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General Travel Tips in China

How to Get a Chinese Visa


To obtain a Chinese visa, your passport must be valid for more than six months after the expected expiry date of your visa, with at least one blank visa page. For multiple-entry visas a longer validity period may be required.

If you are planning to stay for an extended period of time it is advisable to register your passport with your embassy. If you loose your passport while in China this will make the process of getting a new one much easier. You will require some form of identification in order to get a new passport. ID cards with you photo may be useful as would an expired passport.


How to Apply?

You should present your passport, a completed visa application form (The People's Republic of China Visa Application Form) and one recent passport photo (black and white or colour) to your local Chinese embassy. Your travel agent may also be able to help you organize your visa. You should apply for your visa about one month before you intend to leave, although it should only take a week for your visa to be processed. Visas may be obtained more quickly but additional fees may be required. The cost of the visa will depend on your country and the length and type of visa you are applying for. Contact your local Chinese Embassy/Consulate for details.

Types of Visas?

The following are the most common types of visas:

L Travel/family visit visa (luxing)
F Business (fangwen)
D Resident (dingju)
G Transit (guojing)
X/F Student (liuxue)
Z Working (renzhi)

Tourists/family visit (L Visa)

For most tourists a single entry 30 day L Travel visa is appropriate. Depending on the policy of your local embassy you may be able to obtain a 60 day tourist visa if you specify multiple cities to visit. Once you are in China you may extend your visa for a maximum of 90 days (30day extensions).

To obtain a tourist visa you may be required to present a travel itinerary, airline tickets, or an invitation from relatives to be visited. Additionally you may be required to provide actual airline tickets showing departure from China. A single entry, or a multiple entry visa can be obtained.

Business/Official Visit (F Visa)

In order to obtain a Business visa, you require an official invitation from a Chinese government department, Company or organizations that has received authorization from the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Only an official invitation accompanied by a letter from the company will suffice. An invitation that has not received the official "stamp" will not be accepted. You may apply for a single, double or multiple entry visa.

Resident (D Visa)

Applicants for resident visas must apply for residency by themselves or through their relatives in China. The application for residency should be made to the local Entry and Exit Administration division of the public Security Department in China, so if you are applying by yourself you will probably have to travel to China to complete the application. The process is quite complicated and lengthy, so if you are not completely familiar with China and the language, you would be well advised to gain the assistance of a local Chinese person.

Transit (G Visa)

A valid visa for the country of destination or an invitation, and an airline ticket/travel itinerary showing transit through China is required.

Student (X/F Visa)

Along with the visa application, you must provide an approved JW201 or JW202 (Foreign Student Visa Application Form) issued by the State Education Ministry of China, and an enrollment letter from the receiving university. An F visa will be issued for those who study for less than 6 months, and X visa for those who study in China for longer than 6 months.
Only single entry study visas are available.

Working/Employment (Z visa)

Obtaining a work visa is quite a detailed process requiring approval from a number of Chinese authorities. Your employer in China should visit the Labour Office to obtain appropriate application forms and instructions. It may take several weeks to get all the forms signed and sealed. An official invitation from the government will be issued which must be taken to a Chinese embassy/visa office in a foreign country in order to obtain a working visa. Once you arrive in China you will be required to register with several government agencies and the police department to obtain the official working and residence permit. You may then continue working almost indefinitely given you have a contract with the company and regularly extend the relevant documents.

Note: For foreigners staying in China longer than one year must also submit a notarized health certificate as part of the working visa application. This can be obtained within China or obtained overseas and notarized. Details of the requirements can be obtained by contacting the local Chinese Labour Office

How to Extend Your Visa?

Theoretically you should be able to get an extension by simply visiting the Public Security office in any Chinese town, and filling out a visa extension form. However, Chinese visa officers can be remarkably pragmatic. Depending on your luck it may simply involve filling out a visa extension application form, or they may demand some sort of "evidence" to support your application. This may include a plane/train ticket, or a letter from a Chinese friend/company. Some Public Security (Police) departments will require a letter explaining the reason for your wish to extend the visa. You may have to gain the help of a Chinese friend to write a letter explaining the reasons for you extended stay in China. The process of applying for and extending visas is becoming a lot easier, but depending on where you go it can still be a confusing and frustrating experience. Please note that a tourist visa is only extendable up to a maximum of 90days, after which you must leave the country.

The above information is only a guide. Please contact your local Chinese Embassy for more details

- Click here to download Chinese visa application form (zip format)

- Embassies Worldwide

Where to buy the air tickets to China?
1. Please consult your tour agent at home, they will give your some valuable guidance of air flights to China.
2. Searching the Internet, sometimes you can find a good bargain luckily.
3. Contact us, we can provide you with some useful information about international flights to China.

When to Go

China is huge and so are the climatic differences between the areas. She is a year-round destination; the months of May, September, and October are ideal months for travel anywhere in the country. In the north, the winters are cold, and summers warm, with moist monsoon air streams making it hot (80% of China's rainfall occurs between late May and early October, mostly in the Southern regions). June through August is a good time to visit central and northern China. Spring and autumn are the best months for travel in Southern China. The months of March and April are the lower priced shoulder-season; while the lowest price, off-season travel, is from November through the winter months. This is when adventuresome travelers are rewarded with quite low prices and far fewer fellow tourists.

Therefore, the best time to thoroughly visit China is autumn: not too hot, not too humid and not too cold. Spring would be the second best. If you have no choice but to follow the flow of tourists during summer, do not worry however: statistically, most of them survive the experience and it is still possible to find fresh air in the mountainous areas.

What to Pack

It will be much easier to travel in a big country like China with light and convenient baggage. Pack lightly, and bring casual clothes. A comfortable pair of walking shoes is a necessity. A sport coat and tie for men and one or two dresses or pant suits for women will work on most formal occasions. Bring a couple of shirts, sweaters, and a jacket (depending on the season) that can be worn in layers to accommodate China's range of climates. Wash-and-wear clothing is preferable, although all hotels offer reliable laundry and dry cleaning services. 

When packing accessories, make sure of what's really important and take only the items you'll really use. (Keep in mind that there will be many opportunities to buy clothes to wear during your trip). Today's China is well stocked with most personal items, although you may prefer to take along your favorite brands. Most sundries are available from hotel housekeeping or at local markets, and film and videotape are available almost everywhere (high-speed and slide film is the exception). 

Some other useful things: Common toiletries, lip balm, sanitary napkins and any over-the-counter medicines you generally use, Hair dryer, shaver, alarm clock, mints or throat lozenges to keep your mouth moist. Reading materials, including a guidebook on the places you will visit. Sun screen lotion & sunglasses during the summer. Raincoat or umbrella if you go in April, July and August.

Customs Regulations

Tourists must fill out a baggage declaration form (in two copies) and hand it in to customs, retaining the carbon to show upon exit. Personal belongings will be admitted duty free, including food, two bottles of liquor and two cartons of cigarettes. Wristwatches, radios, tape recorders, cameras, movie cameras, and similar items may be brought in for personal use but cannot be sold or transferred to others and must be brought out of China. Gifts for relatives or friends in China, or articles carried on behalf of other, must also be declared. Visitors can bring in an unlimited amount of foreign currency and Chinese renminbi traveler's checks, and the unspent portion can be taken out. Bringing in the following articles is prohibited:
1. Arms, ammunition, and explosives of all kinds
2. Radio transmitters-receivers and principal parts
3. Renminbi (Chinese currency) in cash
4. Manuscripts, printed matter, films, photographs, gramophone records, cinematographic films, loaded recording tapes and videotapes, Easytour. which are detrimental to China's politics, economy, culture, and ethics
5. Poisonous drugs, habit-forming drugs, opium, morphine, heroin, Easytour.
6. Animals, plants and products thereof infected with or carrying germs and insect pests
7. Unsanitary foodstuffs and germ-carrying foodstuffs from infected areas
8. Other articles the import of which is prohibited by state regulations

Exit: On leaving China, tourists must again submit the baggage declaration form for customs inspection (the second copy). Travelers by ship are exempted. Items purchased in China with RMB converted from foreign currencies may be taken out or mailed out of the country after receipts are presented for customs inspection. In cities where a Customs Office does not exit, this can be arranged through the local Friendship Store.
Taking out the following articles is prohibited:
1. Arms, ammunition, and explosives of all kinds
2. Radio transmitters-receivers and principal parts
3. Renminbi (Chinese currency) in cash and negotiable securities in RMB
4. Unratified foreign currency, foreign notes or drafts
5. Manuscripts, printed matter, films, photographs, gramophone records, cinematographic films, loaded recording tapes and videotapes, Easytour. which are detrimental to China's national security
6. Valuable and precious copies of books about Chinese revolution, history, culture and art that are not for sale
7. Rare animals, plants, and seeds
8. Precious metals and diamonds ,and articles made from them
9. Other articles the export of which is prohibited by state regulations

Facts for Travelers

Restricted Areas: Tourists to China should be aware that Chinese regulations strictly prohibit travel in non-opened areas without special permission. However, over 1,200 cities and areas in China are open to visitors without special travel permits, including most major scenic and historical sites. 

Currency: The Chinese currency RMB yuan are issued in 1, 2, 5, 10, 50, 100 denominations. 1Yuan = 10Jiao (in 1, 2 & 5) = 100 Fen (in 1, 2 & 5). In China, foreign exchange is under the control of the Bank of China, so all the hotels have foreign exchange, which offers similar rate to the Banks. You can check the exchange rate here. 

Tipping: Nowadays, tipping is widely accepted among tour industry in China although the Government does not encourage it. But it is uncommon to tip in the local restaurants and other services. 

Credit Cards & Traveler's Checks: Traveler's checks are the safest way to take money with you on your holidays. The major foreign currencies can be easily exchanged in all the hotels used in China. Tourists can feel free to use all major credit cards in most hotels, restaurants and shopping centers. 

Health Requirements: No special vaccination is required, but those who have traveled from an infected area before coming to China should have vaccination records available for a Health Declaration form upon arrival. However, we recommend that you visit your family doctor for advice well in advance of travel date. Tourists are recommended to drink bottled water instead of tap water when they travel in China. 

Baggage: please do not over-pack. China now manufactures many consumer goods meeting international standards. Airlines only permit free baggage allowance of 20 kilos (44 lbs.) per person. 

Electricity: Throughout China 220 volt, 50 AC are used, although some 4 & 5-star hotels are wired for use of 110-volt electrical appliances. Electrical appliances will require an adapter that can change the shape of the plug prongs, as well as an electrical voltage converter that will allow a normal 110-volt appliance to take 220 Volt current. Some of hotels have a hair-dryer in each room, or you can ask for one at the reception desk. 

Insurance: Insurance is highly recommended on your own account at home. Travel insurance in major western countries covers a range of inconveniences from lost & damage of luggage, to flight delays & cancellations. All are subject to the terms and conditions set by the Insurance Company. It is strongly suggested that you read all the terms and conditions carefully prior to taking-out travel insurance. Besides, according to the regulations issued by China National Tourism Administration, all travel services are required to buy "travel agency's liability" insurance for tourists to secure tourists' benefits and legal rights on their arrival of China.

According to the regulations, the insurance company must compensate tourists, or their beneficiaries, for losses in the following situations: If physical injury or death occurs, the insurance must cover related costs of medicines, medical treatment, travel expense and accommodations; The insurance must cover the losses if tourists' belongings are lost, broken or stolen; The insurance must cover the cost for the lawsuit due to the disagreement of liability between the two sides.

The maximum compensation is 160,000 yuan (USD$19,350) for one overseas tourist based on the policy. For a travel agency state-authorized to handle international tour business, the maximum accumulated compensation in one year or one accident must be 4 million yuan (USD$483,600) or less. In the case of special tour services, travel agencies must work out relevant compensation standards and limits with their insurance companies. 

Safety: China is considered one of the safest countries in the world in which to travel. Crime rate is very low throughout China, and there are virtually no crimes committed against tourists visiting China. Even during the late evening hours travelers have little to be concerned about. The Chinese are friendly and hospitable, and Chinese law is quite strict. Please be aware that all Chinese hotels provide an in-room safe or locked security boxes at the front desk. Leave valuables at the hotel. If there is a problem report it immediately to your tour guide or the police. 

Airport Check in: International departure requires check-in at least 2 hours prior to departure. Domestic departure in China requires check-in at least 0.5 hour prior to departure. 

Departure Taxes: For international departures in China including the flights to Hong Kong and Macao, a tax of RMB$90 applies. Departure tax for most of domestic flights is 50 Yuan. Fees must be paid in Chinese currency at a special airport tax desk before check in. 

Hotel: A hotel rated with three or more stars has the following features:

  1. The rooms are cozily appointed and furnished, and the toilets are equipped with 110/220-volt electric sockets and provide hot water 24 fours a day. 
  2. Each guest room is equipped with an air-conditioning that is good enough to keep room temperature at a comfortable level. 
  3. A telephone is installed in each room to allow the guest to make domestic or international long-distance calls through the operator. 
  4. There are both a color TV set and a stereo system in each room. 
  5. There are effective soundproof facilities, as well as curtains that can block the sunlight. 
  6. Stationery appropriate to the rating of the hotel is available in every guest room. 

The following facilities and services are available in hotels rated with three or more stars: Chinese restaurant, Western restaurant, cafe, banquet hall, ball room, massage parlous, store, beauty parlous meeting hall, commercial center, gym, florist's shop, clinic, parking lot, bookstore, credit-handling and foreign exchange conversion center, DDD and IDD telephone services, room service, child care, facilities for the handicapped, karaoke hall, KTV room, chess and card playing room, billiards room, and ping-pong room. 

Some four-star or five-star hotels are also equipped with swimming pools, bowl golf courses, saunas, safety-deposit boxes, as well as facilities for fishing, boating, horseback riding, hunting, sharp shooting and other sports.

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