Chinese visa

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 the easiest. Bishkek used to be good, but seems to have turned sour in 2015. If you fail, flying to Hong Kong is the emergency exit.

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

Astana and Almaty
Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan
Turkey, Iran, Caucasus, Russia
Southeast Asia
Visa extensions in China
Comments are closed. If you have questions or embassy reports, head over to our forum’s visa section.


  1. says

    After being turned down in Bangkok, we decided to fly to HongKong. We heard good reports about getting a hassle free visa via travel agents there. It was smooth as silk: one photo, only the paragraph about your familiy had to be filled in and 50 euro’s were enough for a double entry 30 day tourist visa! We used Shoestring across the street from Chunking Mansions, but Forever Bright has a good reputation as well. If you are starting your silkroad trip from China, I guess this is the most conveniend way to get your visa…

  2. Lara says

    Hi!Would it be recommended or not to have a letter of invitation
    from Xinjiangtravel when applying for a Chinese visa either in
    Bishkek or at home ?

    Thank you very much in advance !

  3. sipowicz says

    Hi there,

    Any new info about getting a tourist visa from Almaty? Looks like that will be one of the only places during our trip where we can apply if Turkey and Georgia are out of the question. We are EU & US passport holders.

    If we get rejected in Almaty, is it possible to get a visa to Kyrgyzstan and try again from Bishkek when we get there.


    • says


      no news on Almaty recently from my side, you can always check different places for info. You don’t need a visa to Kyrgyzstan, so maybe hopping across the border to try in Bishkek might be the easiest option.

  4. Jasper says

    We got turned down at the embassy in Bangkok. letter of employment missing and they required a detailed planing of how we were going to spend our days!!! Although we had hotelreservations and plaintickets, this still wasn’t enough. We are now going to HongKong, hoping it is easier there…

  5. says

    I had all my paperwork ready to apply for my Chinese visa in Tehran, but got sent back. They said they don’t give out visas to non-Iranians anymore. The friendly lady told me the rules have just been changed.

    But who knows what the rules might be next week.. Guess I’ll try again in another Central-Asian country or even send my passport home.

    Tieme, Dutch cyclist

  6. says

    Just to let everyone know – I went to the Chinese embassy in Tehran a few days ago and was told that I must have a letter of support from my embassy. I told them I was a British citizen so had no embassy. They said that unless I was a permanent resident of Iran, the Swedish embassy (which deals with British consular issues) would not issue me a support letter and therefore it was impossible for me to get a Chinese visa in Tehran. I had a full story (fake) prepared (tour, hotels, air-tickets etc…) but none of this mattered without the crucial letter of support. So it seems as though for British passport holders, a Chinese visa in Tehran isn’t an option.

  7. says

    Bishkek is also the most expensive one… Tehran looks fine to me, I try it there first. I will skip Tajikistan, especially because a part of the Pamir Highway is closed (untill 2014??). The border crossing with China should be open though! No confirmation, I wasn’t there. I let you know when I meet one who did it. I take Kyrgyzstan, free visa. Btw, as soon as I enter an embassy, I’m not a cyclist anymore, rather some rich girl visiting the tourist places ;)

    • steven says

      Maybe you can ask in advance if the Dutch embassy in Tehran gives out support letters. Apparently the Swedish one doesn’t, so could be useful to figure out in advance.

  8. says

    Hi Steven,

    This is about the best website I found during my adventures in the visa jungle. Since the China visa will be the biggest monster to conquer (entering in Xinjiang from Tajigistan or Kyrgyzstan on the way to Kashmir and avoiding Tibet), I’m preparing myself for the worst. So I will start applying for the visa in Teheran and when they refuse, try all the others on the way. Is this possible or will I be at some kind of “black list” after being refused one time? Thanks a lot for the info.

    Regards, Inge

    • steven says

      Hi Inge,

      I don’t believe there is such a thing as a blacklist. Good luck! As I said before, Bishkek still the best option for cyclists. You’re thinking of crossing into China from Tajikistan, you said? Do you know this border crossing will be open for you? Am starved for information on Qulma crossing, so would love to know more about that!

  9. says

    Ms Liu in Bishkek moved to this adress:

    132 Chuy Street
    From outside you can see: Asia Travel club
    with a pannel with red LEDs for advertisement.

    140$ for a simple entry visa.

    We will apply later but some friends of us from France, Netherlands and Great-Britain got it in 1 week without problem.

  10. Brad Rimmel says

    Your China visa info applying in Tehran is outdated.
    It’s very easy and reliable to get (myself Australian + UK +Spanish). We didn’t mention we were cycling.

    I applied in Tehran on the 14th Oct 2012.
    Cost 40USD (For non-US citizens)
    Time to receive 4 days normally (up to 1 day for rushed service fee).

    What they need:
    Application form printed double sided.
    Passport sized photos (not fanatic).
    Letter of Recommendation from home embassy (at least for Aust, UK, Spain). Aust charged me about $12, took 15 mins to receive.

    A China visa services company can handle your Application Form for a small fee. They are located opposite the CHN embassy, above a bank on the second floor. Called “Mahdavi” +98-21-22290155. Movahed-e-Danesh St – Aghdasieh, Tehran.

      • says

        This website is so useful. Thanks a lot! I was wondering how Brad managed to get a letter of recommendation for the British member of his group in Tehran. There’s no British embassy and when I called the Swedish embassy (responsible for British interests) they said they couldn’t issue one to me.

        As you’ve probably guessed I’m a British citizen in need of a Chinese visa and would like to get it in Tehran. Any thoughts on where else I might get the letter of recommendation? Or do you think flight bookings and hotel reservations could take the place of that letter?

        • steven says

          Hi Will, I sadly don’t know anything more than you do. But I take it you will pass through Kyrgyzstan: that’s for now still the best place to get a Chinese visa in Central Asia.

          Nice blog, btw! I’ll add it to my cycle blog collection.

  11. says

    Hi, we are in Kzakistan and are heading to Almaty. About getting the visa in Astana I’ve read “You need flight tickets, hotel reservations, travel insurance, enough money on your bankaccount. But if you can make up a good solid story you’ll be alright”.

    I would like to ask what do you mean with “make a good solid story”, do they need proof? Or do you just need to “tell” them the dates?

    Many thanks in advance.

    • steven says

      Hello Cosimo, I believe it means: don’t say you’re going to Urumqi. If you are planning to go overland, try to get airplane tickets that you can cancel and get your money back, and say you’re flying straight to Beijing. Also, I have not heard about anyone getting a Chinese visa in Almaty, so I don’t know what will be the response if you try there. Good luck! ps: nice site! If you found our site useful, a link is always appreciated ;-)

  12. aqwpm says

    Update for getting a Chinese Visa from Tehran : the process is relatively painless. You have to go to the embassy with the two new forms (V2012.A and V2012.B)typed and printed (you could find a typable version on the website of Chinese embassy in NZ or AU), two pictures (43*33), an hotel booking (some chinese hotels don’t charge fee on, a return flight ticket (more difficult. I photoshoped a booking), your passport, and a letter of recommandation from your embassy.
    It’s really easy to get one for frenchs people : just go to the embassy during the opening hours with your passport, enter the door with “Chancellerie diplomatique et consulaire” written on it, explain to the policemen, and he will guide you to the frenchs people section, where you will be offered coffee and asked to fill a form. You’ll have to come back 2 days later to get your letter, but if you look desperate, they may give it to you in the afternoon.
    Once you have all this, go the embassy (Darwazeh Dowlat St., metro Tajrish then bus to East) ask to the women at the second desk from the left (she speaks passable English), and pray : if the form is not printed recto verso, or not signed in the right color, or if saturn is not aligned with Jupiter, or aything like this, you will be refused. When i was here, there weren’t any possibility of fast procedures for foreigners, so come back 4 or 5 days later with the pick up form, and the bank deposit receipt (there’s a bank in front of the embassy)(40 USD for frenchs), and pick-up your visa.
    if there’s a problem with the forms, you can ask some help to the ladies at the left door, on the third floor of the little building just in front of the bank, on the right : they will be happy to help fee, for a huge fee (150 000 rials for typing the 2 forms, 200 tomans per photocopy)
    if there’s a problem with the photo, you can go to the photographer in the second floor of the second mall when heading west in the street of the embassy (150m). He will make a kind of professionnal visa photo (he will photoshop your wrinkles, …). 8 for 100 000 rials.
    Good luck !

  13. barry says

    If coming from South East Asia, it can actually work out quite cost effective, and very easy, to fly to Hong Kong (from either Bangkok or Kuala Lumpar)and get a visa from a travel agent there (Everbrite is excellent). I received a 3 month visa on the day and hardly had to write more than my name on the application form. The visa starts that day but I still had over eight weeks left on it after cycling to the China-Laos border from North Malaysia. This means I may not have the expense or hassle of renewing whilst in China.

    • says

      Any body know if you can cross the border from Lao into China, Yunna by bus! And also is it hard to get a Chinese visa in Vientiane, Lao for China and what are the reguirements. I am planning on being in Laos towards the end of October 2012 and need some current information, Please.