How to get a Chinese Visa in Vietnam (Hanoi)

Documents for Chinese visa application

One of the main countries I wanted to visit on my year of solo backpacking adventures was to spend a couple of months solo backpacking in China, and I can happily say that after getting my Chinese visa in Vietnam I’m writing these lines in this magnificent country! (thank you VPN provider!)

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I had (and still have) several reasons for my desire to come here. Not only I’m curious about their culture (been studying Mandarin for a while now) but also about the sheer size of the country, which means that a massive number of incredible places can be visited there.

One thing I didn’t know though was on when exactly I was going to enter China. Because of this I couldn’t apply for a visa when I was still living in London as you need to apply within 3 months of your visit.

Documents for Chinese visa application

Having searched quite a bit online I found that it was possible to apply for a Chinese visa in Hanoi and even that you can find lots of post talking about this subject, I found that most of them are obsolete by now.

Another benefit of applying for the Chinese visa in Vietnam is that it will be a lot cheaper! in most western countries the Visa Fee will be +US$150 (in some cases lot more!) and I ended up paying only US$30!

After I read lots of other blogs (many which I really like!) I was a bit scared as it seemed as a daunting task of preparing lots of documents, start queuing for several hours from 5am, buying return flight tickets, and the worse was that some will say that they got their visa denied!

Fear not! my Chinese tourist visa application process couldn’t have been easier! in total, it took me less than 3 hours to get it across 4 days, this is how I calculate that time:

Document preparations: 2 hours
Visiting the embassy and applying: 30 minutes
Collecting my visa 3 days later: 30 minutes

Smooth! I wish all government institutions across the globe were so efficient!

I arrived to Hanoi on a Saturday from Myanmar and because of those scary posts I read previously, I started preparing all the documents on the Sunday to go to the Chinese Embassy first thing in the morning of the Monday.

Check out here for hostels in Hanoi close to the Chinese embassy.

Which documents do you require to apply for a Chinese visa in Vietnam?

First of all, make sure to check if you actually need a visa! I understand that the list of countries with visa exemption changes constantly so keep an eye on them.

This is the official page of the Chinese Embassy in Hanoi. There you can find all the info about the different visa types, fees, processing times, etc. Here there’s a list of the current requirements for each visa.

As of Feb ’19 these are the documents I presented:

-Visa application form, download here
-x2 photos
-Copy of travel insurance policy, I got mine with TrueTraveler
-Bank statements (just a printed screenshot)
-Detailed itinerary, per day, mentioning places you will visit and where you will sleep.
-Hostel/Hotel reservations
-Flights in and out of the country
-Copy of passport. They will also keep the original.
-Copy of Vietnam visa
-US $30 Dollars in Cash. Make sure to bring US$, no other currency is accepted

Keep reading for tips on what I did!!!

All of the above sounds like a lot of stuff. It took me about 2 hours to get everything sorted. In most hostels in Vietnam they will let you print everything for free. Now, what I did exactly:

-Visa application form. I filled the PDF on my laptop to save time at the embassy. You can also fill it once you’re there, but I think they enjoyed seeing that I typed it instead of trying to read my incomprehensible hand-writing.

I was asked to change my request of a multi-entry visa to a single entry as I didn’t present any documents showing that I wanted to come back, not the end of the world…

-Copy of travel insurance policy. That’s an easy one, just make sure to print a document that includes the dates for which your policy is valid.

If you don’t have any yet, check my travel insurance post about this subject

-Bank statements. I presented a screenshot of my accounts.

-Detailed itinerary. This is an important one! they cross-checked with my hostel reservations to determine the length of the visa they gave me.

I requested in the application form a visa for 90 days but they gave me only 40 as those were the booking that I presented.

Don’t stress out on this one as it doesn’t need to be precise. As a template of an itinerary, this is the one I made (and didn’t follow afterwards):

-Hostel/Hotel reservations. Go to and book any place with free cancellation. Cancel them all once you get your visa.

-Flights in and out of the country. AHA!!!!! the tricky one! I didn’t want to book a flight as I wanted to enter by land, also I didn’t want to buy tickets not knowing if they would refuse my application.

Still, for whatever reason, it seems they want a flight ticket. What I did was to start the purchasing process of two tickets, one entering and one leaving China (timed with my hostel reservations).

In the checkout process I added my name, passport and date of birth and took a screenshot from the eDreams website. This is exactly what I gave them:

An extra tip. Remember that no matter which country you’re planning to visit (or even a government office in your own country) in all cases, the public servant is likely to be fed up with the same sort of people, questions, etc.

So, be nice to them!! it’s very likely they will be nice in return!

As an example, at the Hanoi Embassy, the first thing I did when they called my number was to greet the lady at the counter with a “nĭ hăo” (Hello in Chinese Mandarin) and this already put a smile on her face. I knew instantly that the process started well.

When she was checking my documents she mentioned that I didn’t bring a copy of my passport. I completely forgot of making one and told her so.

No questions asked, she turned around and went to the office copy machine and made a copy herself. That’s the result of a charming greeting and a smile!

After all the documents were quickly checked, I handed over my passport (they will keep your original passport) and was told to come back in 3 days (Thursday, I applied on Monday) at a certain time (afternoon in my case)

I arrived to the embassy at 8:40am and by 9:10 I was out! (including queueing outside for a few minutes)

3 days passed, a quick 20 min wait in line, pay US $30 and Voila! my shiny Chinese Visa was on my passport! time to cancel all the bookings and start my adventures in Vietnam!!! 🙂

NOTE: if you’re planning to go to China you need a VPN to keep using the internet as you know it (with Google, Facebook, Whatsapp, etc). There are lots of VPN providers out there. Some of them free. I got mine with Surfshark after doing some research and it worked really well for me and it was pretty cheap. Feel free to contact me if you have further questions on this 🙂

Feel free to ask me any questions if you’re planning to get a Chinese Visa in Vietnam!

On this link you can read my backpacking adventures in China!

Friendship bridge China/Vietnam
Crossing on foot to China!

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18 thoughts on “How to get a Chinese Visa in Vietnam (Hanoi)

  1. Hi, this article is great. Thankyou
    Now that China has opened up, I wanted to get the visa in Hanoi. Do you know if this still aplies after Covid restrictions?

    1. Thanks for the great words! Unfortunately I don’t know how’s the situation right now as I wrote this pre pandemic. If you can share how it goes once you’re there it will be fantastic! Safe travels and enjoy that wonderful part of the world!

  2. Hey! Thank you! One question, how did you make this with your flight tickets exactly?
    You go to the airline website, selecting a flight and go till the last page (just before the payment page will come) – is that right? So you didn’t pay for the flight and just showing the screenshot of your „planned“ booking ?

    1. Hi Danny,
      Exacty! I just took as screenshot of the checkout process page showing my name and passport (which are highlighted yellow on the image)
      I didn’t pay for the flight and didn’t mention anything to them.

  3. This was great, thank you! Do you know If it is possible to apply for Chinese Visa one week before entering The country? We are traveling from south to North and planning to reach Hanoi one week before heading to China. Just wondering If we should skip on The western Visa prices 🙂

    1. Hi Tanja! yes that’s completely fine, once you get your visa you have up to 30 days to enter the country, they don’t care when you do it as long as it’s within that timeframe (it doesn’t need to coincide with your “flight details”)

  4. Hi planetofadventures and thank you firstly for this complet page.

    I am planning to go to China by train and then to Mongolia by train as well.Do you think or know it has to be mentioned that we will use land border?Or maybe we can simulate a flight booking ticket like you?
    Thank you in advance

  5. I just wanna ask. I am planning to visit China because my colleague who is from China want me to come, visit and experience TET holiday next year. And i think we don’t need an itinenary for she will be the one to cater for all our trips.

    1. Hi, the itinerary is just to show the Chinese authorities on “where are you going to be” not really “what are you going to do”. I think that if you stay at a friend’s place instead of a hotel they may ask for a letter from your friend.
      My advise is: just book a hotel in the same city for all the days you will be there and once you get your visa cancel the bookings. There’s a section on the visa form where you can write that you will spend TET with a friend as purpose of visit. Cheers!

  6. Thanks, that’s helpful but not quite what I meant, sorry if I was confusing. If I choose Guangzhou as my flight arrival but cross at a land border crossing is that a problem?

    1. Ahh OK! not a problem at all! the visa does not show that info. I also crossed by land, check out this post!

  7. Hi, late to the party but still finding your post really helpful. I’m about to cycle up from Hanoi, just a question about the fake flight details, does it not matter than you dont state exactly where you arrive in China? E.g. with Vietnam Visa you have to state exact arrival point… thanks!!!

    1. Hey Dave! thanks for your message. I selected the flight entering to Guangzhou, and my first hostel booking was for the same place. They did check my itinerary with the flight details to determine the length of the stay, so if you make bookings for X amount of days you should get a visa for that amount (I got mine for 40 days). I hope that answers your question 🙂

  8. Thanks so much for this blog post, mate. It proved invaluable as we applied for (and were granted) our Chinese visa last week. Long-winded process, but it all paid off.

    A big sign inside that we missed, but just to remind others – they only accept US Dollars as payment.

    Also, for UK travellers, government websites quote a £151 visa fee for us from the UK, but in Hanoi we were charged the $30 flat rate. Very pleased with that saving!

    1. Thanks for the reminder on the US$ bit Tim! I’ll add it to the post! it is indeed a massive saving for all countries as travellers from other places also told me how much they paid back home! Enjoy China!

  9. what time did you go to the embassy??? it was 8:40?? i was reading that there’s usually a long queue and is better to arrive pretty early? did this happen to you?

    1. Hi, as you read it! 🙂
      I was there at 8:40 in the morning, I only had to wait a few minutes outside the embassy and very quickly went inside for a few more minutes waiting. I also read those blogs previously mentioning to go at 5am and so on, not the case for me!

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