East Asia travel safety advice
East Asia is probably one of the safest regions on the planet for travelers, at least when it comes to violent crime and is characterized by stable politics and low crime. The main exceptions are China's restive western territories of Xinjiang and Tibet, along with its accompanying counties and prefectures, but even there the heavy police presence keeps crime low and it's not usually foreigners who are targeted. It is standard practice to block visitor entry at the slightest hint of trouble to China's Tibetan regions or during important dates, so know before you go or you may be turned away from buying a bus or train ticket and have to re-route your entire trip in sudden frustration.
Large parts of China and especially Japan and Taiwan are at significant risk from earthquakes. If you're indoors and you feel a shake, stay indoors, as running outside during a quake is the most likely way you'll be injured or killed. Extinguish gas burners and candles and beware of falling objects and toppling furniture. Shelter under furniture or a doorway if necessary. If you're outdoors, stay away from brick walls, glass panels and vending machines, and beware of falling objects, telephone cables etc. Falling roof tiles from older and traditional buildings are particularly dangerous, as they can drop long after the quake has ended.
Many parts of East Asia are mountainous. Use caution when driving or trekking up in these areas. Driving in mainland China can be very dangerous with little to no law enforcement and very risky road habits.
The air quality in the mega-cities of China can border on terrible to out right dangerous. People with serious respiratory problems should seriously consider not traveling here for long periods. The fact that over 60% of the adult male population smokes doesn't help matters. With the exception of Hong Kong (with strict enforcement), and a few western establishments and places in Beijing nothing is off limits for tobacco smoke in China.
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The Most Frequently Asked Travel Questions about East Asia