Why does the Chinese government make it so hard to visit?
December 13, 2011 9:28 AM   Subscribe

Canadian getting China travel visa abroad?

In the last year, has anyone (not a Chinese citizen) gotten a travel visa to China while outside their home country?

My problem: I'm leaving for a round the world trip. I won't be in China until July of next year. If I apply for a travel visa in Canada now, it will expire before I get there (it only has a shelf life of 3-6 months). My alternative is I apply for a multiple entry visa which costs three times more at $150 which is valid for one year.

My question: Has anyone gotten a China travel visa while on the road? I read online that they used to issue travel visas in Hong Kong, but they stopped doing this in 2008 and now you gotta go back to your home country to get the visa??? Also, has anyone been able to get a China travel visa from India? I will be in India and Hong Kong in the two months before China so getting it in either of those places would be ideal.
posted by grak88 to Travel & Transportation around China (7 answers total)
I have never had any trouble obtaining a Chinese visa from a Chinese embassy whilst abroad. There is no need as far as I know to go to the embassy in your "home country". Just show up at the Chinese embassy wherever you are with a valid passport, a photo, and cash. Problem is that it could take some time and you will be without your passport while it is being processed.
posted by three blind mice at 9:43 AM on December 13, 2011

Before the olympics, China briefly made its visa requriements more stringent, so it was difficult to get visas in Hong Kong. But they were still available in Thailand for this American. A few months after the olympics, the restrictions were relaxed back to normal, and I know of several Americans who have gotten visas in Hong Kong for use the same day since then.

You'll also be able to get them in pretty much any major SE Asian city through travel agencies, which I found sketchy at first, but they saved so much time and hassle I eventually came to rely on them.
posted by skewed at 10:26 AM on December 13, 2011

I got a Chinese visa for a trip in November (U.S. citizen). All the visa types cost the same, but I think that's because they're all inflated/punitive for U.S. citizens. This may be different for Canadians. But you can definitely get them at a Chinese embassay elsewhere.
posted by polexa at 11:38 AM on December 13, 2011

I've always gotten my China visa while in Hong Kong at China Travel Services. It only takes a few days compared to trying to have the same service in Canada. Very easy, but be prepared to pay more if you need it in a rush. I use the place in Central, but there are a couple of offices, or at least one, Kowloon side as well. Here is more info. P.S. I'm Canadian.
posted by typewriter at 2:01 PM on December 13, 2011

Seconding typewriter: I haven't tried in the past year, but have never had any difficulties getting a tourist visa from CTS in Hong Kong, so you may want to give that a shot. You could also try just going to the nearest embassy/consulate in India and trying your luck.
posted by bokane at 9:56 PM on December 13, 2011

It's been a few years since I did this, but I'm a US citizen who has gotten two Chinese tourist visas in countries other than the US. The first one I picked up at the Chinese embassy here in Austria, where I live.

The second one I picked up at the Chinese embassy in Ulan Bator on very short notice.

I got both visas for the same trip. If I recall correctly, the first visa allowed two entries into China, and that was the max I could get at the time, but I needed three entries, total:
1. Fly into Beijing and travel around a while
2. Return to mainland China after a visit to Hong Kong
3. Return to China after a visit to Mongolia

I paid a bit of extra money to expedite the visa I picked up in Mongolia, but I believe they had it ready for me on the same day I requested it.

If you want some additional help from experts on the subject, I suggest that you contact the team at Monkey Shrine, a travel agency run by westerners with offices in China. They are very knowledgeable about visas, and can probably answer your question authoritatively. I can also vouch for their services * - they arranged a flight to Ulan Bator, pickup from the airport, a few nights in a Yurt, a personal guide to take us around the city and the steppes and an overnight train ride from Ulan Bator back to Beijing.

* The last time I dealt with Monkey Shrine was in 2003, but they were great at the time. We dropped by their offices in Beijing and hung out with them a bit. Was a nice crew of English-speaking expats who'd set up shop in China.
posted by syzygy at 7:35 AM on December 15, 2011

Response by poster: Awesome advise everyone! Thanks!
posted by grak88 at 8:54 AM on December 15, 2011

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