How to apply for a Chinese visa

Applying for a visa is potentially the most frustrating part of the travel experience. Being a Filipino citizen, I need a visa to travel to most countries (notable exceptions are ASEAN member states Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam). My trip to Sanya last month was my first time to apply for a Chinese visa. There are different visa categories but this entry focuses on the two most common visas: the tourist visa and the business visa.

As per the Chinese embassy in the Philippines:

The Tourist /Family visit Visa (class L)

L Visa is issued to a person who comes to China for sightseeing, visiting relatives, or private matters. Documents to be included with application:

1.    Applicant’s passport with blank pages and at least 6 months validity left before expiration.

2.    A completed application form affixed with one passport-size or 2×2 colored photo, with white background, full-face front view, and no hat.  Photo must be glued on the application form. Stapled pictures will not be accepted. Scanned photos will also not be accepted. U.S. passport holders must submit two application forms with two photos.

3.   Invitation letter with a copy of the inviter’s valid Chinese residence visa and passport information page of inviter’s or Chinese national identity card. (applicable to those who are visiting family in China)

4.  Previously used China visa in old or new passport (Only visa stickers will be accepted.  Those with stamped visas must submit additional documents for first-time China visa applicants. Please refer to the list below.)

5.   For first time applicants to China (Philippine passport holders, 18 years old and above), they are required to provide the following:

a) Original NBI clearance valid for travel abroad

b)  Original bank certificate with receipt or original passbook, updated within the month that you are applying or….

– If a company will sponsor the trip, provide the company’s bank certificate, sponsorship letter from the company and the company’s business registration.

– If an individual will sponsor the trip, provide his bank certificate, sponsorship and invitation letter, copy of sponsor’s valid residence visa and passport information page or Chinese national ID.

c) For employed persons, also provide an employment certificate; company ID, SSS ID and contributions, TIN ID, and latest ITR

d) For students, provide school ID

e) For businessmen, provide business registration of company, TIN ID and latest ITR

f)  Personal appearance is required for those who are 16-21 years old.

6.  The emergency contact information page in the applicant’s passport should be filled out and photocopied.

7. Other documents required by the visa officers if necessary.

Continue reading “How to apply for a Chinese visa”

Sanya, Hainan, China Day 5 – the Hilton Sanya and exploring HKIA

View from the Presidential Suite of the Sanya Hilton

Our flight from Sanya to Hong Kong was at 2pm, which left enough time for us to do a bit of sightseeing. As it turned out, one of my mother’s friends is the auditing head for the Hilton Sanya Resort & Spa and he was nice enough to offer us brunch and a tour of the hotel. Tito Jun was a bit late picking us up (he’d gotten lost as he’d never been to our part of Sanya before) so we decided to eat at least  some breakfast before leaving (I love the mini pork buns! :D). Incidentally, I found out that I’m capable of walking really fast while keeping a mini pork bun trapped between my chopsticks 😛

Tito Jun picked us up  in one of the hotel’s shuttle vans and gave a running commentary on the history of Hainan and the rapid expansion of Sanya’s tourism industry for the entire 30-minute ride. He was a veritable treasure trove of information, as he’d been in Sanya for 4 out of the 21 years he’d been working in China (he was part of the hotel’s opening team).

The pace of the tourism development in Sanya is just incredible. The Hilton is located in Yalong Bay and is just one of the five 5-star properties already operating there: the Hilton, the Pullman, the Sheraton, the Marriott, and the Ritz-Carlton. The St. Regis is set to open this November 2011. Each hotel has around 450-500 rooms (the Hilton has 492), catering mostly to tourists from mainland China. All of this development is just the tip of the iceberg.

I asked Tito Jun if he really thought that all the construction could be supported by incoming tourists and he answered with a resounding yes. As he said, we’re talking about more than a billion Chinese. Even if they captured only the top 10% of the population with money to spend, they’re looking at 100 million tourists a year. At present, they’re having trouble retaining staff because the hotels are pirating experienced staff from each other. Tito Jun did worry though that with the glut of hotels in Sanya, they’d eventually be forced to lower their rates to compete. However, that situation is several years away.

After brunch, Tito Jun took us on a tour of the Hilton’s different rooms. My mom specifically told me to take photos of the rooms and to show her as soon as I got home. LOL. The first stop was the Presidential Suite, a suite the size of four standard rooms (about 200 sq. m) that comes with a personal butler on call 24 hours. During the peak seasons (Christmas, Chinese New Year), the suite can go for RMB 80,000 per night (~PhP 536,000). Yes, we took a lot of pictures because it’s highly unlikely that we’d ever enter a suite like it again 😛 Continue reading “Sanya, Hainan, China Day 5 – the Hilton Sanya and exploring HKIA”

Singapore Day 4 – shopping in Sim Lin Square

Well this is embarrassing. I’ve already gone and left for China and I haven’t even blogged about my last day in Singapore yet. Gah. *facepalm*

Anyway, the pertinent parts of the story are:

  1. My parents and two youngest siblings’ flight back to Manila was at 10am while mine and Rob’s was at 5pm. Rob and I ate breakfast at the McDonald’s in Bugis Junction, went to Sim Lin Square, ate lunch at the McDonald’s in Bugis Junction, then caught a cab to the airport. The concierge at Ibis kept our bags after we checked out at 9am so that we could wander around.
  2. I bought a BlackBerry Curve 9300 in Sim Lin Square! Yahoo! Got it for around Php 4,000 less than what it usually sells for in Manila. Now the downside: we spent three hours going around the place and I lost my patience with two vendors. My infuriating experience prompted me to write an article detailing how I to get f*cked over while shopping in Sim Lin Square. Read it here.
  3. The departure area of Singapore’s Budget Terminal was a nice place to wait. But then again, I’m used to NAIA so an airport with comfy chairs, clean bathrooms, and decent food already passes with flying colors. LOL. My only complaint is that there were too few chairs. Bought siopao to eat on the way home.
  4. Dear Philippine Customs Officer, young man + young woman + traveling together DOES NOT EQUAL A ROMANTIC RELATIONSHIP. JFC the customs guy thought Rob was my husband. EWW EWW EWWWWW!!!

Singapore Day 2 – Universal Studios Singapore

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We left the hotel at 8:30am and got to Universal Studios Singapore at around 9:30am. TIP: even though the park opens at 10am, be at the gates by 9:30 at the latest as the lines going in can and will get longer closer to opening time. Once inside, ride the attractions that will have the longest lines later in the day:

  • Battlestar Galactica – the world’s tallest dueling roller coasters at 42.5 meters tall! Choose either the Human or Cylon track: the Human track is a seated coaster that travels at 82.8 kph but with no inversions, while the Cyclon suspended coaster goes through five inversions, including a corkscrew and a cobra roll. My sister and I rode the Cylon track first, caught our breath for 5 minutes, then rode the Human track with our brothers. Have I mentioned how much I love roller coasters? 😀 Though looking back, I would recommend a 10-minute break between rides.

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  • Return of the Mummy – a roller coaster ride in the dark. Basically it’s Space Mountain but with physical effects like fire and great set design.
  • Shrek 4D theater – a 3D movie with special effects. Nothing unusual here. There are stationary seats inside the theater for people who’d prefer not to get shaken around. The host just outside the theater doors was highly amusing.
  • Jurassic Park Rapids – a water ride with a long plunge at the end. To be honest, the only exciting part of the ride was the flume at the end.

Continue reading “Singapore Day 2 – Universal Studios Singapore”

How to shop in Sim Lin Square (Singapore) without getting f*cked over

Sim Lin Square in Singapore is a well-known gadget haven, boasting of six floors of stores selling nothing but the latest computers and consumer electronics, including laptops, tablets, mp3 players, mobile phones, audio equipment, and the like. While the vast array of shops leaves you spoilt for choice, this also leaves you open to unscrupulous sales personnel. Yes, even Singapore has its share of con artists. Based on my own shopping experience, here’s a short list of tips to avoid getting suckered in Sim Lin Square or any other shopping area in the world:

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Buddhist monks shopping in Sim Lin Square

Continue reading “How to shop in Sim Lin Square (Singapore) without getting f*cked over”

What’s in your bag?

The airline only allows you one purse in addition to one piece of handcarried luggage. This purse has to contain everything that will help you survive the next hours in transit to your destination. The ultimate question: what do you pack? My handbag breaks down like so:

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1 – Denman classic hairbrush with a rubber head (so no static electricity) and compact handle

2 – notepad for the writing ideas that suddenly come to you while in transit. I also used this to take notes from the inflight magazine.

3 – digital camera (only the case is shown because I used it to take this photo. LOL)

4 – mobile phone

5 – iPod nano (still in the case) for all my music needs

6 – ballpoint pen

7 – hoodie (we were flying Cebu Pacific so no comfy extras like blankets and such)

8 – tissues

9 – Kindle (gawd I love it so much. I finished a book while I was in Singapore.)

10 – face towel

11 – Pacsafe Toursafe handbag (on its 2nd trip overseas!)

Not shown are the travel wallet and passport that are in the outside pocket of my handbag.

What’s in your bag?