7 Ways To Protect Yourself While Battling Air Pollution In China

Traveling to China can be exotic and thrilling, except you’re probably worried sick about air pollution and smog issues.

Shanghai, China
UNSPLASH Photoholgic

Well, we don’t blame ya! Cities like Beijing and Shanghai have been struggling with air pollution for years, due to coal-powered industry and vehicle emission. Though we feel sorry for folks who live there (and live with their masks,) how do we enjoy an epic trip despite unpredictable smog level? Here are some dirty tricks.

1. Meet your BFF for the trip: PM2.5 index app.

In case you needed some background info: PM 2.5, or Particulate matter, is a form of fine particles pollution that contain less than 2.5 microns (0.0025mm) in diameter. They’re sneaky and are small enough to slip right into your lungs and bloodstream. According to World Health Org,  believes PM2.5 index per cubic meter is a safe level.

Before heading out the door every morning, check the Pollution Index via the app (iOS, Android) or Beijing Air Pollution: Real-time Air Quality Index (AQI) website.

2. Hello, your other bestie: mask!

Fashion fail or saving your life from lung cancer, take your pick! Don’t go to a local 7-Eleven, most of them will be useless. Look for good ones online! Keyword when looking for a sturdy mask is: N90+, aka: 90+% of pollution particles in air. Some other elements you want to look for are: large filters with small air gaps, cotton or surgical masks won’t do the job due to material, and ones with great ventilation for comfortable breathing space. In my humbly fashionable opinion, it’s hard to make masks look sexy, but Cambridge Mask Company and Vogmask sell really fun ones!

3. Plan some indoor activities in your itinerary.

And we’re not talking about malls, they’re not what you came to China for. But a few hours in museums, cool restaurants and bars or lounges will put a smile on your face when the weather is lookin’ pretty smoggy, I mean, foggy.

4. Taxi, anyone?

On days when PM2.5 index is skyrocketing, skip the subways or crowded buses. Splurge on cabs and keep your windows closed.

5. Drink lots of water.

Or green tea, or other anti-oxidants to boost your immune system. Go back to that good ol’ saying: just pee it out!

6. Plan for countryside excursions.

The further away you are from major cities, the less smoggy the air becomes. The Great Wall is a prime example of a popular landmark that’s 89km away from downtown Beijing, which means it has a much better air quality.

7. Wash that beautiful face of yours!

Every night when you return to the hotel and hitting the sack, make sure to WASH your face (there’s a reason why the verb is capitalized.) Clean your nose and pat down your clothes. No joke, make this a ritual and your day with end on a luminous note!

This is not to deter you from tripping to China, it’s a beautiful country with incredible sights. But being prepared is the best you can do in this case! Have fun.

Wendy Hung


As the founder of Jetset Times, Wendy is an avid traveler and fluent in five languages. When she's not traveling, Wendy calls Paris and Taipei home. Her favorite countries so far from her travels have been: Bhutan, Iran, and St. Bart's because they were all so different!

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