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Visit Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and now Chengdu for 72 hours without a visa

September 18, 2013


China may top the list of appealing destinations for many tourists, but the country’s strict (and pricey) visa policy makes it inconvenient to schedule a quick visit. If you’re planning to travel to one of just four cities, however, and can meet new requirements, it’s possible to arrange a 72-hour stopover in China. The program began last year with Beijing (PEK), and now includes Shanghai (PVG and SHA), Guangzhou (CAN) and Chengdu (CTU) airports. Sarah and I are testing this policy with a three-day trip to Shanghai (departing from Taipei and returning to Honolulu) next month.

To take advantage, book a flight connecting in one of the airports listed above with a maximum stopover of 72 hours. You need to be arriving and departing from different countries, so this can’t be a roundtrip. In other words, arriving in China from the US and departing to Japan (or even Hong Kong to Macau) would be acceptable, but leaving from New York and returning to San Francisco would not (be sure to print your itinerary before heading to the airport). Additionally, you’re restricted from traveling beyond the city that you enter through, and you must register with the police (or a hotel) within 24 hours of arrival. Curiously, this policy only applies to a handful of airports, and cruise ports and land crossings (such as the notoriously US-unfriendly Hong Kong to Shenzhen) are excluded.

Additionally, you’ll need to have a passport from Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Cyprus, Czech Rep., Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Korea, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, Russia, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, USA, Ukraine, UAE or the UK to enter China without a visa.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. September 18, 2013 8:40 pm

    What would be the logic behind allowing a “Country A to China to Country B” route and not an A-China-A return flight?

    • zachhonig permalink*
      September 18, 2013 8:42 pm

      The idea here is that it’s a visa waiver for transit passengers, so you’d need to be “connecting” in China. Even though most flights through Asia would be more likely to connect in Tokyo, Seoul, Bangkok or Hong Kong.

      • September 18, 2013 8:51 pm

        Visa waiver for transit passengers. I see. When I first heard of them lifting the Visa requirements for Beijing I initially thought it was to help initiate an increase in tourism. However, 72 hours without leaving Beijing ( and now the other three cities) would seem to be only attractive if you were on your way to another destination, as you point out. Thanks.

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