Chinese embassies change their rules for foreigners monthly, sometimes weekly, daily or even within the same day. 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.
- Tbilisi is back on since April 2018
- In May 2017, Tehran embassy started handing out visas again (still going strong in December 2018).
- Ulan Bator resumed in January 2018.
- Karachi, Kathmandu and Astana are other options, Pyongyang perhaps as well.
- Almaty is no longer possible (September 2017).
- Some Chinese embassies now request a letter of invitation. Questions and answers about the Chinese LOI welcome here.
- Visits to Turkey have now become grounds for refusal. A forum topic tracks all questions and reports surrounding Chinese visa applications with a Turkish visa in your passport.
See embassy reports and forum links for latest updates. Please remember, as the following article shows: rules change all the time!!
Application by mail
If you are a long-term overlander or resident and are facing embassies closed across the Silk Road, check with the Chinese embassy in your country of residence if they accept application by mail via an expediter. This might be your best option, if they allow it.
- Germany: you must be physically present in the country to apply (May 2017)
- USA: must have a current driver’s license or utility bills to establish your state residency and need to be physically present in the country (May 2017)
- Austria: you must be physically present in the country to apply, but they don’t check, so you can lie and have someone else apply for you (August 2017).
- France: worked for 4 French people in October 2017 through an agency called Rapide Visa
Once you are in China, you can extend your visa. Extension reports are found on a separate page: Chinese tourist visa extensions.
Old passport rule
In April 2017, the following report reached us: the German ministry for foreign affairs and some visa agencies announced that for obtaining a Chinese visa you have to show your original previous invalid passport together with your actual passport if the actual one was issued after 01.01.2015. If your old passport isn’t available anymore you need an official letter from your office of issue in your home town. And you have to give a list with all visited countries after 01.01.2015 with purpose of travel and exact travel dates.
If you are planning to get your visa on the road, you might want to take your old passport with you just in case.
Getting a Chinese visa on the road
Hong Kong emergency exit
Flying to Hong Kong is still the emergency exit, but be careful as at least one person has failed recently. Rejection seems to hinge on passport stamps of Turkey and Iran – not popular in China. A last resort is a group visa in Hong Kong.
July 2018: still not possible.
September 2017: Even with 6-months Kazakh visa, not possible.
May 2017: Possible for a persistent business traveler. Agent was Русиям Назметова: +7 775 444 7494 (works on WhatsApp too). She charges 5000 tenge. Call her with at least 3 business days notice for an appointment.
2016: It is no longer possible to obtain Chinese visas in Almaty. Last update November 2016.
2015: Possible with the help of Serik Nurlanbekov ([email protected], tel. no. +7777 1623535).
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) It took one week, cost us $35US with no issues at all. Serik charged $60US for visa support and he also accompanies you to the consulate. He contacts the consulate prior to you meeting him to ensure there will be no issues. We heard of a few people being refused Chinese visas here for different reasons, but Serik seems to have good connections so if you’re stuck, I’d definitely contact him.
Open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday only, from 9-12. Only with Turkish residency or work permit (latest update October 2018). Updates collected on the Ankara embassy page.
August 2014: we have managed to submit an application at the Ankara embassy! As we are non-residents of Turkey, they require a letter from your home consulate, confirming passport numbers and your intention to travel to China. For Brits, this means a trip to Istanbul, as all notarial services have been centralised there. We’ve been told to come back in a week and make payment at the HSBC. UPDATE: we have received our Chinese visa! 3 months to enter, and 30 days once we’re in.
May 2013: US citizen with residence permit based in Istanbul. Was asked to hand over passport with application in order to receive visa in exactly one week, unless they called to say there was a problem within that time. They wouldn’t accept a copy, so I gave up as I had to collect my visas from other embassies.
Telephone: +77172793583. The entrance to the embassy is on Kabanbay batyr prospekt 28/1 (corner with Kunaeva ulitsa). The Chinese embassy is on the right side of the building, at the very end. At the gate there is a little “hut” where you can make ID pictures and photocopies.
January-August 2018: Not possible.
September 2017: With flights, hotel bookings and letter of invitation, British citizen got 2-year visa with multiple entry maximum 70 days. 5 days turnaround, 122$.
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: Double-entry tourist visa, 10 days processing.
Address: Nizami Street at the corner with KövkƏb SəfƏrƏliyeva street. Also called May 28 Street, number 72. The building is big and there are several entries. The visa one is easy to find, there’s a sign on the door, and it is on KövkƏb SəfƏrƏliyeva street. Open only Monday and Wednesday 3 to 5:30pm. Updates reported here.
July 2016: No longer possible in Baku for foreigners. The May 2016 incident seems to have been a glitch.
May 2016: We asked for 70 days, we gave flight reservations and contact names in China. It takes one week. Form + 1 photo + 35 USD. No LOI needed but they asked us for letters from our embassies saying we are Argentinian and French citizens, and tourists.
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.
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.
May 2017: Absolutely impossible.
July 2016: forget Bishkek, unless you have loads of time to waste at an embassy. Chances are very slim at the moment, even for airport visa.
May 2016: Unless you actually buy a plane ticket, Bishkek will not issue you a visa. This includes those falsifying itineraries. You need to buy a plane ticket. The solution offered through Miss Sara at the 40 Manas agency or Meerim from Baikal travel involves getting a business visa. You pay 150$ to get an invitation letter ( takes 7 days). Once you collect it, you have 5 days to catch a flight to Urumqi. Then, at the airport, they make you the visa. It takes only 10 minutes. Visa is valid for 30 days.
Another option is to send your passport to a travel agency back home.
If it is possible to get a Chinese visa, 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. Going through an agent is more expensive, but easier. 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.
Latest history: On and off for the past few years. 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.
There are several agents. Here are the 5 we know of.
November 2015: 3-day turnaround, 80$ for a normal procedure, the fast procedure 115$.
[email protected] – 0557 60 00 16 – Bishkek, Manas str 101/1 3rd floor room 410
July 2015: After a pause where people would have to make a side trip to Almaty to obtain a Chinese visa people are once again getting their visas here in Bishkek. Namely via an agent named Dinara (+996770440540). Processing is 3-5 days and costs 150USD.
Junction of Manas and Kiev streets, Manas street 40. Go inside and the door is the number 200 at the first floor.
January 2015: Possible to bargain down to 100$.
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.
Lots of paperwork needed. Updates collected here.
Busan, South Korea
In South Korea you cannot get your visa directly at the Chinese embassy, the procedure is handled by the Chine Visa Center. It’s an international organization that receives your application, checks that everything is correct, and then send it to the embassy.
March 2018: The embassy studied my application and the next day told the visa agency it would take at least one month and a half instead of the regular 4 working days.
February 2018: We got our visa done at the Chinese visa center of Seoul Square, takes 4 days for the standard procedure (55.000 Won / ~40€), or 2 with the Express service (89.000 Won, ~70€), or 0 for the Urgent one (110.000 Won, ~80€). You can get a 30 days visa with 3 months validity.
Address: 111 Changloh Road, Haiya District, Chiang Mai, Thailand 50100. Tel: +66-5328-0380. Application times are 9:30 – 11:30 on weekdays (except Chinese and Thai holidays) and visa pick up times are 15:00 – 16:00. Updates reported in the Chiang Mai embassy reports topic.
August 2017: British and Estonian citizens obtained double entry tourist visas for China from the Chinese Consulate in Chiang Mai. Cost was 2000 baht (only bhat is accepted) per visa.
They were very fussy about my passport photos and rejected three different options I offered them: one because I was wearing a white top, one because I was wearing a necklace and one because I was wearing (tiny) earrings. I had to go and get new photos taken to satisfy their requirements. Nowhere on their website or in the Consulate does it actually stipulate this requirement, but be aware they may pick up on it.
Processing took 5 working days – longer than the advertised 4 days – this was apparently because we were applying from a third country. Overall it was a smooth and straight forward process.
February 2016: Double entry visa on a Czech passport. 45$, ready in 3 days.
Colombo, Sri Lanka
The embassy does not respond to e-mails or telephone calls. While the Embassy is located on Bauddhaloka Mawatha, the consulate where you’ll apply for the visa is located on Vidya Mawatha, a block north of the embassy. It’s pretty easy to find; if you enter the street from the NE, it’s on the lefthand side before you reach the cricket field.
Opening hours: application only in the morning (9:30-11:30), but come early, say 7.30, if you want to get in first – collection only in the afternoon (15:30-16:45). You can pay by card, cash is not accepted. Updates in the Colombo embassy forum topic.
April 2016: 110 Dirhams by card only for one month visa, ready in 4 days.
October 2014: Possible for people with a visa for Tajikistan for more than 6 months.
August 2013: Not possible for foreigners.
July 2018: flight reservations and hotel bookings needed, but no problems with Turkish or Iranian stamps. 4 day turnaround.
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 !!!
Feb 2014: Applied for visa on a Thursday and got in next next Tuesday morning. 30 days tourist visa. No urgent process requested.
Hong Kong is not as easy as it once was. Rejections happen, either due to passport stamps of Turkey and Iran, or frequent visits to China. A last resort is a group visa in Hong Kong. You can use visa agents, or otherwise go to the visa center. Updates collected here.
July 2018: About one and a half week ago I got rejected in Hong Kong at the new visa center, because:
1. I just had spent three months with an F visa, including one extension, in Shijiazhuang studying Mandarin.
2. I am not a permanent resident of Hong Kong.
Particularly this combination seems to be the problem as I saw other tourists/backpackers applying without immediate rejection.
September 2016: FTB visa agency comes recommended and can provide double entry visas.
September 2016: I tried using Hong Kong as an emergency exit a few weeks ago. Flew there from Almaty but had to return without a visa. I applied through an agency and they couldn’t give me a reason. Thought it might be the Turkey and Iran stamps in my passport.
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.
August 2017: Only residents can apply.
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
June 2017: The embassy is easy to access. Be prepared for some queues, so come early. I just produced all documents listed in the website of the consulate, and my secret weapon: an introduction letter (just bla bla bla to flatten them. I find it works marvels). I also enclosed a hotel booking (thru booking.com, cancelled later), and a fake flight reservation (in and outbound). They will check briefly the papers, keep your passport, give you a receipt, and in five working days you can come back, pay and get the passport with visa back.
I think it helped me to dress smart, have all docs readily printed, and an introduction letter.
Updates and reports in the Chinese embassy of Kathmandu topic.
June 2018: Double entry visa valid for 6 months, 60 days for each stay, 4-day turnaround.
April 2018: Single entry 90 days visa, 90 days to enter.
September 2016: Only possible if you are a resident.
July 2018: You are not advised to apply at Kuala Lumpur as the policy towards non-Malaysian who are not residing in Malaysia is quite strict recently. The chances of getting your visa approve is not high and the application might takes up to 1-2 months time. We suggest you to apply for the visa at your home country. If you insist to apply in KL, you may do so. However, please take note on the risk mentioned to you above.
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.
April 2015: I hold a student visa in Malaysia and for me it was straightforward. I am unsure about travellers without 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.
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.
Address: in Lenin street next to Bayana hostel, north of the stadium. Updates posted here.
2015-2018: Only locals can apply.
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.
January 2018: Denied on the first try mentioning Xinjiang. On the second try, with more supporting documents and still mentioning Xinjiang, got it.
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.
52 Barnov Street (Metro: Rustaveli – five minutes’ walk). Open Mon, Wed and Fri 9.30am–11.30am. Gets very busy so you might want to start queueing up early (like 6 am). Updates collected in the Chinese embassy in Tbilisi topic.
You might need a Georgian residence permit to apply. Luckily, this is quite easy to get for a good number of nationalities. A guide to getting the Georgian residence permit.
October 2018: only given 30 days single entry tourist visa, no residence permit needed. They also wanted proof of employment either in english or translated with validation from a notary besides plane tickets and hotel bookings. Everything was checked carefully. Prepare a story why you are employed in your home country while being a resident in georgia, because that can cause confusion.
July 2018: No residence permit needed, very easy-going.
June 2018: Possible also without the residence permit.
June 2018: Not easy-going, but possible with the residence permit.
April 2018: Possible again. Double-entry 30 days on each go. Quite easy-going.
February 2017 – February 2018: Only visas for residents.
October – December 2016: 90 + 90 days possible again.
September 2016: Only visas for residents.
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.
Previously, you needed a letter from your embassy saying they support you going to China, it’s called a letter of no objections (LONO). Since 2018, this is no longer required, but in case it still is, we are collecting reports here of different embassies 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 for minimal cost. Their name is M Mahdavi, Law & Immigration Services. It is across the street in the jewellery store (not jewellery land). Second floor.
The copy shop on Boustan Street that also types your application form was super expensive and does not provide colour copies. You need colour copies of your passport and Iranian visa. A bit further (35.798207, 51.474972), there’s another copy shop with a very friendly owner.
Check our forum to post and read the latest embassy updates.
December 2018: single entry, 43 days (which matches our itinerary exactly) and have 3 months to enter (our itinerary started 1,5 months from the date of applying). It cost 40$ each. N oexpress visa was possible. No Letter of no objections was asked, and the bank statement and travel insurance papers were handed back to us stating they don’t need them.
July-August 2018: 4 day turnaround for long visas. Flights and hotel bookings needed.
March 2018: Double entry visa. No letter of invitation, no letter of no objection. Turkish stamp in passport. 4-day turnaround. Express procedure (2 days) was also possible but more expensive. 6 month validity from the day of application and 50 days for each entry. We don’t know why we had so much. Maybe because we provide a quiet long schedule (from 1st of april to 3 of june).
May 2017: 90 days visa, starts the day of issue.
Late August 2016 – February 2017: No Chinese visas for foreigners anymore.
Early August 2016: There are 2 experiences at the Tehran embassy. One says, it was a total breeze and we easily got 3 months to enter and 3 months once inside the country. Another side of this Jekyll & Hyde creature is: maximum 1 month to enter and 1 month inside the country.
July 2016: Everyone got 90 + 90 days. Express Visa: 70$ to pay at the bank. Applied Thursday, collect Monday. Normal Visa: 40$. Applied Tuesday, collect Monday. We all applied with an Iranian looking woman. We didn’t even had to ask for the 90 days. We heard of other travelers, which had trouble to get them with a Chinese guy, at the same day.
March 2017: Express visa possible in 1 day , or normal process in 4 days through the ‘Chinese visa centre’ where the embassy outsources the visa application process.
Updates welcome here. Get in line at 6am to be certain. August is a very bad time to apply, as hundreds of Mongolian students are applying along wit you. In this time, getting an appointment can take up to 5 days.
August 2018: Rejection, guessing it was the Turkish stamp.
July 2018: It took 4 calendar days and cost 30$ (I’m French). Flight tickets and hotel bookings needed.
July 2018: Rejection due to Turkish stamp.
February 2018: Possible once again. 5 day wait.
September 2017: No longer possible.
May 2017: Possible but not a sure thing. Difficult.
September 2016 – January 2017: Possible again.
September 2016: No longer possible for non-residents to get a Chinese visa.
July 2015: Chinese visas are easy enough to get in UB.
Wat Nak Road, Sisattanak. Tel: 00856-21-315100. Opening hours: 9 to 11.30 Monday to Friday. On public transport, take bus 103 (goes every 30 minutes) from the central bus station and explain you want to go to the Chinese embassy near Vat Nak. Updates collected here.
The bank is very far away from the embassy, closes early and can be really busy. You can pay in USD or in kip. No credit card payment possible and the ATM inside the bank does not process Visa cards.
October 2018: single entry, 60 days visa next-day for 52$, 10$ extra for same-day service. Plane tickets and hotel bookings were requested.
July 2018: Paid 52 dollar to pick up next morning. You have to go to ICBC to pay. It is far from the embassy. Flight tickets were requested.
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 2016: Only people with an Armenian residence card can apply. Updates collected here.