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.
1 day • CNY 810
Terracotta, clay and ceramics are incredibly important in Xi’an, and they have been for thousands of years. Nothing could make that clearer than a visit to the celebrated Terracotta Warriors and the Fuping Ceramic Village. What makes this tour special: In Fuping, you will be able to check out the works of local people, Chinese artists and international ceramists. Even better, you will...
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
If you want to see the gorgeous rice paddies of China but you are on a tight schedule, this one-day tour will suit you very well! You will leave Guilin for Ping'an village in the morning and return to Guilin at night. On arrival in Ping’an you will have free time to explore the village, followed by a tasty lunch. Then you have the whole afternoon to hike around the rice terraces and...
Guilin → Longsheng Rice Terraces → Guilin
When most people hear the words ‘Beijing art scene’, they imagine ancient architecture, Chinese calligraphy and ink paintings; but there is so much more going on than that. On the outskirts of Beijing lies Songzhuang, a traditional Chinese village that has been taken over by a community of artists and is now home to creative types from all over China and the rest of the world. We...
This tour takes you from the country's economic seat in the east, Shanghai, to the ceiling of the world in the west, Lhasa. You will start with a few days in Shanghai, seeing the major sites and experiencing the modernity of China. Then you will travel to the center of the country, Xi'an, where you will be introduced to China's ancient history. Finally, you will fly to...
Shanghai → Xi'an → Tibet / Lhasa → 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
This tour includes all the best of Qingdao, China's German city on the sea. Once a protectorate of Germany, Qingdao still holds on to it's European legacy through its architecture and the famous Tsingdao beer. It's seaside location also makes it China's sailing capital and a great destination during the summer. In addition to the city sights, this tour also includes...
There is more to visiting the Great Wall of China than simply ticking something off a bucket list, so why not do it in style? Pamper yourself with this fantastic overnight escape. Walk at your own pace along the Great Wall and around the Ming Tombs, as our guides share their expert knowledge on China’s rich history. You will stay overnight at the tranquil ‘Brickyard at Mutianyu.’ The...
This tour includes all of the major destinations along the Yangtze River Delta. Your trip will start and end at Shanghai's Pudong Airport. The river running through the center of Shanghai is more than just a pretty sight. The name ‘The Bund’ refers to the historic row of banks built before World War II by the foreign powers of the time. On the opposite side of the river is Pudong...
Shanghai → Water Towns → Suzhou → Hangzhou