How to: Get a Chinese Visa in Bangkok, Thailand.
How To: Get a Chinese Visa in Bangkok
One of the logistical challenges of long-term overland travel are visas.
I hold an Australian passport, and wanted to travel to enter from the Laos-China border in Yunnan and exit into Mongolia.
I also wanted to have the option to re-enter China in case I can’t get a Russian visa en route to Kazakhstan.
Part 1: Preparing
Receiving a Chinese Visa in Bangkok can be extremely easy and efficient if you come with the required documents.
What you will need:
A completed L visa form.
1 X photocopy of passport main page.
1 x photocopy of Thailand stamp in passport.
Full itinerary of your time in China (more about how to get around this below).
Alternatively, and invite letter from a Chinese national, which includes their name and passport details.
Entrance and exit details (I only had exit details, and still received my visa).
A signed letter explaining the purpose of your trip and the itinerary you are planning.
2 x passport photos.
If your passport is damaged: a letter explaining the nature of the damage and how it occurred with an assertion it doesn’t impact the validity of the passport (seriously - I was asked to do this at the China visa center despite my 7 year-old passport still being in excellent condition).
At least two days in Bangkok.
What you won’t need:
A binder or folder for your documents (the attendants remove it and organise the documents in their own way)
I’m a backpacker with a no set plan: how to I get around the itinerary?
My route was to be entirely improvised once I entered China. Getting around the itinerary requirements without actually paying for accommodation was extremely easy.
I simply booked accommodation through Booking.com for the duration of my time in China, concocting a hypothetical and believable route, staying about 1 week in each city, and ensured that each place I booked had free cancellation.
To receive my dual entry visa, I stated my intention to travel to Hong Kong on the way to Shanghai. Departing mainland China resets any Chinese visa, so its really common for those wanting to go to Hong Kong to get a double entrance visa beforehand.
As soon as I received my visa, I cancelled my bookings throughout China for no charge.
What about entrance and exit details?
One of the challenges with the entrance and exit details is ensuring that you will be allowed access to the countries you state you will be heading to after you visit China.
My plan was to enter Laos and exit into Mongolia.
The Laos side was easy: at Laos land borders, visas-on-arrival are issued. I simply stated this in my itinerary letter when applying. But I didn’t have a Mongolian visa, which meant I had to show that I was exiting China into another country - one that would offer visa-on-arrival.
The only way around this was to buy the cheapest flight I could to a VOA country, which happened to be South Korea
Part 2: Getting the Visa
China is perhaps one of the most annoying countries to buy flights you’ll never use in. Air travel to and from China is surprisingly expensive. The cheapest flight I could find was a $120 flight Seoul, South Korea.
So, I purchased that ticket and attached the details to my itinerary.