If you’re travelling through Asia and have a stopover in China, you may be in luck because China has recently made things a little easier for travellers wishing to stay in the country for a brief period. Starting September 1, 2013, visitors flying through China with onward tickets to another destination can now opt to have a layover for a brief visit in the country. The only rule is that this layover must not exceed 72 hours.
This visa-free stay in the country is not allowed for travellers arriving into the country by bus or train, only airports in a few select cities are taking part in the program. Airports currently participating in this program include Beijing Capital International Airport, Shanghai Pudong Airport, Hongqiao Airport, Guangzhou Baiyun Airport, Chengdu Shuangliu Airport and Chongqing Jiangbei International Airport, Shenyang Taoxian Internatioanl Airport and Dalian International Airport.
Also, this visa is only available to passport holders from one of the following countries:
Argentina, Austria, Australia, Belgium, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Brunei, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malta, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Montenegro, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States.
Say you have a flight stopping over in Beijing; even if your stopover is only a few hours long, it’s still possible to see some of the attractions. Transportation into Beijing is easy to arrange at the airport, and numerous city tours are also available. Some of the options available include visits to world renowned sites like the Great Wall and the Forbidden City. The tours are mindful of travellers on arriving at strange hours, which is why there are both daytime and night time tours available. While seeing the city in such a short amount of time isn’t ideal, it’s a nice way to get a ‘taste of China’, plus it might just be the inspiration you need to plan a longer visit and explore the rest of the country.
If you are planning on staying in China for a visit that exceeds 72 hours – either to travel, do business, or teach in China – then you’ll have to apply for the appropriate visa. You can read this article for more information on obtaining a Chinese visa.