144-hour visa-free for China got implemented last January 2016. It aims to promote tourism and it just requires you to have an / ticket. Many cities in China already have a 72 hour free visa policy (see updated list below), so this comes as a nice addition. This 144 hour version works for 3 provinces in the Yangtze river delta, most notably will allow people to visit Shanghai, Nanjing and Hangzhou cities. 6 days is still too short to be considered as a tourist visa, but still, is an interesting counterpart to the expensive and annoying to get 30-day tourist L visa. Let’s see:
144-HOUR VISA-FREE FOR CHINA, WHERE APPLIES?
Shanghai, Jiangsu, and Zhejiang provinces. 144 Visa holders will not be allowed to leave for other provinces and cities. And should choice Airport or ports from Shanghai (Pudong or Hongqiao), Hangzhou or Nanjing cities for the departure.
- The visitors should have an onward ticket with a confirmed date, and the necessary visa for the onward journey.
- Visitors are required to enter and leave from the eligible transit ports only. (Shanghai, Nanjing, Hangzhou).
- Visitor are requires to traveling Shanghai, Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces only and can’t leave for other provinces.
- Visa time is limited to 144 hours. However, the 144-hour free stay period does not start until 00:00 of the next day arrival. So actually, the time might differ and be a bit greater than 144 hours.
WHAT COUNTRIES BENEFIT FROM VISA FREE?
Same countries as those who can get the 72 hour visa-free:
- Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland. Russia, U.K., Ireland, Cyprus, Bulgaria, Romania, Ukraine, Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro, Macedonia, Albania.
- United States, Canada, Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Chile.
- Australia, New Zealand.
- South Korea, Japan, Singapore, Brunei, United Arab Emirates, Qatar.
Pudong Airport Check-in area. Pudong is a very modern airport.
WHAT TO BRING TO GET THE FREE VISA?
- Passport, obviously.
- Confirmed traveling ticket. This might be checked.
- Completed Arrival/Departure card. This is provided on-flight.
- Visa for a third country, if needed.
Nothing special to bring, really, just plan the trip ahead of time and don’t forget the onward ticket. Otherwise it might lead to trouble.
HOW TO GET THE 144 HOUR FREE VISA?
Nothing much to be done because this is a visa waiver policy and the visa is automatically awarded as long you have a valid passport from the above countries. But, it is advised to inform the carrier when boarding. I remember being asked for my visa paperwork in the past, when i was flying to China. So you might get asked for this even don’t wish to tell them. Simply tell the airport staff you plan to apply for this free visa if needed, and it should be fine.
Next, after you arrived at China, search for the dedicated counter for the 144-hour free visa transit at the immigration inspection, just follow the signs in customs. After that you will get a stamp in your passport and free to go.
Nothing more, next step is just to enjoy your time China :). Or this short time at least.
ALSO, WHAT CITIES BENEFIT FROM 72 HOUR VISA-FREE IN CHINA? (UPDATED)
Can these transit visa’s be exchanged or extended?
Technically yes, it can be converted to another type of visa or even extended in the local Chinese PSB ( police bureau). However i would be cautious on this since this visa type is fairly new.
One of my old China Visa’s detail. L type one entry.
My trip recommendation for 6 days on the Yangtze delta:
The visa is limited to just 3 provinces, in which Shanghai is the most well-known city and the most interesting. But let’s see what else is there:
- Shanghai can be done in 4 days or even in 3.
- Hangzhou can be seen in 1 day, or even 2 days for a more relaxed trip.
- Suzhou and it’s classical Chinese gardens can be done in 1 day traveling from Shanghai by bus or train ( less than 1 hour).
- Wuzhen water town is another interesting side trip that can be done in 1 day.
- Nanjing is a bit more far away, it can be skipped and it could take a day.
- Newly opened Disneyland Shanghai would take a full day.
With this on mind i would spend 4 nights in SH, 2 in Hangzhou and fly out by day 6. I would take a day trip to either Suzhou or Wuzhen and be back to sleep in Shanghai, depending on what i feel is more interesting. For example something like this:
- Day 1 arrive to Shanghai. Visit the Bund, Yuyuan gardens or the french concession if there is time.
- Day 2 Disneyland, full day.
- Day 3 Day trip to Suzhou.
- Day 4 rest and get to know Shanghai, afternoon tea in Pudong, shopping, night out in the Bund (again :), don’t miss the nice restaurants ).
- Day 5 go early go Hangzhou, spend the rest of the day visiting West lake.
- At day 6 Depending on how much time is left i would spend the day either finishing my visit, or head to Xixi wetlands.
- Go back to Shanghai to fly out of the country, or fly out from Hangzhou.
Totally doable, just customize to your liking and have a great trip.
To short!. Yeah. But we are almost there, 6 days visa is a much welcome improvement from that 3 day transit visa, which is almost useless and too hard to plan for. 6 days starts to look like something interesting, and is a nice attempt to attract tourism. 3 day visa waiver (72 hours) was simply too short.
However this is a mere transit visa and should not be seen as a tourist visa. Many of us foreigners dream of a 30 free China tourist visa waiver, like the one’s given in many other Asian countries. Heck, even a 21 or 15 day visa would do the trick, and be enough. Because The L visa is sometimes a nightmare, and REALLY expensive.
6 day surely is an improvement and it would be enough to visit Shanghai and Hangzhou. Changes are being made every year on visa policy so i expect for more changes in the future, and I am glad that things are heading in the right direction.
Also this type of Visa surely will be very useful for those people on a tourist Cruise, who make very short stops in the mentioned cities.