Chinese visas have been much more difficult to come by in Central Asia since the Beijing Olympics and the unrest in Xinjiang province. If possible, get your Chinese visa in your home country. Many sites already explain the ins and outs of the Chinese visa, so I will not repeat them. But if you are on the road already, here is what you can expect.
Have a read through all this and decide where you want to try. Tehran is easy, but cyclists have to try harder to get their 3 + 3 months visas since July 2015. Bishkek used to be good, turned sour in May 2015, was back up and running since July 2015 but impossible unless flying since March 2016. Tashkent might be possible. Almaty is possible again (on and off in summer 2015, but again on in September 2015). If you fail, flying to Hong Kong is the emergency exit. You can also try in Ulan Bator, but to get there (overland) you need a Russian visa, which is also difficult to get on the road. Ha!
Once you are in China, you can extend your visa: we have started an “extensions” paragraph for updates there.
Please remember, as the following article shows: rules change all the time!!
Getting a Chinese visa on the road
September 2015: Giving out visas once again as before.
August 2015: No longer giving out visas to foreigners.
July 2015: We used the services of Serik (contact details listed above in Steven’s post) It took one week, cost us $35US with no issues at all. Serik charged $60US for visa support and he also accompanies you to the consulate. He contacts the consulate prior to you meeting him to ensure there will be no issues. We heard of a few people being refused Chinese visas here for different reasons, but Serik seems to have good connections so if you’re stuck, I’d definitely contact him.
May 2015: I hold a Swiss passport and organised a Chinese visa (single entry, valid for 3 months, 30 days stay) in Almaty (April 2015) through an advocate/translator; Serik Nurlanbekov. Processing time is ideally one week (was longer in my case because of a Chinese holiday and printer problems at the Chinese consulate) and the price is 22’000 tenge (around 118 usd). Furthermore, I know of two holders of British passports who also received their Chinese visa through Serik (same procedure, conditions). The Chinese consulate in Almaty might still be a mess, but with Serik’s help it is perfectly possible to get a Chinese visa there.
May 2013: 7 days processing. The visa is for a single entry, and valid for 30 days in the country. For a UK passport holder the consulate needed the following documentation:
– A copy of a bank statement showing I have enough money
– Fake hotel bookings
– Fake flight into (and out of) China
– An itinery for my time in China
– Proof of employment
– My address and contact number in Astana
A letter of invitation was not required, and the cost was 4300 tenge including the 100 tenge bank charge.
November 2012: Another success story. Double-entry tourist visa, 10 days processing.
October 2012: First day (Wednesday) we went at 9am and put our name on a list and were numbers 41, 42 and 43. The list got to 19 before they closed for the day. We were told to come back on Friday. We arrived on Friday at 5am and got numbers 16, 17 and 18 on the list as some people had been the night before. By the 10.45am they were at number 8 and so Nina (Australian and freezing in below zero temp) pushed through the people opened the gate, shouted “we have a special case” (our Kazakh visa was running out) and marched in. Moments later she called me and Sam to join her. It felt a bit rude but once we were inside we realised that the queue outside doesn’t move as there are agents inside with 30-40 passports each to process.
Luckily Sam speaks Mandarin and so spoke to the official about what we needed.
We could only obtain a 30 day visa
- We had form 2012a and 2012b
- A flight itinerary (with all our names and stamped by the travel agent) from Almaty to Beijing (FAKE)
- Hotel booking confirmation for a week in Beijing from the arrival date (FAKE)
- An invitation letter from a friend in China (which they didn’t seem so bothered about)
- A copy of her China ID card (which they didn’t seem so bothered about)
- A copy of travel insurance (FAKE)
- A copy of bank account
- 2 passport photo’s
- 4200 Tenge
We presented all of the above but they rejected our photos which were not on a white background. They told us to come back on Monday and advised us that we did not need to queue as we only needed to present photo’s.
We returned on Monday and were called straight in. The man checked everything very carefully. He gave us a payment slip to take to the back but advised us not to pay until we have waited to see if they would call us with any problems by Wednesday. They hadn’t called by Thursday morning so I paid at the bank and we collected our visas the following Monday. Apparently Australians were quick to process but not English.
July 2012: We, two cyclists from Holland, today managed to get a double entry visa (60days) within a week. The same day a French hitchhiker was also able to arrange a double entry visa (60 days) within 10 days. We went to Astana because a couple of weeks ago another guy from Holland was able to get a 30 day tourist visa in one day.
Prices are cheap (42 dollars for our double-entry), you don’t need a LOI. You need flight tickets, hotel reservations, travel insurance, enough money on your bank account. They’ll check all the dates very carefully. But if you can make up a good solid story you’ll be alright and will be able to get visas from the embassy in Astana.
They don’t have English-application-forms, but make a print out for you within 10 minutes. And you’ll have to wait minimum 30 minutes before you can get in (they open at 9 o’clock but they first let the people in that come to pick up visas and agencies, so mostly around 10 o’clock applicants will be able to get in and apply), the embassy closes at 12 o’clock.
Multiply entry wasn’t possible for us or the French guy. Still don’t say you’re a cyclist or entering West- China.
Located at 42°49′26.4″N 74°34′46.26″E. Opening hours are all over the place.
Latest history: May 2015, the embassy put stronger restrictions in place for the number of applications. 10 days seemed normal, and arbitrary rejection was common. Quick and easy processing was once again possible from July 2015.
March 2016: Unless you actually bought a plane ticket, Bishkek will not issue you a visa. This includes those falsifying itineraries. You need to buy a plane ticket. Situation still the same April 8. Collecting updates here.
You can get a Chinese visa at the embassy, see this topic (September 2015) for instructions. It is not guaranteed, though, read through the follow-up posts for a wider view of the situation. More expensive is to go through an agent. It’s a 30-day visa with 1 month before you need to enter China. You will need 2 passport photos, but be aware they are a special size = 33 x 48 mm. Get these at one of the photography studios in town.
There are several agents. Here are the 5 we know of.
July 2015: After a pause where people would have to make a side trip to Almaty to obtain a Chinese visa people are once again getting their visas here in Bishkek. Namely via an agent named Dinara (+996770440540). Processing is 3-5 days and costs 150USD.
Junction of Manas and Kiev streets, Manas street 40. Go inside and the door is the number 200 at the first floor.
January 2015: Possible to bargain down to 100$.
November 2014: The price for one-week processing was $130 for German citizens, and $170 for US citizens. When I asked about the Kyrgyzstan registration stamp she said it wasn’t necessary.
September 2014: Her same is Sara and she is very friendly and nice (phone: +996 5439 000 88). For a normal procedure (5 days), she asked 100$ and it’s 120$ for 3 days. We already had our registration stamps in our passport so we don’t know how much she charges for this service.
Located at 100 Moscovskaya just next to a place called ‘bereke’, this travel agent is very friendly and speaks good English. Her number is 0772 577576. The cost is $110 for 5 day service and $130 for 3 day service, plus 250 som (if you are less than 5 days in Kyrgyzstan) or 20$ (if you are already more than 5 days in Kyrgyzstan) registration (this takes an extra day). Pay when you collect your passport in som or dollar. They only submit 5 passports a day to stay under the radar.
Consequently when you apply the application may not be submitted to China embassy for several days or even a week. One report: I applied Friday 1 August and got my passport back on Wednesday 13 August using the 5 day service. You should get a letter with stamped copy of passport back for Kyrgyz police if asked. Please note this letter is dated. Ask for it to be longer dated in case you are heading to mountains and won’t be back to collect passport before the expected return date of the passport.
An additional point to note. There is a very small chance that the consul will request an interview (apparently he has asked twice in the last year). Some travellers were also rejected due to “Chinese blacklist” no further information was provided – it wasn’t a nationality reason.
Miss Liu is located at 142 Chuy Street. From outside you can see: Avia Travel club with a panel with red LEDs for advertisement. Kyrgyz Concept (offices around town) charges more for the same service.
May 2014: $140 for 5-day service, add on an extra $10 for express 3-day service. The embassy now requires some sort of “Kyrgyz registration” stamp, which requires filling out a stack of paperwork in Russian. Miss Liu will take care of it for you for 600 som ($12)… she said it would be impossible for me to do it myself. I have a Canadian passport. My British friend just picked up his Chinese visa from Miss Liu yesterday (mid-May). Nothing has changed in the procedure or price. You have 3 months from the date of issue to enter the country, and then you are allowed to stay for 30 days after that.
March 2014: Kyrgyz Concept charges 170$ for the same service as Miss Liu.
December 2, 2013: 5 day service = $130 for a 90 day visa, 3 day express service = $140 for a 90 day visa
October 23, 2013: Chinese visas are possible again in Bishkek! Travelers were unable to get Chinese visas in Bishkek from August 2013 until now. Head to Miss Liu as before. 1 week processing time now, price is 120$ for a 30-day visa (the maximum you can get), you need to enter China within 3 months.
Address: in Lenin street next to Bayana hostel, north of the stadium.
November 2015: Only locals can apply.
May 2014: They don’t issue visas at the moment but in 2-3 months it might be possible. They dont have the proper equipment yet. The visa registration required by the Chinese consulate in Bishkek can be done in Osh for 120 som (be careful, pay at the kassa and not to the women stamping your passport, she demands 200 som. In Lenin street you will also find the immigration Office OVIR. (not the police station as mentionned in the LP).
Gulyamov Street. Opening hours: 9 – 12 on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Visa collection possible Monday to Friday from 15:30. No express service available, five working day processing time.Be wary that the embassy will close for Chinese holidays. Updates can be read and posted here.
August 2015: flat-out refusal.
July 2015: Irish passport holder, applied alongside a French passport holder on Wednesday 15/08. We were both asked for:
- Completed v2013 Chinese visa application form
- Two passport photographs of non-standard size
- Flight booking to China
- Accommodation booking for the intended duration of stay in China
- Proof of employment
We were both asked to fill an additional single sided supplementary application form at the embassy confirming basic personal details. The French passport holder was also asked to provide a letter of invitation (LOI).
The French passport holder had his application declined due to his reserved flight leaving from Dushanbe. Visa applications are only accepted in Tashkent if Uzbekistan is the last country of travel prior to entering China.
With a flight reservation from Tashkent to Beijing and with an explanation in the ‘additional comments’ section of the visa application form of an intention to join a four-week Mandarin course in Guangzhou after some time visiting cities along the eastern seaboard, the Embassy gave a 60 day visa with 90 days to enter for $40 – not quite matching 90 days/90 days from the Chinese Embassy in Iran during the glory days, but better than the latest reports from Bishkek and Almaty. Happy hunting.
June 2015: 30 day visa, and have to enter the country within 30 days (starting from the day of application). 40 USD and 5 working days turnaround. When I applied it was very quiet and when I picked it up it was more busy but still not that bad. I think it is advisable to first call the embassy (2334728, press 9) and ask specifically what to bring (when I went to the embassy and rang the bell, the lady gave me this number and told me to call). When you do, you get one of the ladies that will process the visa later and she was very friendly.
- 2 passport photos (specific requirements including white background)
- proof of flight to China (to Beijing)
- proof of all accommodation in China
- copy of Uzbek visa and passport on same page (I did colour copies)
- one filled in V.2013 application form
August 2013: Two British cyclists. Documents needed were:
Form 2012a printed double sided.
Form 2012b printed double sided
Proof of employment (fake or real)
Proof of funds (printed online banking screenshot was fine)
Proof of flight over western China (China Southern on Afrosiyob did this for us for free – cancelled after 3 days if you don’t pay)
Proof of accommodation booking (booking.com has plenty you can cancel for free)
Photocopy of passport and Uzbek visa on the same page
Your passport! Makes it hard doing anything in Uzbekistan though!
A telephone number and address in Tashkent (we used our hostel)
An Internet cafe on Shota Rustaveli did all the forms and photocopies for us. A guy there speaks enough English.
The cost was $60 each for 7 day processing. Rush service is no longer available.
Crucially, you can only get 30 days and you also only get 30 days to enter instead of the usual 90. Even more crucially, the 30 days to enter start from the day you apply, not collect so you effectively get 23 days to enter.
Arrive early for application and collection. Agents get there early and you may find 20 people suddenly ahead of you as a result. It is a bit of a free for all but single file railings help if you get there an hour ahead of opening. Staff were friendly and polite even joking with us when we forgot to sign our forms.
June 2012: Here’s how one cyclist got his Chinese visa.
- You are not traveling overland or to western china, you are flying to beijing from tashkent and staying in a hotel. You are not traveling to any other country before China.
- Flight booking: this can be done for no fee at China Southern travel agency in Borakat Center next to Kasmanatvli metro and is automatically cancelled after some time if you don’t pay. Make sure your outgoing flight is from Uzbekistan and the flight date is within the limits of your Uzbek visa. A flight back out of China could also help but is not essential. Also make sure they stamp your reservation. It could be useful to ask for a copy for each traveller as you will all be seen individually.
- Hotel booking: Booking.com gives you access to many hotels which you can book and cancel for no fee. I am told some don’t ask for credit card details. check what you book carefully cause some might charge a cancellation fee.
- Proof of employment, a letter on headed paper form your company (real or imaginary) should be enough.
- Bank statement
- 2 photos to very exacting standards, these can be made round the corner from embassy. If you are walking out of the embassy turn right and then take the first right, after that go as far as the next crossroads. The photos are made in a little kiosk on the opposite corner from which you are arriving. Be sure to ask for a white background.
- Photocopies of photo page of passport and Uzbek visa. It’s every man for himself on the pavement outside of embassies and the Chinese one is particularly busy so be prepared to stand your ground if you want to be seen at all. And turn up early as they do turn people away if they don’t have time to see them before 12.
October 2014: Possible for people with a visa for Tajikistan for more than 6 months.
August 2013: Not possible for foreigners.
June 2012: Serbian traveler reported the following: It was quite easy. I got invitation letter from a friend, who lives in Urumqi. She signed, scanned and sent it by mail so I printed it, and although they asked for original i persuaded them that’s not necessary. So, I applied, I explained plan of the trip to consul, and I got visa in 2 days. It costs 50$ for 2 days and 30$ for 7 days of waiting.
Open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday only, from 9-12. Only with Turkish residency.
August 2014: we have managed to submit an application at the Ankara embassy! As we are non-residents of Turkey, they require a letter from your home consulate, confirming passport numbers and your intention to travel to China. For Brits, this means a trip to Istanbul, as all notarial services have been centralised there. We’ve been told to come back in a week and make payment at the HSBC. UPDATE: we have received our Chinese visa! 3 months to enter, and 30 days once we’re in.
May 2013: US citizen with residence permit based in Istanbul. Was asked to hand over passport with application in order to receive visa in exactly one week, unless they called to say there was a problem within that time. They wouldn’t accept a copy, so I gave up as I had to collect my visas from other embassies.
June 2012: Same as Tbilisi. No visa service available for travelers: you must be a local citizen or a legal resident within the countries. No travel agencies could help.
April 2016: 110 Dirhams by card only for one month visa, ready in 4 days.
July 2015: Possible to apply through Ligarba for non-residents: 190 US$ for American, turnaround 1 week.
June 2013: Applied in Istanbul through Travel Agency Ligarba. Independent application to embassy by non-Turkish residents appears not possible. I tried calling the embassy but no one picked up.
Ligarba seem to have a good relationship with the Consul in Istanbul and they are an authorised agency for Chinese visa application for non-Turkish residents. I tried to ask for double entry visa but Ligarba was unsure if they could get it for me.
Pickup Time : June 2013
Cost of Single Entry Visa = $108US
Embassy Introduction Letter : 40 Lira
August 2013: The embassy refused to issue the visa on the basis that we had not been resident in Russia for at least 6 months prior to our application.
June 2012: No visa service available for travelers: you must be a local citizen or a legal resident within the countries. No travel agencies could help.
Opening hours: Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday 8;45am-12:15am and 2:30 pm-4-30pm. 73rd, Movahed Danesh Avenue, Aghdasiyeh [GPS: 35.8042, 51.4774].Thursday afternoon is only to collect the visa not to request it. Embassy has also been known to be open on Saturday in spite of advertised opening hours.
You need a letter from your embassy saying they support you going to China, it’s called a letter of no objections. Different embassies, different rules (surprise!). Some take 20 minutes, others days. Some charge, others don’t. Et cetera. We are collecting reports here as we find them.
You need to have your application form typed, not handwritten. This is allegedly available from their website but if the link is still not working, there is an office near the embassy that will type up the form and print it off for you. Standing in front of embassy with your back to it, cross the street and walk a couple of minutes to your right till you see a building called Sadaf Complex. On the second floor is an office called M Mahdavi, Law & Immigration Services and they will type up the form for minimal cost, for you to take back to the embassy. Post and read embassy updates here.
April 2016: Cyclist got 3 months to enter, 1 month to stay. Extend in China, they said.
October 2015: So I applied for the express visa, 1 working day, 70$ for French nationality! Letter from my embassy requested on thursday collected on sunday, initially supposed to be collected on monday but i insisted a bit to have it faster. The man asked me how long I wanted to stay and I said 3 months so he said 3 months to travel in china ? So I said yes China is big and he told me “I’m gona give you 2 months, you can extend it”. So got 2 months and 3 to enter!
September 2015: 90 + 90 given. He said sometimes they only give 30 + 90.
September 2015: 30 days entry and 90 days to enter given without problem. No reservation or flights needed. 75$ for Swiss.
July 2015: You need to insist that you need a long visa and go back a few times, then you can get the 3+3 months visa. What helps is if you have all your other visas in your passport already.
July 2015: It seems the new rule is 30 days to enter, 30 days inside China.
June 2015: 90 days to enter China no longer given by default. Some cyclists report being given a 3 month visa with only 30 days to enter.
March 2015: No double-entry possible, but 90 days was not a problem. 4-day turnaround 40$, next working day express service 70$.
December 2014: Letter from embassy was easy to get for Spanish. Application needed to be filled in by a separate agent. 40$, 4 day turnaround. They keep your passport.
May 2014: We just got a 60 days visa for China in Tehran, for 40$. We applied for 30 days but the lady from the consular office said they could give us double, so we happily accepted her offer. No flights, hotel bookings or insurance were required in Tehran. Just the printed form, 2 pictures, a copy of our passports and a letter from our embassy.
As a holder of a Spanish passport, the letter was the hardest part to get, as they wanted to see a flight reservation and get a signed certification that we are flying and not crossing borders by land. For a Bulgarian passport holder there weren’t any problems. They also keep your passport.
April 2014: You need 1 certificate of your embassy, 2 pictures (33 x 48 mm), 1 printed form (capital letters and print front/back on 2 pages), 40 $ to deposit at the bank opposite the embassy and they keep your passport.
No bookings, insurance, flight tickets….
After 4 days I got a 30 days L-Visa (tourist) valid for 90 days.
Bangkok embassy, Thailand
February 2013: We got turned down at the embassy in Bangkok. Letter of employment missing and they required a detailed planning of how we were going to spend our days!!! Although we had hotel reservations and plane tickets, this still wasn’t enough.
Chiang Mai consulate, Thailand
Address: 111 Changloh Road, Haiya District, Chiang Mai, Thailand 50100. Tel: +66-5328-0380
February 2016: Double entry visa on a Czech passport. 45$, ready in 3 days.
February 2014: For non-residents, the Hanoi embassy gives 1 month validity/1 month duration of stay.
Needed : 1 application form (given by the embassy), 1 photo, 1 copy of passport, 1 copy of Vietnam visa, 1 detailed schedule and itinerary in China, hotel bookings (we made a few for the first few days, it was ok), 1 insurance certificate, plane tickets (we said we waited until we got the visa to buy them, it was ok).
But, we wanted more than 1 month/1 month… So, we had two invitations from friends in China, + the lady at the embassy asked for our bank accounts totals, and we got… 3 months/3 months.
Price : 30 usd.
It took us 7 visits to the embassy !!!
– German passport
– 1 photocopy of passport photo page
– 1 photocopy of Vietnam visa page
– 1 passport photo
– 1 application form, 4 pages. They hand it to you entering the building.
The form asks you to list 5 places to stay in China, which I did. (but changed my plans after arriving in China)
– 1 hotel booking for first stop in China. This is where the lady at the counter had a problem with and asked what about the other 4 bookings. I told her that I do not have yet, as I wait for the visa first. She told me, that her manager has to decide this and that I should come back next morning. But next day they gave me the pink payment paper without any further questions, so everything fine. (I changed my plan for hotel in China later as well and cancelled the booking)
– It might help if you have been a visitor to China before, what you can put on the form as well. (I even wrote down my old visa number, which was in an expired passport)
I DID NOT need to submit:
– ticket leaving China (which I didn’t have anyway, because I entered and left the country by bus – did not tell them)
– travel insurance
– financial status
With pink payment paper, you just take a motorbike to bank. Drivers will already wait for you outside embassy. Or take public bus no.32 direction west from the main road south of the embassy. Quite easy to find, as it is on a large crossing in a big building to the right. Embassy staff even give you a paper with bank address.
Applied for visa on a Thursday and got in next next Tuesday morning. 30 days tourist visa. No urgent process requested.
Hong kong embassy
May 2015: You do not need a travel agent to get your visa. Just go to the Chinese visa application center there yourself. It isn’t listed on Google maps what makes it a bit hard to find. The address is 26 Harbour Rd in Wanchai. It opens 8 am and i think (not sure) it closes again at noon. Not opened on weekends. Arrive early because big queues may develop at the security check down stairs. Once inside the process is really efficient and you should be out again within 15 min. Same for pickup.
You need: 1 filled out application form, copies of hotel bookings for all your stay, 1 passport sized photo, 1 copy of the first page of your passport and your entry slip. Forms and a copy machine are available inside too. 300 HKD for most EU citizens, 360 for UK and more for US. Three day processing. Add 200 HKD for two day and 300 for one day processing. Only 30 days for most nationalities but double entry is available. They keep your passport and you pay in cash on pickup.
Note that there’s a travel agency in the same building which offers the same service for a higher price. Don’t confuse.
September 2014: ChinaVisaKing wants 600hk$, just Picture, passport and application needed, no itinerary.
2012: Hong Kong is smooth as silk: one photo, only the paragraph about your family has to be filled in and 50 euro is enough for a double entry 30 day tourist visa. Shoestring across the street from Chungking Mansions or Forever Bright have a good reputation as tour operators.
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia embassy
January 2016: We asked for 88 days, we got 90 days. 3 days turnaround, with the help of visaforchina agency in Kuala Lumpur because on the embassy page is stated that with an ordinary passport you should go there. Cost was 58,30 RM. Besides the usual info we also needed
- Flight itinerary from Kuala Lumpur into China (fake)
- Flight itinerary from China to Bangkok (fake)
- 18 Hotel bookings made by booking.com (cancelable)
- Summary of the 18 hotel bookings with arrival date, departure date, name of the hotel, province.
- LOI from someone who we didn’t knew but a friend of ours did
- Copy of the passport of the LOI person
April 2015: I hold a student visa in Malaysia and for me it was straightforward. I am unsure about travellers with out a residency visa. There’s a visa center close to the Ampang Park LRT station. They require Visa application form, Flight tickets in and out of China (can be a fake reservation, as in my case), Photocopy of your passport front page and Malaysian visa.
Regular service is drop off on 1st day and pick up 4 days later. 185RM per third country nationals. More for Americans, as everywhere.
Pyongyang, DPR Korea embassy
October 2015: Lots of tour companies take you to the Chinese embassy if you need a visa. Just took 90 minutes and all you need is your passport! I got another 30 day tourist visa for 50USD. Actually quite busy embassy, 30-40 North Koreans applying while I was there but foreigners get VIP treatment.
Ulan Bator, Mongolia embassy
July 2015: Chinese visas are easy enough to get in UB now, people say. Updates, explanations and confirmations welcome.
Vientiane, Laos embassy
Wat Nak Road, Sisattanak. Tel: 00856-21-315100. Opening hours: 9 to 11.30 Monday to Friday. Updates collected here.
April 2016: Danish guy got a 30 days Chinese visa in 4 working days for USD 32 (90 days duration). Documentation was airline tickets in/out of China and 3 hotel bookings (all cancelled afterwards) – no questions asked. I could have received it express in 2 days for USD 52. Two English citizens got a 60 days double entry visa for USD 100 (each I assume).
February 2016: Still not issuing Double entry tourist visas. I applied for one but got a single entry instead. 32$ – 4 working days turnaround. 52$ for express service pick-up next day at 9am. Besides the usual I gave them:
- Proof of entering and leaving China (i gave 2 fake plane tickets I made in word and they didn’t even check)
- 3 hotel bookings for 4 nights in major cities: Kunming, Beijing, and Shanghai. (Booking.com – cancelable)
- They asked for work proof, bank statement, and insurance to but I didn’t gave them any. They didn’t seem to care.
October 2015: Hassle free, no questions asked, I recieved 30 Day tourist visa for 32USD in 5 working days. I had a few hotel bookings and transport in to China booked plus a fake itinerary (just a DIY word document) with a few places on it. It felt like I could of got one without any of that though. Not a busy embassy, very pleasant.
May 2014: I confirm it works. 32 USD for a 30-days visa in a window-period of 90 days (Italian passport). Just a few nights of hotel bookings in the main cities where I plan to stop, no flight\bus ticket needed. I submitted a detailed itinerary as well as the other documents indicated in the above-mentioned post. I added photocopies of my previous Chinese visas, and a photocopy of my onward visa to Tajikistan. I Applied on a Wednesday, the visa was ready the next Monday. The embassy is in Watnak Road (south of Vientiane city centre) and it’s open in the morning, 9.00 to 11.30. The ICBC bank where you have to pay is in Lane Xang Road, not far from the Patuxai (the Lao version of the arc de triomphe). They charge 1 USD for the service.
April 2014: It cost $64 US for 2 30 day tourist visa’s and took 4 days (I think faster is available). We needed – passports, 1 passport photo, visa form, copy of bank statements, copy of travel insurance, 2 weeks worth of hotel bookings (cancelled once the confirmation letter was printed) and an itinerary. We went a bit over the top with the itinerary and it seemed to pay off. We included details about where we would stay, trains we would take and tourist sites we would see. To keep it simple we chose about a week in 4 different cities. We stated we would be taking a bus from Luang Prabang to Kunming and then one from Nanning to Hanoi. We did not need to present any proof of this. We also did not need a letter from our employer stating we had jobs and would be returning to them, although we did have them just in case (I have read this can be a requirement). It was much less stressful than we anticipated!
July 2012: Chinese visas are issued to independent travellers in Vientiane, Laos. There are strict new requirements, though, which are as follows:
1x copy and original flight/bus/train ticket out of the country
1x copy and original flight/bus/train ticket into the country (this was actually not enforced on me)
1 x copy hotel reservation in China (a Hostelworld cheap dorm reservation will do, that is what we used)
1 x proof of employment (we used some print outs of emails with the respective employers”)
1 x copy of passport
1 x copy of another ID
1 x picture
they have a photocopy machine and will copy some small stuff for you, but do not expect they will do everything. The consulate is moderately busy. They have express service, same day and two days, and the normal procedures is 4 days ie. drop off on monday, pick up on thursday. When I was there I could not speed up my process as they had some “important business” that not even money could dodge. I overheard upon collection that another traveller was denied this service… so be prepared to wait and drop your passport on a mon or tue. They also have frequent holidays, there is not much to do. I had to hang around Vientiane for 6 days because of a train delay from Thailand and the weekend in the middle. Be prepared and time you visit accordingly.
Chinese visa extension reports
Extending a Chinese visa is usually not so difficult, although prices and rules differ from region to region. You can extend your visa once, possibly twice.
Extending in Jiayuguan (July 2015)
First extension in Dunhuang and Jiayuguan (Gansu), second extension in Leshan (October – December 2014)
Visa extension in Hami (June 2014)
Second extension in Dunhuang (June 2014)
First extension in Xining, Qinghai province (February 2014)