I'm considering travelling with my sister (both British citizens) from the UK to China later this year. Mostly likely we would fly into a big city (Beijing/Shangai) and travel around somewhat from there by plane or rail, flying back to the UK from the same location.

From what I can tell from the Chinese embassy website, we would need an "L" type tourist visa, which seems to be relatively easy to apply for (just need hotel reservation and flight tickets).

However, I'm wondering if therefore the hotel reservation needs to be valid for the whole journey before we apply for the visa. Does the whole itinerary therefore need to be confirmed/planned?

In addition, I understood that in the past there were restrictions on foreigners travelling around China. Is this true, or do we mostly have freedom to travel where we want within China? (using our passports as ID, of course, if needed).

  • @mts I think it's pretty clear that no tourist expects to be able to enter military bases and so on. That's the case in every country and is clearly covered by "mostly have freedom to travel" (my emphasis). Jun 29, 2016 at 16:51

1 Answer 1


They never have said anything about our taking side trips that we didn't list on our visa applications (Trips we hadn't planned at the time of the application.) The application also only asks about your current trip--no matter how long your visa is good for. If you make another trip on the same visa there's nothing that even asks for your itinerary.

We currently hold 10 year visas (no, you can't get them at present, they're only offered to Americans), that's going to be several trips they have not asked about.

As mts said in his comment, Tibet requires a special permit but otherwise we are free to wander around. Note that you might have trouble trying to find a place to sleep in a small town off the beaten track--hotels that do not expect to ever have a foreign guest likely haven't set up the procedures required to check in foreigners. Also, if you get too far off the beaten track there will be basically zero English.

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