Visa Explanation: What are Visas?

A woman stressing over a computer, probably applying for a visa.

If you’ve never traveled before and don’t have a passport, travel to a country that requires a visa can be a long and confusing process. Even if you’ve had a passport, especially an American one, most countries do not require a visa so finally needing to obtain one can rattle one’s brain. First off, what even is a visa and why do you need one for some countries but not others? A visa is essentially a country’s government allowing you into the country. You need a visa to travel to countries which may have an unstable relationship with your country of origin. For example, ongoing tension between nations which once heavily leaned towards Communism (think China, Russia, Vietnam) all require US citizens to obtain visas to enter. Likewise, all citizens originating from the three aforementioned nations must obtain a visa to enter the USA.

Luckily, most countries do not require a visa to visit if you hold a US passport, and even some countries that do will allow you to apply for a visa on arrival. Regardless, when you do need a visa the shock of finding out can ruin a trip, especially if you don’t find out until the day you depart. Most airlines will allow you to book a trip to a country that requires a visa without having you confirm whether or not you hold a valid visa. This leads to situations where people book trips that they cannot attend due to not being aware of the necessity to obtain a visa!

What Countries Require Visas and Where Can You Apply?

As mentioned above, the list of countries that require visas change depending on your country of origin. We’ll be focusing on countries that require visas for US citizens though, in particular we’ll be looking at visas you’ll have to apply before arriving in the country. To begin, here’s a list of every country that requires a visa for entry for those entering with a US passport:

  • Afghanistan
  • Algeria
  • Angola
  • Australia
  • Azerbaijan
  • Benin
  • Bhutan
  • Burundi
  • Cameroon
  • Chad
  • China
  • Congo
  • Cuba
  • Democratic Republic of Congo
  • Eritrea
  • Gabon
  • Ghana
  • India
  • Iran
  • Iraq
  • North Korea
  • Liberia
  • Libya
  • Mali
  • Myanmar
  • Nauru
  • Niger
  • Nigeria
  • Oman
  • Pakistan
  • Russia
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Sierra Leone
  • Somalia
  • South Sudan
  • Sri Lanka
  • Sudan
  • Syria
  • Turkey
  • Turkmenistan
  • Uganda
  • Uzbekistan
  • Venezuela 
  • Vietnam
  • Yemen

A notable exemption from the list is Brazil, which recently waived visa requirements for US citizens. Applying for a visa varies from country to country. Some countries, such as India and Australia offer the option to apply online, which can take a few days. Other countries such as Nigeria require you to apply directly at their embassy and get your bio-metrics taken at a nearby facility. In the case of Nigeria, you don’t even have the option of applying through a third-party. Consequently, this means you’ll need to be physically present.

This rule does not hold true for all visa. China and Russia, two of the most visited countries on the list, allow you to apply with third-party services. These private couriers can greatly reduce the headache of the entire application process. While this does incur an additional cost on top of the base visa application fee, it does save you time and money.

How Can Third-Party Services Save You Time and Money

A Jurisdiction Map for the Chinese Consulates in the US.

So, how can applying through a third-party courier service will save you money on your visa? It’s a good question, one would think that doing everything yourself would be the most optimal way of applying as it gives you full control of the process. This isn’t always the case though. Unless the country allows you to apply for your visa online, you’ll most likely have to make a trip to the nearest consulate or embassy which might not even be in your state!

Let’s use China as our example. There are several Chinese Consulates dotting the United States, but you may only apply to the consulate that serves your jurisdiction, your jurisdiction is determined by the state which issued your driver’s license (or state ID). You can find a jurisdiction map for US citizens above. Let’s say you live in Utah, while the consulates in Texas, San Francisco, or LA may be closer to you geographically, you’ll still be required to apply out of the Embassy in DC because of where you dwell. As a result, third party couriers can come in hand.

A private courier is registered with the consulate and may take the application to the consulate on your behalf. Couriers are also permitted to pick up your application once it has been completed. Because of this, they are able to ship it to you using their preferred method of shipping. So while you may be paying a bit extra for shipping and courier fees, you save yourself a trip to the Consulate to drop off your application, as well as the return trip to pick it up. 

Do I Need a Passport to Apply for a Visa?

In most cases you will need a valid passport to apply for a visa. The reason why is because your passport information will be registered with the country you are entering with in order to obtain your visa. Not only this but, assuming you won’t be applying for your visa online, you’ll have to submit your physical passport. This does mean that if your passport is expired or if you are out of valid passport pages, you’ll need to either apply for a new passport or a passport renewal. 

If you don’t have a passport at all and are traveling to a country that requires a visa this does mean you’ll need to acquire a new passport as well as applying for a visa. Depending on how you go about obtaining the passport and which country you intend to visit, this process could take upwards of a month.

How Do I Get Started?

If you don’t want to wait a month for your passport, you can always apply with us, here at The Passport Office. We offer professional private courier services that allow us to get you your passport in as quickly as one day depending on your situation. You can apply online, or visit one of our many offices across the nation to get your application started today.

Likewise, we offer many visa services over at Visa Service Department, and we offer specialty services with China Visa Department. As veterans in the travel documentation industry, we offer you secure passport-to-visa services with some of the lowest rates in the business. Our offices offer both passport and visa services, so give us a call, visit us online, or stop by in person to inquire about what you’ll need to travel or to get the process started today.

Hong Kong Riots and What You Can Do to Travel Safely

Facade of claustrophobic Hong Kong apartments

If you’ve been keeping an eye on the news you may be aware of a recent slew of riots that have been sweeping through the city of Hong Kong. The riots began as an extradition bill was introduced to the Hong Kong legislature which would allow the government of mainland China to extradite convicts from Hong Kong to the mainland. The reason why this issue is so hot is because of the implications it poses for Hong Kong’s future sovereignty.


For those not in the know of how Hong Kong functions and operates, the city used to belong to the United Kingdom. Even to this day many in Hong Kong still speak English, and entry does not require a visa which makes it a great gateway to visit Asia for the first time without going through all the rigmarole usually involved in a trip to mainland China. In 1997 the government of the UK handed over the ownership of the island to the PRC (People’s Republic of China) with the exception that Hong Kong would be allowed to self govern itself for the next 50 years. This means that in 2047 the border between mainland China and Hong Kong will be dissolved and the city will be expected to fully integrate into mainland Chinese culture and politics.

What Could This Imply For Residents of Hong Kong

2047 may seem like a far off date, however some of those who dwell in Hong Kong, we’ll call them Hong Kongers, have been noticing the gradual shift away from their generally Democratic system of governance for sometime now. The extradition bill to many Hong Kongers seems like another step towards their city’s independence being full striped away as intended. The bill would naturally allow the PRC to try criminals in their own court rather than allowing Hong Kong’s judicial system to bear the burden. This is a major issue as the PRC’s judicial system is often viewed as corrupt, unjust, and often cruel to those who find themselves accused. Just as recently as 2013, mainland China’s conviction rate was 99.9 percent, which means that if you stood accused of a crime you’d more than likely have to face the sentence.

What’s more is that certain things are legal in Hong Kong are illegal just a few miles away in Shenzhen. Things such as distribution of books or media which may disrupt the harmony or trust in the Communist Party, novels such as Animal Farm are banned. This means that those who operate book stores in Hong Kong are under close scrutiny from mainland officials, especially with recent attempts to smuggle books to mainland China.

What Does This Mean for You?

With all this historic context in mind you can see why the riots have involved hundreds of thousands, and even millions, of Hong Kongers have been marching in protest. However, what does this mean for those traveling to Hong Kong or mainland China? Well, be wary and stay out of the way of any protests if you are already in Hong Kong. While the protesters won’t do any harm to you, the real threat is being mistaken as a protestor when a fight breaks out between rioters and police or even worse masked gangs who have been targeting rioters.

If you plan on traveling to Hong Kong be wary that protests have taken to the airport in some cases lead to flight cancellations. It may be wiser simply to enter Hong Kong via the bridge between Shenzhen and Hong Kong. While this may require that you obtain a Chinese Visa, it does let you skip out on the possibility of losing a flight. Be warned however, military convoys do seem to be traveling via the road from Shenzhen to Hong Kong frequently nowadays, and military demonstrations are common place as shows of force by the PRC. During days when demonstrations are occurring, expect some major streets to be closed which may slow down commute times.

Ultimately the safest thing to do would be to avoid going to Hong Kong all together. If you plan on going despite the ongoing situation then exhibit great caution with where and when you go out. Keep in mind that governments the world over have been issuing notices to their citizens to avoid protest demonstration locations. These locations are the most likely place where you can expect to find danger during a stay in Hong Kong. If you can manage avoided marches, protests, demonstrations, or any other political event happening, you should be able to enjoy your trip unscathed. We cannot recommend participating in the riots based on the treatment protesters have been receiving by Hong Kong police.

Alternatives to Hong Kong

Macao Skyline by day

While the protests may be slowing down travel, don’t let that stop you from visiting the rest of Asia. If you want a city in a similar flavor to Hong Kong without having to worry about a random march blocking your passage to that coffee shop you just heard about, remember that Macao isn’t far off and also does not require a visa for entry. Even mainland China is relatively unaffected by the riots, aside from the military convoys you may see here and there heading south. 

If you do plan on heading to China you’ll be expected to acquire a China Visa which can take at minimum 4 days to acquire, this can be a pretty complicated process if you’ve never applied for a visa before, but let us worry about that. When you work with China Visa Department, we guarantee fast and professional handling of your China visa application. Not only will we make sure that your application is delivered securely to the Consulate of your jurisdiction, we’ll keep an ear to things to make sure the information you get is as up-to-date as can be.


Regardless of whether you visit Hong Kong or mainland China, you’ll be needing a passport in order to leave the country and eventually reenter. If you don’t already have a passport and plan to travel soon, now is the time to apply. With The Passport Office you can have a new passport in your hands in as little as two business days. We’ll walk you through all necessary steps required as well as providing you with our expert consulting which

China Visa Application Errors Cause Delays

Someone filling out a china visa application by hand.

Applying for a china visa is already enough of a headache, but there are small details that can bring a whole new realm of complexity to the process if you aren’t careful. Like any country permitting foreigners to enter, the government of China doesn’t want to let any potential risks slip through the cracks so they tend to be strict. Some of these rules may seem esoteric or even ridiculous, so let’s take a look at some of them and dissect why they exist and how you can avoid them.

Blacklisted Countries

Chances are that if you’re making the trip to China you’ve probably been to other countries around the world. While this is not usually an issue, the government of China takes issue if you’ve been to certain parts of the world. Most of these countries tend to be middle-eastern nations that have recently experienced a certain level of unrest, countries such as Afghanistan and Libya. Some countries that make the blacklist are pretty strange though…

France is the number one tourist destination in the world, particularly for the Chinese who swarm to France’s capital throughout the year. Despite this fact, China has issues with the country of France due to an anti-Tibetan occupation demonstration which took place in France during the 2008 Chinese Olympic games. Since this event, all French citizens must apply for China visas in person as they must willingly submit themselves for an interview.

 If you’ve been to France and have a stamp in your passport to prove it, you’re best off submitting a letter along with your application explaining why you went to France. This goes for any other country on the blacklist, if you’ve got a stamp in your passport go ahead and explain why you went via letter. Your visa process won’t be delayed if you preemptively submit explanation, but if you fail to initially you’ll be required to ship in a letter of explanation. Getting your application suspended by the Consulate or Embassy essentially resets the timer on your visa. If you were quoted a 4 day turn around but were forced to send in materials, go ahead and add an extra day of processing time for shipping plus another 4 days to get that visa turned around. Needless to say, check your stamps and make sure you submit a letter if you’ve been to any of the below:

  • Afghanistan
  • Bangladesh
  • Congo
  • Egypt
  • France
  • Ghana
  • Haiti
  • Iran
  • Iraq
  • Israel
  • Kazakhstan
  • Kyrgyzstan
  • Lebanon
  • Libya
  • Mali
  • Nigeria
  • Pakistan
  • Russia
  • Sri Lanka
  • Tajikistan
  • Turkey
  • Ukraine
  • Uzbekistan

Certain Professions

Journalists in many cases have a tough time when applying for chinese visas.

The Chinese Government is wary of some individuals who work in certain fields. For example, if you are a religious worker you may have issues with getting a standard visa, especially if it appears that you’re going to be doing any missionary work while you are in China. If it’s the case that you are a religious missionary and ARE going to China to spread the good news you can expect to be called in for an interview, you may even be asked specifically not to fulfill any missionary duty as leverage for entering the country.

It’s not just religious officials that China visas come hard to, federal government officials who are high ranking enough may raise red flags at the Consulate/Embassy. Again, if you hold a high ranking government position and list it on your application do not be surprised when you are called in for a  brief interview. 

Finally on the list of professions to avoid if you plan on entering China is anything related to the entertainment industry. Whether you work in the news or your just a blogger on YouTube, working in media scares Chinese officials. You may not be called in for an interview however, there’s a special form specifically for those who hold media positions that can get you past the application process without a hassle. The form essentially has the individual declare that they won’t document anything while they are in China and that if they do it won’t be in a disparaging way against the country or the communist party. While this form will get you a china visa without an interview, Chinese border patrol still reserve the right to deny you entry based on your vocation, be warned.

China Visa Application Errors

The china visa application itself offers a myriad of questions to those who are filling it out. The most common mistakes on the application are typically forgetting to fill out the application in all caps OR forgetting to put ‘N/A’ in spaces that do not apply to you. Besides these beginner mistakes, there are some other seemingly insignificant errors that you can make your application process hell. For example, claiming that your unemployed on your application is generally fine, however if you claim to be unemployed but also claim to be funding your own trip to China the consulate/embassy may inquire as to how you are affording this trip with your current job status. Instead of checking unemployed it’s preferable to check ‘retired’ or if you are yet to retire, simply state that someone else (such as a parent or spouse) is funding the trip.

Other issues on a china visa application that can slow you down your visa process include misspelling names or checking the incorrect box for your gender. To keep things simple make sure that all the information on the application lines up with the information provided on your government IDs. If your name on your passport and Driver’s License don’t match up completely, remember that there is a field provided on the Chinese Visa Application for your ‘other known names’.

Time to Apply for Your China Visa

Now that you’ve learned what it takes to whip up a masterful Chinese Visa Application without making any glaring mistakes, it’s time to apply. If you don’t live near one of the Chinese Consulates around the USA it can be hard to get your application started, in some cases people will driver hours to their nearest consulate. Instead of driving and bleeding precious time, just work with us at China Visa Department. We make the process easy by helping you assemble your application as well as taking care of all courier services. Get your China Visa in as little as 4 business days when you work with us.

If you are in need of a passport as well make sure to check us out at The Passport Office as well. Our private passport expediting services have been providing travelers with fast and secure expedited passports for over 20 years. Apply now and get your passport application started with the peace of mind knowing that trained professional will be guiding you every step of the way.

11 “Touristy” Places to Visit in China

China is one of the world’s most visited locations for a number of reasons, the culture, the food, the history, and the incredible landmarks that make China unique. If it’s your first trip to China there is no doubt you’ll want to hit up all of the famous tourist attractions we have all seen in so many photos and movies. Before you can begin your journey, make sure you have a China tourist visa. Keep reading to find out all you need to know about a China visa for US citizens, and how to get a visa for China. Plus, be sure to check out the top 11 places not to be missed.

Let’s dive in and explore the most popular spots China has to offer. Before you can begin, be sure your China tourist visa is in order and learn how to get a visa for China down below. 

1. The Great Wall of China 

Once you have your China tourist visa, it’s time to board your flight. Of course, the Great Wall had to be number one on the list. When many of us think of touristy places in China, our minds go straight to the Great Wall of China. While this is a sight not to be missed, be prepared for big crowds, but don’t let that stop you from visiting this iconic landmark. 

2. The Forbidden City

In the heart of China, lies the Forbidden City, constructed in 1420, during the early days of the Ming Dynasty. It’s not only China’s best-preserved palace but also the largest ancient structure in the world. Soak up the rich history of the ancient Chinese culture while viewing some of the most beautiful sights the country has to offer. It’s 961 meters long, and on average, people usually spend about 2 to 3 hours there. There is no time limit, you can spend all day in the Forbidden City if you wish. 

3. Jiuzhaigou

Often described as a real-life fairytale, because of the magical waterfalls, snow-covered mountains, and the crystal clear water that you can see right to the bottom. Seek tranquility in this stunning area, also home to the giant pandas. The park is quite large and with a large number of daily visitors you may not get lucky enough to see a panda, but then again, maybe it will be your lucky day. Keep reading to find out where you will be guaranteed to see one of these lovable bears. 

4. Yangshuo

If you are looking to meet other travelers on your trip, check out Yangshuo. It draws tons of visitors due to its laid back atmosphere. Go on a hike, make new friends, and stay in a cheap place all within Yangshuo. This is best for solo travelers, or people traveling in groups of 2 or 3. 

5.  Shanghai

The largest and most developed city in China has been the setting for countless movies and photo shoots. Located in East China with a skyline to rival those of NYC, their skyscrapers, luxury hotels, and shopping malls make for a luxurious vacation. The best place to go for a walk at night is at the Bund, the colonial riverfront along the Huangpu River. See the Oriental Pearl TV Tower, and the Sprawling Yu Garden. While it may be busy, this futuristic city is not to be passed up. 

6. Guilin

Dubbed as one of the most beautiful places on earth, Guilin is just one hour west from Hong Kong by air. So, if you are already in Hong Kong, a tour can be easily added to your trip. While there the Li River is not to be missed, this stunning river is home to some of the most beautiful hiking trails on the planet. A helicopter view of the Li River will give you an exclusive bird’s eye view of the stunning waters. While there be sure to taste some local teas and try some of the traditional foods. 

7. The Terracotta Army in Xi’an

For over 2,000 years, the Terracotta Army has been hiding underground. It wasn’t until 1974 that farmers digging a well, accidentally discovered one of the greatest archaeological sites in the world. What makes this place so unique, is the hundreds of life-size models with intricate details to represent the army that won against the other Chinese armies during 475-221 BC. This is your only chance to come face to face with the warriors of the past. Grab your China visa for US citizens and start packing.

8. Giant Pandas in Chengdu

These furry friends are not to be missed, the lovable pandas are native to China, and their distinct black and white fur is what makes these bears stand out from all the others. Chengdu is also home to the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding, a non-profit research and breeding facility for giant pandas and other endangered animals. Unfortunately, these beautiful creatures are becoming more and rarer, but thanks to organizations like theirs, we may be able to save them. It’s crucial for us to do what we can to help, and donations to wildlife foundations are always greatly appreciated, we have to be the voice for these animals.

9.  Gardens of Suzhou

Built by the Ming Dynasty in 1522, Suzhou is west of Shanghai in Jiangsu Province. The city is famous for its stunning gardens, rivers, and canals. Some even have dubbed it as the “Venice of the Orient.” Just an hour on the bullet train from Shanghai and you will be surrounded by the stunning gardens and foliage of Suzhou. While there, be sure to take long walks and enjoy the scenery, a boat ride along the canal, and visit one of their many restaurants for a delicious meal. 

10. Mount Huangshan 

This UNESCO World Heritage site is a once in a lifetime trek for many Chinese citizens and tourists. Also known as “Mount Yellow” has incredible rock formations and hot springs. Be sure to have your cameras ready when you head out here, you will want to capture the beauty of the mountain. This is perfect for those who like to be outdoors and explore nature in a whole new way. 

11. Summer Palace

Since 1750 the Summer Palace has been in the Qing Dynasty. Today, many people flock to the stunning gardens and palaces in Beijing to see these incredible structures. Most of this area is actually covered by water, some of the most beautiful lakes in the world can be found at the Summer Palace. 

China tourist visa

Looking into how to get a visa for China? First, know that a China visa for US citizens is a necessity, and without a China tourist visa, entrance into the country will be denied. A China tourist visa is an extension on your passport and usually lasts for 10 years. Although your China tourist visa will last a decade, if you stay in the country for more than 60 days at a time, you may be required to leave and come back. A China visa for US citizens may have different laws and regulations than a China tourist visa from other countries.

Keep reading to find out how to get a Visa for China, and learn about all the requirements for a China tourist visa for US citizens. 

China visa for US citizens 

Whether you are traveling to China for business or pleasure, a China visa for US citizens is a necessity. A China tourist visa will be granted within a few weeks after applying. Keep reading to find out how to get how to get a visa for China.

While there are multiple ways of how to get a visa for China, the easiest and most pain-free is by using a China visa service. A service like chinavisadepartment.com will make the process of obtaining your China tourist visa quick and easy. A China visa for US citizens will be granted after the proper paperwork is filled out, and this can all be done simply online. 

Always remember:

  • Apply for your China tourist visa in advance
  • A China visa for US citizens is a necessity
  • How to get a visa for China? A service is always recommended
  • Make a copy of your China tourist visa
  • Your China tourist visa will expire after 10 years
  • You can exit and enter multiple times on the same China tourist visa

What NOT to Pack when Traveling to China

What NOT to Pack when Traveling, You just applied for your new passport and you’re ready to travel to China. Remembering to bring your new passport and valid visa with you on your trip is not the only thing you need to think of, though. You also have to remember what NOT to bring.

Traveling to China

What NOT to Pack when Traveling to China, Whether you’re going for vacation, you’re visiting for work. Or you’re going back to your homeland to spend time with family, traveling to China can be a fantastic adventure.

To help ensure that your trip goes smoothly, you should carefully inspect your luggage before you go. While it’s essential to make sure you remember all the important things that you do need – such as your new passport, comfortable shoes, and select accessories – it’s also vital to make sure you leave some other things behind. If your luggage has any of these objects, you’ll want to be sure to fish them out before you leave.

Anything Expensive or Valuable

While you may have some possessions that mean a lot to you, and hold quite a bit of sentimental value, they have no place in your suitcase. What NOT to Pack when Traveling If you’re traveling to China, it’s best to leave anything expensive, valuable, or heirloom behind.

Not only does bringing flashy, expensive items (such as a designer watch or fancy jewelry) increase the risk of you being a victim of theft, it would be especially tragic if you lost them on your trip. Unnecessary, expensive electronics should also be removed from your suitcase before you depart for your trip to China. To be safe, it’s best to just keep your priceless possessions at home.

Inappropriate Clothing

A trip to China is neither the time nor the place to experiment with risky fashion. Depending on the time of year that you visit, you may experience a huge variety of weather patterns, too. To fully prepare yourself for your visit to China, you’ll want to forego any insensible, impractical, and disrespectful clothing.

Skimpy

Anything overly casual, skimpy, or impractical should also be omitted. Dressing excessively poorly can quickly attract negative, unwanted attention and raise your risk of an unpleasant encounter with locals.

Some tourist attractions have dress codes (such as temples or other historic places), so you’ll want to make sure you respect these cultural expectations, too. Sensible and modest clothes are ideal for Chinese travel.

CBD (Cannabidiol)

What NOT to Pack when Traveling ! Many people have started taking cannabidiol (CBD) for their general health and wellbeing. Studies have shown that CBD is excellent for a wide array of health concerns.

People have been taking it to help improve a large number of conditions, ranging from insomnia to chronic pain and even epilepsy. While CBD is completely legal in the United States, it is outright forbidden in China. To avoid getting your CBD confiscated, and to prevent yourself from getting arrested. It’s best to leave the CBD at home.

Your Toiletries

There’s a common and somewhat offensive misconception that China is a dirty, backwoods country. This could not be further from the truth! Depending on the part of China that you choose to visit, you’ll find many fully stocked pharmacies, drug stores, and shopping centers.

Because China has all of the toiletries that you may need on your trip (including hair, face, and cosmetic supplies). It’s best to not bring your personal toiletries with you. Not only will they weigh your luggage down, they may not even make it past TSA, anyway. Wait until you land, then stock up on your personal hygiene needs when you get there.

What NOT to Pack when Traveling

Packing for a stay in China doesn’t have to be a stressful endeavor. By knowing what to pack, and what to skip, you can help ensure that you have smooth travels. Stick with sensible clothing, leave your CBD and valuable possessions at home, and be sure to grab your new passport (including your valid visa) before you head to the airport.

No matter the length of your trip to China, you can be sure that by following our practical advice, you’ll be prepared for your trip abroad. With your new passport in hand, and all inappropriate belongings left behind, the world is now your oyster – starting with a journey to China!

11 Places to Visit in China to Avoid Tourists

Are you trying to avoid crowds and the usual hustle and bustle of China while on your trip? We get it; sometimes you want to have a more intimate adventure without having a crowd of people at the same attraction. Check out our list of the top 11 places to visit to avoid massive crowds but still get the culture and experience you want out of China. Ditch your average China travel guide and head off the beaten path to see China in a whole new way. Keep reading to find out how to obtain your China tourist visa, what are the best China visa services, and how to start prepping for your once in a lifetime trip. 

China Tourist Visa

Before any great trip can begin, a China travel visa is in need. After all, without a China tourist visa, you won’t be granted entry into the country. All US citizens are required to obtain a China travel visa. In most cases, a China tourist visa will be valid for 10 years and allows for multiple entries on the same China travel visa. A China visa service is the recommended way to go about obtaining your China tourist visa. Bear in mind, your China tourist visa will be an extension on your passport, but having a copy of your China travel visa on hand during your stay is recommended. If you are traveling as a family, each member must have their own China tourist visa. Keep reading for guidance on how to choose the China visa service best for you. 

China Visa Service

To begin the process first find a China visa service near you, and start the application for your China tourist visa. While you can obtain a China travel on your own, when you chose a China visa service, the process is much more straightforward and user-friendly. Sites like, chinavisadepartment.com is one of the top China visa service sites, and they will guide you through the whole process of obtaining your China travel visa. In order to start the process for your China tourist visa, you must have all of the paperwork, like passport, travel documents, proof of hotel stay, and a valid license. The China visa service you choose will guide you through the process. Traveling with children? A China visa service will also help you obtain a China tourist visa for minors. 

When will I receive my China tourist visa?

If you decide to go with a China visa service, on average, you should expect to see have your China tourist visa within a couple of weeks. There are other options if you are on a tight schedule though, inform your China visa service provider that you need your China travel visa expedited, and with an additional fee, expect your China tourist visa within a couple of days. The same goes for members of the family, let your China visa service know of any minors in need of an expedited visa, and they will likely be able to assist.

11 Crowd Free Places to Visit

Is your China tourist visa ready to go, have you already found the best China visa service near you? Time to think about all the places you’ll go in this once in a lifetime trip. For those of you who like to stay away from the crowd check out these 11 destinations below while on your trip, for a totally unique travel experience. After you have your China travel visa ready to go, start packing! 

1.  Luoyang 

Luoyang is located on the Yellow River in Central China. It happens to be one of the least traveled ancient cities in China. Learn about Chinese history, religion, and culture on a day trip to this enchanting city. Stop by the Buddhist pagodas and see the tens of thousands of statues of Buddha. Learn about this ancient city right from the source, and explore what this beautiful city has to teach us all. Ask your hotel for directions, or have them assist in finding a bus route to the town. 

2. Kangding

The best city to emerge yourself in the Tibetan culture is this city located in the valley west of Sichuan province. In the past Kangling was used as a trading center between the Chinese and the Tibetans. The small city is full of history stunning scenery. 

Tip: Go in May during the Walking Around the Mountain Festival to see something truly unique. 

3. Shaxi Old Town

Located about two hours from the crowded city of Lijiang Old Town, Shaxi is a haven for those who wish to steer clear of the dense crowds. Most of the buildings have remained untouched in years, and paying a visit to this town is like going back in time. Life in Shaxi hasn’t changed much in the last hundreds of years. 

4. Tung Wan beach

Surf’s up at Tung Wan beach located on the island of Cheung Chau. Locals and tourists come here to catch some of the best waves in the turquoise waters and beautiful views. It’s even home the training center of an Olympic windsurfing champion who brought back Hong Kong’s first Olympic gold medal in 1996. 

5. Hui Hang Trail

Between Anhui and Hangzhou lies the Hui Hang Trail. This hiking trail is 15 kilometers and can be completed within two days at a leisurely pace. Wild forests and the Xiaoyao River are the highlights of this one of a kind trail. The best part, this little known destination is never overcrowded with tourists. 

6. Harbin

A tip for all the cold weather fans, visit China during the winter. In the northeastern city of Harbin you will find a snow and ice festival, actually the largest in the world, from December to February, every year. People flock to see the magnificent ice sculptures and statues made solely from snow and ice. 

7. Yunnan Stone Forest

The Stone Forest is located about 120 kilometers east of Kunming. Many of the trees in this forest resemble stone, giving it an unearthly feel. Since 2007, the forest has been a UNESCO world heritage site. On average, it takes 3 hours to walk through this magical forest, but no rush if you want to make it slower to enjoy more of the scenery, there is no time limit. 

8. Jilin

Another top destination for cold lovers, Jinlin is a little known city in Jilin Province, in the northeast region of China. This is ideal for those who enjoy cold weather and less crowded attractions. Feel one with nature and be surrounded by mountains and snow this winter wonderland, just be sure to pack extra warm clothing. 

9. Private Tours

All over the country, guests can book a private tour alone or with a small group of people. Experienced tour guides will take you and your group to places the general public does not know about. This is one of the best ways to get a more personal experience and avoid popular tourist traps. Look up different tour groups that offer a range of unique activities, and choose the one that best fits your needs. There are plenty of companies in the US and China offering private guided tours. 

10. Shangri-la 

Shangri-la is located in the Himalayan foothills and is 11,000 feet above sea level. Go hiking, biking, or explore jaw-dropping scenery. This non-crowded area is perfect for those looking to relax in the hot springs and get away from the crowds. They even offer guided tours through the foothills if you don’t want to travel solo. Grab a few travel partners or go solo, whatever your preference, this will be a hike you will never forget. Don’t forget to make sure you have extra film too, with some of the most beautiful scenery in China; you will want to take plenty of photos. 

11. Hohhot

Hohhot is a non-crowded area that will save you on hotels and flights. Sleep in one of the huts, and you have gone back in time. The grasslands are not to be missed, and try going in the fall to avoid as many crowds as possible. 

Bonus tips and tricks:

  • Don’t go to the tourist traps to avoid mass crowds
  • Traveling during the offseason will be cheaper
  • Always keep a copy of your China tourist visa on you
  • Your China travel visa will expire after 60 days of staying in the country
  • A new China travel visa is not required to re-enter the country
  • Use a China visa service to make the process of obtaining your China tourist visa simple

China visa services can help get your China tourist visa faster

What Not to Do In China (To Avoid Chinese Jail)

Is visiting China high up on your bucket list? More and more American tourists are flocking to China to see the wonders the beautiful country has to offer. If you are a US citizen, you may be wondering, do US citizens need a visa for China? Well, the answer is yes; all American citizens need a visa for China. The most commonly issued visa for American tourists is a 10 year China visa.

The natural beauty of China's rice fields. See this today when you receive your 10 year china visa!

Because all US citizens need a visa for China, before any trip can even begin, all US tourists entering the country must obtain a 10 year China visa, following all of the China visa requirements.

With so many incredible sites to see, food to eat, and people to meet, sometimes tourists forgo learning about China’s strict and occasionally unusual laws. While taking a photo, or reading a book may seem ordinary and innocent to a tourist coming from the US, doing it at the wrong time or place, or reading inappropriate material could result in jail time. Keep reading to find out what not to do in China to avoid ending up in a Chinese jail.

Entering and exiting China – What not to bring:

First, entering China without a valid 10 year China visa is illegal, and any persons entering the country without all of the China visa requirements will be turned away. Be aware at all times of what you have in your luggage. Above all, keep your baggage on you at all times to avoid it being tampered with. The following items are not allowed in China and being caught with any of these items may lead to serious consequences.

  • Recreational drugs: They may be legal where you come from, but China has a zero tolerance, and there are particularly harsh penalties for drug importation, including jail time.
  • Wildlife: Hopefully, you won’t be bringing any live critters back with you, but if you are found with a species of Chinese wildlife in your possession, the punishments are stiff.
  • Inappropriate reading material: Any books, magazines, or newspapers deemed less than favorable toward China or their government, may be confiscated. While you won’t end up in a cell for bringing an anti-government book on board your flight, it will most likely be thrown out. In extreme cases, the official can decide to turn you back from entering the country.
  • Ancient artifacts: While it’s quite unlikely you will get your hands on a genuine ancient relic if in any case you do, it’s punishable by law. China has strict laws prohibiting the exportation of antiques.

What not to do on your trip to China:

If you are coming from the states, there are some cultural differences, laws, and general rules which need to be abided by. Some seemingly innocent things that China has banned could result in jail time for unknowing tourists. Follow these guidelines to avoid ending up in a Chinese jail. Always remember, Chinese culture is quite different from what we are used to in the states, so while something may seem harmless to you, to a Chinese person it could be offensive. All US citizens need a visa for China, so, if an incident occurs and you’re are being questioned or detained for any reason, always keep all proper documentation readily available.

Gambling:

Under Chinese law, gambling is officially illegal. However, a number of different organizations participate in the act, like unofficial lotteries, and clandestine casinos. This is particularly risky for a US citizen to dabble in, with the language barrier and strict Chinese laws, anyone caught gambling may face serious jail time. Always keep a copy of your passport, 10 year China visa on your person at all times, and keep China visa requirements documents easily accessible.  

Enter restricted military areas:

While it could be an innocent mistake stumbling upon military establishments, without warning, you may run into an angry military officer. Sometimes military areas can pop up unexpectedly, without any warning signs in English, often not even warning signs in Chinese. If this does happen, simply let the army official know it was a mistake and try to be as polite as possible. Hopefully, they will be able to find someone to assist in English. You may be asked to show multiple forms of ID, such as your passport, driver’s license, and proof of your 10 year china visa.

Another rule to abide by here is do not under any circumstances point your camera at a military establishment in China. Instead, walk past as if you didn’t notice or see a thing. Taking photos could result in harsh repercussions. Walking past a military establishment can be explained as an innocent mistake, especially for unknowing guests, but taking pictures of a military area is a direct violation of Chinese law, and is commonly reinforced.

10 surprising things banned in China:

Despite its popularity in the States, the Big Bang Theory is banned in China!

While what’s on this list may not qualify for jail time, it’s interesting what the Chinese government deems unfit, did you ever think a TV show would be banned in the US, or how about your favorite social media platform? You won’t find any of the following items on the list below during your next trip to China.

  1. Facebook
  2. “The Big Bang Theory”
  3. Snapchat
  4. Movies about time travel
  5. Twitter
  6. Siblings (In 2016, a law passed only allowing two children per family)
  7. Pinterest
  8. Foreign Films
  9. E-Books
  10. Casinos

So, are you ready to fly yet? All US citizens need a visa for China, do you have your 10 year China visa prepared to go? Did you fill out all of the China visa requirements? Remember, China is an incredible country with so much to offer. When in Rome, do as the Romans do, right? Well, in China always be sure to respect their strong culture, follow their rules, as odd as they may seem, and show your appreciation for their country. Most US tourists don’t run into trouble as long as they abide by the country’s laws and regulations. Whether you’re traveling around town, hiking, sightseeing, or eating at a restaurant, having your 10 year China visa, passport, ID, and China visa requirement papers on you is always recommended.

What to do if you run into trouble?

Always remain calm when talking to any government officials and offer your remorse. Feel safe saying it was an honest mistake, and you did not know any better. Of course, educating yourself on all the ins and outs of Chinese law is always the smarter idea. So, before your trip grab a book or two on Chinese culture, their rules, and social norms to make your trip to China go as smoothly as possible. The amazing country has so much to offer, and by taking the necessary precautions, all US citizens traveling to China should not run into any trouble.

Bonus tips for your trip to China:

  • Bring a copy of your passport, and another form of ID
  • Bring a copy of your 10 year China visa
  • Take copies of all China visa requirement documents with you
  • Don’t let your 10 year China visa expire, if you need additional time or another 10 year China visa, you must leave the country to obtain a new one, by applying and filling out the China visa requirement forms
  • Always be polite and ask for assistance in English if you run into any issues with a Chinese government official

How to obtain a 10 year China visa:

All US citizens need a visa for China, and while the process may seem daunting, it’s actually quite routine and easy. Several visa expediting services can grant your 10 year China visa within a couple of weeks. If you are going with an online service, sites like chinavisadepartment.com make the process a breeze. Upon entering the website, you will be asked to choose which type of visa you require, all US citizens need a visa for China, and all tourists require a 10 year China visa. Following the quick guidelines on the site, you will be asked to fill out all China visa requirement forms and submit for approval. If for any reason, you are missing any of the China visa requirement forms, your 10 year China visa will be declined. Note that all tourists traveling to China without holding a 10 year China visa will be declined entry to the country.

When will I receive my 10 year China visa?

On average, once you fill out all of the China visa requirement forms, pay the 10 year China visa charge, and any other fees which may occur, your 10 year China visa should arrive within a couple of weeks. If for any reason not all of the forms were sent, or you are denied a visa, you may try again. However, each time you request a 10 year China visa, the process starts from scratch. Check out our FAQ for more info on obtaining a China visa.

Cultural Customs (US v China)

Is China your next destination? If so, you’re in for a treat. China is the oldest living civilization that still exists today and holds the record for the largest population. Home to some of the greatest wonders of the world, it’s no wonder China has people buzzing. With their rich history and a plethora of natives in the country, age-old customs and traditions are still practiced today. However, before you can begin your journey, getting a visa for China must be number one on your list. Some China visa requirement documents will need to be presented before a China visa can be issued, but don’t stress, the process is not as daunting as it sounds. Well, getting a visa for China was the easy part. Now, it’s time to start researching some unique facts about China that may surprise you. There are some major cultural differences between China and the United States. Educating yourself before your flight could save you some embarrassment while on your trip. Keep reading to find out may be a cultural norm for some, and a shock to others.

A westerner wandering around the crowded streets of China.

Top 10 Cultural Differences Between China and the United States

1. Dating – In China, marriage is not encouraged until the mid to late twenties. Not only that but dating is also discouraged for teenagers and young adults. American culture is much more relaxed in this regard, and dating is seen as a regular part of early adulthood and adolescent life. Some say Americans could potentially learn a thing or two about dating from the Chinese.

2. Confrontation – The Chinese people try to avoid confrontation at all costs in an effort to save face. In their culture, shouting causes both parties to lose face and can lead to permanent damage to any relationship. Americans, on the other hand, are more likely to be direct and literal, and sometimes view the way the Chinese solve problems confusing and frustrating. In business, Chinese colleagues will never go out of their way to prove a point, as it could embarrass their co-worker, but to Americans, the final outcome is more important than saving face for the other person.

3. Respect – Some might say Americans lack in this field and put more emphasis on themselves than on others. The opposite goes in Chinese culture, it is expected that respect is given to those all around, and their needs are met at each encounter. This goes for all aspects of their lives, whether it be with someone in a store, a bus driver, their family members or a boss. Everyone should be treated with the utmost honor, even more so if the person is an elder.

4. Treatment of senior citizens – In China, elders are held in great respect, both in business and in personal lives. It’s not uncommon in China to find families with several generations all under the same roof. Most of the time, children are expected to care for their elderly parents, and there are even laws requiring children to visit their parents regularly. The same respect goes in the workplace, you won’t find anyone ageist to older people in the business world in China; instead, they are celebrated and honored.

5. Time management – For most Americans, if a report is due on a Thursday, it means by the end of the day, the report should be on the boss’s desk. In China, that report can show up a few days later and no one would bat an eyelash. The same goes for meetings if a meeting is meant to commence at 4 pm, most Americans would be sure to be there at least a couple minutes before, however, the Chinese are notorious for having time as more of a suggestion than an absolute. This can prove to be quite difficult for any Americans traveling to China for a business meeting.

6. Personal space – With China being the most densely populated country in the world, it’s not a shock personal space is limited. Most Chinese are used to cramped transportation, massive crowds, and small living spaces. In China, it’s not considered rude or offensive to be physically close to a stranger, as it would be in the states. Some cities contain over 10 million residents, so the Chinese are quite used to living in close quarters with one another.

7. Honoring the dead – The Chinese are notorious in their respect and recognition for those in their family who have passed. Once a year, family members visit the gravesites for each of their ancestors to pay their respects. This contrasts American culture, mostly because the majority of Americans don’t know where their ancestors have been buried, due to immigration in the early years of the country. Since China’s culture is so much older, and immigration is uncommon, family members can trace their ancestors back for generations.

8. Tipping – Tipping is not customary in China in restaurants and other service industries. The Chinese take pride in being able to provide and take care of themselves, and while Americans see tipping as a nice gesture, it can be offensive to a Chinese person. For example, a waiter who received a tip in a restaurant may feel the diner left them extra money because they thought they were poor, even though it could have been an innocent mistake to an American guest.

9. Staring – While on your trip to China, you may expect to receive a few double takes or stares. In some parts of the country, visitors are still uncommon, and it creates curiosity for the residents. Don’t be shocked if they even take a photo without your permission, or ask to take a picture with you.

10. Gifts may be refused – If you try to give a Chinese person a present, it’s common they will refuse it up to three times. This is in an effort to show humbleness and gratuity to the gift giver.

There you have it! Are you excited for this once in a lifetime trip yet? After filling the China visa requirement paperwork is out of the way of getting a visa for China is a breeze. Within a few weeks, you can be experiencing all the wonders this exceptional country has to offer. Think of all the food you will taste, the sights you will see, and the places you’ll go! Check out our list below for a few extra bonus tips and tricks before your big trip.

Bonus Tips:

  • Getting a visa for China should be your top priority
  • Bring a copy of your valid passport/ID
  • Bring a copy of your China visa
  • Bring copies of all China visa requirement documents
  • Follow the cultural protocol
  • Use a translating app
  • Educate yourself on uncommon Chinese customs and traditions

What are the China visa requirements?

You'll need a passport to even begin the visa application, so make sure you have one!

The process of getting a China visa is easy, but to ensure your China visa is granted, make sure you have all of the following:

  1. Passport
  2. Passport Photo
  3. Drivers License
  4. Proof of Travel
  5. Hotel Confirmations

Getting a visa for China:

In order to obtain your China visa, a few China visa requirements must be filled out. If your passport is expiring within 6 months from the time your China visa is requested, you may need to renew your current passport before your China visa can be granted. Getting a visa for China doesn’t have to be a hassle, a number of top rated visa expediting services, like chinavisadepartment.com, are here to guide you throughout the entire China visa process. The goal of these expediting services is to make getting a China visa quick, painless, and hassle-free. After filling out all of the China visa requirements online, you may be asked to send in copies of photos, proof of travel, and accommodation receipts. If you have already received a China visa in the past, you will be asked to provide the original previous China visa. If you are traveling to China for business, additional China visa requirement documents may need to be provided in order to grant a China visa.

When will I get my China visa?

The whole process of getting a visa for China from start to finish is around 8-10 business days. However, if you are in need of your China visa sooner, priority services are available and getting a visa for China can be accomplished in as little as 3 business days, granted all of your China visa requirement documents are in order. The same goes for a business China visa, if all China visa requirements are met, the process can be completed in 2-3 business days.

Food to Try Once You Land in China!

No matter where you are or where you live, you’re probably familiar with Chinese food. Once you’ve attained a Chinese visa and entered China you may be wondering what the food is like. That’s what we’ll be answering today as we go over some of China’s more notable cuisine.

If you’re familiar with Chinese takeout, you may notice some of your favorite dishes appearing. If you’re not familiar with Chinese takeout… I’m not sure how you avoided becoming familiar your entire life, but kudos to you! Many of the core Chinese dishes are based around rice. Rice is so important to the Chinese diet that the word “rice” in Mandarin is also the same word for “food”. That being said, a lot of the dishes we’ll be talking about will either include or are typically eaten with a side of rice.

The Classics

The first thing you want to try after receiving your China Visa
Peking Duck

Peking Duck

Peking Duck was a dish that was previously reserved for China’s Emperors. Only the best ducks would have the honor of being roasted and served to China’s divine rulers. The dish is high in muscle and fat without being greasy, the skin is also very crispy thanks to the roasting process.


Nowadays you can purchase Peking Duck at many Chinese restaurants, mostly thanks to food becoming vastly cheaper as time has gone on. Beijing used to be called Peking, which is actually where the dish gets its name. Speaking of Beijing, it’s one of the best places to find this dish thanks to the cities history with the dish. Check out this article that explores some of the top restaurants serving Peking Duck in Beijing.

The Dumpling

The dumpling is kind of the ultimate finger food. Small, easy to prepare, and a variety of stuffing and dips available. Whether it be chicken, pork, beef, or even duck, you can probably get it inside a dumpling. Dumplings are one of the most popular foods in China, mostly for the reasons listed above.

Dumplings are also cheap and can be purchased at various street vendors or at restaurants. I like to think of the dumpling like we think of chicken nuggets here in the States: every place has them with their own special spin. ALSO, they’re rather easy to purchase in the frozen food aisle.

Spring Rolls

Spring rolls! Another iconic finger food from China, the spring roll is made by wrapping flour around an assortment of minced veggies and sometimes, even meat. Not to be confused with its more popular counterpart here in the USA, the egg roll, which is made very similarly to the spring roll except that the egg roll shell is made of flour and eggs (hence the “egg” in egg roll).


Spring rolls, much like dumplings, are readily available at supermarkets, street vendors, and restaurants of all kinds in China. Since they don’t contain any eggs in their shell and because they don’t need to contain meat, spring rolls are an option for the vegans out there.

Chow Mein

Chow mein is a delicious noodle dish that you’ll find mostly in Northern China. Popular at mom and pop Chinese restaurants around the world, the dish is made of bean and corn flour dough styled into thin noodles. Besides some eastern spaghetti, you also get a delightful medley of chopped veggies, eggs, and meat, usually pork.

Chow mein, like the spring roll, has a counterpart known as lo mein. The primary difference between the two is the style of preparation. Chow mein is stir fried until it’s crispy, while lo mein is cooked until it’s soft. Both dishes are typically served with similar peripherals, so take your pick!

Sweet and Sour…

Sweet and sour… Anything. Originally the dish was only sweet and sour pork, however the popularity of the dish outpaced demanded and as time went on variations were made to the dish. Today you can get sweet and sour chicken, beef, duck, anything really. Sweet and sour sauce itself has found its way out of China and around the world. Even the most recognizable fast food chain around, McDonald’s, has a sweet and sour sauce on the menu.

Like stated above, the dish began as a primarily pork dish. It should be noted that China has a lot of pork dishes. This isn’t because of some weird obsession with pigs… Okay, maybe a little. China basically loves pigs, or maybe just the taste of pork. In fact China loves pigs so much that along with having the largest population of humans in the world, China also boasts the largest population of pigs in the world with a staggering 450 million pigs.

Now For The Fun Stuff

We’ve gone over some pretty good dishes so far but some of you may be craving more, perhaps even something… different? Lucky for those folks, we saved the weird stuff for last. As much as everyone likes Chinese takeout, it isn’t representative of the entirety of China’s cuisine. After all, if the only difference between the food in the States and the food in China is location, why bother trying the food there at all? Needless to say, some things just aren’t meant for our western palates.

The last thing you probably want to try after receiving your China Visa
Pig’s Feet

Pig’s Feet

Remember when we mentioned how many pigs lived in China? Well, 450 million pigs is 1.8 billion pigs feet, why waste them when you can taste them? If you’ve been to a traditional dim sum spot in the USA you’ve probably seen pigs feet, but the dish is much more popular in China. While not exactly unique to China, the dish definitely coincides with China’s love of pork. Pig’s feet are low in fat and the skin is often cooked to a crisp which can lead to a very pleasant dining experience.

Like any food that too closely resembles the animal it came from, it can big hard to stomach pig’s feet at first. It’s believed that pig’s feet along with other items appearing later on this list may have first been consumed out of necessity rather than curiosity. Food shortages have struck China multiple times throughout history…this may have led to the common folk of China using every part of the animals they slaughter to cut down on waste.

Century Egg

Century eggs are probably less appetizing than pigs feet just based off appearance alone. Unlike pigs feet, this dish does not come from scarcity. It is prepared by preserving an egg (of any kind available really) in a mixture made of clay, ash, alkaline salt, quicklime, and rice hulls. The egg is left in this caustic prison for days or months, eventually taking on a new appearance and flavor as the egg essentially rots. The process was birthed during times of plenty when folks sought ways to preserve their eggs when hard times came around.

Today the century egg is treated as a delicacy in China. Careful however, some have begun altering the process of the egg’s creation, even going as far as to add potentially harmful metals to the process to speed it up. China’s government has mentioned that it is attempting to place stricter regulations on the food industry, including a crackdown on fake food.

Stinky Tofu

Stinky tofu! But is it actually stinky or is this some kind of mistranslation? Nope, it stinks. This dish is fermented tofu which is then prepped in a variety of ways depending on what region of China you are in. The dish isn’t usually served in restaurants but rather lunch bars and street food stands. I wonder if that has anything to do with the smell? Probably.

Stinky tofu is served in a variety of ways depending on where in China you are, if you’re getting it from off the street it’s typically fried. This fried variant is probably what most Americans would consider to be the easiest to stomach as we Americans love anything fried, even Oreos. Especially Oreos. Regardless the fried stinky tofu is often served with a side of sweet dipping sauce to offset the pungent taste and aroma. In some parts of China, stinky tofu is served as a side to congee (rice porridge) during breakfast. This means that you can enjoy stinky tofu for breakfast with your congee, for lunch as a side at a bar, and for dinner fried on the streets!

Snake Soup

Thanks to China having such a long and extensive contiguous history, many traditions have been based down through the generations. This includes some practices that might not be looked upon favorably here in the west. For example, the Chinese have a strong belief in the power of ancient Chinese remedies. Things like using tiger bones to create a tiger wine which is believed to have anti-inflammatory properties. Similarly, the Chinese believe that snake soup is good for the skin.

Snake soup is essentially what it sounds like; soup made using snake. The soup is typically made using the meat of two snakes, and some say it tastes like chicken. The dish is native to Hong Kong, so you won’t need a Chinese Visa to try this ancient delicacy out. Don’t hesitate if you want to benefit from the alleged healing properties of snake soup. The art of creating this dish is dying out as less of Hong Kong’s youth show interest in taking up the tradition.

Rooster Testicles

To cap things off, let’s talk about animal genitals. The Chinese have a knack for cooking up some spicy genitalia. For example, rooster testicles are a popular dish that can be found in mainland China. Uncooked, they appear like large soggy white beans. When cooked, they also kind of look like big soggy beans, but this time warm. Despite how off- putting thinking of munching on another creature gonads are, rooster testicles have a rather mild flavor, kind of similar to tofu with a touch of chicken liver.

I hope all this talk of oddly colorful cuisine hasn’t left you without an appetite. I can assure you, that was only half of our intention. Luckily, for anyone who might have second thoughts of going to China because of the chance that they may have to try something on the second half of this list, China has fast food! In fact, KFC is huge in China so you can enjoy some crispy chicken after you devour some rooster testicles.

If you plan on traveling to China soon, you’ll need to apply for a Chinese visa. Lucky for all of you, we can help with that. Whether it be business visa, tourist visa, or work visa, we here at China Visa Department specialize in getting you’re visa before your big trip. Click here to get started!


Five Must Visit Locations in China

China is massive. It’s the third largest country in the world, making it larger than even the United States. So, where should you head to next time you visit this gargantuan country? That’s a good question, and one that we’d like to help you answer! Today we’ll be going over five must visit locations and events in China. Once you’re done reading through your options you’ll want to know about all the amazing locations we’ve left out to get this list to just five entries! These sites will have you wishing you already had a Chinese Visa. Let’s not waste anymore time though and get started with our first and most obvious suggestion…

The Great Wall... Probably the first place you should go once you get your Chinese visa.

GREAT WALL OF CHINA

The Great Wall of China is typically on everyone’s China bucket list so it fits in perfectly for the first thing on this list. Let’s start off by talking about some myths and rumors. The Great Wall of China was built over a period of roughly 2,000 years by several Chinese dynasties. The wall’s sections were often completed to repel whatever invading force was the current flavor of the month. The current length of The Great Wall of China comes in at around 5,500 Miles, however archeological studies have shown that the total length of the wall when accounting for all of the walls branching may have come in at an astonishing 13,171 miles! Either way, The Great Wall is the largest man made structure to ever be created. Some believe that with its sheer size alone the wall should be visible from space! This is sadly not true, the wall may be long, but when viewed from space the wall is simply too thin in most parts to be visible from space.

While you can’t view it from a space station you can still view it in person. Bad for astronauts, good for you! But what should you do when you visit The Great Wall, or better question, which section of The Great Wall should you visit? Good question, you’ve got several options. If you can only visit one section of The Great Wall we’d recommend visiting the Mutianyu section. Not only is this the most well preserved section of the wall, BUT it has a slide which you can use to slide down The Great Wall of China in style. Michelle Obama has done it so you already know it’s a great time. Alternatively if you’re active you may want to head on over to the Jinshanling section of the wall which is most known for being a popular hiking spot. The Jinshanling section is also considered to be the most beautiful section of the wall, with half being restored and the other half being in relative ruin. If neither of those work for you and you’d rather be near the sea, you can always check out the Shanhai Pass which is where a section of the wall meets the Bohai Bay.

Harbin Ice and Snow Festival
Harbin Ice and Snow Festival.

HARBIN ICE AND SNOW FESTIVAL

Moving away from large man made structures of stone, let’s check out some large man made structures of snow and ice! The Harbin Ice and Snow Festival is an event that takes place in the Harbin area of China every year starting on January 5th. The festival tends to continue for about a month following the opening, however the site may be open beyond that first month if weather permits. Be sure to check and see if the sculptures are still around if you are visiting in mid-February so you can check out the art without the massive crowds.

What exactly is the big deal about some ice sculptures though? Surely you’ve seen ice sculpture work before, although the chances of you seeing anything quite to the scale of the Harbin Ice and Snow Festival are slim. From the onset, a large city made purely of ice is built. The icy structures could be anything from fantastical castles to recreations of world wonders like the Roman Colosseum or the Eiffel Tower. Regardless of what you see when you arrive, you can be sure that it will be much larger than you ever thought an ice sculpture could be. During the night, the city of ice lights up with color as an array of colorful lights shine through the ice structures present. This means that no matter when you arrive at the festival you can be sure you’ll get to the masterpieces present.

We haven’t even mentioned the massive snow sculptures that are created alongside the ice town. I’m not talking about your typical snowmen either, these artists go all out and usually create something drenched in detail. Considering the size and scope of most of the works featured at the festival, you can expect there to be several people working on a piece at any given time. This should go without saying, but if you do want to go to the Harbin Ice and Snow Festival, consider wearing non-slip snow boots.  

Money shot of the Hallelujah Mountains.

HALLELUJAH MOUNTAINS

James Cameron’s Avatar was a massive box office success that has since inspired several sequels which have yet to be theatrically released! That’s okay though, while you wait for the next Avatar film in the series to be released you can visit one of the real life locations that inspired the alien world of the films! Known as the Hallelujah Mountains, these mountains are more like a series of spires that jut up from the ground. While these mountains aren’t floating, they sometimes appear to be when a fog rolls through. The mountains are located in China’s Zhangjiajie National Forest Park. You can either visit them on your own by simply going to the park, or alternatively you can join one of the many tours that stop by to see the mountains. If you’ve never been to China before and struggle with the local language and culture we’d recommend joining a tour group. Tour groups also have the added benefit of going to more than one location! Several tours that visit the Hallelujah Mountains also stop by to see the section of The Great Wall what slithers through Hunan province. Two birds, one stone, and more time for you to soak in the sights without worrying about where you need to go next. Careful not to drop your passport off of the side of the mountain, if that does happen you’ll need to jump through hoops to get both a new passport and a new china visa. We actually have an article on what to do should you lose your chinese visa, check it out after you’re done reading this!

Now for some interesting facts about this even more interesting site! The mountains, which were previously known as the Southern Sky Column when Avatar was released, were renamed in 2010 in honor of the film and its environmentalist message. Also, when Avatar was released there was a trend of depression amongst film viewers who were bewildered to believe that the alien world featured in the film was actually just CGI and not an actual place you can visit! Fortunately for you all, you now know that at least you can visit the Hallelujah Mountains and at least get a taste of what the films had to offer.

The Forbidden City bustling with tourists.

THE FORBIDDEN CITY

I suppose the city can’t be ALL that forbidden if we’re advising that you go there, but it is quite something else. The Forbidden City was once the seat of the Emperor of China, as such the city was reserved specifically for the ruling class to enter. Like most former seats of power, us lower class plebians are now free to walk the grounds as if we were royalty. I should also mention that while it’s called the “Forbidden City” it’s actually a palace complex and not a fully stocked city.

Now that we’ve got all of the formalities out of the way, what is there to do in The Forbidden City? Outside and around, The Forbidden City there are also some things to do. The Imperial Garden which was of course formerly owned by the emperor of China are now also open to the public. Like you’ll find with many of the major tourist spots in China, The Great Wall is not far off, so you can always check it out when you’re getting a peek at The Forbidden City.

Naturally you’ve got your standard historical sightseeing fair, the entire palace has been converted into a museum, there are  exactly 980 surviving buildings in the forbidden city so there’s quite a bit to actually see within the walls of the city. There is a litany of priceless ancient artifacts on display in the museum itself, from old weapons to the jewelry once worn by the rulers of China. Lucky for us, the Communist party of China doesn’t care much for ancient Imperial Tradition, so we’re free to walk through the previously VERY private throne room. Be warned, many people visit this ancient landmark everyday, in fact about 15 million people visit The Forbidden City every year! So be prepared to share the space with other tourists like you when you visit this must-see tourist destination. Just be careful not to do anything that may damage any of the artifacts, that’s a one way ticket to losing your China Visa and getting deported.

Golden Temple Summit is a great place to visit for those with a Chinese Visa that are more adventurous...

GOLDEN SUMMIT TEMPLE

The statute that sits atop the Golden Summit Temple is a power depiction of Samantabhadra who’s ten faces face a different direction for each of the Bodhisattva’s ‘Ten Truths of Universal Worthiness’. While this isn’t the largest statue in the world, in fact it’s not even the largest in China, the Golden Summit Temple is a deeply historical place when it comes to the formation of Buddhism within China. UNESCO has declared this site as a world cultural heritage site. Some of you will be turned off to visiting the Golden Summit Temple as you may not be as into ancient holy sites as you are sliding down the side of The Great Wall. However, for those of you who are serious culture nerds the Golden Summit Temple is a must see.

You can either venture up the mountain via cable cart, or for those of you who are spry and adventurous you can instead walk up the mountain. Be warned, walking up the mountain takes roughly two hours and the incline may be a challenge for those not used to walking uphill. Once you finally reach the summit you’ll be greeted not only by the effigy of Samantabhadra but also by the Golden Temple itself which sits atop the summit as well. You may also snag a peak of the Leshan Giant Buddha which is carved into the side of a mountain. The Leshan is also not the largest statue in the world but it’s much larger than the golden monument laying atop the mountain. All in all, this little destination may be out of the way for your typical tourist, however those dedicated few who really wish to immerse themselves in the deep culture that China has to offer would be foolish to skip out on this spot.  

Now that you’ve got a rough idea of what to do once your in China you’re all set to head over! Just kidding. If you’ve never been to China before you’ll need both a passport and a visa! If you don’t have either and are kicking yourself, fret not, we are here to help. We specialize in expediting both passports and visas! Within a few days time you can have both your US Passport and your Chinese Visa ready! So what are you waiting for? Click here to learn more about applying for a US Passport with the Passport Office, and click here to learn more about applying for a Chinese Visa with China Visa Department.