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Confused! Do I need a visa to visit Beijing during a layover

Dublin, Ireland
Level Contributor
9 posts
9 reviews
Confused! Do I need a visa to visit Beijing during a layover

Hey, I have been reading forums on whether or not you need a visa or permit to leave Beijing airport for a few hours and there seems to be alot of conflicting advice.

Basically, I fly from London to Beijing and have a seven-hour layover before heading on to Bangkok. I was hoping to have a look at the city for a couple of hours if I don't need a visa.

I've read posts which say the stamp the Chinese authorities put on your passport is sufficient if you are only in China for less than 24 hours, and others where you cannot leave the airport without a transit visa.

Anyone able to help??!

Sherbrooke, Canada
Level Contributor
46,305 posts
843 reviews
1. Re: Confused! Do I need a visa to visit Beijing during a layover

The rules as published in english say the you can transit visa free for 24 hours as long as you do not leave the airport. In practice, several people were able to leave the airport so it is worth a try. You won't have much time though, maybe 2 hours at best after deducting transportation and check-in, etc.

Use the aearch function to find the recent post about the process.

Dublin, Ireland
Level Contributor
9 posts
9 reviews
2. Re: Confused! Do I need a visa to visit Beijing during a layover

Thanks Jean-Pierre. I was going to make the decision about getting into the city if the flight arrived on time/no hassle getting through security etc. I probably am cutting it fine!

Sherbrooke, Canada
Level Contributor
46,305 posts
843 reviews
3. Re: Confused! Do I need a visa to visit Beijing during a layover

If this is your only time wver in China it is worth a try, even if rushed.

Melbourne, Australia
Destination Expert
for Beijing, Lijiang
Level Contributor
9,857 posts
69 reviews
4. Re: Confused! Do I need a visa to visit Beijing during a layover

Yes it is worth giving it a go. Several people have done this lately so it looks promising for you :-)

If you only have a few hours & are worried about the time ( ie taxi back to the airport if you strike peak hour), maybe stick to somewhere close to the subway. Lama Temple would be a good choice.

Airport express from terminal 2 or 3 to Dongzhimen, change to line 2 & go anticlockwise to Yonghegong Lama Temple 1 stop.

As well as the Lama Temple in that area there is the Confucius Temple & Imperial College and some interesting Hutongs to walk around with little shops, bars & restaurants.

Dublin, Ireland
Level Contributor
9 posts
9 reviews
5. Re: Confused! Do I need a visa to visit Beijing during a layover

Thanks everyone, we're going to book flights that mean a 13-hour layover in Beijing, so even better!

I looked up the Chinese embassy website in Ireland and it is e40 for a visa for single-entry tourist visa. I'm going to apply for that - for the sake of e40 it's worth saving on any potential hassle.

Sacramento...
Level Contributor
1 post
13 reviews
6. Re: Confused! Do I need a visa to visit Beijing during a layover

We visited the Great Wall at Mutianyu yesterday on a 6.5 hour layover in PEK. Here is how you do it without a visa:

1. When you get to immigration go to the only table on the right side of all the immigration windows/desks.

2. You must have an eticket or itinerary showing you have a flight within 24 hours to leave the country. If you are flying from another country you will not be checked into your transfer flight so it's critical you have a printed itinerary or you they won't let you out of the airport.

3. Leave immigration and take the train to the domestic terminal and then exit the airport.

4. We took a taxi and followed all the guidelines on getting a non-black taxi, but still go ripped off even with a metered taxi w/ normal license plate starting w/ "B". Normal fare is 300RMB each way.

5. Check in for flight upon returning to PEK.

We arrived from BKK shortly before 6am. Were out of the airport by 6:30 and to the wall at 7:20. Had to wait for 10 mins for office to open to get our chair lift ride up to the wall. Left wall at 8:30 am, back at BKK at 9:45 for 12:00 flight. Maybe this is an anomaly, but if I had this layover another time I would go visit the wall again.

I highly recommend doing this and not paying for an unnecessary visa.

Sherbrooke, Canada
Level Contributor
46,305 posts
843 reviews
7. Re: Confused! Do I need a visa to visit Beijing during a layover

@Tyler - when you say things such as "right side of immigration" you need to tell us which terminal you are talking about as all three terminals have a different configuration.

You refer to the domestic terminal in your comment. There is no such thing. The terminals are arranged by airline not by destination. Thanks.

I am bit confused about your transportation. You took a normal taxi from the lineup? How much did you pay? He proposed fixed rate or used the meter?

Edited: 19 April 2012, 10:25
Southampton
Level Contributor
4 posts
25 reviews
8. Re: Confused! Do I need a visa to visit Beijing during a layover

Can u update us? Were you able to leave the airport without a visa?

Edited: 02 December 2012, 19:10
Beijing, China
Level Contributor
12,551 posts
9. Re: Confused! Do I need a visa to visit Beijing during a layover

#8 YES!!!!! You can leave the airport without a visa if on intl transit. Does anybody ever do a search anymore before they go off blindly posting? Had you done so, you would have come across this which lays it all out:

tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g294212-i2147-k528…

Sheesh.

Dublin, Ireland
Level Contributor
9 posts
9 reviews
10. Re: Confused! Do I need a visa to visit Beijing during a layover

Cheers for being sarcastic KVChina, really adds to the spirit of these forums.

And btw, you do actually need a visa. I contacted the Chinese embassy in Dublin who confirmed you do and also was advised to have a visa by the layover tour company I am using in Beijing.

Simeon A, my flight isn't until the end of December, but I have applied for a visa and will get it in a week. It's only e40 and I would rather not have any potential hassle and possibly miss my connection flight. Plenty of people visit Beijing without a visa and have no problem, but I would rather not be the one that did!