travelling on buses and trains. Many a traveller has arrived at their destination only to revise their possessions and give away unnecessary items to locals.

To avoid disappointment before the adventure begins it is essential to check that passports are up to date, appropriate inoculations have been administered, insurance is bought and visas obtained. These documents are important items and the backpacker needs to make sure that they have a safe and secure compartment in their rucksack or a money bag to store paperwork and money during their travels. Travellers also need to think about what, if any, medication they need to pack, particularly if they are exploring remote areas where there are mosquitoes and if caution is not taken, when drinking water or eating some foods, diarrhoea may be a problem.

Prior to embarking on the journey to China it is also important to plan the holiday and rather than taking a heavy guide book backpackers are advised to use plastic covered paper copies of their itinerary, routes,  places of interests and contact numbers.  It is also helpful to print pictures of attractions to be visited which can be shown when travelling, if not able to speak Chinese.


Depending on the type of holiday planned the backpacker may need to think about packing lightweight bed linen or a sleeping bag, particularly if travelling to remote areas where nights may be spent in poor conditions. However there is no need to pack a pillow, which will take a lot of space, because a rolled fleece can be used. Towels may also need to be taken if not planning to stay in hotels.


Bearing in mind the limited space available to backpackers serious consideration has to be given to what clothing is required and also consideration given to the fact that clothes may need to be worn for more than a day and washed and dried without the use of modern laundry facilities. Depending upon how long the backpacker plans to be away the number of the following  will vary, however, on any list should include at least one of the following, cotton tee shirts, long sleeved shirt,  lightweight trousers with pockets, inexpensive jeans, swim wear, shorts, light weight fleece, waterproof jacket, protective head wear, cotton socks and underwear.  Females may prefer to pack skirts but they should also ensure that at least one pair of cotton trousers is available.

Additional items are toiletries, camera, notepad and pen, torch and batteries and a good book.

A backpacking holiday to South West China is an experience that will not be forgotten. However, it is important to pack sensibly otherwise the adventure can result in frustration carrying a very heavy rucksack and expensive when items are discarded or bought during the trip.

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