How to get a Chinese tourist visa in Chiang Mai

China visa chiang mai consulateGetting a Chinese tourist visa in Chiang Mai

I originally planned on getting our Chinese visas in Hong Kong – it was supposed to be quite easy.  But then I read some conflicting information that suggested that non-residents of Hong Kong might need to use an agent, pushing up the cost considerably, and discovered that there was a Chinese consulate here, so it seemed easier to apply for a Chinese tourist visa in Chiang Mai.

My pre-application research had told me that for a simple 8-day trip I would need evidence of flights in and out, and hotel bookings covering the duration of the trip.  As we were going to be travelling via Hong Kong and entering China by train (for which I didn’t yet have tickets) I gave them the Hong Kong flight details and our Hong Kong hotel details too.  If you plan to stay with friends in China they will want signed letters of invitation etc, so it’s probably better to book a hotel (even if you cancel it later).

Applicants who are not Thai also have to provide proof that they are in Thailand legally, which for us meant a photocopy of our Thai visa and extension stamp, as well a a copy of the passport main page.  You also need one passport sized photo (light background).

If you have been to China before, they ask for a photocopy of your previous visa, even if it was in a now expired passport – in which case they also want a photocopy of the main page of that passport, and evidence of the name change if it was in a previous name!  If your visit was in pre-computerised times, say, 30 years ago, and if the passport in question either no longer exists or is in storage halfway around the world, it might be prudent to forget that you’ve visited previously (hey, your memory goes when you get old, right?!).

The consulate is on the south side of the moat, close to the Saen Pung Gate.  It’s not very prominently signed, but it’s just past the big electronics mall.  Unhelpfully, the consulate’s website didn’t list the holiday closures for 2016.  We assumed that it would be closed Mon-Wed for the 3-day Chinese New Year holiday, but when we showed up on the Friday it was still closed. So we returned the following Wednesday.China tourist visa map

There are no photo or photocopying facilities at the consulate, so get everything done before you go.  The nearest copy shop I saw is on the other side of the moat – directly opposite the consulate, but midway between 2 bridges.  The nearest photo shop that I know of is on the south side of the moat, just east of the traffic lights by Chiang Mai Gate.  The consulate does have scissors and glue sticks, but take your own pen.

The consulate is open for visa applications from 09:00-11:30, Mon-Fri.  There is a form to download here, or collect one from the guys in the gatehouse on the way in.  Take a numbered ticket from the machine just inside the door of the visa office.  The form is 4 pages long and they want a lot of detail, including the full address of every hotel in which you plan to stay.  Pay attention when filling in dates – they want them yyy-mm-dd.  You have to state how many entries you need (and remember, if you enter China, go to Hong Kong or Macau, then go back to the mainland, that’s 2 entries) but not how long you want to stay in China – they will determine the length of visa they give, based on your flights and hotel bookings.  We got 30 days for our 8-day itinerary.

When your number is called just hand over your form, photo, passport and supporting documents.  The clerk will check through them, highlighting names and dates to make sure everything is there, and give you a receipt.  They don’t take money at this stage.  There were very few people there when we applied, even though we didn’t turn up until around 10:00, and we were done in 30 minutes.

Because the following Monday was a Thai holiday and the consulate was closed again, our pick-up was the following Tuesday – the 4th working day, including the day of application.  We turned up at 09:15 and it was quite busy, with about 25 people waiting – but once the clerk at window 1 returned from her tea break she zipped through all the collections, so we only waited 45 mins (it’s a differently numbered ticket when you collect, so make sure you take the right one from the machine).  The cost of visas varies enormously depending on your nationality and how many entries you require.

Number of entriesThai citizenUS citizenOthers
Single entry฿1000฿4560฿1100
Double entry฿2000฿4560฿1650
Multiple entry for 6 months฿3000฿4560฿2200
Multiple entry for 12 months฿4500฿4560฿3300

For us, as UK citizens, it was considerably cheaper than getting a visa in London would have been (£85, plus £15 if you do it by post).  If I was American, I probably wouldn’t bother with a short trip to China!Chinese visa Chiang Mai

For us, getting a Chinese tourist visa in Chiang Mai proved to be very easy – but ours was a very simple situation.  More complex cases will involve more paperwork, but the same would be true wherever you apply.  I suspect that doing it in Chiang Mai is as least stressful as it gets!

 

 

 

 

 

22 Replies to “How to get a Chinese tourist visa in Chiang Mai”

  1. This worked perfectly in 2016 for me also. No crazy nonsense like in Bangkok. I’m going again to get another visa in Chiang Mai again next month. Thanks for the article!

    • Oh, I didn’t know there was crazy nonsense in Bangkok – do they want additional documents?

      • Chinese embassy in Bangkok experience is a real shocker. Very rude people and very picky about everything. The biggest nightmare there is the wait in the queue in the morning. No shade and directly in the sun.

        Thanks to you, I am in China again as I write this. Got another double-entry three weeks ago. U.K. passport. Easy as pie.

  2. Very nice write up indeed. I hadn’t been to the consulate since 2007 so a refresher was due. In looking around, I came across your article and it has proven to be immensely helpful. And as an American, I will definitely apply for the one-year, multiple entry visa. Thanks for taking the time to write of your experience(s) as I’m sure that it can be helpful to others as well.

    Len

  3. Yes, your article has saved at least two people a lot of grief so far. Thank you so much again.

  4. I did it last year and they asked for proof of insurance and a copy of bank account showing enough money for the trip. I will ask for a new one soon, you didn’t have to show this ?
    Thank you for this very useful article

    • No, not at all. It was only an 8-day visit though. I suspect also that as a middle aged couple we are generally seen as ‘low risk’ by embassies – we were never asked for proof of funds during the whole 30 month trip.

  5. Very accurate info. I’ve done it many times . I would only add that if going to Beijing during a big political meeting there , the visa process time was 15 days ! No express . And both Chinese AND Thai holidays can delay things , so check . There can be a long queue at the gate for a 9am opening , but the crowd quickly thins when inside.

  6. Do you know if it is possible to get a 60 day duration visa in Chaing Mai? When applying in the U.S. for a China Visa you are automatically given a 10 year Multiple entry 60 day duration visa. It looks like Chaing Mai will only give a 1 year multiple entry visa but it doesn’t mention the duration.

    • Sorry, I don’t know. I get the impression that they decide how long your entry needs to be, so if you have evidence of travel arrangements for a 59 day stay they will give you one to suit. I don’t know if they will give you multi-entry unless you show a need for one, even though the cost for a single entry is the same. Maybe email and ask them?

  7. Hello

    I have currently a chinese visa but I need a new one bc I will be in China late april and my visa will expire 8th april. Is it any problem for them (I know that they will cancel the current visa)?

  8. and for how long is the visa issued there – is it standard 3 months with 30 days maximum stay?

    • As I said in a previous reply, I think they decide how long a visa you will get based on your trip. There is no space on the form to indicate how long a visa you want. But having said that, they did give us a 3 month/30 day stay visa for our 8 day trip, so maybe that is the norm.

      • Ok thanks, and do they offer an express/urgent service for foreigners there? To pick it up the same day / the following day

        • Sorry, I have no idea. We always planned our travel to give ourselves at least a week in any place where we were planning to get a visa – even if they say they offer a fast service, you just can’t rely on it because of holiday closures (see my post on getting a Myanmar visa in Bangkok!).

  9. Great article, thank you so much. I am going tomorrow to apply for my Chinese Visa as I am booked to arrive in Shanghai on March 18th. I just had a few questions if you had a second to answer them. I would be very grateful:

    1. Is the application form in this article the most recent and up to date one?

    2. Do I need to show the consulate hotel confirmations during my stay?

    3. Do I need to to print out my flight tickets as part of the supporting documents?

    Thanks in advance!

    • Hi – the link is to a site that appears to handle applications, so I would expect them to have the latest version of the form on there. Yes, you will need to print out your hotel and flight confirmations and hand them over with the application form.

      • Really sorry. Last question. I am just getting a tourist visa. Do I need an invite letter from anyone in China? I can;t seem to get a straight answer online. I can see for a business one I do but for a trourist it seems like I don’t?

        • As long as you have the print out of your hotel accommodations and flight confirmation and are going as a tourist –then you don’t need the letter of invitation.