Go Back  Fodor's Forum > Destinations > Asia
Reload this Page > Visa question and itinerary tips
Notices

Visa question and itinerary tips

Reply

Apr 15th, 2016, 10:29 PM
  #1
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2014
Posts: 10
Visa question and itinerary tips

Hey everyone. I searched the forum for info about visas to China and everything I found was either too old or regarding getting visas from countries other than the US. While I was looking at those posts I stumbled across some conflicting information which concerns me.

Do you have to have confirmed seat airline boarding passes in order to get a visa? I'm slightly confused by this one since Delta doesn't even let you check in before 24 hrs before your flight. Even so that wouldn't matter anyways because we fly standby. Which means that I can print out our confirmation number with itinerary and all of our names, but no airlines tickets until 24 hrs pre-flight and definitely not ones that are confirmed seats.

Do you really have to have confirmation for hotel stays for every day that you are in China? We were planning on booking the first day so we have a definite place to go when our flight lands and then winging it from there.

I really wish the consulate websites were more forthcoming. We looking into visas months ago and thought that the longest multi visit visa you could get is 1 yr as long as you have 6 months on your passport left, but now I have read that you can get 10 with 1 yr left on your passport. Unfortunately our kids' passports expire next year so we wouldn't be able to get the 10 yr for them, if the website had posted that then we could have renewed their passports early. How would that even work to get your 10 yr visa moved over to a new passport when you renew it?

I also found out that unfortunately Washington DC handles Utah visas (really???). Of course, the closest physical place to us is SF. I emailed the consulate earlier asking if we could go there or if we had to go to DC and I got this response:
"If you come in-person (not the travel agency) to our office, you can apply the visa here."

Now for the fun part. We will have almost 2 weeks. Yes I know each of our places could take 2 weeks by themselves, but we aren't worried about that, we can always go back and spend more time in one place on a return trip.

We are going to Beijing first, then to Shanghai and then hopefully we will have a couple of days left over to hand around in Tokyo on our way back to the states.

We definitely want to see the wall, Forbidden City and the other stuff in Beijing, the Summer Palace, maybe the Ming tombs. Is there anything among that typical touristy stuff that isn't worth seeing? Are there any places that are good to see that may not be highlighted in my tour books? We plan on using public transportation so we will probably be staying in a hotel central to everything or at least close to a train station. Is the zoo worth seeing?

We will then take the train to Shanghai. We can't decide though whether to take the 4.5 hour day train or the overnight train to skip a hotel night. Would it be worth it to take the train path that goes through Xi'an?

Not really sure what we want to see in Shanghai. Probably want to take a river cruise/tour. Any good temples/gardens/museums?

For Japan my kids are all about Nintendo and Pokemon (they play the card game in competitions), so we will probably go to the anime place. I was thinking Imperial Palace? Any suggestions?

Oh and my kids (11 and 8) can speak Chinese (Mandarin) decently well (although much slower than natural speakers) so we won't have as much of a language barrier as others might.

This is the first trip to Asia for the kids. DH and I have been to Bangkok.

Thanks
shanladams82 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Apr 16th, 2016, 04:26 AM
  #2
 
Join Date: Jan 2016
Posts: 2,586
My first visa was one stay within 3 month period. Now I have multiple entries for a period of6 months.
I am not US however but info you indicate seems strange.

I didn't have to have a reserved seat at all but confirmed hotels.
I gave my flight details and a cancel label reservation of my hotel.

I actually changed both my flight and hotel after getting the visa.

Touristy stuff is great !
Whathello is offline  
Reply With Quote
Apr 16th, 2016, 05:08 AM
  #3
 
Join Date: Jan 2016
Posts: 186
You certainly do not need boarding passes. It has never been a requirement, not sure where you read this. What you need are confirmed tickets with confirmed seats (as opposed to standby).
It sounds like you hold an American passport. If so, you can get a 10-year multiple entry visa. Same price as the shorter ones so go for this one. To get your visa there are a number of reputable agents who can handle this for you. You do not need to go in person. And you can use your visa after your passport expires for the whole 10-year duration.
For Beijing, the places that I would skip would be the Ming Tombs and the zoo. There are no longer hidden secrets in Beijing. Make sure to visit the Temple of Heaven in early morning to watch the retirees.
The train to Shanghai does not go through Xi'An. Totally different direction. Whether Xi'An is worth it is for you to decide based on your interests. Personally think so. A lot to see there.
CanadaChinaTraveller is offline  
Reply With Quote
Apr 16th, 2016, 08:10 AM
  #4
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 31,780
I would heed the advice of CCT and apply for a 10 year visa. Understand you won't necessarily get approved for a 10 year visa, but it is worth applying. If they won't give you a 10-year visa, they will typically give you a three month visa.
Kathie is online now  
Reply With Quote
Apr 16th, 2016, 08:14 AM
  #5
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 31,780
By the way, make sure everyone's passports have 6 month validity beyond when you plan to leave the last country you visit in Asia. You can have a visa moved from an old passport to a new one, but you can also just carry the old passport with the visa in it along with a new passport.
Kathie is online now  
Reply With Quote
Apr 16th, 2016, 08:46 AM
  #6
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 22,530
My visa info is way out of date. However, I second the advice to skip the zoo, which I found very depressing. On the other hand I rather like the statues at the Ming tombs. I would prefer Xi'an to Shanghai, but there is a very good museum in Shanghai if you do go there.

Not sure you have time for more than the main tourist sights. If so, I enjoyed the Museum of Architecture and the altar to Xiannong, and a less visited Taoist temple that should be in Lonely Planet.
thursdaysd is online now  
Reply With Quote
Apr 16th, 2016, 11:23 AM
  #7
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 14,729
>>Do you have to have confirmed seat airline boarding passes in order to get a visa?

>>but no airlines tickets until 24 hrs pre-flight

You already have a ticket. It is electronic. A boarding pass is not a ticket. You have a confirmation number which means that you have a confirmed reservation.

>>Even so that wouldn't matter anyways because we fly standby.

What do you mean by that? I think you might mean that you don't have seat assignments.
mrwunrfl is offline  
Reply With Quote
Apr 16th, 2016, 11:35 AM
  #8
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 14,729
Your e-ticket numbers might be on the confirmation e-mail. You could get them from the airline. They also probably appear on your credit card statement.

Your ticket number would look like this American Airlines (001) ticket number:
00122224444
mrwunrfl is offline  
Reply With Quote
Apr 16th, 2016, 11:46 AM
  #9
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 14,729
>>I think you might mean that you don't have seat assignments.

Which is not a problem for getting the visas.

A ticket means that the airline agreed to take you from here to there.

A reservation means that the airline agreed to take you from here to there on that flight.

A boarding pass means that the airline agreed to take you from here to there on that flight in that seat.
mrwunrfl is offline  
Reply With Quote
Apr 16th, 2016, 02:51 PM
  #10
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2014
Posts: 10
@mrwunrfl standby is the term attached to non revenue travelers (usually employees or family of employees), when you get to the airport you are on a "standby" list waiting for a seat assignment.

Basically, I go online and pick a flight, put in our passport numbers (for intl flights), and then confirm my choice. It populates a reservation number that we can access using the company website. There is a box to put an email address in if we want a copy of the reservation number so that we don't have to log in to the Delta website. Maybe that would suffice as a reservation that we could print out and give them?

@CanadaChinaTraveller The thing about confirmed seats tickets was at a website that was linked in an older post. One of those places that process visas for you. We don't get confirmed tickets. We have to fly standby, that is just the way it works. We get a reservation number and I can get that emailed to me, but we don't get "tickets" at all until we check in and get our boarding passes. We know people like us fly over there all the time, but we don't know anyone personally that has gone through the visa process to ask them what they used for confirmation. We've been to many countries but we have never been to one that requires a visa so this part of the process is new to us. It's actually cheaper and faster for us to fly to San Francisco for the day than it would be for us to mail our stuff to some company that may or may not be efficient and trustworthy and waiting for it to come back in time.

Thanks for the advice. I figured the zoo would be depressing but I didn't know if there was anywhere else to see pandas except for that research center that is way farther east than we will be travelling.

Oh and I knew that the train to Shanghai doesn't go through Xi'An, but there is a train that goes to Xi'An from Beijing and then another one that goes to Shanghai from Xi'An through Luoyang. It was something we were considering if there wasn't very much we wanted to do in Shanghai, but it does look like a couple of very long train rides to go out and around like that.
shanladams82 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Apr 16th, 2016, 07:01 PM
  #11
 
Join Date: Jan 2016
Posts: 186
What many people do is to book a flight, print the confirmation then cancel it. They don't check your booking in any case.
CanadaChinaTraveller is offline  
Reply With Quote
Apr 17th, 2016, 07:04 AM
  #12
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 12,108
I am from the US and presently in China. For my Visa, I sent a copy of my airline and hotel reservations. It is good for ten years and cost $140.00. You can't apply prior to three months from start of trip.
HappyTrvlr is offline  
Reply With Quote
Apr 17th, 2016, 04:44 PM
  #13
 
Join Date: Oct 2012
Posts: 198
There are only aobut a million places to go in China. Beijing, Shanghai, and Xian are not the only choices!
shelemm is offline  
Reply With Quote
Apr 18th, 2016, 08:09 AM
  #14
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 31,780
With the limited time you have, choose China or Japan, don't try to do both.
Kathie is online now  
Reply With Quote
Apr 18th, 2016, 10:47 AM
  #15
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 14,729
>>Yes I know each of our places could take 2 weeks by themselves, but ...
mrwunrfl is offline  
Reply With Quote
Apr 18th, 2016, 06:11 PM
  #16
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2014
Posts: 10
@shelemm We know and this will not be our only trip. We have picked Beijing and Shanghai and possibly Xi'An for the first trip because our kids are learning Mandarin and those cities will give them the best language interaction. Their teachers (who are from different areas of mainland China) say that the dialects and language used in other areas could be harder for them or could even confuse them. That's one of the reasons we aren't stopping in Hong Kong because their primary version of Chinese is Cantonese and while they would probably recognize the writing they would have trouble communicating.

@Kathie We are considering that possibility. We were going to spend a couple days in Japan since it is a stop over on our flight, but we could probably find a flight that doesn't go through Narita. My husband took Japanese and has always wanted to go there, but if we add Xi'An we will probably skip it this time.


Other than that, does anyone have a suggestion on the best sim card to get over there to put in our unlocked phone? We have one sim card that is world wide that we bought when we went to Rome but the Asia rates are kind of high on the minutes. Are there vendors at the airports that we shouldn't trust, or vending machines, or is it better to get them out of the airport at corner markets? We are even considering one that has data access, which we don't normally worry about, in case we need it for a map app or something.

I've been trying to come up with things to do on the Shanghai part of our trip, but since we aren't big shoppers I haven't really found much we are interested in.

The special subway tunnel from the Bund to the financial area
The aquarium while we are over there
Go to the top of one of the skyscrapers for the observation deck
A river boat tour/cruise
Maybe the Shanghai museum if the kids aren't museumed out by then.

That stuff almost seems like it wouldn't take more than a day and a half, two with the museum, and of course we want to take the maglev train to the airport on our way out.
shanladams82 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Apr 18th, 2016, 06:12 PM
  #17
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2014
Posts: 10
Oh and are there lockers in any of the train stations like they have in Amsterdam? A place where we can put our luggage before the hotel check in time while we are wandering about.
shanladams82 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Apr 22nd, 2016, 01:41 PM
  #18
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2014
Posts: 10
We went on a Wednesday to get our visas for China in San Francisco. It wasn't as much of a hassle as everyone makes it out to be.

As far as the process goes we were pleasantly surprised. I had made packets for each of us with our new passport pictures, an email of our flight itinerary, the website version of our flight itinerary, a copy of our hotel reservations, a copy of our passport page that had our info and signature on it, and the application with the boxes filled by typing with all CAPS.

We also took 2 versions of page 2 of the application. We were hoping to make it there before noon so that we could get same day processing and avoid having to come back so we had a page that said yes for express checked. But we also had a version with no checked in case there was bad traffic or our flight was later or whatever, and this is what we ended up using because even though our flight got in at 10:30am in Oakland it took almost 2hrs to get to the consulate through traffic.

When we entered they asked what we were there for and gave us a number accordingly. Inside of the office was a desk where they take passport photos for you $15 for 8 pictures. They also had a copying machine just in case you forgot to copy your passport or something. They also had a map that showed walking directions to the nearest UPS store and the post office for money orders, copies or whatever.

We sat for a little while and were concerned at first with the way the numbers were being called. On the screen, just like at the DMV, they had which number was being helped and the counter # they were at. 3 of the counters were caring for 119-121. Then there were 2 counters that were flying through numbers in the 140-150s and we were 183. We thought it was going to take hours. The 3 counters with 119-121 stayed on those numbers for over 30 minutes.

Then all of a sudden a security officer came out and called numbers for 10-15 people. We had to line up in an area right before the windows. We spent about 30 minutes or so in that line, and then some more windows opened up (the windows that had the really low numbers were on lunch and that's why the numbers weren't progressing for them). While we were waiting I noticed that people who went through the pick up window and the cashiers window were in and out pretty quickly and they were not part of the same line or number system that we were waiting in.

When we got up to the window the nice lady attending it asked for our packets one at a time. She looked through all of the pages and gave us back the email version of our flight itinerary (so definitely have a website version not an email version). She also gave us back all of the copies of our hotel reservations except for 1 and said that we only need 1 copy for the family since we were traveling together. (I did make sure when I booked through hotels.com to add all of our names in the extra information box so that all of our names were on the reservation)

****No where on the consulates website does it say anything about American born children to parents NOT of Chinese descent requiring a birth certificate.

However, I had read on some website somewhere during my research that you need a birth certificate, so I brought our birth certificates with us just in case.

The children DO require a copy of their birth certificate if it is their first time applying for Chinese visa! Luckily I had brought them just in case, because like I said NO WHERE on the consulate or embassy's websites did it say anything about requiring a birth certificate.

So, less than 10-15 minutes for her to look over everything and tell us that we would get 10 years and the kids would get 6 months (their passports expire next yr because they are only 5 yr passports). She gave us a receipt and told us they would be ready for pick up on Monday. 4 business days.
shanladams82 is offline  
Reply With Quote
 



Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On



All times are GMT -8. The time now is 09:01 PM.