UPDATED: SEPTEMBER 2018
We’re going back to China next month, thus the update. This time, we’re spending an autumn weekend in Shanghai. As the trip draws near, we try to scramble for the same documents last time and found that we don’t actually need everything we submitted the first time. So to help returning Philippine passport holders to China, we added a few FAQs on this article at the bottom, to help you out. Yup, visas can be confusing sometimes.
How to apply for a tourist visa to China for Philippine passport holders? It is relatively easier to apply for a tourist visa to China for us Pinoys than for a Japan tourist visa.
As always, your passport should be valid for six months on the date of travel and should have one full blank page for stamps. My passport would expire July 2016 and the travel date was 4 months prior so I had to renew the passport but the problem was, by February 1st week, the available slots were for July too. So I had to get the services of the express passport and paid / sent a photocopy of my old / expiring passport via LBC. The fee for this is PhP 2,000 but I got an appointment two weeks after I applied. (September Edit – I later learned that this practice should not be tolerated due to fixer issues. At the time, I thought they were a branch of DFA, helping Filipinos get a spot in the queue.)
Go to any photo processing booths and have them take your photo for a Chinese visa, you don’t have to dress up for it, as they can always photoshop your photo for the classic coat-and-tie business attire look. Your photo will not appear in the visa itself once stamped in the passport, so don’t worry about how you looked there.
You will be required to supply the airline itinerary as proof that you are coming back, along with your hotel or airbnb accommodation. We flew to and from Beijing via Cebu Pacific (ticket booked in August 2015 and the flight was March 2016 for less than PhP 10,000 RT for 2 pax) so it was easy to print the itinerary bearing our name. There are a lot of hotels that allow you to reserve without a payment so you can present the document along with your application.
If you want a 10% rebate from your hotel accommodation, then use the link below when booking. Your rebate will be added to a card or wallet you have registered on your booking.com account after checking out. For more information, read more here.
If it’s your first time to book with airbnb, however, then you will get a PhP 1,600 travel credit when you sign up using my referral link and complete your first booking with them. Message me if you want the link as it is prohibited by airbnb for me to post it on any blog site.
Here’s a sample hotel reservation that I printed (but have not paid yet at the time of visa application):
Proof of income (BIR-stamped Income Tax Return and Certificate of Employment with compensation package) is also required. For those who are not employed, a bank certificate showing the deposit balance for the last 6 months will suffice. There is no specific amount needed, but try to present a balance of fifty thousand pesos to be sure. I had less than that but then I had a used Japan tourist visa and a multiple entry visa to the U.S. – not sure if both had bearing in the approval.
My partner has been to Hong Kong and Macau prior to her application and she got approved too, with a little above 50,000 in the bank.
CHINESE EMBASSY IN MAKATI
When all your requirements are ready, go to the Chinese Embassy along Gil Puyat.
Take a bus from either Baclaran or anywhere from the north (SM north or Cubao) with a sign that says Ayala. Tell the driver or konduktor to drop off at Ayala crossing Buendia. You can walk from there or take a jeep that says “Makati Avenue” and again tell the driver to drop you off at the embassy
The building where the embassy is, faces Buendia in one exit, and Salcedo in the other. So if you’re taking the cab or driving there, consider that as a tip.
The embassy would only entertain visa applications from 9-11am weekdays, but they accept inquiry calls at 63-2-8482395 from 9-11am and 2-4pm.
A single entry visa for Philippine passport holders costs PhP 1200. For the rest of the fees, click here.
Regular processing is 4 working days and you will have to come back on the date stamped at the back of your pink receipt to pick up your passport.
Note that most travel agencies may process tour visa for you if you’re part of their organized group tour. If you’re doing it yourself, you’d have to process it without the agency’s help. Also note that you can have a representative submit your requirements and claim your passport, which is really convenient.
When we got the visa approved, we immediately sent the payment to the hotel and tour package. Between local tour providers based here in the Philippines and those of China, we chose the one that’s based in China – they have English-speaking guides and they obviously know the country better than anyone.
The reason we got a package instead of doing the itinerary ourselves are that we anticipated the language barrier, and because China isn’t just a country. It’s a powerful country with a different form of government and the frictions between our home country and theirs have escalated for many reasons.
From the airport, be careful on being lured by good-looking, english-speaking drivers who yell “taxi”. Do not follow them down the basement until you’ve reached an agreement on the charge.
Also, before leaving, make sure you coordinate with the hotel of choice if they can allow early check-in and if they can allow you to leave your luggage if you have a late flight but you have to check out at noon. The hotel we checked in at, allowed a 6am check-in and baby-sat our luggage for a good 6 hours, and even called a cab for us, albeit in broken english.
Print your airline itinerary, your hotel booking, and your tour package. Prepare a few useful sentences in English with Chinese translations, in case you get lost.
Question 1 – is it true that if I have a valid US visa, I can go to China without applying for a visa, as long as I stay within 72 hours?
Answer 1 – Yes, but only if you are transiting through China and you have an onward ticket to the country issuing the visa. Take note that there are 51 countries with that privilege, not just USA. This also applies to select airports only. For more info, click here.
Question 2 – I heard that China is already visa-free for Filipinos. Is it not true?
Answer 2- If you are joining a group tour and staying in Hainan Province for not more than 15 days, then you do not need a visa. Take note that the agency you’re getting the tour services from has to be approved by the National Tourism Authority of China and registered in Hainan Province. So look for those documents when getting an agency just to be sure your travel is hassle-free.
Question 3 – I have been to China before on a tourist visa (L Visa), am I not exempted from applying for a second visa?
Answer 3 – If you have been issued a single or multiple-entry visa that has already expired, you still need to apply for another one, unless you meet the criteria above. However, it is easier since we will only be required the following: (1) Form and travel itinerary (2) Flight reservation (3) hotel accommodation and (4) photocopy of the old visa and if the visa is on an old passport, submit your old passport as well.
Question 4 – I was given a multiple-entry visa to Japan the second time I applied, is that the same for the China Visa?
Answer – Unfortunately, no. You apply for a specific number of entries and each type has a different fee. View the table below for more information.
Do you have any other tips in getting a tourist visa to China for Philippine Passport Holders? Please comment below.
Or if you need help, I will try to answer your questions as much as I can. Good luck!