Hospital isn’t for sure in top 10 or top 100 places that you wish to visit whether you are tourist or an expat in China. But however you never know if some acute situation can happen and you will have to visit doctor. For foreigners who cannot speak Chinese it is best to visit  hospital which offers services in English. In Beijing there are at least 3 hospitals that I know which offer services in English. Among them are Peking Union Medical College Hospital, Beijing United Family Hospital and Sino-Japanese Friendship Hospital in Beijing. I can speak about Beijing as I have most experience with Beijing but however in other large and developed cities such as Shanghai, Guangzhou, Tianjin, Nanjing,  Chongqing. Qingdao,  Hangzhou, Chengdu ,  Guiyang,  Haikou, Xiamen, Lanzhou, Fuzhou, Kunming,  Xian, Xining, Yinchuan, Dalian, Dali, Hefei, Yanbian, Shenyang, Changchun,  Nanjing,  Changsha,  Harbin, Zhengzhou, Nanchang,  Yichang, Shenzhen and other you will find for sure hospitals that offer services in English. I have personal experience with Peking Union Medical College Hospital and I will give you several tips what to do and what to expect if you find yourself in unpleasant situation. Procedures do not differ much between hospitals so you can take my tips as reliable.

Procedure seems complicated but after you read this I hope it will be clarified

Tip1: Peking Union Medical College Hospital is ranked as best hospital in China. It provides high quality services and possesses modern technology that is on level of international standards.


It is situated and located in center of Beijing. Take Subway Line1 and get out at Dongdan station exit A. Hospital is less than 600m by walk from there. Check link:”/Beijing,+Haidian,+%E4%B8%9C%E5%8D%95%E5%B8%85%E5%BA%9C%E5%9B%AD1%E5%8F%B7%E5%8C%97%E4%BA%AC%E5%8D%8F%E5%92%8C%E5%8C%BB%E9%99%A2%E4%B8%9C%E9%99%A2/@39.9107086,116.416016,17z/am=t/data=!4m13!4m12!1m5!1m1!1s0x35f052cb52e5858f:0xa0d830030ca17ee2!2m2!1d116.4192653!2d39.9088078!1m5!1m1!1s0x35f04fe07a3582b1:0xb5b4f37a382b9cdf!2m2!1d116.4174237!2d39.9125791

Tip2: Search for an outpatient department. It isn’t hard to find it as all boards have English signs as well. It is also indicated where is department for international services. You don’t have to book examination days earlier what is often done in Europe. It is enough to come in morning take a place in front of register desk and wait when your turn comes. For register procedure you need to show your passport or your residence permission card. Register procedure is 5RMB and you receive registration card.

Tip3: Since you have registered you proceed to another desk where are nurses which can speak English. They ask you what kind of doctor you need and than according to your problem you decide whether it is: internist, cardiologist, urologist, orthopedist, ophthalmologist, neurologist, gynecologist, psychiatrist… If you are not sure describe your symptoms to nurse briefly and she will see which doctor you need. In my case it was internist as I suspected on appendicitis.  When you tell her what you need she arranges you meeting with specialist through computer. Than you go to cashier to pay 100RMB for examination. You will be given your registration number and a room number in front of which you have to wait. While waiting for examination in corridor nurses can measure your temperature or your pressure.  I have been waiting for just 15 minutes.

A woman walks inside the Peking Union Medical College Hospital on the eve of the Chinese Lunar New Year in Beijing
A woman walks inside the Peking Union Medical College Hospital on the eve of the Chinese Lunar New Year, in Beijing, China, February 7, 2016. According to local media, traffic in Beijing sees a rare relieve from its usual heavy pressure, after 15 million people left the city heading for their hometown for family reunion on the eve of the Chinese Lunar New Year of Monkey. REUTERS/Jason Lee – RTX25U0O

Tip3: When you are called inside by name or registration number you will be examined by specialist. Describe your symptoms in detail. Chinese doctors may seem confused or shy and not attending to ask you much questions. They can be embarrassed as you are a foreigner and afraid to make a mistake and lose face so hospital will have bad image. Doctors will do their best to help you. Doctor may check place where you have pain or something like that.  If necessary doctor can send you for further examinations. For example I had to do ultrasound examination of abdomen, blood and urine test.

Tip4: After getting paper on which was written which examinations I have to do I had to go to cashier to pay 1800RMB for those 3 tests. Then you go to room for taking blood and they will give you also small bottle where you will have to leave urine. Results are ready in around 30min. And you pick them from machine in a corridor- enter your registration number and your result will come out on small printed paper. If you do not understand Chinese ask nurse nearby she will help you. Also after ultrasound test you get picture with description of your findings.

Tip5: Go back to your doctor with results you have received.  After that doctor will review results, decide whether you need further examination, therapy or to be admitted to hospital. Thanks God I didn’t have appendicitis but some other problem with intestines so I just got some medicines prescribed. But as I heard from one friend surgery would cost around 4300RMB ( including cost of anesthetics) and excluding cost of staying in hospital which is around 100RMB per day. Also I have heard that after surgeries nurses are careful and take a good care of you After that I went to cashier to pay for medicines which cost me around 150RMB. With prescription than you go to the hospitals pharmacy. Good thing is that every hospital has pharmacy so you can take your medication directly there. You show prescription at pharmacy and they see in system that you have paid and they give you your medicines.  China has all modern world known medicines they make have Chinese brand names but do not worry they have same content as medicines in your country.

Tip6: If you didn’t had time to visit doctor during regular working time 8am-5pm go to the emergency department. They also provide services for foreigners. Also if you have some severe problem during any day  go to the emergency department directly, cost of examination there is 200RMB and they provide services 00-24.

Tip7: Doctors usually speak good English, nurses a bit less good but you will understand each other.

Tip8: As you see prepare a lot of money. Chinese hospitals with English services are not so cheap. You can also pay by card. If you need additional money it is best to take some friend with you. Chinese doctors will not examine you until you pay so  if you have lack of money contact your embassy they are supposed to give you all necessary help.  I think it is the best to buy travel insurance in your country before you start a trip in China. If you are residing in China employee will have to provide you health insurance.

Tip9: If you speak Chinese fluently use it as an opportunity and go to some ordinary less ranked hospital that doesn’t provide services in English costs are much cheaper: registration fees are just 2RMB and examination around 20RMB. Such hospitals may seem less clean and less modern then those highly ranked hospitals but  don’t worry doctors are good and reliable as well. If you do  not speak Chinese you can take friend that speaks Chinese. Otherwise you will be directed to the hospital with foreign services as Chinese doctors do not want to make mistake and lose reputation.


Tip10: If you find yourself in some remote rural area or if you had a traffic accident or need urgent medical help in the city call ambulance. In most of rural areas healthcare is very limited to only basic services  and in some special situation you will have to call ambulance and be taken to closest emergency facility. Ambulance number is 119. Most of rural spots do not have English speaking doctor.  In some remote tourist areas there are emergency basic services but later you will be taken to closest hospital department if necessary.

source of cover photo


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