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China Visa-Free Policies With Travel Ideas

Travel to China without a visaYou are possible to enjoy a visa-free transit in China. 

China is becoming increasingly popular as a travel destination, and entry and travel regulations are relaxing, though they keep on changing.

For those wanting to travel to China without the hassle and expense of a China visa, it is definitely doable. You can take advantage of China visa-free policies as below: 

We also give you some ideas about How to visit China without a visa.

1. 24, 72, and 144-Hour Visa-Free Transit

There are three lengths of Chinese visa-free transit available – 24-hour, 72-hour, and 144-hour, and each one has its own rules and applies to different cities in China.

There are two important things about the transit policy that you need to know:

  • 1. You must transit between China and a third "international" destination (Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan are included).

    For example, you can fly from New York to Beijing, stay a day and then fly to London without having a visa for your day in China. You are not eligible if your route goes like this: New York – Beijing – New York.
  • 2. You must already have your confirmed ticket to a third country (region) when landing in China to be eligible for visa-free transit.

24-Hour Direct Transit

Those with a confirmed seat on an international flight, ship, or train transiting through China for another country are exempt from needing a visa provided they stay in China for less than 24 hours without leaving the port.

This policy is applicable to passengers of most nationalities at most ports of entry, except the airports in Shenzhen, Yanji, Mudanjiang, Fuzhou, and Huangshan.

Read detailed information about 24-hour direct transit

72-Hour Visa-Free Transit

Visa-free transitYou can find visa-free transit service counter at designated port. 

The passport holders from 53 countries or regions can enjoy the 72-hour visa-free transit policy if transiting via and traveling in the following 18 cities:

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

Read detailed information about 72-hour visa-free transit.

144-Hour Visa-Free Transit

Since 2016, Shanghai, Jiangsu, and Zhejiang have had a 144-hour visa-free transit policy for passengers from 53 countries or regions. You are allowed to move around within these three places and depart from any port or airport within them.

At the end of 2017, Beijing, Tianjin, and Hebei also implemented this transit policy.

Tour groups from ASEAN member countries, including Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Singapore, Myanmar, Brunei, and the Philippines, can visit Guilin for 144 hours without visas as long as they meet the visa-free transit policy.

Read detailed information about 144-hour visa-free transit.

Differences Between 24, 72, and 144-Hour Visa-Free Transit

There are three types of transit without a visa (TWOV) programs in mainland China: 24-hour TWOV, 72-hour TWOV, and 144-hour TWOV.

24-Hour TWOV 72-Hour TWOV 144-Hour TWOV
Nationalities Covered Nearly all nationalities 53 nationalities 53 nationalities
Ports of Entry Most Chinese cities 18 cities Shanghai, Nanjing, Hangzhou, Beijing, Tianjin, Shijiazhuang, Qinhuangdao, Dalian, Shenyang
Arrival and Departure Can be by different ports. Must be by the same port Can be by different ports.
Means of Transport Plane, ship, or train By air Plane, ship, or train
Travel in Mainland China Limited to the transit area Limited to a city area Limited to a region

2. Visa-Free Policies in Hong Kong, Macau, Hainan...

Hong Kong and Macau

Hong KongHong Kong

For most visitors, a visa is not required if traveling to Hong Kong and/or Macau. 

Hong Kong: The former colony continues its liberal entry policies established by the British government. Citizens of about 160 countries can obtain visa-free entry for durations that range from 180 days to 7 days. See detailed information about Hong Kong visa.

Macau: The territory's policies are more restrictive than those of Hong Kong. British nationals can stay for 6 months. Citizens of about about 38 countries including those of the EU, the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Israel, and South Korea can stay for 90 days. See detailed information about Macau visa.

The Pearl River Delta (6-Day Visa-Free Stay)

All visitors to Hong Kong and/or Macau are able to visit the surrounding Pearl River Delta visa-free as long as they go with a registered travel agency, such as ours, and meet certain conditions. The group size ranges from three to 40 people including the guide.

Visitors are allowed to stay within these cities: Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Foshan, Dongguan, Zhongshan, Jiangmen, Zhaoqing, Huizhou, and Shantou.

Stays within the Pearl River Delta area can last for 6 days or 144 hours for most countries; but for several countries, 21-day tours are possible.

Read about How to Plan a Pearl River Delta Tour from Hong Kong.

Hainan (30-Day Visa-Free Stay)

No visa is required for staying on Hainan Island for up to 30 days for ordinary passport holders from 59 countries. Group and individual tourists must book their tour through an accredited travel agency approved by China's National Travel Administration and that’s registered in Hainan Province. The designated ountries are:

  • 25 Schengen Agreement Countries: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland
  • 15 Other European Countries: Russia, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Cyprus, Bulgaria, Romania, Ukraine, Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro, Macedonia (FYROM), Albania, Belarus, Monaco
  • 6 American Countries: the United States, Canada, Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Chile
  • 2 Oceania Countries: Australia, New Zealand
  • 11 Asian Countries: Korea, Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Kazakhstan, the Philippines, Indonesia, Brunei, United Arab Emirates, Qatar

3. Shanghai 15-Day Visa-Free Policy for Cruise Groups

Enter China by CruiseEnter China via Shanghai cruise terminals to enjoy a 15-day visa-free stay. 

Shanghai has a 15-day visa-free policy for foreign tourist groups entering China via a cruise. You must arrive and depart on the same cruise and be received by a Chinese travel agent at the Shanghai cruise terminal (or Wusong Passenger Center).

During the visa exemption period, you are not only allowed to visit Shanghai but also other coastal municipalities (Beijing and Tianjin) and provinces (Liaoning, Hebei, Shandong, Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Fujian, Guangdong, Guangxi, and Hainan).

See detailed requirements of this policy.

4. More Visa-Free Policies for the Following Visitors

Citizens of Singapore, Brunei, and Japan

A visa is not required for citizens of Singapore, Brunei, and Japan visiting China for traveling purposes, visiting relatives, and doing business for less than 15 days, but they must enter through designated open ports.

For nationals of these three countries, a visa is required in the following circumstances:

  • (1) An ordinary passport holder stays for more than 15 days.
  • (2) An ordinary passport holder visits for the purposes of study, work, an official visit, settling down, and an interview.
  • (3) A Japanese Diplomatic and Official passport holder.

APEC Business Travel Card Holders

Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Business Travel Card holders are entitled to enter China many times within the card’s validity period by showing the passport that corresponds with the card. The card serves as a multi-entry visa valid for 3 years. Each entry must not exceed 2 months.

Holders of Aliens’ Residence Permits

No visa is required for those who hold aliens’ permanent residence certificates issued by the People’s Republic of China Public Security Bureau (PSB).

Foreigners visiting China for study, employment, and working as resident correspondents must apply for Aliens’ Residence Permits with the PSB within a month of arrival in China.

Travel to China with your passport onlyTravel to China with your passport only.

How to Visit China Without a Visa (with Sample Itineraries)

With the above visa-free policies, you can save a lot of hassle with your visa application and make the most of your stopover time in China.

When you plan your tour, you can consider the following two things to help you maximize your stay in China:

  • 1. Make the most of the special regions of China. Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan are visa-free for most nationalities and considered as third countries/regions for transit purposes.
  • 2. You can combine more than one visa-free policy in your China trip.

Travelers could visit China for 1–2 weeks easily without a visa. Here are two sample tours for inspiration:

  • 1. US – Beijing/Tianjin (4 days, 144-hour visa-free transit) – Hong Kong (2 days) – Shanghai/Suzhou/Hangzhou (6 days, 144-hour visa-free transit) – US
  • 2. US – Hong Kong (2 days) – Beijing (3 days, 72-hour visa-free transit) – Macau (2 days) – Shanghai/Suzhou/Hangzhou (6 days, 144-hour visa-free transit) – Hong Kong (2 days) – Guilin (3 days, 72-hour visa-free transit) – US

Enjoy a Hassle-Free China Tour with Us

China tour

If you want to enjoy a hassle-free tour in your limited time in China, contact our travel experts who have explored all the country’s facets and can help tailor a trip to match your interests.

Here are two recommended visa-free tour ideas. The following itineraries, and any other ideas you may have, can be customized by us to fit your length of stay, and other needs: