Everyone traveling more for more than 3 days or outside of Beijing and Shanghai must have a visa, even if you are arriving for just a day. Normally a tourist visa is for a 30 day stay but you may be able to get up to 90 days if you ask. You can also get double entry visas easily for a little more money while a multiple entry visa may be more difficult. You can normally get your visa extended while in China so if you think you don’t have enough time don’t worry too much.
Unless you are traveling as part of a group, you will normally need to arrange your own visa. It may be that your travel agent can help you for a fee. Search on the internet for the Chinese embassy or consulate in you country nearest to you. Some countries such as the USA also have visa agents but this adds substantially to the cost. If you can go straight to the embassy/consulate it will be cheapest.
Apply for your tourist visa 30 to 60 days before departure. If you apply too far in advance the visa will expire as it has an “enter by” date. Details and application forms can be found on the web site of the Chinese embassy for your country. Visas are normally processed in 3-4 working days but you can pay extra to rush it. If you go to the visa office you may be able to get a visa on the same day for a fee.
You normally need one photograph, a filled in form for each person and a bank check or credit card. Fedex or other courier can handle the transfer and return.
Application fees vary from country to country, as it's a tit-for-tat on the costs. If your country charges Chinese citizens a lot in visa application fees, then they charge you a lot back. Thus a Chinese visa for an Australian passport holder is less than half the cost of an American.
Visas are generally easy to obtain in Hong Kong and other Asian capitals in 1 to 3 days, so if you are traveling this is an option. Make sure to show up at the right time to apply (usually before lunch), with cash and be ready to wait in line (bring a newspaper or book!).
Beijing and Shanghai 72-hour visaFrom January 1st, 2013 citizens of the following countries will be granted 72-hour visa-free entry to the cities Beijing and Shanghai:
Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Russia,the United Kingdom, Ireland, Cyprus, Bulgaria, Romania, Ukraine, the United States, Canada, Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Chile, Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, Japan, Singapore, Brunei, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar
If you are in possession of a valid third country visa and confirmed onward plane ticket, you may apply for a transit without visa permit (TWOV) at Beijing Capital International airport (PEK), Shanghai Pudong International Airport (PVG) and Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport (SHA).
This will allow you to enter China without a visa for up to 72 hours. Your 72 hours will begin to be counted from the moment you receive your TWOV permit at the Exit and Entry Administration desk at each of the above mentioned airports.
This 72-hour permit will allow you to remain in the city you entered through only (for example, if you fly into Shanghai Pudong or Shanghai Hongqiao International Aiport, you are not allowed to leave the city of Shanghai).
For more details, please check with your local Chinese Consulate or Embassy.
Cuandixia is a preserved Ming style village located a couple of hours outside Beijing, and is the perfect getaway from city life. Nestled in the hills, the people of Cuandixia live simply, much as they did in the past. Guests stay in modest but modern courtyard accommodation. Staying overnight means you can linger in the village, stroll through the green countryside and take things at...
If you want to see a more remote and authentic part of the Longsheng Rice Terraces, then a visit to Tiantouzhai Village is a great choice. The (uphill) walk takes 45 minutes to an hour and there is beautiful rice paddy scenery all along the way. You will stay overnight in a small inn and wake up to see the remarkable sunrise. What makes this tour special: Tiantouzhai is quiet and clean,...
Guilin → Longsheng Rice Terraces → Guilin
Starting and ending in Shanghai, this tour will take you to all the major sights of China’s financial capital before you embark on an epic cruise adventure. The cruise we include is on the Century Cruise line, the very best of the five star options! You’ll stop off from short time in Chongqing to explore the Three Gorges Museum, the Luohan Temple and Ciqikou, an ancient town and...
Shanghai → Chongqing → Yangtze River Cruises → Yichang → Shanghai
When wandering the streets of the Tibetan capital, the smell of incense, bright colors, and the sound of Buddhist mantras are everywhere you go. A trip to the Lhasa will teach you everything you want to know about Tibetan culture, cuisine and history. What makes this tour special: This short trip to the Tibetan capital has been designed especially for those with an interest in the culture...
Tibet / Lhasa
Discover two of China's lesser-known cities over the course of this four-day tour. Datong is home to some of the country’s most awe-inspiring ancient attractions, such as the Hanging Temple and gorgeous Yungang Buddhist Grottoes. The walled city of Pingyao is one of the best-preserved ancient towns in China and the birthplace of China's imperial banking system. What makes...
Beijing → Datong → Pingyao → Xi'an
For those with only a short time in Chengdu, this tour is perfect! We will take you to two of the area’s most exciting destinations: the Chengdu Panda Base and the Leshan Giant Buddha (the largest stone Buddha in the world)! You’ll meet the pandas first, as they are most active in the morning after a delicious bamboo breakfast! Your visit to the Leshan Buddha will start with a boat...
For those who want a quick getaway from the bustling city of Shanghai, this two-day tour, including a trip to the Great Wall, could be just the answer. Get a taste for the city by digging into to some delicious Beijing duck, originally served exclusively to the Emperor and his family. Spend the rest of the day visiting Beijing’s must-see attractions. The second day has two main...
Shanghai → Beijing → Shanghai
This tour takes you to one of the most magical parts of China, southern Anhui province. With the mystical Huangshan Mountain and numerous Huizhou villages dotted the surrounding hills, this is China at its most bucolic. What makes this tour special: You could spend days village-hopping or hiking around the Huangshan summit, but for this four-day tour, we have cherry-picked only the best of...
Huangshan → Huizhou Villages → Huangshan
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Shanghai → Hangzhou → Suzhou → Huangshan → Shanghai
Visit China's four most iconic cities in one tour. This trip gives visitors a taste of Chinese history, business, cuisine, and culture. You will be introduced to the legacy of China's dynastic past and gain an understanding of the country's transformation into a modern economic and cultural powerhouse. This is the perfect tour for city lovers. You will start in the capital,...
Beijing → Shanghai → Guangzhou → Hong Kong