No more PCR tests will be needed to enter China, as of 29 April.
Indeed, with regards to COVID-19 entry requirements to China, things have come a long way, even since the first quarter of 2023. In other words, it’s no longer a sisyphean task to enter the country, particularly as a non-resident.
The last time I was in China was actually in November 2019, about 20 days before Wuhan was sealed off from the world. I was in Guangzhou and Shenzhen, exploring where the British sliced off Hong Kong from the mainland, riding around in bumper cars that had seen better years, and enjoying delicious combinations of cloyingly sweet east meets west desserts:
Even though I have lived in China on a couple of different occasions, I can’t get enough of traveling around it; it probably explains why, during the pandemic, I would seek out Chinatowns while the borders were closed. The ever-growing rail network — high-speed or otherwise — helps one forget that the Chinese air force regularly delays flights. The food is typically awesome — but is it all really food? — and I always keep a look out for spontaneous night markets. And the grottoes and karst formations — i.e. the natural landscapes — are inimitable.
No more PCR tests is a great step. But you still need an antigen test. Well, the Chinese government strongly advises visitors to bring results of an antigen test 48 hours prior to your arrival. However, since it has been about 3.5 years since my last visit, I have a bigger concern than random entry requirements: QR codes.
When I left Guangzhou, I noticed more and more stores were shifting to contactless pay, in those cases, the Chinese brands WeChat Pay and Alipay. Sometimes, I’d have to chase down an employee to open the till, as I didn’t have access to those QR codes. Heck, I even saw a sweet potato vendor on some unlit backstreet in the boonies of Guangzhou who preferred the QR codes.
What’s the situation like these days? Are Beijing and Shanghai (and I suppose Guangzhou) going to be an issue? Should I stick with the less economically developed parts of the country, ostensibly where contactless pay is less diffuse? Does anyone have recent/current experience in the Tier 1 cities (Beijing/Shanghai/Guangzhou/Shenzhen), and anywhere else? I’d like to hear your thoughts.