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Obtaining a Chinese visa in Chiang Mai

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.

About the author:
Based in Chiang Mai, Mark Ord has been travelling Southeast Asia for over two decades and first crossed paths with Travelfish on Ko Lipe in the early 1990s.
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