How to travel to China without a visa

2013-11-26 13:50
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(Picture: Shutterstock)

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In order to visit China as a foreign traveller, you've got to apply, pay, and be approved for a visa.

But if you want to explore some of the mystical places of the east without the admin hassle of applying for a visa – there are three ways you can take advantage of China's Visa Exemption Policies.

The China National Tourism Office says these three options applies to 32 countries worldwide including the US, UK, Japan, Singapore, Germany, France, Hungary and Switzerland. The CNTO has added that the visa-free policy will also be extended to some railways and ports next year.

South African travellers can only take advantage of the 72-hour free transit visa when travelling to Beijing and Shanghai. Check out  the visa tool on China Tours  if you’re not sure if you qualify or not.

Transit visa – maximum 3-day stay or 72-hour

This policy allows foreigners stopping over in the cities listed below 72 hours to roam and explore without having to apply for a visa.

Destinations you can visit include: Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou & Chengdu.

Pearl River Delta Visa Exemption – maximum six-day stay or 144 hours
Visitors travelling in a group, upon arrival in Hong Kong, can get a group Visa or 144-hour Convenient Visa to travel to Guangdong Province.

This is a separate piece of paper (not attached to any passport), which requires that group members enter and exit China together.

 Destinations you can visit include Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Foshan, Dongguan, Zhongshan, Jiangmen, Zhaoqing, Huizhou, Shantou and other places in Guangdong province.
Visa Exemption for Hainan - maximum 21-day stay
The provincial government of Hainan issued a preferential policy granting visa exemption to tourists holding private passports from 26 countries to promote tours in Hainan with duration of 21 days.

Destinations you can visit include Sanya Beach and Haiko in the Hainan Province.

Have you applied for a visa to visit China recently, what was your experience like? Tell us in the comments section below or email us on

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