Can I get a Chinese tourist visa without booking a plane or hotel, or having an itinerary?
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Who doesn’t want to stride across the wide expanse of China, the wind at their back, with no plans and no worries, just an unknown adventure ahead? Unfortunately, generally speaking it is impossible to get a Chinese mainland tourist visa if you don’t submit proof of bookings for inbound and outbound flights and at least some accommodation, as well as an itinerary explaining some of what you plan to do. If you’re staying with a friend you’ll also need to provide a letter from them saying that they are inviting you to stay in their home.
This is because the Chinese government wants to ensure that it can keep tabs on tourists, so that they don’t end up with lots of random foreigners roaming the countryside. To this end, when you check into a hotel your information will be automatically registered into the police database (alternatively, if you’re staying with a friend you’ll need to go to their nearest police station to register yourself).
Theoretically, if the hotel you are staying in is not the same as in your booking record, the police might be alerted, which may affect your visa applications in future.
In reality, though, it’s rarely that strict, and tourists have been known to get tourism visas with just the plane tickets, a hotel booking for the first night of stay in China and a vague itinerary. And as the bookings don’t need to be paid for, they could theoretically be cancelled once the visa has been acquired.
Still, the possibility remains that this could catch up with you, so it’s recommended to stick to the rules as closely as you can.
Useful Chinese words and phrases
|住宿预订||zhùsù yùdìng||Booking accommodation|
|邀请函||yāoqǐng hán||Invitation letter|
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