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chris2004

China Visit - Visa/Currency Questions

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Planning a trip to China this sping. I am a UK citizen but living in Thailand so would look to get my visa from the Chinese Embassy in Bangkok. Any particular problems i might face or is it fairly straightforward. I see you need to have a return air ticket and accommodation booked first. Begs the question what happens if you are refused a visa (hopefully unlikely).

Regarding currency. Can you buy Yuan in Thailand or is it better to buy there, or should you take dollars. Are baht exchangeable in Beijing.

Any other China tips welcomed.

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If you are refused a visa, you aren't really refused per se. Because you only pay for the visa AFTER it has been issued. So if you show up with the paperwork and they accept it, you'll be issued with a pickup receipt and they will tell you what you will get and within what time frame, for example next day (urgent processing) or standard pick up on the 4th day. It depends on your nationality as to whether urgent processing is possible or not. I don't know about UK nationals but as an example, Swiss and French nationals CAN'T get urgent processing, whereas US and Australian nationals CAN.

It is simpler to get a visa if you know a Chinese or foreign national that resides in China and can issue you a letter of invitation. That way you won't be asked for any other documents - but the letter should specify where you are staying (for example their residence) and your method of travel (air, bus, car, sea etc.) and expected length of stay. Otherwise, bring along a copy of your itinerary and accommodation. It is best if your ticket is a return from Thailand to China and back, as they might make a fuss or refuse you if you show them a ticket from say Ho Chi Minh to Shanghai, in which case they'll ask you to apply for your visa in Vietnam. I've seen that before, so just a heads up.

Normally Bangkok only issues single or double entry tourist or business visas, valid for 30 days per entry. An extension of stay, equivalent to the authorized period of stay first granted is usually possible in major cities in China, including Beijing. However, anecdotal reports suggest that to extend a tourist visa in Beijing, you'll need to present a bank statement with a certain amount of money in it. Elsewhere this is not requested and I'm not sure about extending a business visa in country.

On the other hand, applying back home seems to be with minimal fuss and fewer documents are required, but since you're living here then applying in Bangkok should be fine, especially if you're only going for a short trip and don't need multiple entries.
Yuan can easily be purchased in Thailand these days and the rates are quite good. However, I'd stick to Superrich or Siam Exchange or another similar exchange bureau rather than the banks or changing at the airport, where the rates can be a lot lower. Of course just like with any other currency, exchanging Baht for foreign currencies at banks in Thailand (other than their exchange kiosks, usually located at border crossings or airports) involves a lot of paperwork and requires the currency to be "ordered in", meaning that you rarely would be able to leave the bank straight away, you'd have to order the currency and come back a few days later to pick it up.
Baht can be exchanged in Beijing too but I think it's better to exchange Baht for Yuan in Thailand. Apart from exchange kiosks, banks in China also require quite a bit of paperwork, including sighting your passport to exchange money, even if it's exchanging foreign currency for Yuan. So stick with bringing Yuan into the country and ATM machines.

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