Traveling to China? You will need a visa

September 20, 2010 | Posted by Chris

A visa to China, above, is necessary to travel to China, but is generally easy to obtain.

Like many countries, visitors to China require a valid passport and visa. Visas are easy to arrange: they can be handled through an intermediary travel agency or by going directly to one's Chinese consulate. If you do go to the consulate, please be sure to get there early! The Chinese consulate in New York, for example, is only open about 4 hours a day and the line often snakes outside.

However, there are exceptions: you generally do not need a visa for traveling to Hong Kong and Macau. Each of these cities belong to special autonomous administrative regions with their own immigration rules. A US passport holder may stay in Hong Kong for 90 days visa-free and Macau for 30 days.

There are a variety of types of Chinese visas. Most tourists opt for a single entry tourist visa, which is valid for 3 months of touring and costs around US$120 at the Chinese consulate in New York. Multiple entry visas, business visas and student visas are also available. Each type offers different durations of stays, and each has its own application requirements. You may learn more about the different kinds of Chinese visas here.

As people already living in China will know, it is considered easiest to obtain a Chinese visa in Hong Kong. This is due to the number of well-connected travel agencies in Hong Kong and the fact that it is an important global business hub.

In China, your passport will be your prime means of identification - you will need it to check into a hotel, cash travelers checks, buy plane and train tickets and as a general identification. It is a good idea to have photocopies of your passport -- and visa -- in different places just in case your passport is lost; it makes getting a replacement much easier. Keep one copy with you in your wallet or purse.

Other than that, be safe and have fun traveling!

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