外文标题：One Month Family Trip to Xinjiang, China’s Central Asia and incredible Tibet
Visa and Flights to China
There are many land borders of China with neighboring countries except with India, I knew of crossing overland to China from following countries:
1. Myanmar - With some requirement of additional permits fromMuse to Ruili but note in Myanmar side you need special permits as these belt is infamous for Kachin militants, permit is not cheap either.
3. Vietnam - You can cross even in Train from Nanning
4. North Korea - Train crossing possible.
5. Russia - Only possible through Trans Manchurian Rail
6. Mongolia - Couple of borders along with possibility of using Trans Mongolian Rail
7. Kazakhstan - Both by road and train crossing possible.
I have excluded Hongkong and Macau which are two special administrative region of China but you need separate Chinese visa to enter mainland china from either of these places. There are boat and road crossing between them.
So out of the above 10 countries which has overland border crossing with China, except Nepal, visa processing is same for others. This is more interesting topic of discussion who might have a dream of making it from Europe to Singapore overland as most likely you need to cross China sometimes (Unless India-Myanmar-Thailand overland is possible and you can get through Iran - Pakistan - India leg)
Other than that for lesser mortals, it's much easier to fly into China, the visa requirement is same but it's worth remembering one point, getting a Chinese visa from a third country (where you are traveling and not a citizen) is always difficult and dicey. Just before our trip in China, suddenly Chinese Govt stopped issuing visa from Kyrgyzstan embassy for non citizens and lots of foreigners who are making their ambitious Eurasian trip overland had to abort their trip midway. So when you plan to visit China through other countries, plan your route and visa accordingly.
Also whatever process I will describe below is actually what I experienced in Chinese consulates in India, a lot of people have different experiences in getting Chinese visa from one consulate to others in same time. So it depends on the consulate where you are applying for, check the history of it in some international travel forum. The Chinese visa rule changes very frequently as well, so before your trip, keep yourself updated with the process from local consulates.
In India, there are 3 consulates, in Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata and they have their respective jurisdiction and as of when I asked them last,
People having passports issued from Gujarat, Maharashtra and Karnataka can apply in Mumbai
People having passports issued from West Bengal, Assam, Jharkhand, Bihar and Orisa can apply in Kolkata
Rest all have to apply in Delhi.
There are many different types of visa and for tourists, it's the tourist visa (Type L) which you need to apply and that's important as with work / student or other visas, getting permits (specially in Tibet) is extremely difficult. So whatever we will discuss it's about Tourist Visa.
The requirements were:
1. You need to have 6 months of validity in your passport on date of application.
2. Passport Issue should be within consulate jurisdiction as I mentioned above.
3. You need to fill up an application form with your photo.
4. A covering letter mentioning your intent of travel and a detail travel itinerary
5. Your 6 months bank statement signed and stamped by bank (Stupid that they don't accept bank statement printout from net banking) where closing balance must be 1 lac per person (Means if you apply for your family of 3, you should have 3 lacs in your account)
6. Your confirmed proof of arrival and departure (Read Air Tickets and that's the reason entering / exiting china overland is extremely difficult unless you catch an international train like Trans Siberian where you get physical ticket issued much earlier than your departure date)
7. Your confirmed hotel booking voucher in each place of stay (Yes for a 30 days trip, you need to show proof of hotel for all 30 days)
You have to apply visa through their authorized visa processing agent (VFS Global) in respective cities where consulate is located.
Now most important is Chinese don't understand that China is vast and people may have interest to see something else than Beijing / Shanghai / Guangzhou. Specially if you mention XUAR or TAR, you would most likely be declined your visa. Mention of TAR would not allow you to apply for visa with VFS, and makes it extremely complicated as VFS would direct you to Consulate directly who has clearly mentioned as their policy that Indians are allowed in Tibet as pilgrims only and in a group visa. So better don't be honest here, be correct!!
So now you understand requirement 4, 6 and 7 would make your lives complicated, this mean you need a fictitious itinerary to start with and then support that with relevant documents. To write it simply, I prepared
1. Itinerary of 40 days covering Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chengdu, Kunming, Xian etc. Itinerary of 40 days will make you eligible to get 60 days single entry visa which makes life little simple as otherwise for a long trip if you are delayed you are risking yourself to get into the tangle to visa extension. (normally they issue a 30 days single entry visa)
2. Then support it with hotel bookings, not a real problem as you can use many global booking engine to do this and then cancel it without any extra charge.
3. The real problem is air ticket, you need to either get a full fare air ticket which is fully refundable or you need to book something very cheap (may be like Air Asia) which you can throw away. All Chinese Airlines have minimum cancellation charges of 500 Yuan, (Approx 5500 INR per ticket) for discounted tickets, Air India has slightly lower cancellation fees. This you can't escape and it's better to consider your loss as part of visa fees.
Following Airlines were the choice for you to get your real and fictitious tickets.
1. Air China - Connects Delhi - Beijing and Mumbai - Chengdu (Seasonally connects Bangalore to Chengdu too)
2. China Southern - Connects Delhi - Guangzhou
3. China Eastern - Connects Kolkata - Kunming
1. Air India - Connects Delhi - Shanghai
2. Jet - Connects Delhi - Shanghai
3. Spice Jet - Connects Delhi - Guangzhou
You won't get any direct connection to Xinjiang from India, rather you have to change flight somewhere in China and more eastern port of entry you choose, longer will be your flying time and cost to Xinjiang as it's in extreme west, flight time is almost same as Coast to Coast flights of US
You might buy an air ticket to Lhasa via Kunming/ Guangzhou etc. when you book it with international leg but it's not at all recommended because to board Lhasa flight from anywhere you need to produce original Tibet Permit which is extremely difficult to get before entering China as they don't send your permit abroad. So discuss with your agent on how you can make it. Only international connection of Lhasa is from Kathmandu where again your boarding will be denied if you can't produce Tibet Permit but that's a separate story we will discuss when we talk about permits from Nepal.
This was the day to explore the Kanas Nature Reserve more thoroughly for the whole day, we started in the morning but the whole reserve is more than 10000 sq km and too large to explore even in one month, so we started our visit with the three most famous bends of nine beautiful bends Kanas river took here, the names are dramatic (Sleeping Dragon Bay, Moon Bay and Fairy Bay)