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 650
If you have never been to Beijing before, the day you take this tour may seem like one of the busiest, yet most fulfilling of your life! Not only will you venture to the Great Wall of China and take in the fabulous mountainside views, but you will also visit the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square, both places of tremendous cultural importance to people from all over China. Each element of the...
2 days • CNY 1,000
Finding your way around a new city in China is hard; it’s as simple as that. That’s why we are here to give you an intro to Beijing, featuring everything from the Forbidden City to The Great Wall. Sure, two days is a little on the short side if you want to really get to know the city, but we will try our best to give you a full overview of the history and culture of the area. And if you...
This tour is for those who have just one day to see the best of Shanghai. We start off with the city’s more traditional side, by visiting the Jade Buddha Temple and the beautiful Yuyuan Garden. Nanjing Road and the Bund are the perfect in-between, with elements of old and new. One side of the river, ‘the Bund’, is lined with European banks that have been standing for over a hundred years;...
2 days • CNY 1,300
This tour in our opinion is the best way to see Suzhou and Tongli, taking your time and spending a night in Suzhou. Your tour starts and ends at your hotel in Shanghai. On the first morning we drive to Tongli, stroll the canals and have a boat ride. After lunch on the canal we will drive to Suzhou where you will visit the Lingering Garden, one of Suzhou's most famous and popular...
Shanghai → Water Towns → Suzhou → Shanghai
Your adventure starts in Beijing. You will be able to visit all of the capital’s must-see sights, as well as take the path less trodden by exploring the hutongs (or traditional alleyways) many of which have been standing since the Ming Dynasty. An important stop on the celebrated Silk Road, Pingyao is steeped in history. Your Pingyao quest is to become a calligraphy master, or if you...
Beijing → Pingyao → Xi'an → Luoyang → Beijing
Although usually visited as a day trip from Shanghai, Suzhou is a great place to spend a little more time. This tour includes all the major sites in Suzhou to give a rounded experience of the city's gardens, museums, and old alleys. Suzhou's charm reveals itself in between sites, when visitors take the time to notice the details of life along it's famous cobbled streets and...
1 day • CNY 890
Our one day Chongqing tour includes the municipality's most famous sights. Our guide and driver will pick you up in the morning and take you to the new Three Gorges Museum. For lunch, you will enjoy an excellent Chongqing hot pot meal. The afternoon will be spent visiting the Dazu Grottoes, one of China's four ancient Buddhist cave art sites. As with all our tours, the itinerary is...
This tour takes an incredible pilgrimage through Tibet, visiting the most important historic and cultural sights along the way. Starting in Lhasa you will visit the Potala Palace, several monasteries and walk the Barkhor with Tibetans on their own holy pilgrimage. On your road trip around Tibet you will visit Samye Monastery, then the cities of Gyantse and Shigatse. Next a trip to Namtso...
Beijing → Tibet / Lhasa → Tsedang → Gyantse → Shigatse → Namtso Lake → Tibet / Lhasa
Take a step back in time away from the hustle and bustle of daily life as you experience this three day tour in some of China's most picturesque ancient villages nestled in between rivers and mountains. During this tour, you will visit four Huizhou Villages: Tachuan 塔川, Hongcun 宏村, Xidi 西递, and Tangyue 棠樾. We recommend staying overnight in Tachuan Village, which is very...
Huangshan → Huizhou Villages → Huangshan
For return visitors to Beijing who want something a little off the beaten path, this tour is the perfect combination of great less-visited sites and cultural experiences. Learn about Chinese tea culture, classical painting, tai chi, Peking opera, and traditional Chinese medicine in a series of classes spread through two days in the capital. This tour is also great for foodies as it includes both...