Feb 25 2014

Obtaining a Chinese visa in Chiang Mai

Published by at 6:43 am under Practicalities


Need a Chinese visa in Chiang Mai? There is a Chinese consulate plus attached visa section in the city and while it used to be very straightforward when we last applied a couple of years back, it seems to have got a bit more complicated recently. Here’s what to do.

Rice terraces, Yunnan

Rice terraces, Yunnan.

First you need to go to 111 Changloh Road, Haiya district, which is not far from Chiang Mai Gate on the south side of the moat. It’s open Mondays to Fridays from 09:00 until 11:30, except for public holidays.

Big gate, small entrance!

Big gate, small entrance!

In addition to your fee (rates below), a passport-sized photo and your completed application form, you will also be asked to provide the following: flight tickets and print outs of a full day by day itinerary and hotel confirmations for each night of your stay. If you are planning on entering by land then your itinerary will obviously need to indicate that. While the itinerary can be approximate, as long as it seems okay (and staff more or less suggested we made it up!), the hotel confirmations are downright awkward and when we applied they seemed pretty insistent on seeing them.

Hope you don't have to wait too long!

Hope you don’t have to wait too long!

A covering letter from a Chinese tour operator is acceptable, so just booking everything through a licensed local agent is one relatively easy option, but for independent travellers this requirement may demand some creativity. Note they don’t really have any means of checking, and once you have obtained the visa and entered the country they are hardly going to check if you stick to your written itinerary. As long as you haven’t made non-refundable deposits or advance payments you can then change accommodation bookings once there (or even once you’ve obtained your visa), so long as you were able to provide suitable “proof” in the first place.

This is rather a stifler of spontaneous travel and we’re not really sure why the Chinese immigration department feels necessary to demand these details ahead of time (especially since it is pretty easy to not follow). We hope that the many Chinese visitors to Chiang Mai aren’t faced with the same levels of bureaucracy when they apply for Thai visas.

We have always found staff here helpful — which you can’t say about every consulate — so if in doubt they may be able to offer suggestions and advice, but you have been warned.

Rates are:

  • 1,100 baht for standard (4 working days)
  • 1,800 baht for express, (2 -3 working days)
  • 2,300 baht for same day visa.

… except for American citizens, who are required to pay a whopping: 4,560, 5,460 and 5,760 respectively.

Full details can be found on the consulate’s website though if there are any contradictory points, the above was what we were told in person in February 2014.

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2 Responses to “Obtaining a Chinese visa in Chiang Mai” ...

  1. Steph.on 01 Jun 2014 at 12:17 am

    Hi Mark, thanks for your website. Very helpful.
    I have a question about obtaining the Chinese visa in Chiang Mai after reading your article: I will have two passports with me my British one and my Canadian one. I will likely book hostel type accommodation to meet the itinerary requirement to get their visa that I will later cancel and go as I please.
    My question for you is: Is your post applicable to Canadians who have been travelling the globe for about 8 mths and then apply for the CHinese visa while treeking about in Thailand? I am leaving from Vancouver and going East to Israel then Pakistan, then India and then SEA on a year off and wondered aobut getting a visa for China on route since it will take me too long to get there if I get a visa in Vancouver before I leave for the annual gap year. Can I also get my Burmese, Vietnamese, Laos and Cambodia visa in Chiang Mai or Bangkok?
    I dont know if you know much about Indian visas, but did wonder if I can get one of those in Israel before I leave Tel Aviv? If I get my Indian visa before I leave Vancouver, I will have to be in and out within 6 months and I don’t want to hurry myself there or when I get there, either.
    You may not know this stuff, but I thought I’d ask. I am trying to plan the route and the application of visa is determining some of the time frame I have in places. I have to apply for the Pakistani visa from my resident country, Canada, but hoping the others I can get from an embassy on route.
    Thanks so much Mark. Stephanie

  2. Heatheron 05 Jun 2014 at 7:58 am

    I got my visa last week. It cost me (UK citizen) 2,450 baht for double entry, next day service. The slower service would have been 1,650 baht. Otherwise, the above matches my experience.

    I took:
    1. Completed application form. (You can get a copy and fill it in when you get there if you prefer, but take an extra sheet of paper for your itinerary since there’s not really enough space on the form. If like me you’re entering China overland, say so in the ‘extra information’ box on the form.)
    2. Copy of my passport – both the photo/personal details page and the page showing my Thai visa and entry stamp.
    3. Online hostel booking confirmations.
    4. Invitation from a travel agency (the agency booking my Trans-Siberian tickets were happy to add the rest of my China plans to the invitation. This just helps to provide extra assurance, particularly if you’re travelling overland – I guess it’s not essential).
    5. Copy of insurance policy document.
    6. Bank statements and proof of my offer for a university course starting in October. They didn’t ask for these, but I heard that some people applying from less developed countries had to provide extra documents.

    Service was friendly and efficient, the waiting times for application and pick up were short, and the office is a nice one with comfy chairs and free water – definitely the best experience I’ve ever had applying for a visa. Yes, the hotel bookings thing is a little bit annoying, but otherwise, highly recommended!

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