It's possible to submit your passport
to the local People's Republic of China Consulate
, pay a fee, and wait a couple of weeks to obtain an L-class Tourist visa
. Here's another way:
Leave home with your passport. You don't need a visa now. Fly into Macau.
Macau, like Hong Kong, is more or less a free port. You don't need a
visa to enter; say you're visiting, in transit, or whatever, and you
get a stamp on entry, no charge. I don't know how long it's good for
-- perhaps 30 days -- but you won't need it for more than 30 minutes
anyway (unless you want to debauch yourself).
Bite the bullet and take a taxicab from the Macau airport to the
Barrier Gate. You may well be able to split the cost with others. You
can also take a bus, but I don't recommend this for the uninitiated.
The Barrier Gate is the land portal between Macau and Zhuhai; the
latter is the city on the mainland side. Macau is on a peninsula on
the other side of the Pearl River estuary from Hong Kong. A
relatively short -- and well guarded -- land border was created long
ago when Macau was given to the Portuguese. Macau now belongs to the
PRC, but it is run like an independent country, with its own
currency, customs, immigration, and so forth.
The original Barrier Gate can still be seen, though not actually
passed through; it is a sort of outdoor museum piece. The new Barrier
Gate is a low-slung terminal-looking building, with a duty-free shop
on the Macau side. You will pass through Macau exit immigration and
customs very quickly, and have a walk of about 100 meters from there
to the Barrier Gate. Free-lance porters are available.
When inside the Barrier Gate lobby, you will see a very long row of
PRC immigration booths dead ahead. Ignore them. Turn to your left and
look for the tiny CITS agency. It looks like a travel agency (which
it is, in theory) but its only business is selling visas. The actual
PRC government visa office is at the other side of the lobby, but
they do not want to see you there. CITS will take your stuff and walk
it up to the real visa office.
Hand over your passport and money, fill out the form, give CITS a
couple of passport photos (or pay more for them to take) and wait.
I've never waited an entire hour for an L-class (tourist) visa. I've
never heard of anybody having trouble at this point -- no denials --
and I've done it 4 or 5 times myself.
I seem to remember paying about 100 yuan for this each time, but it
may have been more and, like everything else in China, is subject to
arbitrary change without notice. In any case, you won't pay more than
You will get an L visa good for 90 days this way, as opposed to the
standard 30. If you do it again (not the first time), you can cook up
an obviously transparent story backed by a letter from a "Chinese
relative" and, for a few kwai more, get 180 days.
You can also get other types of visas this way, but you may be better off using another method. You can get F visas via the desk of your expensive international hotel in Hong Kong in about a day, depending on what you're willing to pay.
You can also get L visas by yourself in Hong Kong, but it is more expensive and not as fast.