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.
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
-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.
-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 booking.com 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 the 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!