Last updated: 17 Feb 2021



With the world's largest population and the country fast becoming the major global player, China is a must-visit destination. China has some incredible scenery and much of it is best seen on foot. Everest Base Camp is Tibet's most popular trekking destination. There's also great hiking in other areas of the mountainous Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, Yunnan's threatened Tiger Leaping Gorge and along the Great Wall.

Head underground to Zhangjiajie's Yellow Dragon Cave, Asia's largest, or more popular caverns including Guilin's Reed Flute and Crown caves and Yangshuo's Silver Cave - their stalactites and stalagmites lit by garish multi-coloured neon.

China also has some gorgeous tropical beaches. Sanya, on the southern coast of China's most southerly province, Hainan Island, is one of the country's most popular holiday areas and has international resort hotels, fine sand beaches, golf courses, coconut palms and water sports.
Official Name: The People’s Republic of China
Capital:  Beijing (BJS)
Currency:  Renminbi Yuan (CNY)
Language:  Mandarin Chinese. Local dialects are spoken including Cantonese, Shanghaiese (also known as Shanghainese), Fuzhou, Hokkien-Taiwanese, Xiang, Gan and Hakka. English is spoken by guides and in many hotels, but not by taxi drivers. 
Dialling code from SA:  + 86
Time Zones: UTC / GMT +8 (6 hours ahead of South Africa)
Public Holidays 2021: 

Jan 1; Feb 11-17; Mar 8; Apr 5; May 1, 4; Jun 1, 14; Aug 1; Sep 21; Oct 1-7

Side of the Road: Right
Best Time to Go: March – May and September - November
Best for: Buddhist Monuments, Great Wall of China, pagodas, UNESCO World Heritage Sites 
Plugs: 220 volts AC, 50Hz. Two-pin and three-pin sockets are generally in use. However, most 4- to 5-star hotels are also wired for 110-volt appliances
Drinking Water: Mains water in hotels and towns is safe to drink.All water should be regarded as being potentially contaminated. Bottled water is available. 
Health: There are adequate and well-equipped medical facilities, however visitors are required to pay for these services. Comprehensive health insurance is recommended. Doctors will require cash payment regardless of whether you have health insurance. Doctors may not speak English. 
Customs: The family name is mentioned first when introducing yourself. The Chinese are generally reserved and prefer courtesy over familiarity. Public displays of anger should be avoided. If using chopsticks do not position them upright in the bowl. Clothing should be conservative and not too revealing. Avoid discussing politics and religion. 
Local Offences / Laws: Identification should be carried at all times, as spot checks may be carried out and failure to have identification could result in detention. 
Travel Tips / Warnings: Outside of the major cities, credit cards may not be frequently accepted and ATM’s may not accept international cards. Always seek permission before photographing military personnel and buildings, airports and government buildings. In some parts of China, the sunrise may be as late as 10am as their 5 time zones have been combined into 1. Some social media websites, such as Facebook and Twitter, are blocked in the country. The word 'censorship' is banned. 
Duty Free: The following items may be imported into China without incurring customs duty: • 400 cigarettes and 100 cigars and 500g of tobacco.
• 1.5L of alcoholic beverages with 12% or more alcoholic content.
• Personal articles up to a value of ¥5,000 for Chinese residents.
• Personal articles which will be left in China up to a value of ¥2,000 for non-residents.
Prohibited Imports: Arms and ammunition, imitation arms, narcotics, fruit, animals and animal products, and any publication (print, audio or video) directed against the public order and the morality of China.

Customs officials may seize audio and videotapes, books, records and CDs to check for pornographic, political or religious material. You must complete baggage declaration forms upon arrival noting all valuables (such as cameras, watches and jewellery); this may be checked on departure. You should keep receipts for items such as jewellery, jade, handicrafts, paintings, calligraphy or other similar items in order to obtain an export certificate from the authorities on leaving. Without this documentation, you cannot take such items out of the country on departure.
Prohibited Exports: All articles banned from import as well as publications or media containing state secrets, valuable cultural artefacts, and endangered/rare animals and plants (and their seeds).

Travel Alerts

COVID-19 Travel Advisory: Limited International Travel is permitted. You will be sent to a hotel assigned by the government for a 14-day quarantine at own cost. All travellers must have a negative test result for COVID-19 issued no more than 5 days before departure.

This Information is intended as a Guideline.

Issuing Authorities

a) Embassy of the People’s Republic of China
225 Athlone Street, Arcadia, 0083
Tel: (012) 431-6500/6532 (consular)
Fax: (012) 430-7620
P O Box 95764 Waterkloof 0145, Pretoria

b) Chinese Consulate
25 Rhodes Drive, Newlands, 7700
Tel: (021) 674-0592 / 674-0594
Fax: (021) 674-0589

c) Chinese Consulate-General
45 Stirling Crescent, Durban North
Tel: (031) 563-4534 Fax: (031) 563-4827
Tel: (031) 563-4986 (visas)

d) Chinese Consulate
25 Cleveland Road, Sandton
Tel: (011) 8832186 Fax: (011) 883-5274
Note that all foreign passport holders are to apply in person.

The Chinese Visa Application Centre (CVASC) in Johannesburg:
Address: 14th Floor, Sandton City Office Tower, Corner Rivonia Road & 5th Street, Sandton, 2196

Office hours: Monday to Friday, except public holidays
Submission of applications: 9:00 am-3:00 pm (Express applications should be submitted before 11:30 a.m.)
Collection and payment: 9:00 am-4:00 pm
Tel: 087 808 6180 / (011) 5059300
Fax: 0866 474 899

CVASC in Cape Town :
20th Floor, 1 Thibault Square
Long Street
Cape Town 

CVASC in Durban:

45 Zenith Drive
The Quartz
Umhlanga Rocks
Tel: 087 8020460

CVASC Service Charges:
Besides collecting visa fees and express visa fees on behalf of the Embassy and the Chinese Consulate-General in Johannesburg, CVASC also charges service fees. For more information, please visit the website:

Visa Requirements

Visas are required by South African passport holders. Applications are to be for through The Chinese Visa Application Centre (CVASC) in Johannesburg, Durban or Cape Town.


(1) One fully completed visa application form, fully completed.
(2) One recent colour photo (2x2inch) (bare head, full face) against a light background to be attached to the application form.
(3) Original passport with at least six months of remaining validity and more than 2 blank visa pages. A photocopy of the passport`s data page and the photo page if it is separate are also required.
(4) An invitation letter is required and has to bear a red rubber stamp.
(5) Copy of the Chinese ID of the person who is signing the invitation letter, plus FULL passport details that includes full name, date of birth, date of issue and expiry date of the passport.
(6) MINORS: At least one parent is to apply in person and a certified unabridged birth certificate for the child is to be submitted.

For full list of CVASC requirements for Tourist and Business visas, see their website

** PAYMENT (for those foreign passport holders applying at the embassy)
The Embassy of the People`s Republic of China will not accept cash payment for visa/ passport/ notarization/ authentification fees.

Please contact the Embassy for visa fees for other Nationals. Refunds not available if application is cancelled or refused.
All fees to be paid at the FNB after first obtaining the reference number from the visa office of the Chinese Consulate General.

Exit / entry departments across the country will begin to collect fingerprints of foreign nations aged between 14 and 70 years. Those holding diplomatic passports or under reciprocal conditions are exempted.

Visa Processing Time

6 working days from the date of the application. You must present the Pick-Up Form and proof of payment when you come to get your passport back. Only with the consent of the Embassy can it be expedited but you are required to pay extra rush fees.
NO emergency visas.

Visa Validity

Single or double entry - 3 months from date of issue.
Double entries within 3-6 months.
NB: All regulations and costs subject to change without notice.

Visa Cost

Visa fees are to be paid as a cash deposit or bank transfer into the Consulate account (cash payments are NOT accepted). Payment is to be made before the date of collection and proof of payment to be submitted. Please contact the Embassy/Consulate direct for bank account details.
Single entry visa : R400
Double entry visa : R500
Multiple entry visa valid for 6 months : R700.00
Multiple entry visa valid for one year : R900.00
Remember to add the CVASC service charge which is R400 to the visa fee!

SA Representative

S.A Embassy, 5 Dongzhimenwai Dajie
Beijing, 100600, P.R.C.
Tel: 00 (86) 10 653 20000
Fax: 00 (86) 10 653 0177

Travel Health

Compulsory:  Yellow Fever (Dependant on Country of Origin/Stopover)
Recommended Travel Vaccines:  Hepatitis A & B, Japanese Encephalitis (Not available in SA), Rabies, Typhoid, Tetanus, Polio
  Malaria Risk