I will be leaving Singapore for Vietnam next Friday and would like to head through China before going home to the United States. I tried getting a visa at the consulate in Singapore today but was denied because I don't have a train ticket from Hanoi to Kunming, a ticket from Kunming to Beijing, nor do I have any accomodation booked, though I do have a flight home from Beijing. I was told to book everything else and that I could get my visa in Hanoi.
Recently I've read that it's not possible for Americans to get a Chinese visa anywhere other than the US or their present country of residence (which in my case is Singapore, for school). Has anyone had experience with this? Or does anyone know of any travel agents in Hanoi (or Ho Chi Minh City, even) that I could contact via phone or email to ask them directly?
#1 dmalling has been a member since 16/4/2008. Posts: 2
Sounds like you hit a lazy worker at the Singapore Embassy. The Chinese consular contacts in VietNam are as follows:
46 Hoang Dieu Road, Ha Noi; Tel: +84(0)-4-845-3736; Fax: +84(0)-4-823-2826; E-m: firstname.lastname@example.org; Web: http://vn.china-embassy.org; http://vn.chineseembassy.org (VND35,000 taxi from Old Quarter)
HO CHI MINH CITY
39 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai Street, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City; Tel: +84-8-829-2457; Fax: +84-8-8295009; E-m: email@example.com (Go to the Notre Dame Cathedral, continue in the direction behind the church, past Diamond Plaza. The consul is located on the left at the first light past Diamond - with the cops outside)
Contact the appropriate one by e-mail to ascertain HOURS OF OPENING and FEES (these vary on time to provide visa). Note that visa fees vary based upon country issuing your passport - high charges for US passports!)
You will need two photographs - you will be shown a machine to trim them - the CN are fussy about these. Be prepared for a LONG wait (unless you are over 60 when you are permitted to go straight inside).
HA NOI >> CHINA
Where do you want to go? KunMing, YunNan Province or NanNing, GuangXi Province? I ask this because most every knows there is NO RAIL LINE between Lao Cai (VN)/HeiKou (CN) and KunMing (except LP) but there is a 12-hour bus (sleepers available) but you should opt for a day bus to see the sights.
HA NOI >> NANNING
This is a very easy journey for Westerners.
Make a reservation with KIM LIEN TRAVEL by calling +84-(0)-4-577-0434; FAXing +84-(0)-4-577-0346; hand/cell +84-913-525-389. You MUST attend their office located in the Kim Lien Hotel < www.hanoihotel.net/home/Kim_Lien_Hotel_Hanoi_Vietnam.asp >, 07 Dao Duy Anh Street, Ha Noi; Tel: +84-(0)-4-852-2522; FAX / Fax: 84-(0)-4-852-1209 NO LATER THAN 07.30H on the day of departure to claim and pay for your seat. Seating is reserved.
The bus departs promptly at 08.00H. During the approximate 4-hour journey to the border you are given water and a snack and there is one scheduled toilet stop.
At the border you must recover your baggage and carry it about 100 yards to the Immigration and Customs office where you have to lift it up 19 steps. As this border post is manned by junior staff they do their job very diligently and s-l-o-w-l-y. But don't worry, the bus drivers will wait for you.
After having your passport minutely inspected, and stamped, you then load your baggage into an X-ray machine where no one is looking at the screens.
You then exit the border post by climbing down another 11 steps, hauling your baggage about 100 metres across the unmarked physical border nd walking into the Chinese Immigration and Customs post. No steps!
Here you are required to complete some forms so have a pen handy. One of them is a Departure Card, take one, which is handy to complete at your leisure before leaving China. After form-filling you have to line up behind a yellow line to wait for immigration waiting for the totally humourless officers.
If you thought you had seen bureaucracy on the Vietnamese side, you are about to witness even more. The writer had a staple in his passport which had held a Vietnamese form and the Chinese immigration officer spent about two minutes trying to learn what the staple was for! The minute inspection is repeated - as if anyone wants to escape into China - edges of passport pages, passport page stitching, etc. They also subject passports disctretely to an ultra-violet light and a chemical sniffer.
Caution: Your activities, body language, etc. are closely observed by separate immigration officers and on TV cameras.
Following immigration procedures you have to load your baggage into another X-ray machine. Seemingly this machine is unmanned as the writer was carrying a small satellite dish, electronics equipment and tools that caused no excitement.
After leaving the Immigration and Customs another bus, up a small hill past the old Friendship Gate (the border has been realigned to the south) to the Chinese bus. Toilets and snack dispensers are inside the old Gate on the Chinese side.
After boarding the Chinese bus, and occupying the seat number used in the Vietnamese bus, you are presented with a bottle of water and a can of tasty vegetarian rice juk (rice porridge) and after about 2 hours of uneventful highway travel the bus arrives at crowded NanNing < www.nanning.gov.cn/index.htm >,stopping first at the Rail Station and then the NanNing LangDong Bus Station,186 Minzu Dadao Avenue, NanNing (BUS ROUTES 6, 25, 42, 45,52, 206 and 213)(note carefully - there are at least 6 bus stations in NanNing < www.nanning.gov.cn/2453/list.htm >). Map: < www.robsnanningsite.com/nanningmap.html >)
If anyone asks about how you are getting to China, just say by bus to NanNing - it has no real significance as you can enter by one of three routes.
In any event, if you want to go to KunMing, YunNan you can't by a rail ticket until you get to Ha Noi (single to Lao Cai) then walk across to HeiKou and hit the ATM just over the bridge FIRST before heading over to the bus station to the left side (from the bridge).
KEEP ATM RECEIPTS as you will need them to exchange any leftover RMB/Yuan back into hard currency.
THIEVES prowl buses, trains and terminals. Put your shoes in a plastic bag and sleep with them. Keep your bags locked.
Stations are VERY RISKY for thieves and pickpockets - with the police helping them.
#2 CatBa has been a member since 5/3/2007. Posts: 349
Stations are VERY RISKY for thieves and pickpockets - with the police helping them.
Stations are VERY RISKY for you, as thieves and pickpockets are very active - with the police helping them.
#3 CatBa has been a member since 5/3/2007. Posts: 349
Lo, in hanoi at the moment and I came from China some while ago, I was here a week or two ago right after the Visa changes in China, I can confirm that at that time the Consulate here was denying Visa's to anyone who didn't have tickets and accomodation in China, infact I met one couple who had all the above and were still refused, that was literally the day after the change tho. At any rate I'm not sure what the situation is at the moment, I will ask around, probably the local trave agents have a better chance than you on your own.
p.s. As an interesting aside, I've been through Chinese immigration about 4-5 times in the past year or so and never been stopped, two of those times there was an american behind me (I'm british) each time the american was stopped and had their luggage looked over with a fine toothcomb. I've heard from this from a couple of other americans as well that they had their luggage searched.
I suspect there might be some sort of a policy going on there.
#4 dageshi has been a member since 1/3/2008. Posts: 56
I ended up getting my visa in Singapore, after booking a cheap hostel, which I plan on cancelling, and also reserved but never paid for a flight. I got the visa no problem. Am a bit worried about crossing into China...I'm sure I will make it through but am expecting a bit of a hassle.
#5 dmalling has been a member since 16/4/2008. Posts: 2
Four of my employees and a partner have just arrived in Ha Noi and are travelling to NanNing tomorrow.
By using Kim Lien bus you are assured of a seat as they just keep on adding buses until seats outnumber the bums. One 'convoy' just before Tet has 11 buses going to NanNing!
Visas are issued based on CN databases and if someone has protested, such as for Falun Gung, outside an embassy or consul, and they have names or pictures similar to a visa applicant there might be problems.
You will find the bus a breeze - subject to para 2.
REMEMBER: If you have a guidebook that shows TaiWan as an INDEPENDENT COUNTRY (different colour from China on a map) either tear the map out or tear the covers off and then deep six it in your underwear. China is very touchy about TaiWan as BeiJing still thinks it is part of China.
#6 CatBa has been a member since 5/3/2007. Posts: 349