7 Top Tips For Booking A Theme Park Trip To China

In case you couldn't tell, Conor and I recently did a little trip to China. And when I say recently I mean two months ago now. And when I say little I mean a huge three week trip across many of China's major cities. So basically 75% of that first sentence was a lie. But that's besides the point. China is a fucking BEAST. It's different from travelling in a western country in pretty much every way imaginable, so I can totally sympathise with anybody feeling a little intimidated about making a trip. But there are more pressing matters at hand, like the thousands of awesome coasters waiting for you once you crack it, so buckle up as I give you my top list of tips for booking a theme park trip to China!

As with all of these things, this info is based entirely on what Conor and I experienced during our trip. If you've experienced anything differently and have different tips, awesome - leave a comment below letting everyone know! The major point of this post is to demystify the idea that travelling to China is a burden so any helpful pointers are welcome. Here we go.

This is one Conor and I fucked up on. Everybody we spoke to assured us that there would be WiFi in abundance wherever we went in China, so we didn't worry too much about being able to connect to the Internet. Only snag is, you needed a Chinese phone number to log in to the majority of them, meaning that although there was indeed WiFi everywhere we weren't able to use it. Devastating.

To combat this I'd recommend doing one or both of the following: if possible grab yourself a Chinese sim card. You can pick these up in most corner shop type places for very cheap, meaning you'll easily be able to log in to WiFi everywhere.

Alternatively, bring your own WiFi with you! You can purchase a little portable WiFi buddy to have with you at all times - just select the plan you think matches your expected usage and you're sorted. A lot of these do also allow you to top up when you're running low so you should be safe.

If you're really stuck we did find that we could easily access most of our hotels' internet, and at a lot of the parks we simply went to guest services and an employee would log in for us.

Now, once you're online you'll need a VPN to access most social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter to get past the good ol' Chinese firewall! We used ExpressVPN which was really easy and self-explanatory to use. Similarly to the portable WiFi thingies, you just select your plan based on how long you'd like to use the VPN for and pay for it before you go. Easy!

When in doubt, print Chinese versions of everything. Once we had our itinerary and had everything booked, I made sure I had Chinese versions of everything from travel information to hotel bookings. We booked all of our hotels through Booking.com, which helpfully offer a Chinese printed version of all of your bookings. RCDB are also really good at having the name of the attraction written in Chinese, so make sure you screenshot that and take it with you for when you're trying to get a taxi - honestly it really saved us on multiple occasions.

Do not be fooled by the abundance of trains seemingly going everywhere at all hours of the day - they can and do sell out. Use an app such as CTrip to pre-book your journeys - not only is it cheaper, but if you find that you've arrived earlier than expected you can simply get in the queue and ask to be switched to an earlier train. It's mega, mega easy.

Whilst we're on the subject of train tickets, make sure you leave time to queue and collect. If you have multiple tickets booked you can pick these up all at once, but these booths get really busy and whilst the workers are fast, it can take a while to get seen. Leave yourself a buffer of at least 30 minutes and you should be sweet!

For taxis, whilst there will be a ton of them around in busy places like train stations and cities, I would also recommend downloading the 'Chinese Uber' app DiDi. It works pretty much exactly the same as Uber and I'm now told it translates between English and Chinese, so you don't have to worry about your driver not being able to understand you or vice versa. This works particularly well for getting to the more obscure parks as it allows you to set the destination to ensure there's no confusion. Also it's way cheaper too!

Again, a piece of advice we would have loved to have known before we visited! Apparently in China, Monday is often the day many parks opt to undertake maintenance works on a lot of their rides, and was probably the reason why our trip to Happy Valley in Shanghai was quite so spiteful. I'm not sure how far this extends outside of the Happy Valley brand, but if you have the days to spare I would suggest it's best to avoid. We found that it's actually not too bad to visit on weekends as the large majority of park guests tend to be school children, who aren't at school then so often it was quieter! Speaking of which...

The Chinese school groups are so much fun, but I can see how they could be intimidating if you don't really like a lot of attention. Be warned, they will HOUND you for photos, try to take pictures of you not-so-subtly, want to test out their English on you, etc etc. There's no malice in it, but it's definitely something to be aware of if that kind of thing makes you anxious.

Also, don't be disheartened if you arrive at a park and it's swarming with armies of kids in matching tracksuits - they'll all bugger off between 2-3PM leaving whatever park you're in like a ghost town, meaning loads of time for re-rides. You'll be fine, I promise.

We had a lot of fun with this between Conor's thick Belfast accent and little-to-nobody speaking English. What's really helpful is downloading a translate app before you go that works offline so you're not caught out if you happen to be caught with your pants down and no signal. Because our languages are so different, sometimes the translation isn't quite right but between you and whomever you're trying to talk to I'm sure you'll figure it out! Also, there's usually at least one person around with a vague grasp of English if you're truly desperate! The other good thing is that we often found that even if they couldn't speak English, the staff members did everything in their power to try and help us which was really good to see.

Pretty much nowhere accepts card, and anybody who tells you different is a damn liar. China kind of...skipped the credit card thing and went straight to mobile pay. If you're up for it, download Alipay and speak to your bank about how to ensure it works when you're out there - literally everywhere accepts it from the food stalls to theme parks to taxis. It works by scanning a barcode which charges your bank account similarly to how Apple Pay works when connected through your phone - don't ask me for the details but there's something in there about needing a Chinese phone number or bank account to get verified to make sure you get set up properly before you head out.

Alternatively, use cash. I literally never have cash so the idea of carrying it around is always a bit of a burden to me but honestly it's just the easiest and most straightforward option. You'll find ATMs all over the place if you're running short.

Hopefully that helps a bit and gives you a little bit of insight into what a trip like this entails! As always with this stuff, if you have any specific questions I'm more than happy to help if you want to pop me a message on the C&C Facebook page. Or alternatively if you have anything else you'd like to add please feel free to leave a comment below!

Talk later xoxo,


  1. VPNs are having issues in China a lot. So, before buying do contact the company's support for confirmation whether it's working. I did the same with PureVPN support and they guided me on which servers were working.