QR codes and dramatic vistas: tips for traveling during the pandemic


It might be tough to imagine traveling again, but it is happening slowly in China. The Chinese national health commission has been reporting, on average, a handful of COVID-19 infections and over a dozen asymptomatic cases a day for the last two weeks.

The country’s borders remain shut to foreigners even if they have a valid work visa, but in theory people can travel freely within the country.

During the recent labor holiday, tourism revenue dropped by 60% to 47.6 billion yuan ($6.7 billion) from May 1 to May 5 compared to last year. The number of trips made during the same period dropped 41% to 115 million.

However, without a vaccine, there are still many measures in place to help stop the spread of the coronavirus.

I recently got a taste of those measures on my vacation in the lush greenery of southwestern China’s Yunnan province, 1,600 miles from Shanghai.

Here are my tips for traveling in a COVID-19 world.

Coronavirus travel tip #1: Book more time off because it’ll take longer to reach your vacation spot

What is usually a 3.5-hour direct flight from Shanghai to my destination city of Dali took more than 12 hours. Flights in and out of the Dali airport have been cut by more than half.

The fastest route I found was to fly from Shanghai to the provincial capital of Kunming, hop on a high-speed train to Dali, then take a Didi (the Uber or Lyft of China) to the ancient village of Shuanglang.

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