Visa for China and refundable air ticket?
Replies: 10 - Last Post: Aug 10, 2012 1:40 PM Last Post By: alcopop35
Aug 1, 2012 8:06 AM
Visa for China and refundable air ticket?Hello!
I'm German and I've travelled to China and Central Asia before. So I was very surprised when I learned that the Chinese embassy now wants to see a ticket to China (air, bus or train) in order to issue a visa as well as hotel reservations.
The problem is that I meant to fly to Almaty and then take the bus or train to Urumqi, stay in Xinjiang for about 2 weeks, cross the border to Kyrgyzstan and cross Uzbekistan before flying back from Turkmenistan. So, I don't have a ticket to China and the Valentina Guesthouse in Almaty who might help with booking a bus or train ticket want the Chinese visa in order to do that, whereas the Chinese embassy need the ticket before issuing the visa. Now the guesthouse told me to book a fully refundable ticket to either Urumqi or - I guess - anywhere in China. But knowing in advance that I don't intend to use the ticket I would feel a lot more comfortable being 100% sure that I will indeed get my money back and - hopefully! - don't have to pay any fees or penalties for canceling.
Does anyone have experience in getting a refundable ticket?
Someone told me that I might not have to pay anything if I cancel within 24 hours, e.g. with British Airways. Does that work? And do the Chinese actually call the airline in order to confirm that I booked the ticket? If they do, I would have to wait for about a week before I can cancel the flight, wouldn't I? Since it takes 4 work days to process the application?
On the other hand, a friend of mine in Kashgar who's working for a travel agency offered to send me a letter of invitation and a reservation for a 5-star hotel. Would that be enough? Would that mean that I don't even need to show the ticket?
I tried calling the embassy, but - of course - nobody answers the phone! And I can't really waste much more time going there, because I have to work in the mornings and I have to take a day off in order to go to the embassy... It would be great if I could get it right the next time (last week a friend took the application form to the embassy, but they refused to even look at it without a ticket to China).
Also, I would like to know: once I'm in China, can I basically do what I want? Will they ask about the hotel bills when I leave the country? Is it still possible to stay in villages with friends? I don't want to get anyone into trouble!
Before, it never was a problem, but before I also didn't have to provide a ticket and hotel reservation. So, I'm rather confused what's allowed and what's not anymore, which is very annoying considering that I've been there several times before and never had any problems, not in getting the visa nor in traveling there...
Any advice would be welcome!
Aug 1, 2012 8:15 AM
1Some answers. Once you have your visa, you can go almost anywhere in China,and enter or exit from any border. The main exception is Tibet, for which you need a special permit. Staying in smaller villages can be a problem (maybe no hotel!), while staying with friends is possible,although you should always register with the psb.
When applying for a Chinese visa, don't mention Tibet or Xinjiang on the visa application form. Xinjiang is a sensitive area in China, and your visa application may run into problems. Instead,just mention safe places like Beijing, Shanghai and Guilin. Make hotel reservations in those places (use elong.net or ctrip.com - free of charge) and then cancel when you have your visa.
For the plane ticket, I'd try to book using an online travel company. Try to proceed as far as you can in the booking without paying, and then print the itinerary showing your full name and flight details. "Book" a return flight to Beijing or Shanghai. I very much doubt that the airline is called to confirm the booking.
Aug 1, 2012 8:29 AM
2The VISA (we were in China just in April) was a single entry VISA. This means that once you exit china you cannot reenter. We were also asked to provide a detailed travel itenary and sign it (a statement letter where we say here is where we're going and on what dates). You might use that to justidy asking for a multi-entry VISA to china. but they're really strict.
Aug 1, 2012 10:48 PM
3Thanks a lot!
So, you think it would be better not to mention Xinjiang in my itinerary? They can see the Kyrgyz visa in my passport, won't the embassy start asking questions? And that means I wouldn't be able to use the letter of invitation my friend wants to send...
Oh, by the way, does anybody WHY the Chinese changed their visa policy? I'm just curious.
Aug 2, 2012 1:17 AM
Aug 2, 2012 9:02 PM
Aug 2, 2012 9:17 PM
The regulation was there, but it was not enforced before, although I think the date when it was first enforced can be traced back to the Olympics in 2008. Since 2008, there have been times when this regulation is not enforced, and it appears never to be enforced uniformly for all visa offices and all nationalities.
Aug 3, 2012 2:28 AM
7Because this year is the election year of China... that is why Tibet is restricted, Visa is restricted.
To be honest, the Visa policy is stupid, everyone can reserve flight tickets and hotels for Visa then cancel them....
Aug 3, 2012 4:21 AM
8I think access to Tibet is restricted in part due to the numerous self-immolations in recent months.
Who are you going to vote for in the elections?
Aug 3, 2012 4:30 AM
9I showed an air ticket to get into China in May, but told them I was leaving overland, and they had no problems with that.
They did want to see hostel booking for most (not all) of my travels in China. I said I was staying in villages or on the train for the dates I had no hostel bookings.
Chinese hostels are very relaxed about booking dates, provided you let them know if you change dates.
Aug 10, 2012 1:40 PM
I am a UK passport holder, but we have just received our Visas (literally arrived in the post 2 days ago) so I thought I would share with you what we did;
- We have a flights booked into Beijing and then out of Bangkok 6 months later
- We only have 1 week booked in Beijing with a hutong hostel
In the visa application I only put in the hostel into which we are booked with no other places / towns / cities and stated that the required duration of our total stay in China was for 28 days.
When I posted the applications I included a copy of my e-ticket for my flight and the confirmation email from the hostel (although in fairness that email doesn't say it is only booked for a week)
As I say my passport arrived back a couple of days ago with my L visa neatly attached inside :)
Hope that helps a little
(4 star Hotel)
From US$155.60 per night
(0 star Hotel)
From US$22.12 per night
(3 star Hotel)
From US$72.73 per night