pre-departure: vaccinations and insurance

For vaccinations you should contact your local health care providers to ensure you get the most up-to-date information. Below is some informal advice based on our and our previous volunteers’ experience over the years. This should not be taken as authoritative and you should contact health care professionals before finalising your vaccination and insurance plans.

Volunteers on our programmes often comment on how much safer China feels than the UK and USA. Though people typically have a great time in China you should still exercise a sensible level of caution and be prepared. Neither our organisation nor our partner schools can accept liability for any difficulties that you may encounter – but naturally we will do all we can to assist in any way possible. We have provided placements to hundreds of volunteers over the years, and never yet encountered any major problems – the most common hassles travellers run into are instances of petty theft at tourist sites and traveller’s diarrhoea. We suggest: you exercise normal caution, avoid suspicious situations, take care of your belongings, do not eat anything suspect, carry a basic first aid kit, use common sense, and of course don’t break any local laws. For more information, we suggest checking

  • Travel advisories of the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office accessible at
  • Travel Warnings Section of the U.S. State Department at (202) 647-5225 or
  • Travel advisories of the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade accessible at

For medical information, we recommend consulting the U.S. Centers for Disease Control at (877) FYI-TRIP or online at


Before coming to China the UK’s NHS recommends that you are vaccinated against Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Polio, and Typhoid. Additional vaccinations for Rabies are recommended particularly for those going to rural areas that are far away from major hospitals (none of our placements fit this category)  likewise the vaccination for Japanese Encephalitis, though not required, is recommended for anyone travelling in areas with paddy fields such as Yangshuo. In the last years few volunteers have not chosen the latter two vaccinations as they are quite expensive but if you have the option to get them then do get them.

Malaria is extremely unlikely to be an issue as China is not in a Malaria zone. If you have travel plans to South East Asia you might consider taking Malaria medication with you from the UK or USA. Those joining us for programmes right on China’s border with South East Asian countries (currently only programmes in Xishuangbanna) should seek the latest advice as sometimes anti-malarials are recommended there. Please check out the NHS Fit for Travel website for more info:

Prior to departure you must also take out comprehensive travel and health insurance, including emergency repatriation. Please do your research properly and choose a provider that suits your needs – legally we are unable to make a recommendation but in previous years participants have often opted for Lonely Planet’s recommended provider: Global Nomads.