5 Reasons to Visit Beijing

The huge bustling capital of China, Beijing has a lot to offer travelers. Once you’ve got your visa to China and booked your tickets, Beijing simply must be put on your itinerary. Whether your taste runs to the ancient or the modern, Beijing has what you are looking for.

Forbidden City

The Forbidden City is perhaps the most typical Beijing destination. The home of the Chinese emperors in the Ming and Qing dynasties, it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and contains courtyard upon courtyard of ancient Chinese architecture and artifacts. In front of the Forbidden City lies the famous Tiananmen Square, the largest public square in the world and site of the controversial student uprisings and subsequent massacre in 1989. Spend a day exploring the area, getting lost in history both ancient and contemporary.

Summer Palace

One of the more beautiful sites in Beijing, the 720-acre Summer Palace was constructed in the Yin dynasty. Today, the Summer Palace’s beautiful gardens, palaces, and manmade lake make for an incredible afternoon stroll. And, for those looking to duck the hustle and bustle of this popular tourist site, the back hill and west bank offer quieter places, with secretive ruins and natural beauties well worth the walk.

Great Wall of China

You can’t visit China without getting a glimpse of the Great Wall. Anohther UNESCO World Heritage site, the world-famous Great Wall of China lies just a short hour and a half drive outside of Beijing. While more visited portions like Badaling are often crowded and have been over-restored, more distant portions like Jinshaling and Simatai, amongst others, are still accessible and allow you to see the Wall in its ancient glory.

Temple of Heaven

A religious site predating Taoism, the Temple of Heaven was built in the early 15th century as the site where the emperor, regarded as the representative of Heaven on Earth, could pray for good harvests. For modern travelers, its attractions include the large, marble altar and the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests, a circular wooden building constructed entirely without nails.

Olympic Stadiums

More recently, Beijing held the world’s attention in 2008 with its hosting of the summer Olympics. Today, iconic buildings like the Bird’s Nest and the Water Cube still stand, though they are largely unused or repurposed. Visitors can wander freely through the Olympic stadiums and reminisce about their favorite moments of the Games.

China’s capital has a lot more than normal city-type stuff. With centuries of history, multiple UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and a firm grasp on the modern world, Beijing is sure to be one of your favorite stops in China. This Chinese treasure is sure to excite, no matter your tastes.

4 Reasons to Visit Hangzhou

The beauty of China is spread across the country. While some may be tempted to constrain their visit to major cities and historical sites, though, the savvy traveler with a Chinese visa should do his or her best to see the more remote—and beautiful—sites in China, like the city of Hangzhou.

It’s Beautiful

This is true of much of China, but Hangzhou is famous even among Chinese nationals. One of the seven capitals of ancient China, Hangzhou was prized for its natural beauty, with even Marco Polo saying it was “beyond dispute the finest and the noblest [city] in the world.”

West Lake

Most tourist activities are around West Lake. This enormous, beautiful lake is circumnavigated by bike or by foot. Or, if you prefer to see the sights without exercising, you can hop on a passing golf cart. The lake has many named areas with given names and histories, but just wandering through the endless gardens, or catching a ferry to the islands, or snapping photos of the pavilions, is often the most rewarding way to see this major tourist attraction. At night, don’t miss the West Lake Impressions, a dizzying theatrical and lights performance on the edge of the lake.

Nature Nearby

Hangzhou is a mountain city, and besides the gardens within the city, gorgeous nature stretches out from the city that are well worth exploring. Enjoy it! Take a hike in the nearby mountains. Visit the Longqing Tea Fields. Explore the Xixi National Wetlands Park. And, within Hangzhou, be sure to check out the Botanical Gardens and Guo’s Villa.

Urban Exploration

Like many Chinese cities, Hangzhou has a bustling clothes market, especially around Yan’an Road and Wulin Road. In addition, in Hangzhou you can find a great night market on Yan’an and Pinghai Road, where you can find the sort of knick-knacks that you can show off to your friends back home.

Hangzhou, “the Garden City” of China, showcases some of the country’s best. To miss it when you have a Chinese visa and trip planned would be to deprive yourself.  Hangzhou will stick with you for years after your trip—time to see what the fuss is about.

Types of Chinese Visa

If you are looking to travel to China, you first need to obtain a visa. What sort of visa you need, however, varies depending upon why you are visiting and how long you will be staying. There are eleven basic Chinese visa types:

  1. Tourist Visa – class L. If you are traveling to China to see its breathtaking landscape, ancient artifacts, and unique cities, you will want to apply for a tourist visa. With this visa, you may travel around the country for between 30 and 90 days, depending upon the fluctuating political climate.
  2. Business Visa – class F or M. The visa type for commercial and non-commercial visits to China changed in September 2013, such that if you are coming to China for an international exchange, you should apply for a class F visa. If you are coming to China to conduct business, you should apply for a class M visa. The uncertain bridge between these two visa types, internships, are not explicitly mentioned by either class of visa, and you should contact your local embassy to determine which visa is right for you if you are unsure. Length of stay on an F or M visa varies.
  3. Student Visa – class X. If you are coming to China as a student at an accredited institution, you should apply for a X-class visa. However, once you arrive in China, you and your institution must arrange for your temporary resident visa within 30 days.
  4. Work Visa – class Z. Distinct from the business visas offered in classes F or M, the class Z visa is for those who intend to stay and work in China for more than 6 months, as well as their families.
  5. Talent Visa – class R. The R class visa is set aside to encourage the entry of those who are exceptionally talented and whose skillsets are needed in China. It is meant for high-level foreign personnel who can contribute their skills to the Chinese economy.
  6. Family Reunion Visa – class Q. This visa type was instituted in July 2013 to allow for easier entrance into China by those who have family members there. It is divided into Q-1 visas for those staying with Chinese residents or citizens for more than 180 days, such as to care for them, and Q-2 visas for those visiting Chinese residents or citizens for 180 days or fewer.
  7. Private Visit Visa – class S. Similar to Q visas, S visas are broken into two categories. S-1 visas are for family members of foreigners living in China who want to visit for more than 180 days, while S-2 visas are for family members of foreigners living in China who want to visit for 180 days or fewer. Holders of S-1 visas must register with local authorities within 30 days of arriving in China.
  8. Transit Visa – class G. If you are traveling through China on your way somewhere else, you should apply for a G visa, as well as a visa for the visa at your final destination.
  9. Crew Visa – class C. Class C visas are issued to foreign crew members of ships, planes, trains, and other modes of transportation that goes to or through China.
  10. Resident Visa – class D. Simply put, a class D visa should be obtained if you intend to reside in China permanently.
  11. Journalist Visa – class J. If you intend to work as a journalist in China, you will need to jump through a few extra hoops and acquire a J visa. If you will be staying for more than 180 days, you should apply for a J-1 visa; if you intend to stay for 180 days or fewer, you should apply for a J-2 visa.

To ensure your trip to China is successful and enjoyable, make sure to figure out your visa information and begin applying early. With the right sort of visa, you can plan on having an enjoyable, hassle-free trip to China.