Take the 2-minute tour ×
Travel Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for road warriors and seasoned travelers. It's 100% free, no registration required.

There are certain countries which in order to be granted a visa you must submit your intended itinerary. My friend tells me that he thinks China is one of those countries.

What do independent travellers do? We're thinking of hitch-hiking across China without a precise plan. But if we have to submit an itinerary for the visa does then lock us in to a planned route after all?

Is it just bureaucracy where they make it look complicated but in practice it turns out to be easy?

(If it makes a difference we will have Australia or UK passports.)

share|improve this question
add comment

5 Answers 5

Kind of, but not really.

At least not for citizens of some countries. At least not when applying at some consulates.

I'm Australian and applied for my visa in Vientiane, Laos in October 2013.

I provided only details of a flight into China, a flight out of China, and a hotel booking for my first night. I don't know if I could have submitted even less, but I didn't have to submit more.

In fact I applied for and received a double-entry visa and only submitted details for the first entry. I submitted nothing at all about the second entry.

So if proof of a flight in, a flight out, and a hotel booking for one night counts as an itinerary then yes you need such a minimal itinerary. But I wouldn't count it as an intinerary.

Also I did not fly in, I did not stay at that hotel, and I don't intend to fly out. Nobody asked about any of that when I crossed the land border from Laos to China, and nobody has mentioned anything in the three weeks I've been in China so far.

share|improve this answer
add comment

I assume you are applying for your first tourist (L) visa. I did provide my hotel for my very first visa (a double entry), however for subsequent visas (such as the one year version) I have not been asked by my agent to provide any itinerary at all.

Also note that the Chinese visa requirements can change at short notice. My experience is current, and other people in the past were likely to have been ask more detailed itinary information.

share|improve this answer
add comment

It primarily depends on where you apply for a visa and secondarily on what your nationality is.

Visa requirements for China differ from embassy to embassy. Typically, in 'the west' they are less strict. You will, most likely be asked to hand over your flight plan, with proof, for entering and leaving the country and you might be asked to show some proof of having reserved some accommodation. You will most likely not be asked to show proof of having reserved accommodation for every single night of your journey.

I'm currently in China and visited for a friend's wedding. Friends literally came from all over the world to attend the wedding in Shanghai. I live in Uganda (but have an EU passport). Visa requirements in Uganda were VERY strict, though we were treated somewhat leniently. Friends from some countries underwent a very simple visa process.

share|improve this answer
add comment

You're expected to submit your itinerary with your visa application but we certainly have never been asked for any itinerary for later visits when we have a multiple-entry visa. We've never even had more than vague plans for later visits when we do the application.

We also generally do some short (and occasionally not so short) side trips off our original plans and nobody's said anything about that. Admittedly we lave a long track record of going there and not having any trouble with the authorities.

A bigger problem I would think would be time. As first-time visitors you're probably only going to get a 30 day stay.

I will also throw out there the fact that China is one of these countries where you're expected to register with the police where you're staying. Your hotel does this for you but if you camp out that's going to leave a hole in your data. These days the data is computerized, they certainly could check it. Whether they do or not I have no idea.

share|improve this answer
add comment

Yes, you are usually required to submit flight and hotel reservations. They do not have to be paid reservations, so you can cancel them afterwards. (VisaRite has some handy samples of what is accepted.)

Nobody will care once you're in China as long as you stay out of sensitive regions in western China (Tibet, Tibetan bits of other provinces, Xinjiang, etc) and don't go out of your way to attract the attention of the local constabulary.

share|improve this answer
    
That's interesting. I had a Catalan friend a few years ago who told me he travelled freely in the Tibetan areas which were not part of the "official Tibet" specifically to avoid having to obtain a special permit. Should I ask a question specifically about that? –  hippietrail May 10 '13 at 0:49
3  
Permits are a different bucket of fish, this question is about visas. The point is that nobody cares about your declared itinerary unless you go to places where you're not supposed to be without official permission. –  jpatokal May 10 '13 at 1:54
1  
If you don't have a hotel reservation, you still need to mention the places where you will be staying. Then, once you arrive in the country, you will have 24 hours to go to a local police station, to get registered. This is a quite complicated procedure... –  Bernhard May 10 '13 at 11:12
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.