Tibet to Nepal Visa Questions (and others)
Replies: 13 - Last Post: Oct 5, 2013 9:55 AM Last Post By: caseyramblinroze
Apr 22, 2013 8:06 AM
Tibet to Nepal Visa Questions (and others)I am travelling to China this summer (June 12 – July 17) and would like to end my trip crossing the Tibet/Nepal border. I have already booked some of the flights for the trip: in Chengdu and out New Delhi. Now its visa time but I am concerned about my lack of a departure ticket from China. I have read several places where I should avoid mentioning my intention to visit Tibet on my visa application but I will have a hard time explaining my exit strategy otherwise. I have decided to submit my application in person to the Houston consulate but I haven’t moved forward yet due to this quandary.
On top of this, I have a host of lesser questions and concerns that I am going to tack on.
1. Is the Beijing-Lhasa railway a viable option for foreigners? We would like to visit Xian enroute and get acclimatized, maybe visit some other locales on the way.
2. We are cost-conscious, independent travelers but I understand that we must be part of a tour to get our Tibet permit. Any recommendations concerning Tibet tour groups/companies?
3. Would it be possible to get the Tibet tour company to issue a letter of invitation to use in the stead of a flight itinerary for my visa application? This doesn’t seem to mesh with the “don’t mention Tibet on your application” advice I have received.
4. Earlier in the trip, we are passing through Hong Kong. Does this mean I need to apply for a double entry visa?
I would appreciate any advice on how to deal with my visa application concerns.
Apr 22, 2013 6:02 PM
1By being part of a tour, its not like package deals. You could be a tour party of one person but the costs would be high. They actually mean to have everything prearranged-- transport, guide, cant remember if accommodation also needs to be prebooked.
Xian isnt going to be any help with acclimatization. Xining would be much better. But you'd need to book separate tickets for each leg. We took the train from Chengdu straight to Lhasa without too many problems. But in Lhasa, it took me several days to feel like a human being . My husband and brother in law were fine though and spent the days out and about. I was fine up EBC and they had the worst night ever.
Apr 22, 2013 8:08 PM
2If you put down your true plans on the visa application, you will be denied with almost 100% certainty. Actually, the Consulate will probably refuse to take your application. You simply must create an alternate reality for them.
1) For the required inbound flight, use the real one you've already booked.
2) For the outbound flight, two possible strategies: (a) book a one-way refundable flight to a third country in Asia where you don't need a visa in advance (Thailand, Malaysia, South Korea would do). Print out the confirmation, get visa, cancel booking and get refund. Trick here is to minimize any cancellation penalties. (b) book a cheap throwaway one-way on a low-cost carrier like Spring Airlines or Air Asia. The former has some booking classes that are partly refundable, the latter are not. Trick here is to minimize outlay.
Date on bogus ticket needs to fit within time frame you are asking for, I'd suggest within 40-45 days or roughly what you need anyway. Since your planned time frame in China is over 30 days, you'll need to ask for a 60-day duration of stay. Extensions on a 30-day duration are possible but as expensive as a new visa (RMB 900 for a US passport). Try to avoid having to extend by getting a longer duration of stay. Usually Houston Consulate is easy on this,but you have to tick the right box.
3) Bogus itinerary with bogus hotel bookings. You'll need to craft a nice vanilla tourist itinerary with no Tibet. If you are entering China at Chengdu, then list something "acceptable" like Chengdu - Xi'an - Beijing - Shanghai - Hangzhou - Guilin - Guangzhou (or ending city that works with that outbound ticket that you won't be using). For the hotel/hostel bookings, there should be no issue other than time or effort, making non prepaid, cancellable-without-penalty reservations. To make this task easier, book a bunch of days in each of fewer cities. Get visa, cancel all the bookings. If you need booking sites, suggest ctrip.com or elong.net which are mostly nonprepaid and cancellable . They may need a credit card to guarantee the reservation but since you'll be cancelling the booking well before the deadline date, no charges should appear though part of your credit line might be temporarily blocked to cover the guarantees.
Once you get the visa and enter China, you may go where you like, with Tibet being subject to the required prearranged tour provisions. In other words, whatever you put on your application is irrelevant. If this sort of games-playing and subterfuge disturbs you, then you may not be crafty enough to deal with China.
Deal with Tibet arrangements once inside China.
Apr 22, 2013 8:24 PM
3We struck a similar dilemma years ago when intending to exit into Nepal. I made the decision at the time of applying for visas to write Tibet on the form in the space for itinerary because logically (to me, definitely not them) it made sense. The applications werent rejected but i was given a felt pen at the counter to block out the word and then hand back the forms. Al took a matter of seconds. This was in 2008 just before any restrictions on group travel.
Apr 22, 2013 11:48 PM
Apr 23, 2013 12:21 AM
Apr 23, 2013 3:00 AM
6US citizens applying for Chinese Visas in the US are given one year multiple entry visas for the same price as thirty day single entry visas, if asked for. The visa is valid for thirty or sixty days stay depending on the embassy or consulate.
Do book a refundable ticket out of China to help with the visa application.
DO NOT mention Tibet on the applicaiton.
The cheapest Tibet tours will be provided by the main backpacker hostels in Chengdu. Give yourself around a week to organize everything, or send out multiple emails for price quotes and departure dates to hostels in Chengdu.
Apr 23, 2013 3:07 AM
Apr 24, 2013 10:11 AM
8Thanks for the help. I will book a flight out and cancel it. I know that most airlines will provide a full refund if I cancel within 24 hours. I assume that the visa office will cross check my confirmation with airline so the reservation needs to be valid for the time it takes them to issue the visa. I plan on paying for the express same-day service. Do you think it would cause any issues if I book the flight the night before I apply for my visa, and then cancel it immediately upon receiving it?
Apr 24, 2013 2:53 PM
Apr 24, 2013 7:02 PM
10STOP!!! The Houston Consulate doesn't do rush visa application processing right now! Not even through an agent. All you need to do is get a confirmed booking by email, preferably with an actual e-ticket number on it, and print it out as supporting document for your application. Your assumption is incorrect--the Consulate staff ISN'T going to go calling the airlines to check, for goodness' sake. Nor your hotel bookings. Just submit the documents and cancel the ticket within the time limit permitted by the airline and don't worry about coordinating timing strategies.
Chinese Consulate staff are fully aware that many travelers are playing this game and as long as they have a piece of paper that ticks the box of prebooking requirements, the visa officers don't care beyond that. They just need to cover their butts with their bosses. This entire new set of requirements was handed down by the central Chinese government in Beijing and is pretty much worldwide now; the officers in the Embassies and Consulates don't like the extra paperwork burden any more than do most travelers. The only time you might get extra scrutiny with crosschecks is if a journalist or similar "naughty" profession. If you are one of these, create a new job title/employer for yourself while you're at it.
I've said it before, I'll say it again. When dealing with Chinese officialdom and having a choice between the "right" answer or the truthful answer, choose the "right" answer that won't rock the boat, over the truth..
Sep 29, 2013 11:07 AM
11Jiejie, thank you for your very helpful response to BodaBaas in April regarding how to get a Chinese visa with the intention of exiting through Tibet to Nepal. My husband and I are contemplating the same thing for summer 2014. As US citizens applying for a Chinese visa, would it be too suspicious to submit the following as the necessary supporting documents?
1. A confirmed flight in to Chengdu (real plans)
2. Hotel reservations for various places in the Chengdu to Kunming area (fake plans)
3. Flight from Chengdu or Kunming to Kathmandu (fake plans)
You had mentioned an exiting flight to other countries like Thailand would work, but did not list Nepal as one of the options.
Thanks so much!
Sep 29, 2013 10:56 PM
12#11, your plan is fine and not suspicious at all to Chinese consular officers. A plan that flies directly from China to Kathmandu is a workable "exit" strategy for application purposes. However, since your trip is not until summer 2014, I'd just keep an eye for updates on application procedures and not pull the trigger on any visa application until May 2014. It's always possible the Chinese will change things yet again and I doubt it will get any more restrictive than it is now, at least for US citizens applying in the USA. Do make your international flight (at least inbound) as soon as you feel comfortable doing so, since summer is a busy time in both directions especially if flying TPAC.
Oct 5, 2013 9:55 AM
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