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There's no doubt that obtaining a visa for travel is a headache, and for a long time Chinese visas were among the worst. There was the price ($140), the consular visits, the being separated from your passport during processing, and then the frustration that all that work only resulted in a visa valid for one year.
Then, in early 2013, the rules eased when China began allowing for 72-hour visa-free visits. Quick visits for business, shopping, or just taking advantage of great airfare sales to China became possible without the need to plan far ahead and fill your passport with visa pages.
Today brings more excellent news, as applications are open for a 10-year China visa. The move was only announced a few days ago, while President Obama was in Beijing for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economic Leaders' Meeting. Citizens of the US and China have similar visa rules thanks to reciprocity, whereby one country applies the same limitations and requirements as the other. Reciprocity continues with this new announcement, as visas to the US for Chinese citizens will also enjoy the decade validity.
Universal Studios / China Travel / Beijing Travel / Theme Parks / Roller Coasters / Amusement Parks / → All Tags
Pack your best roller coaster riding pants, as China is all set to welcome the thrills and chills of a major new attraction. The folks over at Universal Studios have been running the numbers, preparing the PowerPoint presentations, and now it’s time to start about building a new park over in Beijing.
The opening date of the park hasn’t been announced, but you can bet on it being a few years from now; the bulldozers haven't even arrived on scene yet. The planned park will take up around 1,000 acres, and will likely feature all kinds of superheroes and movie favorites from Spider-Man to Transformers.
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Just as we were praising train travel for its ease of access and lack of frustrating security checkpoints, China has beefed up security to the point that it resembles a TSA checkpoint on its subway in Beijing.
Minor security measures date back to the 2008 Olympics, but things got serious at the beginning of 2014 when six checkpoints were opened across 200 stations that required passengers to show their personal belongings before entering the subway. Last weekend, three more were opened in response to the terror attacks in Xinjiang that killed 31 people. Now, instead of simply opening their bags, passengers must go through metal detectors and other heightened security measures, resulting in the massive queues you see in the photos of this post.
Beijing might not be the next Orlando, but it looks like they are on schedule to get one heck of a theme park if things go according to plan. The suits behind the Universal Studios empire are looking in their direction, and it sounds like the bulldozers will start moving some earth sooner than later.
Nothing has been confirmed from the folks at the Universal Studios camp, but the Los Angeles Times is now reporting that it’s only a matter of time. This will be park number six for the company and the theme park family, as there are four already doing their thing with one opening in South Korea in 2016.
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The flight will go four times a week via a CA817/8 on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays and on the wings of a Boeing 777-300ER every Saturday. According to the release, the flight departs Washington at 16:35 local time and arrives at 18:15 Beijing time the following day. The return flight leaves Beijing at 13:00 and arrives in Washington at 14:35 local time.
Travel Pitfalls / What Not To Do / China Travel / Great Wall of China / Beijing Travel / Mutianyu Travel / → All Tags
At first, some of the headlines surrounding the announcement that China will allow graffiti on the Great Wall sound like a nightmare turned reality. Really, we can write on and deface this incredible icon? This is one of the traps of journalism in today's world, the fact that if you're just skimming headlines, you're bound to get the wrong idea. China's decision has nothing to do with wanting more graffiti on its historical fortification. In reality, it's trying to reel it in.
Every day, tourists walk the Great Wall and, like many places around the world, feed the desire to leave their mark, despite the fact that common sense tells us it's an awful, terrible thing to do to something we're trying to preserve. We're sure China would love to ban it entirely, but with no way to really police it, the country has decided to designate a section of the Wall at Mutianyu outside of Beijing where people can feel free to draw or write on it. This section was specifically chosen because it is mostly a reconstruction of the Wall, so the graffiti wouldn't be ruining the "real thing."
A real life Central Perk, the cafe where Rachel, Ross, Monica, Phoebe, Joey, and Chandler hung out on Friends, has finally openedbut not where you'd expect.
A replica of the famous '90s coffee shop has been constructed in a Beijing apartment complex by Friends super-fan Du Xin (aka "Gunther" to his friends) who says, “for me, it’s like a religion. It’s my life.”
In order to visit China as a US citizen, you've got to apply, pay, and be approved for a visa. In order to apply for that visa, you've already got to have a China trip booked, including round-trip ticket. It's a true Catch-22, because what if you're denied for some reason or make some small mistake in the application process?
Luckily for all who want to quickly cross China off their bucket list, both Beijing and Shanghai have just cut the need for visas completely for visitors on the ground for 72 hours or less.
Essentially you'll be "in transit," but 72 hours is much more than a sneeze in Shanghai's direction; 72 hours is 2-3 nights in town, meals, museums, gardens and perhaps a little shopping. All in all, moving quickly could mean a very good taste of one of these two metropoli before committing to a longer trip and the headache of getting one of those compulsory visas.
The only clincher to the new 72-hour, visa-free policy? Well, you've got to eventually continue on, and you have those 72 hours or less to do it. It's just a transit visa, after all, which you can apply for and be instantly approved at immigration.
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Earlier this month, we gave you a exclusive look at traveling on the high speed train that zips between Beijing and Shanghai. While we still think that line is super cool, China has given everyone even more train porn to drool over.
Just this week, the nation's newest and longest HSR (high-speed rail) line opened up between Beijing and Guangzhou cutting travel time between the two cities to a fraction.
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During a trip to China earlier this year, we had to make our way from Beijing to Shanghai. Always keen to try out new modes of transport, we opted to forego our usual choice of flying and took the bullet train instead. Since this Jaunted writer lives in Europe, rail traveleven the high-speed kindis something we’ve done many times, but we were still pretty excited to try this and would definitely recommend it as one of the best ways to travel between these two cities.
Running between Beijing South Railway Station and Shanghai HongQiao, the fastest service takes roughly 4 hours and 45 minutes, with a top speed of 190 miles per hour (300+ km/h). China is a land of contrasts, and you see this clearly as the landscape zips by outside your window. Before we tell you more about the journey itself, a few words on booking a ticket.
Kitty cats. They rule the internet and, whether we realize it or not, pretty much the world too. Ever noticed how cats sometimes stake out the coolest spots in a city? This new featureTravel Catfocuses on exactly that. Submit a photo to be featured by tweeting or Instagramming it to us (details below).
Travel Cat spotted in: Beijing, China.
This week's Travel Cat comes from reader Lisa Sun, who says of these three:
Olympics Travel / Sports Travel / London Travel / Beijing Travel / Athens Travel / Sydney Travel / → All Tags
Love ‘em or hate ‘em the Olympics are here to stay—at least for another week or so. Unless you're already in the UK, it's a tad too late to plan a trip to London at this point, and who really wants to wait another couple of years to check out the athletes doing their thing? That’s why we suggest taking in the sights—and remaining sounds—of recent former Olympic cities and their venues:
· Sydney, Australia
In Sydney it’s kind of like the Olympics never left, as there’s always something going on at the city’s Olympic Park. There’s a chance to try your skills at archery, practice your BMX skills, and even check out the cauldron—it’s been lit to celebrate the games in London. As a bonus, you can even make your way over to the AMP Services building in Circular Quay to check out an exhibition showing off past Olympic torches.