North-East Asia branch Frequently Asked Questions thread
Replies: 136 - Last Post: Feb 9, 2013 12:37 AM Last Post By: Glenski
Jun 7, 2004 3:32 PM
North-East Asia branch Frequently Asked Questions threadThis branch covers China (inc. Hong Kong and *Macau*), Japan, Mongolia, North Korea, South Korea, Taiwan and Tibet. Other information about the region can be found under Lonely Planet Destinations.
Inside this thread we hope you'll find the answers to all your questions, if not, feel free to share anything you feel is missing!
SEEKING TRAVEL COMPANIONS OR TREK PARTNERS? Please post only on our Travel Companions branch, not here on the destination branches. Any such topics posted on this branch will normally be moved by the moderators to the Travel Companions branch without notice. If you also have a travel question then please post it as a separate topic on the appropriate travel branch.
Choosing a country to post to
When you make a post and choose a country from the drop down menu (the one at the top left hand corner of the posting box), your post will be added to that country but will also display in the general North-East Asia branch. If your post covers more than one country, please only add it to the country it is mostly about not to all the countries - it won't increase the number of replies you get and will mean your post will appear multiple times in the North-East Asia branch.
To get the latest updates to any of our guidebooks - or to add your own - visit the Guidebook Feedback branch of the Thorn Tree. See below for links to all the guides relating to North East Asia.
B Beijing 7, Beijing Encounter 1 C China 10, ** H Hong Kong & Macau 13, Hong Kong Encounter 1 J Japan 10 K Korea 7, Kyoto 4 M Mongolia 5 S Seoul 5, Shanghai 4, Shanghai Encounter 1 T Taiwan 7, Tibet 7, Tokyo 6, Tokyo Encounter 1, Trans-Siberian Railway 2
China 9, Hong Kong & Macau 12, Best of Hong Kong 3, Kyoto 3 Mongolia 4, Shanghai 3, Taiwan 6, Tibet 6, Tokyo 6
Edited by: geekgal
Edited by: Trent_at_LP
Jun 7, 2004 3:46 PM
1Don't be overwhelmed by the amount of information in this thread, if there's something you're particularly interested in remember that your web browser probably has a search this page option - often on the Edit menu under Find on this page.
Big thanks to Everbrite for assembling all this information :)
For those planning to take the TransMongolian train to Russia or planning to visit the Russian Far East, search here. But also look on the Eastern Europe Branch which includes Russia.
1. Do your homework.
The web is filled with basic information like what is the province capital of Shandong. (Try Yahoo Maps or MapQuest). Google.com should be your best friend. Also try your local public library. Two general travel sites recommended by TT contributors:
Round-the-World Travel Guide
World Travel Guide
Get your basic info first, then you can ask intelligent questions on the TT and take advantage of the many knowledgeable travelers and locals/ expats who frequent this site, just hoping someone will ask about the most beautiful hostel in Lijiang.
*2. Do a TT search. *
At least five posters a week ask how to cross the Tibetan border, how much to budget for a trip in NE Asia or how to become an English Teacher in China/ Japan/ Korea. The road is well traveled. Try to find those threads, add a reply (which brings the topic to the top, restarting the conversation), and then see #3.
*3. Be specific. *
a. Ask one question at a time or at least make sure your questions are closely related.
b. Check your TT profile, if it isn't up to date, then please make sure your post mentions anything about you that would be helpful to know. An 18 year old Brit on his first trip abroad usually wants different advice from a Italian family with an infant or a couple in their 50s from Ohio.
c. Give background information that will help others answer your questions. You might include: How much you have to spend? ("reasonable" doesn't cut it) Back country trekker or bargain shopper? Prefer First class or hard class? Chinese Noodles or Western Dinners? Two days in Beijing or two months as a student?
d. If asking a queston about visas, be sure to indicate what passport you hold and where you are thinking of obtaining your visa. Visa procedures vary not only with passports, but also with consulates.
e. Beijing, Shanghai, Tokyo and some other cities is this region are VERY large. Instead of asking where can you find a good pharmacy, dry cleaner, etc., please try to specify the district in which you are located.
*4. Be wary of mixing politics with tourism. *
There's a Talk Politics board on the TT. "Is it safe in Alphabet City after dark?" is a tourism question. "Is SARS spreading because the Chinese gov't is too stupid to do something?" may get you a fight without actually answering the question, but then you probably get the same response back home.
Below are some links that have been suggested by frequent contributors as
well as some useful information reported by travelers:
For More Information regarding EFL teaching
check out Dave's ESL Cafe
It may seem obvious, but remember to use credit cards when booking flights (unless they're covered on your travel insurance) - airlines do fail occasionally, and if you've booked an expensive ticket with a credit card, you'll want to get your money back if they do!
Also remember that prices (hotels/flights/cars) are often dependent on when you travel. Some places are weekend destinations, others weekday - you can save quite a bit if you choose the correct times - generally tourist destinations are more expensive at the weekends, work destinations during the week.
Films and airport security
If you have any photographic films remember they must go as hand luggage - there are powerful X-ray scanners in the hold luggage path of most international airports. Generally a hand luggage scanner should be safe enough for most print films, but if you're in any doubt politely ask staff for more information - particularly if you're using fast/IR or other special films..
For more information about Phones, Cameras and Computers check out this website created by Lan, a TT contributor.
Visa / Plus / Master / Cirrus/ Maestro ATM locations in the world
Many people have asked for ATM locations so here are some links:
Official Visa / Plus ATM locator:
Official Master / Cirrus/ Maestro ATM locator:
The problem is they have no maps...
Information for this posting has been collected from a variety of sources and is up to date as of 31 May 04. Many thanks to the unnamed persons who contributed ideas, links and comments.
Jun 7, 2004 3:49 PM
2Hong Kong and Macau
Visa information for Hong Kong
In Hong Kong, UK citizens still get different treatment--six month visas on arrival, but they cannot get the Shenzhen area limited visa at Lo Wu.
Most foreigners can enter Hong Kong visa-free for 14 to 90 days, depending on their nationality. Details at this website: Hong Kong Immigration Department Although Hong Kong immigration rules do require visitors to hold onward or return tickets (unless transiting to the Mainland or Macau), HK immigration does not normally ask to see the actual ticket out of the country. However, check-in staff may question anyone travelling to HK on a one-way ticket, since airlines are responsible for returning passengers who arrive without proper documentation.
There's a border between Hong Kong and Mainland China and each side administers separate immigration controls; Hong Kong is part of China but crossing the border is like traveling from one country to another for immigration purposes. Thus, if you arrive in Hong Kong and want to visit the Mainland, you'll need a Chinese visa when you cross to the Mainland, though you can return to Hong Kong visa-free. And if you start on the Mainland, visit Hong Kong, then return to the Mainland, you'll need a new (or double/multiple entry) Chinese visa to re-enter the Mainland.
Discover Hong Kong This is the Hong Kong tourist Authority Website (with information on free taijiquan lessons, free junk rides, and much more).
BC Magazine BC Magazine is a free print magazine that has club, gig, restaurant, and bar listings. You can also pick up free copies around town. HK Magazine is also a great free magazine to pick up around town - any centrally located bar, restaurant or some shops will have copies.
Discovery.com Hong Kong etiquette and other odds and ends about visiting Hong Kong brought to you by the Discovery.com people.
Planning to move to Hong Kong:
ICERED This online zine advertises itself as the premier community for high income professionals
Turbo Jet Information on jetfoil services between Hong Kong Island/Kowloon and Macau. See the China section above for more information about transportation and ferries between Hong Kong and the mainland.
Guide to Hong Kong site seeing:
12hk.comThe unofficial guide to the city.
Jun 7, 2004 3:51 PM
3Japan A big thanks to 123JP and Tokyo_girl for updating this!
Japan National Tourist Organization or JNTO First place to start for general travel info. Also good for special interest tours eg factories etc.
Their Practical Travel Guides is particularly useful.
Japan Guide Great sight for travel information, Living there information, sightseeing guides, etc. Japan Guide forum is also worth a look.
Japan FAQs A sometimes accessible site that answers lots of frequently asked questions for people who will be in Japan for a while. It doesn’t seem to have been updated for a while though.
Quirky Japan Interesting places for people who have already seen the sights or people who are looking for for something a bit different - like watching sumos train.
Also includes a section on everything you always wanted to know about Japan but were afraid to ask.
Jojoebi’s Japan and teaching links Lots of links for things you might need for every day life in Japan.
Teaching in Japan:
Big Daikon see the page for JETs
ELT News English Teaching in Japan one of the better EFL sites in Japan
Gaijin Pot Jobs in Japan.
Teaching Jobs in Japan more jobs in Japan.
The Teaching in Japan Page
Findateacher.net Good site for looking for private English students.
I want to teach in Japan - schools and programs
The JET Programme
ECC foreign language institutes Japan bound site. One of Japans bigger English teaching schools
+ Online Map for Japan:+
JNTO - Map of Japan This new map is very Flash heavy, not old browser friendly. But more info available. Click on a location you want go then go to click on "detailed page” that take you to the city information. You will find map icon for city map in right side. Old map page is still accessible at this moment Not sure for how long.
MapQuest only for major cities and roads
If you can type and understand Japanese then there are plenty sites with many functions.
Yahoo Japan Map
Banks and money
Not as useful in Japan as they are in some countries. It’s hard to change them in small shops and you are likely to cause a flurry even in bigger stores. Big hotels can manage them no problem but may only do so for customers. You may need to go to the bank or post office to get them changed.
ATMs is probably the way to go but you need to be a bit more organized with your money that you might be in other first world countries. In general, Japanese banks do not accept foreign issued cards. The post office ATMs do although the machines are not 24 hour many close at 5 or 6pm. Citibank machines are 24 hour but are fewer in number. They are in the main tourist areas of the big cities.
Citibank ATM locator
Japan Post Office ATM info
Credit Cards are becoming more common in Japan. Small restaurants and shops are unlikely to take them.
Visa, Plus ATM locator
Master, Maestro, Cirrus ATM locator (there is FAQ)
Hyperdia for train times and prices very useful to work out whether a JR pass is worthwhile or how to get from point A to point B
Japanese Traffic Guide Similar to hyperdia but also rates whether a trip is fast, easy or cheap.
Travel in Japan can be much cheaper using rail passes. Most tickets are only available to foreign visitors and you need to buy the tickets before you get to Japan. There is a whole Japan pass and passes for different regions.
JNTO site for discount transport tickets Very helpful site that summarizes the Japan Rail Passes and other discount tickets for bus, plane etc.
Japan Rail Pass Japan Rail Passes info.
Hokkaido Rail Pass
JR East Rail Pass, other passes on JR East For travel in Tokyo and the north of Honshu.
Sanyo Area Pass (for western Japan) & Kansai Area Pass on JR West
Kyushu Rail Pass
Japanese Railways Page A good site that explains well about Japan trains including tips on how to use local trains efficiently and cheaply.
Seishun 18 Kippu The Seishun 18 is only local train unlimited ride seasonal JR ticket sold in Japan. JR East has published official Seishun 18 Kippu site in English so you can check all the details and the restrictions now. Also check out the unofficial site for Seishun 18 Kippu Planning Example and Seishun 18 Kippu Guide by Japan-guide.com. Also see JNTO site "JR Discount Tickets"
Highway Buses by Japan guide.com for times and prices. Bus travel can be much cheaper than the trains.
Highway Bus Data Base by Nihon Bus Association for bus times and prices.
Sea transportation by JNTO UK information about ferries from Japan to China, Korea, Taiwan and Russia.
Randy Johnson's Travel Guide
Domestic Ferry information by Japan guide.com
Ferries, Cruise Ships & Ports by Web Site of Ships
Domestic Discount Air Tickets
Discount Air Tickets Guide byJapan-guide.com
Can I store luggage, how do I get there etc
Narita International Airport (NRT) Tokyo’s main international airport.
Tokyo International Airport (Haneda airport) (HND) Tokyo’s domestic airport (some international flights too.)
Kansai International Airport (KIX) International airport for Kansai region - Osaka. Some domestic flights too however most of domestic flights are from Osaka International Airport.
Osaka International Airport (Itami, ITM) airport domestic airport for Kansai region (No international flight.).
Central Japan International Airport Centrair
(NGO) Airport for Chubu region - Nagoya. All international and domestic flights are in one airport.
Reasonably priced accomodation:
JNTO’s Accommodation Information - Accommodation Search is very useful.
International Tourism Center of Japan & Welcome Inn Reservation Center
Japanese Inn Group (they don’t take online booking!)-
Club Tocoo Last minute booking service, sometimes extremely cheap.
Minshuku Network Cheapish bed and breakfast, usually Japanese style.
Luxury Ryokan If you are wanting to spoil yourself, or if you just operate on a big budget there are some amazing looking ryokan here. Good explanations for ryokan customs too.
Tokyo Cheap Hotels
Metropolis Tokyo English language magazine that professes to teach you how to go native, runs free classifieds for non-commerical purposes. good for gaijin houses etc.
Kansai Scene Kansai English language magazine, free classifieds
Kansai Flea Market Kansai English language classifieds magazine
Internet cafes the how to of internet cafes. Can be cheaper than a hostel.
Capsule in Komagome hotel Komagome, Tokyo This Capsule hotel recommended by bobsi18 accepts both male and female customers (lots of capsule hotels only accept men).
+I stayed at the capsule hotel in Komagome, because it had a womens floor. Was kinda out of the way, but definetly worth the experience. It cost me 3990 yen, which allowed me to stay for 18 hours Upon entering the hotel, you take off your shoes and put them in a locker on the righthand side. Take the key out of the locker and give it to the person behind the desk. You will then fill out a registration form (normal stuff like name and passport number). They will then hand you a velcro bracelet thingy which has your locker keys and whatnot on it. Next they will ask if you if you've stayed there before - I hadn't so I was given a tour. First, to the capsules, where you leave any luggage (I had a HUGE rucksack, but it fitted in my capsule easily). Next, onto the baths, where I was given a quick tour. Bath was traditional Japanese style - you have a locker, where you take off and store your clothes, pop on you towel and wander over to the shower area to scrub down before jumping into the hot bath. The capsule itself was quite big, and I didn't find it at all claustrophobic. It was probably a bit over a meter high (plenty of room to sit up) and a bit over 2 meters long. Inside there was a little panel with all sorts of buttons, to control the radio (you are given headphones), the light, the fan, the alarm clock and even the little tv that was mounted on the wall. Although most of it was in Japanese, it was easy enough to figure out - although there is one button that will call the attendants, it is covered with a plastic button, so its not easy to accidentally push. Pajamas and towels were provided, as were toothbrushes, soap and shampoo. I really enjoyed the experience - I speak a little Japanese, but I'm sure that it would still be easy to manage without any Japanese at all.
Want to know what to do on a short layover in Narita, Tokyo's Airport?+See
Mike Newman's Narita Layover Page
Transit tours around Narita
The Tokyo Food Page will point you in the direction of good (and not necessarily expensive) restaurants all over Tokyo as well as Osaka, Kobe and Kyoto.
Female and planning to stay a while in Tokyo:
Being a broad The online and in-person support and information network for women living overseas.
Looking for a Post Office:
Planning to see and climb Mt. Fuji:
Official guide: "Mt.Fuji & Fuji Five Lakes"
Introduction to Mt. Fuji Climbing
Mount Fuji Guide by Japan-guide.com
Japanese Onsen/Hot Springs and other outdoor activities
Jolsen's Free and other hot springs
Snow Japan Great info for skiing, snowboarding etc in Japan.
Have a look at: Aomori Prefecture, Iwate Prefecture and Akita Prefecture. These 3 prefectures are in the Northern part of Japan where there are many different onsens (hot springs). See if you can request the "Discover Another Japan - Northern Tohoku" sightseeing guide book. If not, here is a basic route you could take which includes many different types: Aomori - Mt Hakkoda - Sukayu Hot Springs - Kuroishi Hot Springs - Hirosaki - Koganezaki Hot Springs (right on the beach!) - Oga Hot Springs - Lake Tazawa - Nyuto Hot Springs (outdoors, very nice when it snows!) - Tamagawa Hot Springs - Hachimantai Hot Springs - Morioka.
Toyko metro As of Spring 2004, Tokyo's Eidan lines have had a change of ownership, a name change (Tokyo metro) and an image overhaul. See the link for their new symbol - it might be hard to recognise a suway station if you don't know the symbol... Subway stations now have numbers as well as names to make it easier for foreigners to remember where to get off.... eg all Ginza line stations are G.... followed by a number eg Shibuya the first station on the Ginza line is G1
Omotesando which is the next station from Shibuya on the Ginza line is G2... You can see the numbers on the map of the subway system on the link above.
Tokyo one day recommendations
Here's my recommendations for doing Tokyo on the fly and on the cheap: window shop and people watch. Hit Shibuya and take your picture at the famous Hachiko statue at the station then take a 5 minute walk down to Tower Records Shibuya (the largest music store in the world) or take the train a few stops down to Tower Records Shinjuku (the 2nd largest). There are lots of love hotels on the hill near the station at Shibuya if you want to try something different.
If you are after modern fashionable Tokyo, Definitely go to Harajuku (1 stop from Shibuya). In Harajuku you can see the "most famous" shrine in Japan--the Meiji Shrine. The garden (Gyoen) on the way to the shrine (500Y) has lots of irises and is a tranquil respite especially in the summer heat. If you go to Meiji Shrine on a Sunday you might even see a traditional shinto wedding procession. Sundays also see the youth of Japan out in full force doing "CosPlay," which means a bunch of teenagers dress up in costumes and pose for pictures. Also there are tons of street performers there. COST=Zero Yen.
If you want a unique dining experience I recommend Fujimamas an East/West fusion restaurant just off Omotesando Dori. Stuff like grilled swordfish sandwiches w/ miso soup is on the menu. Lunch specials there are usually around 1200YEN, but a full menu is available. Basement floors of the major department stores have an amazing array of bento, (boxed lunches).
If you're gonna be in Japan in the spring definitely consider going to Ueno Park (get off at Ueno Station) and catch the cherry blossoms. Ueno is another great place. Lots of museums (admission is about 500YEN on average), a zoo (nothing spectacular), street venders and street performers. Some people love Ueno some people hate it it has lots of homeless people living in the park which is more than a bit disturbing. It is old and a bit run down, but I reckon oozes character. On the Yanaka side of Ueno there are lots of old temples. On the south side of Ueno is Ameyoko an old black market area after WW2. It has lots of street stalls traditional Japanese snacks, fruit and veggies, herbs and spices, fresh and dried seafood.
So, if you're ballin' on a budget, travel will definitely be your biggest expense. You can skip restaurants altogether and get some ramen (counter ramen shops are fast, cheap, good and SO Japanese) or yakitori or yakisoba from a street vendor for a few hundred Yen. And 2 people can fill up @ McDonalds for 1000YEN. At the beef bowl chains Yoshinoya and Matsuya you can get a bowl of rice and beef for around 300yen. So, in my estimate, 2 people could do Tokyo easy for 12,000Yen (about US$100) including food and transportation, but I'd bring about 5,000YEN extra for all the stuff you're gonna want to buy. - recommended by NolaHakujin with additional notes by Tokyo Girl.
Others suggest that if all you have is a 8-12 hours then "head into" Narita City which is only a 10 minute train ride from the Airport terminals. Narita is a nice city." Other suggestions: head into Tokyo, stay in the airport and strike up conversations with fellow travelers using a phrase book.
*With 10 hours * it is feasible to catch the Kesei line train to Ueno and catch a Ginza (yellow) line subway to Asakusa (old temple town), Ginza (Expensive dept stores) or Shibuya (chaotic, trendy, modern Tokyo) for a look around. Alternatively the JR Narita express will take you to Shinjuku for a look at modern Japan.
Tokyo - 4 day recommendations
check out Tokyo Walks on the Japan National Tourist Organization website.
1. shoppin' - Shinjuku, Ginza, Shibuya, Omotesando, Harajuku.
2. chillin' and people watching - Omotesando ,Harajuku, Shimokitazawa, Shibuya, Odaiba. Sitting drinking coffee in Starbucks at Shibuya crossing or in Doutor, diagonally opposite Mitsukoshi dept store in Ginza, is a great way to rest your feet and watch Tokyo happening in front of you.
3. camera buyin' - any of the stores in Akihabara, or Bic Camera in Ikebukuro or Yurakacho Bic Camera (next to the station) You get a discount with a point card.
4. Culture - Meiji Shrine.(Harajuku), Senso-Ji (Asakusa)... Sumo stables in Ryogoku, Tokyo National Museum in Ueno, the temples around Yanaka
5. Take the first train to Tsukiji fish market. Tuna auction starts 5.30am, don't get there later. if you really want to see Tsukiji, get ready to pull an all nighter. It really gets frenzied at daybreak. By mid-morning it's all over really. Check the Tsukiji calendar on their website - it’s shut Sundays and some Wednesdays and public hols. Tsukiji Market
6. *Historic Japan * Yasukuni shrine museum for an insight into WW2 through the eyes of a Japanese nationalist, Edo Tokyo Museum in Ryogoku,
Imperial Palace East Gardens (Don’t expect to see a lot there but the old castle walls are impressive.) Ameyoko in Ueno, Sugamo if you want to see lots of old Japanese women out buying green tea, umeboshi (pickled plums) and senbei (rice crackers.)
7. Gardens Koishikawa Korakuen, near Tokyo dome, Meiji Jingu gardens and Hamarikyu, Rikugien in Komagome are probably the pick of gardens that are easy to get to.
8. You can get an onsen (hot spring) experience in Tokyo in Azabujuban at the onsen on the main street (it is (brown) mineral water, but artificially heated) RHS going from Azabujuban station. Odaiba. also has the Oedo Onsen Monogatari near the Telecom Centre Station on the Yurikamome line.
9. Kamakura makes a good day trip cooler than Tokyo in summer, relaxed, lots of temples a former capital of Japan.
Tokyo Tourism Info This is a fantastic site of self guided walking tours - great maps - lots of places that locals don't know about, let alone tourists.
The Official Kyoto Tourist information center
Kyoto Tourist Information Center
(Also serves as a Welcome Inn Reservation Centers)
Kyoto: 9th. Fl., Kyoto Station Bldg.,
Shiokoji-sagaru, Karasuma-dori, Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto 600-8216
Hours: 10:00 - 18:00
Closed on the 2nd & 4th Tuesday of every month and from Dec. 29 - Jan. 3.
Use the elevator to the 9th floor from the 2nd floor
Phone: 075-344-3300 (075-343-4887 for the Welcome Inn Reservation Centers)
Also Kyoto City Tourist Association has an information center on 2nd fl. English spoken.
Kyoto self guide waking tour "Kyoto Walks" Fantastic guide.
Kyoto Guide by Japan-guide.com
Welcome to Kyoto Kyoto Prefectural Government Tourism and Commerce Office
Kyoto city tourism and culture information system - City of Kyoto official information
Kyoto event web magazine - Kyoto City Tourist Association
The Kyoto Visitor's Guide
Exploring Kyoto - excellent walking tour guidebook
Kyoto City Bus & Subway - Kyoto Sightseeing One and Two-day Pass Card
Kyoto International Community House Library has full collection LP guide books as well as many books on Japan.
You may visit most of Nara city center area as a day trip from Kyoto or Osaka. However may be ideal stay one night in Nara if you also plan to visit Horyuji, Toshodaiji, Chuguji and Yakushiji in Nishinokyo area.
Nara self guide waking tour "Nara Walks" Fantastic guide.
Nara Guide by Japan-guide.com
Nara City Tourist Section
Official guide: "Osaka"
Osaka Guide by Japan-guide.com
Welcome to Osaka - Osaka Convention and Tourism Bureau
Osaka Visitors Guide - City of Osaka Recreation & Tourism bureau / Osaka Convention and Tourism Bureau
Kansai Concierge English BBS- provide information on sightseeing in English in response to inquiries about Kansai area (Osaka, Kyoto, Kobe)
This temple town is great for over night trip from Osaka. Nankai Electric Railway’s express (Kyuko) train takes around 2 hours from Nanba in Osaka (1,230 Yen). There is limited express (Tokkyu) for 20 min less, but takes an extra 760 yen for limited express charge.
You can reach by JR up to Hashimoto on JR Wakayama line via Wakayama, Oji or Takada in Nara then must transfer Nankai.
53 places of Shukubo (Temple Lodging) can be reserved through Koyasan Tourist Association. Phone: (0736)56-2616
Official website of Kôyasan Tourist Association and Shukubô Temple Lodging Cooperative
Official guide: Shirahama, Koyasan, Kumano-Kodo & Wakayama Prefecture
Koyasan Guide by Japan-guide.com
Himeji - Castle, Mt. Shosha (featured in the "Last Samurai").
This is also good day trip from Osaka or Kyoto. 1.5H from Kyoto, 1H from Osaka by JR New rapid (Shin Kaisoku) train or 50 min from Kyoto, 30 min by Shinkansen.
Official guide: "Kobe, Himeji & Takarazuka "
Himeji Guide by Japan-guide.com
All data is as of June 2006
Jun 7, 2004 3:53 PM
Mongolian Mission to the UN the application for a Mongolian visa can be downloaded here.
Locations of Mongolian Consulates and Embassies
To obtain a Mongolian visa, the following are the documents required:
1. Passport valid for at least 6 months from the date of entry to Mongolia
2. One application form
3. One passport-size photo
4. Travel itinerary (if the visit is for more than 7 days)
5. If you wish your passport to be returned to you by mail, prepaid envelope for return of passport by a Federal Express
6. One of the following
A) Either an invitation of the receiving entity (state, government, non-governmental organization, business entity) or an official request of the sending country and the organization.
B) Or, for tourists wishing to stay over one week up to 90 days, a letter of invitation from a travel agency.
C) Or, if you are traveling on a personal invitation of a citizen of Mongolia, an invitation approved by the the Office of Immigration, Naturalization and Foreign Citizens, Mongolia, and applicant's written statement concerning his/her financial credibility to cover his/her stay in Mongolia.
D) For those passing Mongolia in transit, onward ticket and visa for next destination is required.
7. AIDS test required for students and anyone staying longer than 3 months.
US citizens traveling in Mongolia do not require a visa provided they have:
1. an invitation letter by the host tour operator/agency in Mongolia or other relevant host entity in Mongolia
2. OR a contract with the host tour operator/agency in Mongolia or other relevant host entity in Mongolia
3. AND/OR a return ticket
US passport holders do not need a visa for stays less than 90 days. If they remain in Mongolia for more than 30 days, they must register.
List of countries and regions with non-visa regime for all types of passport holders
1. Hong Kong - 14 days for all type of passports. There is no visa fee for diplomatic and official passports. Ordinary passport holders pay visa fee if they travel for more than 14 days.
2. Israel - 30 days for all type of passports
3. Kazakhstan - 90 days for all type of passports
4. Malaysia - 1 month for all type of passports
5. Philippines - 21 days for all type of passports
6. Singapore - 14 days for all type of passports
Mongolian visas in Russia:
The consulate in Irkutsk takes 3 days to issue visas:
Consulate Mr Yo Adilbish
Irkutsk, St. Lapina - 11.
Single entry-exit visa will cost you US$25+3 for 3 days processing; for urgent service (within a working day) cost is US$50+3; this kind of visa is valid for three months from the date of issuing.
Consulates in both Kyzyl (Tuva) and Ulan Ude also gave Mongolian visas same day with one photo, $50, no other documents necessary. In Ulan Ude apply in am only.
For a highly recommended guide: contact Gans at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Happy CamelThis place is run by a European who now resides in UB and also owns a bakery-cafe.
Khongor or write them at: email@example.com. This place comes highly recommended by several fellow travelers.
MadCat's Mongolia personal musings of a fellow traveler and TT board contributor.
Meet Mongolia The personal experiences of two backpackers.
Mongolia Government tourism Despite being a government site, this is quite useful.
Zaya BackapckersAnother Mongolian guest house offering tours that comes recommended by fellow travelers. Note that Zaya frequents this board.
Train ticket information posted Dec 2003
In Mongolia they only start selling tickets for the trains when the train has arrived to Mongolian territory, this was at least the case when we were there. In practice this means that you can buy your ticket in the morning if your departure is in the evening (or maybe you can already buy it the day before, can't remember exactly).
The problem is that especially in the summer the trains are very crowded and tickets to Beijing are hard to come by. It's easier if you're travelling to Russia because there are trains leaving for Irkutsk every day and once you get to the Russian side there are plenty of trains to choose from.
The tickets to Beijing are sold somehow "under the desk". You need to go to the station to a room number this and this, ask for a stamp on a paper and insist that they put your name on a list . Then at a later time you can come and bring your passport in order to get your ticket. It's a bit of a hassle but seemed to work anyhow! I didn't do this myself as we were going to Ulan Ude but the people with whom we stayed at the hostel finally did manage to buy the tickets to China. It remained unclear to me why they are doing this, they didn't ask for any extra money for putting your name on the list. Who knows...
I am sure that there is a way of booking the tickets in advance too but most likely it involves higher costs. Most guesthouses offer to buy tickets for their guests for an extra fee.
Train schedule information
Train No. 23 departs from Beijing on Tuesdays and arrives in Ulan batar on Wednesdays. During the summer (early June to late September) it reportedly also operates on Mondays. Train No. 3 departs from Beijing on Wednesdays and arrives in UB on Thursdays. Price in early 2004 was about 74 USD.
Alternative transportation between Beijing and Ulan Bator
Yuan 244 Soft sleeper: Beijing to Horhot (capital of Inner Mongolia) 21:00 - 07:20 (next day)
Yuan 30 Hard seat: Horhot to Erenhot (Chinese border with Mongolia) 08:10 - 19:30 (same day)
Yuan 50 Trip across border in local bus to Zamon Ude train station
T 9700 Soft sleeper: Zamon Ude to Ulaan Baator 17:00 - 09:00 (next day)
Notes: Total cost less than 40 euros. in addition to the local bus across the border, there are shared taxis. Same for the train from Zamon Ude to UB. Prices are from May 2004. There are reports occasionally that this border is closed on the weekends.
International border crossing points
There are no international border crossings between Mongolia and countries other than Russia and China. International border crossing points in Mongolia.
According to several websites only four border points are open to nonlocal passport holders. These are Ulan-batar's international airport, the road/train crossing to China at Zamiin Uud in Dornogobi province, the road crossing to Russia at Altanbulag in Selenge province and the train crossing to Russia at Sukhbaatar.
Recently (May 2004) the US embassy in UB sent out this information:
In an effort to promote tourism, the Government of Mongolia has advised us that foreigners may now enter Mongolia by automobile or motorcycle at four additional land border crossings. The affected border crossings include: Tsagaan Nuur in Bayan Ulgii province, Altanbulag in Selenge province, Ereen Tsav in Dornod province and Zamiin Uud in Dornogobi province. These permanent highway checkpoints are open five days a week, Monday to Friday, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. American citizens may present their valid passports to cross the Mongolian border at these points.
Actually this is only two additional locations, but they will be useful to those traveling from Russia, Tsagaan-Nuur will permit travel from Altai Republic of Russia to the Bayan-Ulgii province and Ereen Tsav will permit travel from Kulusutay (south of Chita), Russia to the Dornod province of Mongolia.
This means that the crossing at Borshoo (from Ak Dovurak in Tuva, Russia to the Uvs province, Mongolia) still is not open to international travelers. You cannot cross between Mongolia and China or Russia at any of the many other border points that are seasonal and are only open to Mongolians and/or Chinese/Russians.
There is no border crossing between Kazakhstan and Mongolia. There are flights from Ulgit to Kazakhstan. The Central Asia Tourism Corporation in Almaty indicates flights three times a week between Oskemen and Ulgit as of 1 Jan 04. No flights are shown between Ulgit and Almaty.
Jun 7, 2004 3:54 PM
Korean National Tourism Organization - this link doesn't always work.
Incheon International Airport general information.
Airport to town by Bus
Ferries from Korea to China - May 2004
Yantai 6PM Tues/Thur/Sat 110,000WON tel.032-891-8880 (no longer departs from Pusan, Gunsan)
WeiHai 7PM Tues/Thur/Sat 110,000WON
Qingdao 1PM Mon/Wed/Thur/Sat 125,000WON
Dandong 6PM Mon/Wed/Fri 117,000WON
Dalian 4PM Tues/Thur/Sat 115,000WON
Tianjin(Tanggu) 1PM Tues/7PM Fri 121,000WON
Buy ticket AT FERRY TERMINAL
PusanWeb A guide to life in Busan
Seoul Searching A guide to life in Seoul
City of Seoul the Seoul Metropolitan Government site.
Life in Korea
One Stop Korea
Tour to Korea
News and expat links
Korean Job Discussion forum brought to you by Dave's ESL cafe
Hogwan the Korea ESL directory
Jun 7, 2004 3:56 PM
Nationals of many countries can get a 15 or 30 day visa on arrival in Taiwan. As Taiwan does not have official diplomatic relations with many countries it does not have official embassies in most countries. However, it does maintain offices which issue visas and provide other assistance. These offices are usually called the "Taipei Economic and Cultural Office". Visit the Government Information Office for the address of the nearest visa office.
Travel to Taiwan:
There are NO direct transport links between Taiwan and China. The most common way to travel from Taiwan to China is to fly via Hong Kong or Macau from where it is possible to connect to destinations in China. There is no ferry service to Hong Kong, but there is a weekly ferry service to Naha, Okinawa. From there it is possible to take another ferry onto other ports in Japan (and if you so desire then onto China or Korea). Taiwan has two major international airlines. The confusingly named China Airlines and EVA Airways. CKS international airport
Travel in Taiwan
Taiwan has a good railway service that runs around the entire island. The Taiwan Railway Administration website has
timetables in English and you can also make bookings online. There are also frequent bus services between all major cities and domestic air services as well.
Life in Taiwan
Forumosa.com is an online community for foreigners in Taiwan and has lots of information about all aspects of life in Taiwan.
Taiwan Ho!for information about visiting Taiwan or living in Taiwan
Taiwan Fun for information about dining, travel, movies, shopping, night life...
David's Guide to Taiwanfor information for anybody planning to come to Taiwan or already in Taiwan. Some info about teaching English, studying Chinese, travelling, cycling, Buddhism in Taiwan,...
Welcome to Taiwan, the official government tourist website
Jun 7, 2004 3:57 PM
Maps, guidebooks and other useful information:
Kotan.org, a publisher
How to navigate through the airports to Tibet from a TT regular, Stirling:
Destination Tibet-Airports This page was last updated 2002 but should provide the non-Chinese speaker with information on how to navigate through the airports from Beijing to Lhasa.
Travel independently to Tibet:
Independent Travel in Tibet This page is a work in progress and was last updated April 2003
You need a chinese visa, yes, and you also need a Tibet permit. Entering from mainland China is easy.
Entering from Nepal, however, requires you to have a GROUP visa, and if you try to enter with an individual one, they will put you on a group visa and cancel the individual one. After leaving Tibet, you'll have to get the group visa changed to an individual one, if you are staying longer in China.
It has occasionally been reported that people are able to talk AND PAY, A LOT, to get past boarder guards from Nepal into Tibet without the group visa, but it is not recommended.
Jun 8, 2004 7:25 AM
+General information +
The Oriental-List, an Internet discussion list solely for the discussion of China travel, hosted by Peter N-H. The list is non-commercial; there's no spam, no advertising of any kind, no off-topic postings, no smart-alec one-liners, and no cat fights. To subscribe write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Visas and extension
Since 2002 (although there will always be exceptions), only ONE extension, of NO MORE THAN 30 DAYS is possible, and it usually takes FIVE WORKING DAYS to get. This is directly (in Mandarin) from the PSB offices of about 15 different cities around China.
Entrance to the Shenzhen area is possible with a visa picked up at the border, but this visa is valid only for a few days for most nationalities. Guangzhou PSB says that you can get one-month tourist visas on arrival at Guangzhou East by train from HK. CTS just inside the Chinese side on the land crossing from Macau will sell you a three-month tourist visa in about 30 mins for prices similar to those obtainable in HK (take one photo) and even a six month multiple entry F visa if you are willing to hang about for an hour or so.
At CTS (China Travel Service), 3-month visas counting from day of application as follows -
single entry, double entry, application time, pick-up time:
HK$ 210, 350, before 2pm, after 4:30pm on 3rd working day
HK$ 410, 550, before 2pm, after 4:30pm on 2nd working day
HK$ 580, 720, before 9:30am, after 2pm same day OR before 2pm, after 6pm same day
Only US passport holders pay an additional fee.
The above schedule may vary a little for branches located out of the centre of town. You may check addresses of branches at www.chinatravelone.com
General Travel information
CITS Chinese International Travel Services
TravTours Australian based Chinese tour company which can assist with getting Chinese visas and travel planning.
China Tibet Sichuan Jiuzhaigou Travel Information Web
Chinabackpacker A new site for independent travelers to discover Southwest China, especially those fabulous remote Tibetan regions in Yunnan and Sichuan. Hike along the trails of Tibetan Pilgrims where hide some of the most sacred mountains recognised in Tibetan Buddhism: Mt. Kawa Karpo (6740M), Mt. Cheresig (6032M). Information about hiking in the Tiger Leaping Gorge, including places to stay.
Traveling from Kunming to Chengdu
itineraries to help you plan your journey.
China adventure travel service
PassPlanet.com general information about backpacker travel in China. Includes information about most large cities and regions including site seeing and train travel.
driving in China The adventures of one couple driving across China.
KCR Reliable information on trains to the mainland (Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and other nearby points in Guangdong) from Hong Kong (and the proper prices to pay--beware of links to ticket agents from various train information sites)
Hong Kong to Guangdong Ferries Information on ferry services from Hong Kong to Guangdong Province
China Travel One don't buy visas here--only boat tickets, and possibly air tickets (but compare prices with other agencies away from the tourist areas), the tickets for expresses to Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou (no commission), and a limited number of rail services within the mainland.
Turbo Jet Information on jetfoil services between Hong Kong Island/Kowloon and Macau.
Chinese train site Gives times and prices, in chinese.
Clickable map of China Not 100% comprehensive (a few train lines missing) but good for overall trip
posted on the TT fall 2003: "There's a good ferry from Shanghai to Osaka/Kobe every week or so. This is a good ferry. Probably the cheapest too."
Flights from Shenzhen airport to mainland destinations are almost always much cheaper than those from Hong Kong. Note that the Turbo Jet site also has details of a convenient jetfoil service to Shenzhen airport.
IMPORTANT: General Warning against Hong Kong and mainland on-line air ticket agents. There's massive overcharging on these sites, which only feature full prices, almost all of which can be bargained down once in China, automatically by 10%, often 30%, frequently 50% (legally by up to 40%).
Chinese ESL sites and language sites
Tefl China Job
Tefl China Life
Roddy's websiteThis site, hosted by one of your branch regulars, is aimed at people living in Beijing, somewhere between the travellers passing through, and the ex-pats who get driven everywhere. For example, I've got sections on finding housing, what to expect from Chinese housing, buying and running a mobile phone, getting your laptop hooked up to the internet, etc. There are also language and culture forums.
Vegetarians traveling in China
Information for vegetarians
This site is maintained by a TT member, Pratyeka, and this page includes information on how to make it clear that you do not eat meat, suggestions of foods that do not include meat, etc.
General China Sites
China travel hub This link is to their hotel listings.
Chinese Cuisine Learn about tea and chopsticks and other useful information.
China through a lens Information on both the larger cities and many regions of China.
Overseas package costs - posted Mar 2004
Cost of mailing parcels from Shanghai (so perhaps cost will be similar from
other cities in China) to USA:
1kg = 158.5 RMB
2kg = 235.5 RMB
3kg = 348.5 RMB
4kg = 443.5 RMB
5kg = 538.5 RMB
6kg = 633.5 RMB
Russian visas in China
Beijing Consulate Address:4, Baizhongjie, Beijing, 100600
Tel: +86 10 6532-1267, 6532-1991
Fax: +86 10 6532-4853
Email: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
As of April 2004, the Russian consulate in Beijing will only issue visas to Chinese passport holders or those with Chinese residence permits.
Shanghai Consulate: 20, Huangpu Lu, Shanghai, 200080
Phone: +86 (21) 324-2682, (6?)324-8383
Fax: +86 (21) (6?)306-9982
As of May 2004, the Russian consulate in Shanghai is issuing visas to non Chinese passport holders. Contact details as of 21 May 2004. "Also wanted to let people know that I got my 30 day tourist visa for russia processed today in Shanghai. Visatorussia.com provided visa support by email. I found their service excellent. I colour printed the voucher and invitation in A4 size and took it to the consulate here in shanghai. They needed a photocopy of all the documents as well as the originals eg. copy of both voucher and
invitation, copy of my passport, my chinese visa, one photo and the cash. Costs here are 50USD for 5-8 day processing, 80USD for 3-5 day and 120USD for same day processing."
It has been suggested before that high quality color printouts of email files of the invitation and voucher might be acceptable to this consulate instead of originals.
There is also a Russian consulate is Shenyang
Address: 31, Nan Shisanvailu, Shenyang, 110003, China
Phone: + 8624 23 22-39-27
Fax: + 8624 23 22-39-07
E-mail: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
Reportedly, the surly staff at the Russian Consulate in the rear of the compound, keep odd hours, don't speak English, and will almost never grant you a tourist visa; arrive before 10am if you want to try your luck.
Vietnamese visas in Nanning Contact details reported late May 2004.
"After much digging I have finally tracked this place down. It is officially located on the third floor of the Gunagxi Investment building, 109 Minzu Dadao but here's the thing - it's not here yet. Right now it is in somebody's apartment - 21st floor of building C, 115 Minzu Dadao - located at the east end of the road. The local taxi drivers don't seem to know where it is, even when you have the address writen down in Chinese, so the best thing to do is to call the man on 13877100849 and he will direct you/your taxi driver - he speaks reasonable English and fluent Chinese."
The good news is, visas are available within 3 working days for a price of 400RMB or for an extra 100RMB you can have them the same day."
Vietnamese visas in Beijing - posted June 2004
Address:32 Guanghua Lu
Tel: (010) 6532-7038
Hours: 9:00am-11:30am and 2:00pm- 4:00pm
I went to Beijing yesterday to get my Vietnam visa, so I thought I would post about it since there are always questions about getting visas for Vietnam in China. The address is: 32 Guanghua Lu. That is the front of the consulate. The visa section is at the rear. You enter on XiuShui Bei Jie. You have to show your passport to get to this road. There were five of us there around 9am when they opened. We all had our visas within 20 minutes. The two men there were friendly and efficient.
Here are the prices:
4 days- RMB 400
2 days- RMB 500
1 day- RMB 600
On the application, you write your proposed entry and exit dates. I assumed that they would put my entry date on the visa and then have it expire one month later. Instead, they put that the visa expired on my proposed exit date, which will work for me, but maybe not for others. So make sure you put one month later as the exit date if you are being flexible in your travelling dates.
One site recommended by TSkillet
The Beijing Guide cool site with 360-degree panoramas, music and language tips.
Beijing Before the Olympics - it has some amazing multimedia, photos and audio. Plus it teaches you travelers' Chinese.
For information about the trains NanJing Railway
Station Prices are only quoted for connections starting in Nanjing and you computer needs to understand Chinese.
Two sites recommended by Confucius for travelers to Shanghai:
ExPats in Shanghai
One site recommended by TSkillet
Someone posted that Kyrgyz visas should be available from the Kazakh Consulate (0991-383-2324) at Kunming Lu 31 but there is no confirmation of this information and nothing on the Kyrgyzstan ministry of foreign affairs site. There is no Russian consulate here. For more information about this area, look for postings on the Central Asia
Independent Travel in Yunnan hosted by pratyeka.
*Transsiberian, transmongolia and transmanchurian trains *
Prices vary greatly for tickets along this route and depend upon a number of factors. There is a long thread about these trains on the Eastern Europe branch which includes Russia. everbrite's Trans Siberian thread. Also check the more complete and more up to date website I created:
everbrite's travel pages
for further information.
Here are some sites suggested in the past by others who researched this route, They are listed alphabetically.
G&R International This is a travel agency in Moscow that has lots of information about the transiberian including their fees for various train tickets.
monkeyshrine.com This firm sells train tickets and packages. They post ads on various Russian train sites and are pretty hard sell. Without question, their prices are high but their service is pretty good.
RickSteves A guide book website.
Russia Experience A Brit who operates
lots of organized trips on the transiberian route. Some hold true - the prices are high but the service is reportedly good.
russian-gateway.com.au An Australian travel agency that specializes in travel to Russia.
Russian Passport/Red Bear travelAn Australian company that arranged travel to Russia, Mongolia and North Korea.
seat61.com THE train guru. His site includes pictures of what a 1st class, 2nd class, platskartny bunks look like, shows the route maps and includes load and loads of other useful information. While not the bible, this is probably the first place to start for information but not the cheapest place to purchase tickets.
sokoltours.com A Russian tour company whose site has lots of good information about things to do and places to see.
StudyRussian A company that specializes in studying Russian at MGU and travel on the transiberian route.
Svezhy Veter Another Russian tour company, although not specializing in travel on the transiberian, this site has lots of useful information about travel in Russia and if you send them a request for prices quotes their prices are reasonable.
Reported to be responsive to requests for info, have reasonable prices and reasonably reliable.
Trans-Siberian Railway Web Encyclopedia
Good information about history of the trains, cars, books about the trains, but the English section is not well translated.
Vodka Train This used to be sundowners. They are trying hard to undercut MonkeyShrine and Russia Experience with a no frills tour price.
WaytoRussia A travel service, not really an agency, but they keep their webpages up to date regarding train times and ticket prices, both of which change with the season plus they check the service and quality of the companies with which they work.
Personal accounts of others who have traveled the transsiberian route:
Fred's Trans-Siberian Railroad Adventure The personal accounts of a Brit who took the trans-mongolian trip in November-December 2001. Lots of pictures.
Overland to Hong Kong Another Brit who traveled the Trans-Mongolia beginning in the UK
Jun 12, 2004 1:23 PM
Jun 16, 2004 5:13 PM
Jul 18, 2004 2:13 AM
13Do I need an onward ticket to show immigration in China/HK/Macau, etc?
No. Theoretically, thaey can ask to see it. But they know that there are countless ways to leave China, HK, etc, and that the vast majority cannot be arrnaged until you get there (I say 'arranged' as many cannot even be 'booked' - you just jump on a jeep). They want foreign tourists and money, so if you are the 0.01% they ask about leaving plans, just tell them you have a plan, but can't get the tickets until you are threre
Travel agents will cover themselves by saying that youneed an onwards ticket (as, by law, the immigration officers could ask to see it)
Airlines (esp. Air Canada) may well ask to see it, and might even refuse you boarding without an onward/returnn ticket, as if immigration turn you back, the airline would have to carry you back - check this with the airline, and see if there is a waver you can sign
I HAVE NEVER HEARD OF IMMIGRATION ACTUALLY TURNING PEOPLE BACK - SEE MY MAIN PARAGRAPH
Aug 17, 2004 5:05 PM
14Changing a Tibet/China group visa to a Chinese visa - tricky
This is the latest info for the people going from Nepal (overland or flying) direct to Tibet:
Tibet is apparently considered a foreign country by the Chinese as a normal Chinese visa is not valid for DIRECT entry (only for entry via the rest of China). You have to get a group visa, arranged by an agent and enter on a tour. Until 2 weeks ago it was possible to be on a group visa as an individual, and later have it changed to a Chinese visa and extended.
Two weeks ago they changed their minds again (to the immense frustraton of agents in Kathmandu) and now there has to be a minimum of 2 people on a group visa (logical, in a way).
This means that you are stuck to the person(s) on the visa, and must exit China together with them. You can travel throughout all China with the group visa, as long as you exit (together) before the expiry date - I think 3 weeks is what you get maximum.
I have been told by the friendly, helpful but powerless CTIS in Lhasa that the fine is 1000RMB for doing otherwise. This leads to all kinds of problems when agencies in Kathmandu chuck people with different plans together on one group visa. 'Splitting' the group visa somehow was not possible in Lhasa last week.
I was on a visa with a Japanese girl; we both wanted to go to Chengdu after the Kathmandu-Lhasa ride, and changed our plans to fly to Chengdu together to avoid fines on leaving Tibet - though nobody asks for your visa when you fly out or land at Chengdu.
In Chengdu, the PSB people refuse to change group visas to individual ones. We heard at Holly's hostel that one guy had managed to do so in Leshan, so we went there today to see.
We were warned of women working for PSB and sue enough, this one eloquently told us in good English why it was not possible and that we had to leave China together before the expiry date... impossible as I'm heading north, my friend to Laos. We insisted that it must be possible, she got really bitchy and started saying silly things (like 'maybe you didn't come in from Nepal'... while we have the proof of the border crossing stamp!) and went back to playing a computer game.
Then her boss came in, a kind, softspoken man who we patiently explained the problem... he said we should split the visa then! And presto, out came a visa form so that I could get an extension in my passport, and split off the group visa (it's even one of the options on the form when you have to say why you want this new visa).
So I got a visa extention of 30 days (costing the usual 160RMB) and also had to pay 160RMB for the splitting-off. My friend kept the group visa paper (and still has nothing in her passport), my name has been 'cancelled on that, and she has the option to extend that visa a few days at any PSB.
So, if you are planning to travel on into China alone, first of all INSIST that your agent in Lhasa puts only two of you on the visa, and be sure that you'll go on to Chengdu together in advance. Then try Lhasa PSB first, if that fails then go to Chengdu together and try there, if that fails Leshen (Sam's bustour can drop you off at the PSB before heading to the Buddha). The problem is you're all stuck with each other till you've found a friendly PSB officer. Maybe best try just after lunch when they're full up and burping away happily. You can head to Leshan and if facing trouble with the bitchy lady, quote that your good friends Jeroen (Holland) and Mika (Japan) had their visa split no problems in Leshan on August 20 :)
Another thing - when you enter overland you only get the entry stamp on the (one) group visa document; make sure all split-off people take a copy along of the orginal with the PSB-cancelled names, so that when you exit alone you at least have some kind of proof that you entered China via Tibet! There's nothing at all in your passport if you have a group visa, and the Leshen PSB gave me an individual extension visa sticker with no entry date or stamp on it, just a last-exit date.
Oh, it's all so stupid.
(0 star Hotel)
From US$10.15 per night
(5 star Hotel)
From US$212.02 per night
(4 star Hotel)
From US$174.93 per night