general information
(from Thorn Tree North East Asia)

The Oriental-List, an Internet discussion list solely for the discussion of China travel, hosted by Peter N-H. The list is non-commercial; there's no spam, no advertising of any kind, no off-topic postings, no smart-alec one-liners, and no cat fights. To subscribe write to

Yahoo China News

visas and extension
Since 2002 (although there will always be exceptions), only ONE extension, of NO MORE THAN 30 DAYS is possible, and it usually takes FIVE WORKING DAYS to get. This is directly (in Mandarin) from the PSB offices of about 15 different cities around China.

Entrance to the Shenzhen area is possible with a visa picked up at the border, but this visa is valid only for a few days for most nationalities. Guangzhou PSB says that you can get one-month tourist visas on arrival at Guangzhou East by train from HK. CTS just inside the Chinese side on the land crossing from Macau will sell you a three-month tourist visa in about 30 mins for prices similar to those obtainable in HK (take one photo) and even a six month multiple entry F visa if you are willing to hang about for an hour or so.

driving in China The adventures of one couple driving across China.
KCR Reliable information on trains to the mainland (Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and other nearby points in Guangdong) from Hong Kong (and the proper prices to pay--beware of links to ticket agents from various train information sites)
Hong Kong to Xiamen Ferries Information on ferry services from Hong Kong to Xiamen.
Hong Kong to Guangdong Ferries Information on ferry services from Hong Kong to Guangdong Province
China Travel One don't buy visas here--only boat tickets, and possibly air tickets (but compare prices with other agencies away from the tourist areas), the tickets for expresses to Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou (no commission), and a limited number of rail services within the mainland.
Turbo Jet Information on jetfoil services between Hong Kong Island/Kowloon and Macau.

Flights from Shenzhen airport to mainland destinations are almost always much cheaper than those from Hong Kong. Note that the Turbo Jet site also has details of a convenient jetfoil service to Shenzhen airport.

IMPORTANT General Warning against Hong Kong and mainland on-line air ticket agents. There's massive overcharging on these sites, which only ever feature full prices, almost all of which can be bargained down once in China, automatically by 10%, often 30%, frequently 50% (legally by up to 40%).

The personal site of one of this branches regulars: Roddy
Roddy's websiteIt's aimed at people living in Beijing, somewhere between the travellers passing through, and the ex-pats who get driven everywhere. For example, I've got sections on finding housing, what to expect from Chinese housing, buying and running a mobile phone, getting your laptop hooked up to the internet, etc.
One site recommended by TSkillet
That's Bejing

That's Guangzhou

For information about the trains NanJing Railway StationPrices are only quoted for connections starting in Nanjing and you computer needs to understand Chinese.

Two sites recommended by Confucius for travelers to Shanghai:
ExPats in Shanghai
Shanghai Expat
One site recommended by TSkillet
That's Shanghai

Independent Travel in Yunnan hosted by pratyeka.

Transsiberian, transmongolia and transmanchurian trains
Here are some sites suggested in the past by others who researched this route:
G&R International This is a travel agency in Moscow that has lots of information about the transiberian including their fees for various train tickets. This firm sells train tickets and packages. They post ads on various Russian train sites and are pretty hard sell. Without question, their prices are high but their service is pretty good.
RickSteves A guide book website.
Russia Experience A Brit who operates lots of organized trips on the transiberian route. Some hold true - the prices are high but the service is reportedly good. An Australian travel agency that specializes in travel to Russia.
Russian Passport/Red Bear travelAn Australian company that arranged travel to Russia, Mongolia and North Korea. THE train guru. His site includes pictures of what a 1st class, 2nd class, platskartny bunks look like, shows the route maps and includes load and loads of other useful information. While not the bible, this is probably the first place to start for information but not the cheapest place to purchase tickets. A Russian tour company whose site has lots of good information about things to do and places to see.
StudyRussian A company that specializes in studying Russian at MGU and travel on the transiberian route.
Svezhy Veter Another Russian tour company, although not specializing in travel on the transiberian, this site has lots of useful information about travel in Russia and if you send them a request for prices quotes their prices are reasonable.
Tramp Hostel Reported to be responsive to requests for info, have reasonable prices and reasonably reliable.
Trans-Siberian Railway Web Encyclopedia Good information about history of the trains, cars, books about the trains, but the English section is not well translated.
Vodka Train This used to be sundowners. They are trying hard to undercut MonkeyShrine and Russia Experience with a no frills tour price.
WaytoRussia A travel service, not really an agency, but they keep their webpages up to date regarding train times and ticket prices, both of which change with the season plus they check the service and quality of the companies with which they work.

Personal accounts of others who have traveled the transsiberian route:
Fred's Trans-Siberian Railroad Adventure The personal accounts of a Brit who took the trans-mongolian trip in November-December 2001. Lots of pictures.
Overland to Hong Kong Another Brit who traveled the Trans-Mongolia beginning in the UK

Hong Kong and Macau
Visa information for Hong Kong
In Hong Kong, UK citizens still get different treatment--six month visas on arrival and but they cannot get the Shenzhen area limited visa at Lo Wu.

Most foreigners can enter Hong Kong visa-free for 14 to 90 days, depending on their nationality. Details at this website: Hong Kong Immigration Department Although Hong Kong immigration rules do require visitors to hold onward or return tickets (unless transiting to the Mainland or Macau), HK immigration does not normally ask to see the actual ticket out of the country. However, check-in staff may question anyone travelling to HK on a one-way ticket, since airlines are responsible for returning passengers who arrive without proper documentation.

There's a border between Hong Kong and Mainland China and each side administers separate immigration controls; Hong Kong is part of China but crossing the border is like traveling from one country to another for immigration purposes. Thus, if you arrive in Hong Kong and want to visit the Mainland, you'll need a Chinese visa when you cross to the Mainland, though you can return to Hong Kong visa-free. And if you start on the Mainland, visit Hong Kong, then return to the Mainland, you'll need a new (or double/multiple entry) Chinese visa to re-enter the Mainland.

General information about Hong Kong:
Discover Hong Kong This is the Hong Kong tourist Authority Website (with information on free taijiquan lessons, free junk rides, and much more).
BC Magazine BC Magazine is a free print magazine that has club, gig, restaurant, and bar listings. You can also pick up free copies around town.
HK Magazine is also a great free magazine to pick up around town - any centrally located bar, restaurant or some shops will have copies. - Last minute discounts

Planning to move to Hong Kong:
ICERED This online zine advertises itself as the premier community for high income professionals

Turbo Jet Information on jetfoil services between Hong Kong Island/Kowloon and Macau.
see the China section above for more information about transportation and ferries between Hong Kong and the mainland.

Guide to Hong Kong site seeing:
12hk.comThe unofficial guide to the city.

Chinese Language and Culture Forums:
Chinese-Forums - Great forums broken down in intuitive way








Xi’an Terracotta Army - The famous tomb only recently unearthed to reveal an life-sized terracotta army

Tiananmen Square, Beijing - Historical account 

The Yunnan Great Rivers Project - NPR page with real time audio programming

Planet Pass - A backpackers thorough guide to Asia & Central America

China Through a Lens - Pictures of China

China Travel Hub - Tourist info/agent

That's Shanghai - Magazine website

Travman - Tours, visas, and travel tips