Young Pioneer Tours

How to visit China in 2024?

Prior to the pandemic China was scheduled to become the biggest tourist centre in the world. Alas, much has now changed and things are no longer as easy. With this in mind how do you visit China in 2024? And what do you need to know before coming?

So, what has actually changed in China? Well quite a lot, with the expat population now gutted, as well as changes to the rules in coming to the country, visas and even cultural elements such as how you pay for goods are putting people off visiting China.

These though do not mean that it is impossible to visit China in 2024, but merely that things are now somewhat different and dare we say more difficult.

Are there many expats in China in 2024?

Over 2022 and 2023 China changed the rules on English language schools within the country. This alongside far stricter rules on business visas, as well even student visas let to an exodus from the country. Seemingly the only visas untouched were family (marriage) visas. Therefore many of the people still here are often times married.

This is a good trivia note when people say why are “expats white” and why are “immigrants brown”. In fact there is no color coordination here. Expats of whatever ilk can simply be told to leave their homes, while immigrants for the most part cannot be kicked out on a whim.

This of course has led to cultural changes, as well with regards to entertainment and the like. During my recent trip the only place where I saw significant foreigners was in Guangzhou and in particularly Africans at the second-hand electronics market.

Are there many tourists in China in 2024?

In 2019 China was predicted to become the biggest tourist destination in the world by 2030. Yet despite opening up 2024 will see but 30% of the people that came in 2019. The reasons for this are multi-faceted and will be covered in each instance.

Primary amongst them are visa policy, logistics and to an extent, language. However, there are ways to mitigate these issues, at least to some extent.

Getting a Chinese visa in 2024

The visa advice that we give here is meant as a guide, and we suggest that you always seek your one independent advice too. To sum things up: Getting a tourist visa is now more difficult than before, with it generally being taken as granted that using an agent makes life easier. It should though be noted that US and Canadian passports can still get 10 years visas. UK citizens can also get two year visas.

Sadly for many other nations, such as Australia, long-term visas are all but impossible. Again it is worth speaking to an agent.

China is increasingly offering “transit visas”, which can be up to two weeks, or longer. They are though transit visas, so you could not fly Dubai – Beijing – Dubai for instance, but would have to add in an extra leg, such as to Seoul. In this respects they are not a cost effective method for a short holiday.

The ones that fall under the visa-free travel, which just got extended until November 30th 2024, are the lucky ones. It mostly focuses on European countries and allows 15-day visa-free travel via all border points in mainland China (including land and sea), bypassing most of the usual and quite tedious application processes.

It seems like a countermeasure by the Chinese authorities in light of the plummeting tourist numbers, but also a viable option in order to attract business travellers that might help to further boost the economy post-Covid.

Using a transit visa to visit North Korea in 2024

With North Korea yet to open to foreigners we can but speculate on how things might look and feel. Generally, transit visas to China could be used to visit North Korea IF you flew from Beijing to Pyongyang. If you´re eligible for visa-free travel it would facilitate logistics tremendously for both ways, air and land, given the continuous extension of the policy beyond November 2024.

It should well be noted that as things stood and are expected to stand transit visas cannot be used for overland travel, be that from Vietnam, or the DPRK.

There are far less flight options when you travel to China in 2024

Due to the political nature of 2024 there are less flights from western countries into China. There are though more from traditional allies, such as other BRICS nations, Cambodia and of course Russia.

To travel to China in 2024 will mean either biting the bullet and opening more on flights, or getting creative. Again this is particularly annoying with regards to trying to make a transit flight work.

Again if you have the right visa then you can cross overland cheaply from a number of countries, such as Russia, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Vietnam, Thailand and Laos. Myanmar is not currently possible.

Money is a problem for travel to China in 2024

In 2019 China was on the way to becoming cashless, and by now it has pretty much achieved the feat. Therefore most people pay with WeChat – a form of messaging app. Said app previously had to be linked to a Chinese bank card, but thankfully now be linked to a foreign/western card.

There are though at least two problems with this. Firstly, this is not that reliable, as there are small daily limits and at times it just stops working. This can really leave you high and dry.

Secondly, and perhaps most annoying, is that getting a WeChat account is all but impossible unless you have someone in China to verify you. Therefore, if you can get an account or already have one, add your foreign card to it well before you arrive in China.

At worst you can just about survive on cash, but the simple fact is that not all vendors now accept it, change is hard to come by and quite simply there are not enough ATM’s even in big cities like Guangzhou.

Before coming to China order at least some cash and find out where you can withdraw within the country.

Can you use Visa/Mastercard etc when you visit China in 2024?

China is one of the least card friendly countries within the world, despite being “cashless”. This is to such levels that you cannot even survive with UnionPay, the domestic card. This was something I found out very much the hard way. This includes hotels, taxis and the like. There have been talks about improving this, as well as trials with taxis in Shanghai, but a complete sea change is very unlikely in the short term.

One way to mitigate this is by using apps like when you visit China in 2024. They allow you to book and pay for hotels, as well as train tickets. Again, Chinese train stations will not take western cards, nor will standard 3-4 star hotels.

How to visit China in 2024 for a North Korea Tour?

As the DPRK is not yet open this is something that is a little hard to answer. Generally speaking though it should follow the rules that we mentioned in this article.

The only difference would be that we are then able to provide details on the tour you would be taking with YPT, thereby helping to ease your visa process. This would also apply when we resume running trips to Tibet and beyond.

Click the link to see our 2024 North Korea Tours.

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