My husband and I have a bucket list. We pretty much sit around on our day jobs and do the things that are required of us, but secretly in our minds we are always thinking about where we will go next.
Once we decided that we were going to just go straight to the top of the bucket list and clear off China (the number one must do thing on our list) it became a rush to the airport for us. That’s pretty much how most of our trips happen. One minute we are dreaming and the next we are booking tickets.
I admit that this one has taken me a little by surprise in the budgeting. At this moment, I am about $1500.00 over budget on what I thought it was going to cost.
One of the things I most tell people when they ask me about trip planning is to allow a markup for the things you don’t know. Something like 20-25% usually will cover it for us. This trip has, however, exceeded that for sure.
I suppose, it probably speaks to my inexperience that I didn’t budget in for the cost of a visa to either China or Cambodia. Within a week of our purchasing our tickets we realized we needed to get our butts in gear fast to round those up.
We used a company called Travisa for getting the Visa in China. We live in West Virginia so the nearest offices for the visa would be Washington, DC. I considered driving there myself, 6 hours one way, but in the end, did the math and determined that my lack of experience with the process could result in my having to drive there, do it wrong, drive home and then pay the company to do it. So I bucked up and ordered the kit and sent our passports to them the next day.
The way it works is fairly simple. Pay them the fees, print and fill out all the papers that they send you, sign everything and put all the required documents with the forms and your passports (good for at least six months past the date of travel) and drop it into the Fed-ex box and wait.
The wait was only 24 hours before our first communications came back. The company does a fantastic job keeping you updated on where you are in the process. Today the lady informed me that our bill was ready and the visa should be ready by next week and once payment was cleared they would ship our visa and passport back to us by overnight delivery and we should be ready to go. (Did I mention the wait part?)
In stark contrast to that, the Cambodian visas were a much simpler process. I used this website and filled out the paperwork online and provided everything, including a digital version of our passport photo for the visa and paid the fees associated. Within an hour, I had both mine and my husbands visas applied for and within 10 hours I had both of them printed and in my hand ready to go. You can apply for a Cambodian Visa at the airport when you land in the country but because neither my husband or I understand the language we try to take care of everything that we can in advance of a trip to a country that will be hard to communicate in.
The visa for China has not been approved yet but hopefully we will have it in hand this time next week and I can go back to sleeping at night instead of refreshing the page just in case they send me an email for any more information that I haven’t already provided.
When you apply for a visa for China you need to provide quite a bit of information. I was actually pretty impressed with their system and how much information they required for a tourist to visit the country.
- A US Passport that is good for at least 6 months longer than your trip dates. I imagine always that is because if heaven forbid something happens and you get sick and stuck in their country or some other unforeseen set of circumstances should happen that you didn’t get home on time you would still have a passport that was valid when it was time to come home. Yikes, lets don’t think about that.
- A list of every single place that you will go, sleep and be during the trip. You provide these and they literally register you with the US Embassy in the places you will visit so that you are accounted for while in the other country with both the other country and with the American government. This makes me feel safe in several ways.
- A copy of your flights, tickets and hotel reservations, etc.
- A letter of invitation from the person who has asked you to stay with them or visit them and all sorts of information on that person are visiting them, if that is the case. I didn’t have to do this because of course, I don’t know anyone in China.
- They ask about your history, family to contact in emergencies and all the normal stuff that you would expect as well. Several questions asked what your plans were and why you wanted to visit China. That was not hard to answer since there are so many things that are amazing in China.
- You had to provide a passport photo. We got those made at our local CVS store. You had to send that in with the packet and I assume they use that to put your photo on the visa that goes with your passport for the trip.
FEES FOR THE TOURIST VISA TO CHINA
- 140.00 China Tourist Visa Consular Fee
- 140.00 China Tourist Visa Consular Fee for my husband
- 25.00 to register with the US Embassy in all the places that we will visit
- 164.00 China Tourist Standard Travisa Fee
- 164.00 China Tourist Standard Travisa Fee for my husband
- 44.00 UPS Next day Air returning the passports and visas to us
- 16.52 Consular Processing Fee for speeding up the process
- 38.00 Shipping label from us to Travisa
- 40.00 Passport replacement fees for in case they are ever lost while traveling
Bringing the total for the Visa for visiting China to a whopping $771.52 ! That is as much as a cruise to the Bahamas on a sale weeekend ! Wow, right.
First, I would say, I love a country that makes it as hard as possible for people to just wander into it and cause chaos. So, I applaud China for that part. I sometimes wish it were far harder for people to just stroll into America without having to tell the government where they are going and who they will talk to every second. I think if we had more of that, maybe there would be less terrorism. However, it really was a huge cost that I wasn’t planning for so yikes on that part.
Fees for the Cambodia Visa
- 36.00 Visa fees for each of us total & pretty much instant approval & printing
Hopefully, all will go well and I will update this post in a week to say how the whole process plays out and if we will be leaving for our trip to China next month with a Visa in hand. Fingers crossed….
Less than a week later…
We got our passports and China Visa back today. They put a visa into the inside of our passports and sent them secure back by fedex. We are all good to go and have our paperwork in order for both the Chinese and Cambodian legs of the trip. Exciting.
I will post more of every stage of the actual trip at a later date, once I have all the details lined out and figure out what we are doing each day.