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I'll be traveling to Manila next year and I would like to pick up a flight which could give me at least half a day in a Chinese city like Shanghai or Beijing during transit (to make a short sightseeing of course).

Am I supposed to apply for any kind of visa beforehand if I want to visit some of the Chinese cities on my way to Manila (and possible way back) or this there anything else I should be prepared for during my visit? I'll be coming from the European Union.

Thanks for any tips - I'll be there for only short time so I'd like to avoid any troubles.

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    If Shanghai then DO take the Maglev train. Goes to inconvenient edge of city but taxi is cheap (and subway is very nearby) and you FLY at <= 430 kph - fastest you may ever go on land or JUST off it. Be prepared for other train going other way at mid point. 2 or 3 frames of a 30 fps video camera for 2 longish trains to pass with a real thump of air as they do. Awesome. Cars on motorway at 100 kph crawl along as you fly past. Tower is funnish - world's highest post office (send a card). After that, look at guide books. Some like Bund etc with colonial buildings. Each to their own. – Russell McMahon Sep 19 '14 at 23:06
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    Beijing must see: Tian an men square (mainly people) - look at map for photos of the past to see where what happened if you care. | Walk to/from there to forbidden city = Palace museum via under Mao's portrait with a zillion people. Lots to see but lots else elsewhere too - run. | Behai park and lake central and scenic. (Soldiers may object to u taking photos of lower lake - ask me how I know :-).) Pagodas and stairs and views and very nice. Great hall with moat (iced in winter). Pigeons at dusk around city centre nice. Then guide books ... . – Russell McMahon Sep 19 '14 at 23:11
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    You can do Beijing to great Wall at Badaling in about half day + with taxi. Very reconstructed and less than 100% original but still awesome. – Russell McMahon Sep 19 '14 at 23:12
  • Thanks a lot for tips guys, I appreciate it! So far I haven't started to make any plans however I am pretty sure I will take Maglev from the airport :) – Petr Mensik Sep 20 '14 at 22:32
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If you fly to Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chengdu, Chongqing, Guilin, Shenyang, Dalian, or Xian and fly out of the same airport (with an onward ticket that you must show when you land), you are allowed a 72-hour visa-free transit. That's a pretty long time and you'll be able to see the main attractions in whichever city you choose.

There's a special immigration counter for this type of visit in PEK, not sure about the others, but I'm sure you'll find your way through.

More info at http://www.travelchinaguide.com/embassy/visa/free-72hour/ and probably on the website of your country's embassy in China.

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    please specify that currently only some countries have the agreement for the 72-hour visa free policy – Guido Preite Sep 19 '14 at 17:07
  • Czech republic is on the list so I am fine :) Thanks a lot for good answer! – Petr Mensik Sep 19 '14 at 17:16
  • The actual question, whether the OP should make any sort of an application beforehand, is not addressed here. I assume the answer is no, but I would like to hear it from someone who has the experience. – downhand Sep 21 '15 at 11:01
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One very important thing to mention. I ran into problems during check-in because it's true that you have 72-hour visa-free permit to stay, however it applies only if you are passing through one city. I had a transfer in both Beijing and Shanghai during one day and I was told on customs that I cannot do that without visa because visa-free passage applies to only one city per visit.

So I was told I can go to Shanghai (which was my first transfer) but I cannot continue to Beijing and I need to buy a ticket to some other country or they won't let me go from Munich (because like I said, visa-free travel applies to only one city). So I actually bought ticket to Taiwan so I can at least get to China and when I arrived to Shanghai I was told it's ok to travel like this and they let me pass to Beijing with my original ticket (wtf Air China). So I am not sure what actually happened but it wasn't nice experience at all.

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