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I'm a dutch citizen and I want to travel to China for holiday and to visit the parents of my (Chinese) girlfriend. We will travel there together from end of august till begin of september (2,5 weeks total). We have already booked the ticket.

I'm now in the process of applying for the Chinese visa. For the Visa, they want to know from day to day where I will travel, and see things like hotel bookings. We will fly to Hong-Kong, and later on fly to the north (Dalian) to visit my girlfriends parents. We didn't yet book a ticket for the national flight, since they will be cheaper if we book them later. Because of that we also didn't book any hotels yet.

What would be the easiest way to get the visa? Just wait and apply for the visa later? (I've been told it could take up to 4 weeks to get it, so I would rather get it as soon as possible).

Also, should I just fill in "tourism" as purpose, or also "short term visit to Chinese citizen"? In the last case, I would also need a invitation from the parents of my girlfriend.

I also read on a lot of sites that I should just book a hotel (in shenzhen) that covers all days of my stay, apply for the visa, and then later cancel the hotel. It seems a bit fraudulent to me, and I'm worried that it might get me in trouble (for instance when taking that national flight).

My girlfriend and me do not have any official relationship status by the way.

Any ideas what the best approach would be?

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Like others have said, even if you change your plans not only will no one notice, but even if they did, it's perfectly normal to change your plans half-way during a trip, there are no rules against it. They ask for itineraries to see if you have some vague purpose to your visit, not because those are the only things you'll be allowed to do.

I would suggest writing up a casual itinerary saying when you'll be landing, where you're going after that (I would recommend booking a hotel to stay in after you've landed, this is something you should definitely show in my opinion, since you aren't going to the parents' place straight away. Book one, and if you find a cheaper one just cancel the initial booking and book the cheaper one. That's not fraudulent at all, it's well within your rights) and dot a few 'shopping' and 'sight-seeing' activities in there. You don't have to stick to it strictly, and you can stay wherever you want.

  • Is your advice based on personal experience or could you cite any sources or is this just a personal opinion? This distinction is important for sensitive stuff such as visa. – mts Jun 29 '16 at 16:26
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    This is a mixture of personal experience and opinion, I did not look up any official sources, however I was speaking to my friend about this (she's traveled to china at least 15 times now), and it also makes intuitive sense that your plans might change during your visit. – Joel Damien Jun 30 '16 at 9:52
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All of your questions regarding hotel bookings have already been covered here:

and in the answer by @JoelDamien.

Regarding the visa type to apply for, note that in any case you will apply for a L tourist visa. As you note for purpose of trip you can either tick "tourism" or "short term visit to Chinese citizen".

  • For the tourism type you need to provide bookings and an itinerary as pointed out above
  • while for the visit type you need an invitation letter, in your case from your girlfriends parents.

I think in your case both would be justified and it depends mostly on what is more convenient for you. Do you know your girlfriends parents and are you comfortable asking them for the invitation letter (taking into account Chinese standards here)? Or can you easily put together a provisional itinerary in the meantime? It is mostly your judgement call and depends on whether you will actually mostly be visiting or travelling.

Also see this somewhat related post.

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There are literally billions of people in China. No one is tracking you around. Make a best guess of where you will be when, put that down. They aren't going to check, they aren't going to ask you about it.

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    Well it's China, so some degree of surveillance wouldn't be surprising, but in any case... They are, in fact, as discussed in this question unlikely to care if you change your plans once in China. However, the question here is about getting the visa, which requires supplying at least some details about your travel plans. The OP wants to know what how detailed those plans must be. – Zach Lipton May 29 '16 at 19:51
  • The way this answer is written it is not useful. Foreigners are tracked around, they have to register but yes, nobody cares much about you sticking to the proposed itinerary. Please back up your answer with personal experience or links and sources, otherwise it remains to be a comment that I am not going to upvote. – mts Jun 29 '16 at 16:19
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I have done multiple trips in which we ended up visiting cities that weren't listed on the visa application and nobody has said a thing about it or given us trouble with future visas.

Note, however, that we have a very long record of visiting and not getting in trouble and have never submitted hotel bookings--it's always simply the address of the relative we are staying with. (Note that if you stay with someone rather than in a hotel the police registration is your job--you need to go to the local police station and register where you are staying and for how long. In theory this needs the resident along also but in Shanghai we have done it multiple times without them. When you stay in a hotel the hotel does this for you--which means that if you are far off the beaten track you might find hotels won't allow you to stay. If they're not set up to do this registration they can't legally allow a foreigner to stay.)

  • You have a 10 year visa though as I infer from other posts on here, does your experience refer to visits under that 10 year visa or previous visits and if the latter what type of visa were those? – mts Jun 29 '16 at 18:43
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    @mts Previous visits. The 10 year visas are pretty new, when we first went it was 3 months/single entry/30 day stay and no possibility of anything more than that. (When her mother was slowly dying we tried to talk them into 6 months so we could travel quickly if the situation warranted.) – Loren Pechtel Jun 29 '16 at 19:05

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