China is a mystical and magical land. For most westerners, this country is a little secret gem waiting to be discovered. It is one of the most popular among Canadian destination guides as well as the rest of North America.

One must remember, however, that China is a whole different world than that which lies west of its borders. Here are the top ten tid-bits of information all North American and even European tourists must know before jetting off to the Land of the Rising Sun:

1. Dress in Layers

The weather in China can shift from cool to steamy hot and from dry to soaking rain in minutes. For this reason, it is best to dress in layers and choose light fabrics over dark to avoid over-heating.

2. Don’t Forget Vaccines

Chinese food and drinks are crawling with microbes that are not found in western food and drink. These microbes are usually not deadly to a foreigner but one can become sick if not properly immunized beforehand.

3. Visas May Take a While

China is a communist country and so it takes a bit longer to get a tourist’s visa. Be sure to begin this process at least four months in advance so that there will not be any unpleasant surprises or disappointments.

4. Street Food is Delicious and Safe

Don’t miss out on the fantastic and famous street food of China’s big cities. This is, in many ways, better than the food found in top restaurants. Street food is a big part of Chinese culture and should be enjoyed by tourists.

5. Toilet Paper is a Privilege

There are so very many things westerners take for granted. Toilet paper is one of the biggest example of this. China has public restrooms, yes, however, these restrooms do not have toilet paper. Bring your own and keep plenty with you.

6. Visit Your Own Pharmacy First

Stock up on those things that can make you feel better such as ibuprofen and stomach pain relief. Such medications cost a premium in China, if they are available at all.

7. As With Most Foreign Lands-Don’t Drink the Water

The people of China are used to drinking this bacteria-filled water and so their bodies have created anti-bodies to fight off infection as a result. However, a foreigner can grow painfully ill from drinking the water. Be sure to buy bottled water, even when brushing teeth.

8. Don’t Believe the Communist Hype

China and other communist countries can get such a horrible reputation thanks to their form of government. However, China wouldn’t be in the list of the top Canadian destination guides if the country was unsafe to travel. China wants to open its arms to the North American dollar so don’t worry that you won’t feel welcomed.

9. There’s a Slight Stench in the Air

Just so there are no surprises or concerns, know that there is a slight and sometimes strong stench in the air. Personal hygiene isn’t the obsession in China as it is in North America and Western Europe.

10. Keep Your Money Hidden

China is densely populated and a pick-pocketer’s dream. Take every precaution to protect your money and leave valuable possessions in your hotel safe or at home.