I'm travelling through Southeast Asia at the beginning of the new year and am a little confused on the visa requirement in China.

I'll be flying into Bangkok with one stop in Qingdao for an hour and a half and a second layover in Kunming for 19 hours. I intend to leave the airport in Kunming.

My final destination of the trip is Singapore, about a week after landing in Bangkok (transit to Singapore TBD).

According to the China Embassy website visas are required, however, they do have some exemptions, one of which being a Direct Transit Exemption:

A foreign citizen who is transiting through China by air is exempted from a visa if he/she will stay only in the airport for no more than 24 hours and has a valid connecting ticket with confirmed seating on an international flight.

Citizens with passport or other international travel document, confirmed interline ticket and valid visa to the third country or region (if required) of the following 51 countries, can apply to stay in the transit cities without visa for 72 hours on direct transit via the following airports: PEK, PVG, SHA, CAN, CTU,CKG, SHE, DLC, XIY,HGH,KWL,KMG. (For more info, please check the airports' websites)

Albania, Argentina, Austria, Australia, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Brunei, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malta, Mexico, Netherlands, Montenegro, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Republic of Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States.

My flight out of Qingdao is not an international flight, it stops off in another China city before I take the next international flight into Thailand.

Does the Direct Transit Exemption apply to either of these layovers in China?

Trying to save as much money as possible and $140 for a couple layovers is frustrating, so much for saving big on the flight.

  • I was about to answer "no" but then I saw this answer which says "Transit incl. multiple stops within China (People's Rep.), with a total transit time of max. 24 hours, is permitted" (with conditions that might apply to you). So I'll wait for someone more certain.
    – David Z
    Nov 18, 2017 at 11:05
  • Welcome to TSE. You got a good answer and make sure to read the source carefully (and also consider to upvote and accept). Note that the final destination of Singapore does not matter here, your nationality counts (which given the tags you choose I assume to be U.S.). Make sure to also consider the entry requirements of Singapore and Thailand, confirmed onward travel typically.
    – mts
    Dec 4, 2017 at 18:38

2 Answers 2


You may fall into the 24-hour visa depending on total time within China's borders.

Generally speaking, the 24-hour direct transit allows aliens to have multiple stops in China as long as they leave the country within 24 hours. Nevertheless, if transiting in Weihai, Wuhan, Xian or Zhengzhou, US and Canadian citizens cannot enjoy multiple-stop transit.

You qualify if the scheduled arrival time for FIRST entry into China to the scheduled departure time for EXIT from China are within 24 hours of one another.

Note: you do not qualify for the 72-hour visa because you would enter the country in Qingdao and leave the country from Kunming, for the 72-hour visa you must enter and leave the country from the same point of entry.

The Travel China Guide has more detailed information as well as a FAQ section (not an official source but has abundant information to get you started).

  • 1
    +1, I second this answer. TravelChinaGuide is NOT an official source but typically well-informed and reliable. 24h is counted from scheduled landing time of the first flight to scheduled departure of the last flight. As flights from Qingdao to Kunming clock at 3:40h, this might just be a tad too long for OP, in which case a visa is necessary.
    – mts
    Dec 4, 2017 at 18:35
  • @mts thank you for noting that, I updated my answer to reflect that it is not official.
    – cheshire
    Dec 4, 2017 at 18:39
  • 1
    Beware that the 24 hour clock ends when the airplane leaves the connecting city, not when you leave Qingdao. Check your timeline carefully as this probably non-compliant. Dec 4, 2017 at 20:40
  • @LorenPechtel thanks for input, added some clarifying terminology to address this.
    – cheshire
    Dec 4, 2017 at 20:42

Since you're flying domestically Qingdao-Kunming, you have to "leave the airport", i.e. enter China, in Qingdao.

As stated in TImatic, the database used by airlines:

Visa required, except for Holders of confirmed onward air, cruise or train tickets for a max. transit time of 24 hours.

Transit incl. multiple stops within China (People's Rep.), with a total transit time of max. 24 hours, is permitted. They must travel to a third country.

Transit without visa (TWOV) is not possible at Fuzhou (FOC), Huangshan (TXN), Mudanjiang (MDG), Shenzhen (SZX) and Yanji (YNJ). This does not apply at Urumqi (URC).

This does not apply at Guangzhou (CAN).

Nationals of USA are not permitted to use the multiple-stop transit within China, if transiting through Weihai (WEH) or Wuhan (WUH).

There is no restriction for Qingdao or Kunming, so yes, you're free to do this trip visa-free.

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