This week saw us being busy little bees. We explored the backstreets of Hanoi, helped university kids with their English, finally finished an online TEFL course, cruised around Halong Bay, oh and were REFUSED Chinese visas!
On Tuesday we had a look online and were confident that with copies of our passport, copies of our Vietnam visas, travel insurance documents, a proposed itinerary and our first few nights accommodation booked in China, there would be no issues with getting our Chinese visas. So, on a sunny Wednesday morning along we went to the embassy in Hanoi, with thoughts of an action packed Chinese adventure putting a wee spring in our steps.
The visa office at the embassy wasn’t busy that day and the few people who were there seemed less prepared than us. So we were a bit smug and thought we had the visas in the bag. We were wrong.
The battleaxe at the application counter immediately told us that it was unlikely that we would get our visas approved because we didn’t have accommodation booked for every night of our intended 30 day trip. There was an air about her which told us not to argue and instead just say thanks when she said she would run it past her boss to confirm.
With instructions to come back first thing in the morning, we left the embassy a bit deflated. It didn’t help when we chatted to a few others who had been already been refused visas and had their own ordeals dealing with the battleaxe over the previous week. The consensus among fellow travellers was that the Chinese authorities had only recently got very strict with demanding every night’s accommodation be booked and that this is linked to the current seaborne fisticuffs between China and Vietnam. Maybe, maybe not, but whatever the reason, it seems like a very arbitrary and counter intuitive process.
Needless to say our visas were refused when we went to the embassy the next day. The battleaxe didn’t offer any confirmation of why China didn’t want us to come in, save pointing to a hand written post-it note attached to our application forms. The note was in Chinese. Helpful woman.
Anyway, after a bit of thinking about whether China is worth the trouble, given it would likely cost twice our monthly budget, we’ve decided to try one last time this Tuesday. We don’t like being defeated that easy, so will get our all our accommodation booked (using sites that will allow us to cancel the bookings if necessary) and take on the battleaxe in a final showdown. We’ll let you know how we get on.
In the meantime, these are some tips that we think will help you get a Chinese visa in Hanoi:
1. Go along to the Chinese embassy at 44 Hoang Dieu, here’s a map to help:
2. Bring the following:
passport photo (48mm high X 33mm wide)
your original passport and a copy
copy of Vietnamese visa
copy of travel insurance documents (these are supposedly to be translated into Chinese although we don’ think that is required. If they make an issue with us about that, I think we’ll call it a day (you could try a half arsed Google Translate if you really really want to get into China)
copies of confirmation of accommodation for every night of itinerary in China
copy of confirmation of onward travel (we’re not going to bother with that as we intend to cross the land border into Laos and we met a guy in the embassy that got his visa without it. If they make an issue with that, well, f*&k them, they’ll have beaten us!)
a big bag full of luck!
The Two Gallivants