Okay, for those of you that don't know, our family is currently visiting China. If you've ever wanted to go to China, here are some things that I learned in researching the subject for the past four months.
1. In a nutshell, you need to purchase your tickets before applying for the visa, have hotels booked and accounted for for every night that you will be in China per airline ticket dates IF you don't know someone in China who will vouch that you will stay on their couch for the duration of your stay. If you know a mainlander (people who are residents of Mongolia, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macao don't count), that is the easiest way to visit China.
|$220 is an expensive piece of paper!|
Chinese visa's are pricey too for Americans. Everywhere else in the world there is a 1 month single entry ($30), 3 month multiple entry ($60) and 1 year unlimited entry ($140) where as the US option is you pay $140 no matter what your intended stay is, so it's recommended to just do the unlimited year. On top of that, if there isn't a Chinese consulate in your city (there are only 7 in the US) then you have to spend an extra $80 per person to take the paperwork to the consulate in person since they only accept hand delivered applications.
2. Don't say you're going to Tibet, your visa will automatically be denied. Tibet is just difficult because you need a permit to enter the region, and then another permit for Everest. It seems like the easiest way to do Everest is from the Nepal side where you can book your visa while in Nepal without sending off your passport; the sketchy part about it is that China sometimes closes the border and then you're out that vacation.
3. Make sure all of your paperwork is filled out, and then check it again...and again. Online there were many grievances aired about getting a visa rejected. Some of these included :
- Not filling out the paperwork in all CAPS
- Leaving any blanks or putting "no", "does not apply" or anything other than N/A in EVERY box that doesn't apply to you
- Not including the province in the address (even though addresses aren't written to include the province typically)
- Signing the application in black ink instead of blue ink
Do you know Chinese? Well, learn a little.
|Xiao and Neva after our last lesson, the day before our flight to China.|
|We had a dinner and movie night watching this classic Chinese tale of the Monkey King.|
|Neva made quick friends with her extrovert personality and a "Ni hao" before we even got to Shanghai.|
Keeping in Touch
For all you social media addicts out there, you may not know that the internet in China comes with restrictions, some of which include no Facebook, or access to blog sites, etc. To get around this you can route through your VPN at home, otherwise you need to figure out another good way to keep in contact with people that you know.
|The request for a cell phone has begun...We just came in for a sim card, Neva.|
The internet is pretty slow compared to the US, but I would still recommend getting a sim card for your phone as having the data for GPS is a huge help for navigating in China with street signs you may not be able to read. Basically, you purchase a prepaid card for $15 with allows you 50 minutes, 200 MB of data, and text messaging. You are given a phone number that works within all of China. This was the option that made the most sense for us, but there are other plans that can suit your needs.
|A friendly street vendor in Shanghai greeting us with a smile and the aroma of freshly made dumplings.|
|Shanghai on the Labor Day holiday.|