// China Visa and Extensions

This could get complicated! As with all the other visa info on this website, visa requirements change regularly. As much as we wanted (want) a 90 day China visa, it’s pretty bloody awkward trying to arrange this once you’ve left your home country. To sum it up, we got a 30 day visa from an agency in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, and are planning to renew it when we get to China. You can renew a tourist visa for two lots of 30 days.

Here are the other current options –

1.Apply at home

where it’s possible to get up to a 90 day tourist visa. The main problem with this is that you have 30 days to enter China from the visa issue date; pretty useless if you’re traveling overland. If you’re British you can go through several London based agencies, here are some we Googled: www.5starchinatravel.com, www.chinesevisadirect.co.uk, http://www.scottsvisas.co.uk/, www.benmar-ltd.co.uk.

2. Do it yourself

on your way to China: Turkey, Iran, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan etc… Tashkent/Uzbekistan used to be the main place to get China visas on your way East. We’ve heard mixed reports from other cyclists over the last month or so. We met a Dutch couple who made reservations for flights into and out of China as well as hotel bookings for an entire 90 days (and subsequently cancelled them as soon as they printed the booking receipts, therefore not having to pay anything), through bookings.com. The whole applications was accompanied with a detailed Excel spreadsheet to boot. They also had to show proof that they had a decent sum of dosh in their bank accounts. We’re not sure how much they paid, but I guess the point is that they got their 90 day visas in the end. We’ve also spoken to other people in our hostel (Sakura Guesthouse. Good and pretty cheap) who tried applying directly to the embassy in Bishkek. It seems many people came across a range of irritating problems preventing them obtaining visas; incorrect passport photo size (by a milimetre!), no beards allowed (seriously), no-one answering the door of the embassy, no-one speaking any English… the list goes on.

3. Send your passport home

We considered sending our passports from Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, to one of the agencies in London. Most of the agencies we emailed said they would be happy to arrange the visas and post the passports back to us in Bishkek. From Bishkek you could use either FEDEX or DHL. FEDEX told us it would cost about $100 to send two passports their and back, taking approximately five working days each way. Although the London agencies all said it would probably be possible to get 90 day visas we decided it would take too long and end up costing too much money.

4. The way we did it

We heard about three different agencies hear in Bishkek who could arrange the visas for us. We went with Baima Tourist Company. $150 for a single entry 30 day tourist visa. It took seven working days, including both the application and pick-up days. The girl who helped us was very friendly, spoke perfect English, and even guaranteed that the Chinese Embassy would issue our visas without problem. Not sure how she could do this as the other two companies (below) suggested that there’s always a possibility of refusal.

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Baima Tourist Company (see above map and photo)
Karina Serikovna
+996 312 610329


These are the other two options -

Kyrgyz Concept.
+996 312 90 32 32 visa@concept.kg www.concept.kg

Miss. Liu. Ten day service is $130. Five day service $150. $250 for US citizens.
+996 772 128759


Visa Extensions

Extension 1, Lanzhou

Public Security Bureau
482 Wudu Lu

8.30 -11.30am & 2.30 – 5.30pm
Monday – Friday

The visa office is on 2nd floor (the ‘Chinese’ 2nd floor, ie: not the ground floor but the next one up).

A 30 day extension cost us 165 CNY including 5 CNY administration fee per person.

We didn’t need to take passport photos as they take digital photos in the office and print them directly on the application forms. Each photo cost 35 CNY.

We made the application at about 9.30am (no real questions asked and didn’t have to show any proof of income or bank balance etc…). We were then told to come back two days later. After a little charm application it was agreed we could pick up the extensions at 4.30pm the following day.

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Public Security Bureau, Lanzhou


Extension 2, Leshan

3rd Floor
Government Affairs Service Center of Leshan
548 Fenghuang

Forgot to check opening times, but I guess they’re similar to the other government offices –
8.30 -11.30am & 2.30 – 5.30pm
Monday – Friday

The Exit and Entry Administration Service office is on 2nd floor (the ‘Chinese’ 2nd floor, ie: not the ground floor but the next one up) of a massive office building opposite the Xing Bang Hotel. The girl who dealt with our application spoke good English. Again, no questions asked about what we were doing, how much money we’ve got etc… A 30 day extension cost 160 CNY per person. The extension started from the day we applied, not the end of our existing extension… we did ask, but were politely told that’s the way it’s got to be done. We applied at about 10am and picked them up the following day at 4pm. Both our first and second extensions are full page stickers in our passports, so make sure you’ve got room. Take one passport photo each.

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Exit and Entry Administration Service Center of Leshan Public Security Bureau


Check out the ‘China Visa Extensions’ thread on the Lonely Planet’s Thorn Tree website for more tips and information..