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Visa into China from Vietnam or Laos

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WS Member WS Member's picture
Visa into China from Vietnam or Laos

I shall be cycling through SE Asia starting January 2013. Visiting Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam.
I need to cycle up through China as my return flight leaves from Beijing.
My problem is the visa requirement. I will need at least 60 days visa but can I get it in Laos or Vietnam just prior to crossing the border.
If I get a visa before I leave it will expire before I cross the border.
I will probably be crossing into China about the middle of March to the beginning of April.
Anyone have any experience with getting visas on the road ?
I am a UK citizen with proof of a flight out of China.
Also I hear that they are asking for proof of accommodation bookings. Is this so and if so how do I get around not knowing where I am going to stay each night ?
Thanks everyone

WS Member kerrie's picture
Chinese visas

As far as I know, you can't get Chinese visas on the border. You need to get one from a Chinese consulate/embassies in advance.

In Vietnam you can get Chinese visas from Hanoi and Saigon and, in Thailand from Chiang Mai and Bangkok... (I'm not sure about Laos/Cambodia but my guess would be that there are consulates in Vientienne and Luang Prabang for Laos and PP for Cambodia.)

You might also want to apply for your visa in the UK (as the chances are you that will get a longer visa/validity period) well before you leave for your trip. Last year I got a visa from the Chinese consulate in Manchester that was valid for up to 6 months. Call the consulate there - they are very friendly and helpful... and unlike the consulate in Siagon (who turned down my visa app last year because I was travelling by bike...) seem to like cyclists/independent travellers.

If you get a visa in S E Asia you will probably end up with a 30 day, single entry tourist visa, but don't worry as once you are in China you can extend it. Most of the big towns/cities have a PSB office that deal with extensions. You can extend a tourist visa twice. Each extension lasts up to 30 days and costs 160yuan (more if you are American.)

Each PSB office has its own rules about visa extensions (how many days beforehand you need to submit your application, whether you gain/lose days on your existing visa etc...)
Lonely Planets thorn tree forum has a good thread where people have written about their experiences extending Chinese visas.

If you need a 60 or 90 day entry visa and you are applying within Vietnam/Thailand you can use a travel agent / visa agency to submit the visa application for you. Backpacker districts (such as Khao San Rd in BKK, around Ta Pae Gate in Chiang Mai, and the old city in Hanoi...) have hundreds of travel agencies who can deal with visa apps. It usually takes a couple of days to get the visa (and they will create a fake tour for you, listing hotel reservations etc...) though you can pay more to recieve the visa in a day.

I dunno where you are planning to cycle, but last year I rode across Yunnan province and from Guangzhou to Guilin. This year I spent 6 weeks travelling through Qinghai/Gansu and northern Sichuan. I stay in Nanning now (next semester I'll be teaching English here) so if you want some ideas about where to go or plan to pass through here let me know.


WS Member WS Member's picture
Hi Kerrie Thanks for the

Hi Kerrie
Thanks for the reply.
I would need a 6 month visa if I get it prior to departure as I am riding through Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia first.
If I get one in Hanoi or Vientiane then a 60 or 90 days visa would suffice.
Do you know the cost of the visas through the travel agents in Hanoi and Vientianne ?
I intend to ride up through Yunnan and Sichuan before heading across to Xi-An and then north towards Beijing and can't wait to start.
Thanks for the help.

WS Member kerrie's picture
You dont need a 6 month visa

You dont need a 6 month visa - you can still get a 30 or 60 day tourist visa but you need to make sure the validity period (how long you have before you need to use the visa...) is 6 months. Call the consulate in Manchester and tell them your travel plans (explain that you'ld rather get the visa before you leave the uk but won't be there until June/July...) They might be able to do this for you.
I've no idea about the cost of visa agents elsewhere but in Saigon it cost 90usd for an express 30 day tourist visa... I went round a couple of agencies first to ask about prices and was quoted between 90-130usd. My passport, and the new visa came back that evening. At the time I thought it was crazily expensive but I had no choice than to go for the quickest service as as I was leaving the day after (and my original application through the consulate there was turned down.)
Try searching the net for cheap backpacker hotels in Vientienne/Hanoi - they might have travel / visa agencies attached to them and might list the costs on their websites - otherwise call them and ask.
No probs...
I hope you like mountains - Yunnan will be tough :)

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