Beijing is a wonderful bustling metropolis: with people everywhere you turn and ancient wonders sitting next to modern roads as the world just passes by. Spending time in Beijing can leave you feeling both overwhelmed and privileged to be able to see how the city works. Your time in Beijing can be either enhanced, or made particularly difficult, by what you choose to pack or not pack in your suitcase. Every traveler knows they need to ensure they have their passports, visas and other travel documents. But what else should you pack? Here are a few hints and tips for your top Beijing packing essentials:

Temple of Heaven
Temple of Heaven in Bejing

1. Climate Appropriate Clothing

The temperatures in Beijing can be deceiving: whilst your weather app might tell you the temperatures are moderate during the summer months, the humidity means that the wrong clothes can still leave you feeling very uncomfortable. For summer in Beijing light clothing in breathable fabrics, such as cotton, work best. You’re also likely to want to change your clothes during the day in order to feel refreshed. During the winter, however, the temperatures plummet: Beijing is a wonderful place to visit during the cooler months, but you will need to pack your winter coat and several warm sweaters or pull overs.

2. Cold and Flu Medicine

Although most travel guides suggest leaving all but essential prescription medication at home, a small packet of cold and flu medicine is likely to come in handy. If you’re going to get sick during your time in Beijing, its likely that what will strike will be a respiratory ailment. This is because the high levels of smog and air pollution in the city make germs circulate more easily: that’s why you see so many local people wearing surgical masks over their mouths and noses during rush hour!

It’s also worth ensuring that you keep some hand santizer in your bag: the Chinese people are very friendly, particularly with foreign visitors, and it’s likely that you’ll be shaking a lot of hands! Regularly sanitizing yours will reduce the likelihood of caching that cold.

3. Nourishment for your mind

China is a beautiful and wildly diverse country, with so much to do and see that you can quickly forget all the important details. Journaling with a notebook and pen will help you to document your days for prosperity, and is also a wonderful way to bring calm and relaxation to your trip. From a practical point of view, having a notebook and pen in your bag is also handy for having your hotel concierge write down addresses, restaurant names and other vital information for you, which will make getting around much easier. If you get lost, a piece of paper with your hotel name and address on it will help a taxi driver to get you home, regardless of the language barrier.

If you’re an avid reader then you should also bring a book or two (or a tablet or e-reader loaded with books) to give your mind nourishment and entertainment for your trip. English language books are available in the city (although only in very few specialist shops) but they are very expensive, and the titles available tend to be restricted.

4. Bring a Bike Helmet

Beijing is a city full of bicycles: it is one of the most popular ways for locals to get around, and its likely that at some point during your trip you might decide to join them. Bikes are plentiful in Beijing and you’ll find it very easy to hire one. Bike helmets, however, are almost impossible to find: the locals simply don’t wear them! If you think that you will be cycling during your time in Beijing then think safety first and pop your bike helmet in your suitcase. The traffic in the city is manic, and ensuring you are wearing a helmet when you take to your bike will keep you as safe as possible. You should also consider packing a brightly colored tag or ribbon to attach to your bike: that way it will be easier to find among the sea of other bikes when you park it! Bicycling in Beijing is a wonderful way to experience the city like a local, as long as you plan ahead and put the right things in your suitcase.