What you need to know for a vacation to China

What you need to know for a vacation to China

China is the world’s most populous country and one of the largest as well. Consequently it features a wide variety of cultures and geography, allowing for a wide range of vacation activities. Since the country is ruled by a single party system, many aspects of daily living that Westerners take for granted are simply not available in China. Despite its authoritarian nature, China is hospitable to visitors, but you should plan your trip well before coming to China so you don’t run into any surprises. For example, travel to certain areas in China, such as Tibet, are prohibited without gaining special permission first. Nevertheless, with a near infinite variety of sights and activities, China provides an excellent opportunity for international travelers to immerse themselves in a culture that stretches back millennia.   Getting in and out   In addition to a passport which will remain valid for at least six months, in order to gain entry into China, you need to apply for a visa that is specific to your travel intentions. The general tourist visa is known as an L visa. With it, you are allowed entry into China for the duration stated on the visa, for the maximum amount of up to a year.   Visas are single entry visas meaning that once you leave China, that visa is voided and you cannot re-enter China without applying for a new visa. This is particularly important if you plan to travel to Hong Kong or Macau. For purposes of visa travel, these are considered international entities. If you do want to travel to Hong Kong from mainland China and be able to get back into China, you will need a multiple entry visa. You can request this when you apply for your visa; however, double check your visa because Chinese embassies and consulates do not always follow through on requests for maximum time or multiple entry. The current fee for a tourist visa for Americans is $140.   In addition to your valid passport and visa, you will need to register your presence with local authorities. If you are staying in a hotel that caters to foreign travelers, you can request the appropriate paperwork to accomplish this through the hotel. They will often do the legwork of registering you with the local authorities for you. If you stay at a private residence, you will have to register your...

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