China is a country easy to come to, and unwilling to depart from. China is a homeland of silk, tea, paper, porcelain, gunpowder… It is the place which, two thousand years ago, saw the genesis of the legendary Great Silk Road - the first trade route which connected the East and the West.
A trip to the Celestial Empire includes the world’s highest Tibetan Mountains, lifeless plains of the Gobi Desert, horizonless flowering plains, amazing beaches, equal in service level to the world’s best resorts, famous world-wide Buddhist monasteries, numerous alpinist camps on the Himalayas and Karakorum hillsides, where you can watch sparkling Chomolungma (Mount Everest).
Staying in this country, go up the Great Wall of China, which is so grandiose, that according a myth, it can be seen even from space. Visit also the famous museum with a place where the Chinese Emperor Quin Shi Huang together with his several thousand strong terracotta army was entombed. In the legendary Buddhist temple Shaolin you can see how the monks live and spiritually perfect themselves.
Modern China is a country of bright contrasts. There are blazing sky-scrapers of megapolises neighboring with hutongs of faceless quarters, homely poverty rubbing along with luxury, and brilliance of garish advertisement panels being the only source to illuminate the monotony of the blue-color neighborhood…
China, known to everybody as “World’s Factory” is not only a huge state with thousands of plants and overpopulated cities , whose total population exceeds one billion people, but also one of the most interesting and various tourist centers. The third largest country (after Russia and Canada), it has everything that can be interesting to a foreigner: architectural monuments of one of the most ancient civilizations, national parks with different climate and nature, modern metropolises and small provincial towns which managed to preserve their original culture, amazing sand beaches and inaccessible snow-white mountain tops.
Over the past 30 years an inrush of tourists has grown by many times and today China ranks the world’s 6th in number of tourists. However, China was used to be one of the most closed-off countries for tourists. It was not until the end of the 1970-s when the situation considerably changed, the government even took profound measures. For example, in year 1988 Hainan isle in the southern part of the country was granted a status of a province, and tourism became a priority industry in its economy; the factories were moved from the coast to other regions, while the beaches were developed to compact worlds. Nowadays China keeps on attracting tourists, implementing reforms in the sphere of visa regime etc.
in the tourist sphere in China, as in many other countries, holds a high position. The country with the history numbering more than one thousand years, has a great many of monuments belonging to different dynasties ruling as far back as BC, pilgrimage destinations of Buddhism and other religions, colossal sculptures and temples, and the Great Wall of China, one of its visiting cards. Furthermore the architecture and cultural features within the country differ considerably depending on the region.
An integral part of cultural tourism in China is ethno tourism. The country is inhabited with dozens of ethnos featuring their own national costumes, customs, cuisine and even languages. And although the Chinese themselves account for 93 percent of the country’s total population, they differ province by province. The tourists will be able to learn more not only about the culture and way of life the Chinese, but also about their unique life philosophy so different from that of the West.
Like the mentality of the East differs from that of the West, so does the Chinese folk medicine from the western one. This fact causes special interest to health tourism in China. The knowledge accumulated by Chinese healers for thousands of years, even now, help dozens of thousands people who suffer from acute and chronic diseases. Chinese doctors are armed with medicinal herbs, healing springs, different kinds of massage, acupuncture and so on. Furthermore, you can just boost immunity and keep body in tone.
Along with that, China, though cannot be considered as environmentally stable country, due to the numerous plants and power stations, has its national parks, which managed to preserve unique nature. The flora and fauna of the Heavenly Empire differ from those of the other parts of the world; there, you can see different native zones and amazing animals. Some species of animals are under special control: needles to say that panda is one of the China’s national symbols.
In China works excellently with active tourism. One of the popular tourist places is National park in Zhangjiajie, with vertical mountain cliffs rocketing sky-high. There, you can get a supply of adrenalin, having taken a walk by a glass path, running along the Tianmen mountain krantz, or by a narrow wooden path on holy Hua Shan mountain.
Finally, shopping-tourism in China should also be taken into account. Everybody knows that a major portion of the world’s products and goods is labeled “Made in China”, naturally, all these goods’ cost is cheaper by an order in the source nation. In fact, many things at the best quality-price ratio can be found in major cities of China flooded with boutiques and shopping centers. Along with this, a wide range of souvenirs to fit every taste: objects of interior in Chinese style, various vases and sculptures, knick-knacks, accessories and so on can be bought there as a keepsake to remember the trip to the Heavenly Empire. In a certain sense, China can be called “Mecca” for shopaholics.
Visa in China
In accordance with the law of the PRC foreign nationals need a visa to entry, exit and transit through the country’s territory. The matters connected with visa issue, visa validity and period of stay in the country are considered by authorized officials in the embassies and consulates of China, who are also entitled to cancel the visas issued or refuse to issue them, with no reason given.
The Chinese visas are divided into diplomatic, business, honorable and ordinary visas. The ordinary visas include:
- Tourist (L);
- Visiting (F);
- Student (X);
- Working (Z);
- Journalist (J);
- Transit (G);
- For permanent residence (D).
The main visa parameters are validity period, number of permitted entries, and maximum duration of stay in the country. In case of expiration of the visa it is necessary to obtain a new one. If a foreign national exceeds the period of stay in China or the visa validity period has expired, he/she should apply to the local authority with an application form to extend his/her stay in the country, because the PRC embassies and consulates, located abroad are not responsible for extension of visas. However, the application may be rejected and in accordance with the “Law of the PRC on Entry and Exit Procedure for Aliens” this may be followed by fine sanctions.
Visa-free entry and visa regime special features in China
There is no visa-free regime as such, however there are many conditions, connected with the duration of stay in the country and entry place which exempt from necessity to obtain visa.
Any foreign national taking transit international air flight through the PRC needs no visa, if he/she does not leave the air terminal building and stay there no more than 24 hours.
In case of transit through Beijing or Shanghai air terminals with the stay duration in the cities less than 72 hours, no visa is needed for the nationals of the states as follows: Australia Austria, Argentine, Belgium, Bulgaria, Brazil, Brunei, Great Britain, Hungary, Germany, Greece, Denmark, Ireland, Iceland Spain, Italy, Canada, Qatar, Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxemburg, Malta, Mexico Netherlands, New Zealand, United Arab Emirates, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Romania, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, USA , Ukraine, Finland France, Czech Republic, Chile, Switzerland, Sweden, Estonia, South Korea, Japan.
It should be noted that special administrative regions such as Hong Kong and Macao have a more simplified procedure for visa obtaining, and for some countries there is visa-free regime for stay from 7 to 90 days. Due to this, the foreign national employing services of legal travel agencies of Hong Kong and Macao, may have a trip to the neighboring regions of Zhu Jiang River estuary (Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Foshan, Dongguan, Zhongshan, Jiangmen , Zhaoqing, Huizhou) for 6 days without visa to the PRC.
There is a number of countries whose citizens may enter to Hainan Island without visa for the period no more than 15 days as a member of tourist group (at least 5 persons) from international travel agency, registered in Chinese National Tourist Administration. Such right can be enjoyed by the citizens of the countries as follows: Australia, Austria, Great Britain, Germany, Denmark, Indonesia, Spain, Italy, Kazakhstan, Canada, Malaysia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Russia, USA, Thailand, Ukraine, Philippines, Finland, France, Switzerland, Sweden, South Korea, Japan and Singapore.
No visa is needed for the he foreign nationals who have valid permanent or temporary residence permit in the PRC.
Furthermore China has a number of bi-lateral agreements with certain countries, whose citizens can visit China without visa subject to certain conditions. Detailed information on this matter may be obtained in the embassies and consulates of the PRC.
To visit Tibet an ordinary Chinese tourist visa is needed, but the entry to its territory is allowed with an official permission of the authorities issued to travel bureau of Tibet autonomous region. Without this permission no tickets for planes, buses, trains will be sold, furthermore arrests at the block houses are also possible. In addition, to visit Tibet legally is possible by buying a group tour (at least 5 tourists) from this Bureau. This tour may be purchased in the branches of the Travel Bureau of Tibet in China (in Beijing, Chengdu, Xian, Shanghai, Xining, Xianghang), Japan and the USA.
Chinese visa processing procedure
For Chinese visa application form it is necessary to provide the embassy or consulate with the documents as follows:
- Passport or international passport (where appropriate), valid at least for 6 months after the end of the trip
- Application form
- Color photo for application form (48mm х 38 mm)
Also, to obtain tourist visa, information on the tour: route program, hotel booking, air tickets for all the route and possibly other data are requested. For processing other types of visas (working, student, visiting etc.) it is necessary to submit the documents confirming the purpose of the trip and applications (invitations) from the appropriate organization in China. In case of transit visa, the country of destination and air ticket for the whole route are needed.
A visa application form can be submitted by the applicant himself or entrusted to a third party (travel agency, etc). A PRC embassy or consulate may request for authentication of the applicant, that is why the latter shall confirm the signature in the application form. No visa application sent by mail is considered. Visa processing and issuing takes from 5 to 7 business days, however the process can be speeded up by paying additional consular fee.
To obtain any type of visas it is necessary to pay a visa fee, which sum depends on the visa class, validity term, number of entries and even on the country-applicant. The information on visa fees may be obtained from the PRC embassy or consulate in the country concerned.
Important: there is a group visa issued to a group jointly crossing the Chinese border and travelling together. The group should include at least 5 persons. To obtain group visa it is necessary to submit the documents as follows:
- An invitation from a Chinese travel agency, legally operating in the PRC
- List of the group with all passport details specified (3 copies)
For group visa no application form and photos are needed, however, a list of the group members with passport details shall be filled in without mistakes and corrections. Hereafter a Chinese tour operator will bear responsible for your tour.