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Visa-Free Chinese Cities

Getting a visa to go to China can be a hassle. Now you can go to several of China's biggest cities and popular tourist destinations, travel around them, and leave within 72 hours without a visa. If you just want to visit a friend or see sights in one city for a couple of days, this is an ideal way to go

Chinese visa free cities

Chinese Cities with Visa-Free Access

China visa-free cities

No more planning ahead, waiting, and paying the costs of a visa, just to pay China a visit on the way to somewhere else. You can just drop in and have a fun time or do business in 18 China cities with 72-hour visa-free transit policy: 

Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chengdu, Chongqing, Guilin, Xi'an, Kunming, Hangzhou, Xiamen, Wuhan, Tianjin, Harbin, Nanjing, Shenyang, Dalian, Qingdao, and Changsha.

Also Shanghai, Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Beijing, Tianjin, and Hebei have province-wide 144-hour (6-day) visa-free transit policyHong Kong, Macau, and Hainan have longer visa-free access.

Use your visa-free time well! What might you be able to do in up to three days? The possibilities are endless. Here we first feature the top seven visa-free cities in China for business/tourism with recommendations for tourists and business people.

1. Beijing (Capital International Airport)

Tiananmen Square in BeijingTian'anmen Square in Beijing

Tourism: Historic capital of recent empires and the modern capital Beijing has the best historical sights in China: the Great Wall, the Forbidden City, the Temple of Heaven, and many more.

For business: Most foreign businesses are in Chaoyang District. If there, for a break, you can go to Chaoyang Park or see a show at Chaoyang Acrobats Theater.

2. Shanghai (Pudong and Hongqiao Airports)

Skyline in ShanghaiThe skyline of Shanghai

Tourism: Mainland China's financial and trade capital was once a foreign colonial enclave. You can see both modern attractions like the world's second tallest building, and charming old-Shanghai areas, like the French Concession.

For business: Pudong is the central business district. While there, for a break, you can see the sights of Pudong.

3. Guangzhou (Baiyun Airport)

Guangzhou Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall in Guangzhou

Tourism: Guangzhou is more of a business area than a tourist city. You might like to take an evening river cruise, or escape the city confines on White Cloud Mountain.

For business: Tianhe is the central business district. Guangzhou attracts foreign merchants like a magnet to one of the world's foremost electronics (and many other products) manufacturing regions.

The Guangzhou visa-free policy includes all of Guangdong Province, so, for example, you could also travel to Shenzhen or Zhuhai for beaches. However, you must exit China via Baiyun Airport, rather than the Hong Kong or Macau border.

4. Xi'an (Xianyang International Airport)

The Terracotta WarriorsThe Terracotta Army

Tourism: Probably China's greatest ancient capital, Xi'an served the Qin, Han, and Tang dynasties in China's golden days, from over two millennia ago. 

The Terracotta Army is a must-see, and the city is full of ancient architecture. See China's steepest famous mountain Hua Shan.

Business: The main business of Xi'an is tourism, though it is a large city and provincial capital. You'll likely be going there for a tourism conference, company outing, or trade in tourist commodities.

5. Guilin (Liangjiang Airport)

Ethnic people in Longsheng, GuilinEthnic people in Longsheng, Guilin

Tourism: There's so much to do in Guilin that a 6-day visa-free policy is in the pipeline! Take a day or two in resort-like Yangshuo or the Longji Rice Terraces, see (and climb) the startling hills and scenery of the city, see ancient towns, and don't forget to cruise down the idyllic Li River.

Business: The main business of Guilin is tourism! Come here for tourism conferences, company outings, and trade in tourist commodities.

6. Chengdu (Shuangliu Airport)

Giant Pandas, Chengdu Giant pandas in Chengdu

Tourism: Chengdu is the gateway to China's southwest, and tourists enjoy the pandas and the historical sites. For history buffs, there are new museums about a once forgotten and recently discovered ancient civilization at Sanxingdui.

For business: Chengdu is the business capital of southwestern China.

7. Chongqing (Jiangbei Airport)

Dazu Rock carvings close to ChongqingThe Dazu Rock Carvings in Chongqing

Tourism: On a visa-free stay in Chongqing, you won't be able to go on a Yangtze cruise ship outside the city limits, but you can shop and dine and see the river at Ciqikou Old Town.

For business: It is a big industrial city fueled by cheap power from the Three Gorges Dam. Many foreign businessmen arrive, and many foreign engineers design and manage the factories. 

The central business district is Yuzhong, and the Chongqing Museum is in walking distance of our recommended hotels in Yuzhong.

More of the Latest Visa-Free Cities

Passport

Each time a new China city becomes 72-hour visa-free we let you know. The list is ever expanding. Here are the latest cities. 

  • From February 2014: With it's own imperial palace, Shenyang
  • From February 2014: China's clean software capital, Dalian
  • From July 2014: the Spring City, Kunming
  • From October 2014: serene imperial summer retreat, Hangzhou
  • From April 2015: coastal tourist city, Xiamen
  • From May 2015: ancient kingdom capital on the Yangtze, Wuhan
  • From June 2015: huge colonial port city, Tianjin
  • From August 2015: "The Ice City", Harbin
  • From September 2015: ancient and Republican capital, Nanjing
  • From November 2015: home of Chinese beer, Qingdao
  • From January 2016: capital of spicy Hunan, Changsha

72-Hour Visa-Free Regulations

Beijing airport

1. Nationalities: The free access rules aren't for everyone. They apply specifically to passport holders of 53 countries, including our top five English-speaking-customer nations: the USA, the UK, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand.

2. Transfer to a third country: A confirmed interline ticket and valid visa to the third country or region (Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan are counted as different regions) are needed for travel outside the airport. 

3. Apply before arrival in China:  If you wish to leave the airport for visa-free travel, you must present your transit permit request to your airline before touchdown, so that they may inform the authorities. Your transit permit will be issued at airport immigration.

4. 72 hours? You can stay for about 72 hours, but each airport has its own special regulations about how they count these hours: from airplane touchdown, or from midnight, or from when they issue the visa-free travel permit in the airport. So find out in advance about the specific airport regulations. You could contact us.

5. Intra-city travel only: You are not allowed to leave the city-governed area (prefecture). For example, you could go to the Great Wall from Beijing Capital Airport, provided it is within Beijing Municipality.

For further detail see our page devoted to the 72-Hour Visa-Free Transit Policy.

Hong Kong, Macau, and Hainan Island Visa-Free Access

Hong Kong night sceneryHong Kong night scenery

Hong Kong and Macau offer visa-free access almost automatically for passport holders from many countries.

Hainan Island offers free entry for passport holders of some countries given special conditions.

For further detail see our page How to Travel to China Without a Visa.

The Most Recommended Visa-Free Tours in Mainland China

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The following are recommended as Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou are the most accessible visa-free cities in mainland China.

The following popular itineraries can be customized to your length of stay.

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