Applying for a China Visa: Do’s and Don’ts

For a more serious take on applying for a visa and a checklist of the items we need to help you apply, see our China Visa Application Information page.

DON’T try to express your interest in China by doing an impression of Kung Fu Panda while singing “Kung Fu Fighting.”

Kung Fu Panda - small - 180 x 200
What’s cute in a cartoon will get
you creamed in a consulate.

DO allow China International Travel CA to save those of you who live in the San Francisco consulate’s jurisdiction a lot of time and trouble for a modest service fee of $20. We’ve helped many, many clients with their China visas, and we can ensure that everything will go smoothly. We’ll be glad to answer any questions you have about the application, submit and pick up everything for you, and make sure your freshly stamped passport gets back to you safe and sound with its “new visa smell” intact. All of our contact info can be found here.

DON’T talk loudly while waiting in line about how much you like Sharon Stone. She’s not exactly popular over there.

Insulting the victims of a natural disaster:
not Sharon’s best career move.

DO make sure you go to the right consulate, depending on where you live. Chinese consulates will only issue visas to people living in their jurisdiction.

DON’T stage a “laugh mob” in the consulate lobby in a misguided attempt to create good vibes and brighten everyone’s day.

Laughter may be the best medicine, but an overdose
might kill your chances of getting a China visa.

DO check the links on China Visa Application Information page to make sure you have updated information from the consulate website about everything you need to apply.

DON’T try to give yourself “Chinese cred” by rocking a Fu Manchu look. To someone from China, it doesn’t project the coolness you might think it does.

“Yellow peril” stereotypes are NOT the way to make
a good impression at the Chinese consulate.

DO apply for a twelve-month multiple-entry China visa, since it costs the same as a single-entry visa for U.S. citizens anyway. You never know—if you take one of our tours, you might find yourself traveling to China again very soon.

Although you can request same-day service if you’re in a desperate situation (but check with your local consulate to be sure), DON’T wait until the day before your trip to apply for your China visa. You never know when your application might be held up for some unforeseeable reason.

DO make sure your passport has six months of validity remaining and at least one blank visa page when you apply.

DON’T look scary…or try too hard not to look scary. Just play it cool and natural, man. Or if that’s too difficult, just let the professionals at CIT handle it for you.

Who is less likely to be granted a visa: a victim of demonic possession, or Stuart Smalley?

CIT logo

Welcome to the new home of China International Travel CA!

We have redesigned our website to make it more attractive, easier to navigate, and more informative.  Changes and new features include the following:

  • Each of our standard tours has its own page featuring representative photographs and complete tour information, as well as links to PDF itineraries (English and Chinese), photo itineraries or galleries, a “place page” for each destination on the tour, and the tour’s Chinese information page
  • Chinese- and English-language pages have been separated into distinct subdomains to reduce clutter and improve readability
  • Our new “place pages” feature useful information about the destinations on our tours, in addition to the existing photo galleries:
    • A description of each place, with basic information and a map showing its location
    • Our photo galleries and photo itineraries now load much faster than before and feature sharper-looking images
    • Coming soon: Links to related blog posts and other sources of more detailed information
    • Coming soon: Tips and info for travelers specific to each place
  • FAQ: Answers to questions often asked by our clients and China travelers in general
  • The left-hand navigation menu has been replaced with drop-down options in the main menu to increase available space for content
  • Search box: The new search function gives you a new way to find the content you’re looking for
  • Coming soon: Our blog is being rebuilt, with new posts, reformatted and updated old posts, and improved navigability
  • Coming soon: Comment forms on selected pages to allow you to ask questions, post reviews of places and attractions, and add your own observations and tips

We hope you will find our new website both useful and enjoyable!  Please let us know if you have any questions or are unable to find something from our old site.

Relaxing in a boat on West Lake in Hangzhou

The process began as I desperately clutched the seat in front of me, wondering whether I would even survive the ride into Taipei from the airport. No doubt the driver, my Chinese professor’s brother, found my fear quaint and amusing as he weaved nonchalantly through the crush of contending cars. Driving with a heedless brusqueness that would have evoked a string of one-finger salutes and perhaps a few acts of violence in most American cities, he aroused the ire of no one on that highway in Taiwan. Most of the other drivers were too busy doing exactly the same thing to even notice him. So it was with these stomach-churning observations that my process of disillusionment began, not one hour after I had first set foot in Asia.

Strange mannequins in a Shanghai shop window display
Strange mannequins in a Shanghai shop—one of many
interesting sights I’ve come across in China

As a white American who was double-majoring in philosophy and Mandarin, my first acquaintance with China and Chinese culture was primarily academic. I had an idealized impression of Chinese culture formed by the many hours I had spent analyzing the Analects of Confucius, stumbling through t’ai chi, meditating to Buddhist chants, struggling with the abstractions of Chinese poetry, listening intently to the feverish plinkety-plink of classical Chinese music while drinking green tea and inhaling incense smoke, and scratching out Chinese calligraphy that must have seemed to my Chinese friends like the scratchings of a second-grader – in other words, I was a massive China geek. Although I had had a number of close Chinese friends for years, they were primarily well-educated, somewhat Westernized Chinese who were not at all representative of the typical citizen of China or Taiwan. So I guess it’s no surprise that some part of me always expected to find in the daily lives of the Chinese people a more elevated, culturally sophisticated lifestyle than I had observed in American society. In that sense, I’ve had some disappointing experiences in China: I’ve seen pollution, ignorance and backwardness, a dog-eat-dog business mentality, shallow popular culture, and, of course, harrowing city traffic (not to say, of course, that these same flaws and many more can’t be found in the United States). Fortunately, looking back on the last thirteen years of my travels there, I can say those experiences have been far outweighed by the many more pleasant surprises that China has given me, in addition to treasured friendships, soul-cleansing mountain hikes, touching encounters with earnest rural villagers, late-night strolls through the urban canyons of Shanghai, euphoric drunken karaoke binges, wide-eyed walks along ancient city walls, and meditative moments in temples and teahouses, all of which have made every day of my time there fresh and stimulating. China is a land rich with paradoxes and brimming with vitality.

Relaxing in a boat on West Lake in Hangzhou
Relaxing in a boat on Hangzhou’s West Lake

These are the things that I’ll be sharing with you in this blog, and these are the things that I hope our company will allow some of you to experience for yourselves. When you travel anywhere, life is more vivid, more intense, somehow more REAL than it is during the mundane routine of daily life. Nowhere has that been as true for me as it is in China. No matter what kind of life you’ve lived, traveling to China will be one of the best things you’ve ever done – especially with the extensive knowledge, practical experience, and thoughtful service that my Shanghainese wife and her Cantonese partner, along with our many connections in China, can provide. Our tours are a good place to start your own cultural journey.

Welcome, then, to the home of China International Travel CA, Inc. I hope you enjoy browsing our website and watching it grow. Please feel free to contact us with any questions you have.

(originally posted on our old blog on June 5, 2009)

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