How to get a Chinese Visa in Ho Chi Minh City

Are you wondering how to get a Chinese visa in Ho Chi Minh? Let’s talk about it!Β 

how to get a chinese visa in ho chi minh cityPrior to going to the Chinese consulate, I did a ton of research and couldn’t find a whole lot of information about it. This post is going to give you a little breakdown of the process. Please note, I can only speak for the U.S.A. as well as Austrian passport holders.

Chinese L Visa

If you are planning on visiting China as a tourist, then you’ll need an L visa. A Chinese L visa is for “Foreigners who intend to go to China as a tourist.”. For a full list of all other categories click here. In this post, I’ll be sharing my experience with getting a Chinese L Visa in Ho Chi Minh City.

What you will need

This list consists of the basic documents you’ll need according to the Chinese embassy. I did heaps of research online and read that quite a few people get asked for additional documents that aren’t on this list. My advice is to do as much research as possible about your particular situation. If you think you may need to bring an additional document, just bring it.

  1. Passport: Original passport with at least six months of remaining validity and blank visa pages + copy of the passport’s data page and the photo page (if separate)
  2. Visa application form and photos
  3. Proof of legal stay or residence status: You must provide your valid certificates or visa of stay, residence, employment or student status.
  4. Photocopy of previous Chinese passports or previous Chinese visas: This didn’t apply to me and IΒ don’t have any information on it.
  5. Round trip plane ticket booking and proof of a hotel reservation OR an invitation letter issued by a relevant entity or individual in China: We brought our flight booking confirmations and because we were planning to stay with a friend, we asked her for an invitation letter.

The process

The Chinese consulate in Ho Chi Minh is open for visa applicants from 8:30 AM to 11 AM, from Monday to Friday. The visa processing time is roughly 3-4 working days.

Prior to visiting the consulate I read heaps of google reviews and figured that I rather get there a little earlier, then too late. We ended up arriving at roughly 5:30 AM and there was already a huge line.

Line at Chinese Consulate in Ho Chi Minh City
The line at Chinese Consulate at 5:30 AM in Ho Chi Minh City

At 7:30 AM the guards asked us to form proper lines and at around 9:20 AM we finally made it inside the consulate. A woman checked our documents and gave each of us a number. We waited only 5-10 minutes and were then seen by someone from the consulate.

Issues that we faced

The lovely lady behind the counter went through all our documents and in this section, I’ll talk you through the issues that we faced.

1. Visa application form and photos: You need two photos with a white background. I only had photos with a light gray background and needed new ones with a white background.

3. Proof of legal stay or residence status: We both had valid Vietnam visas and made copies of them. We got asked to come back with a copy of our Vietnam entry stamps.

7. Round trip plane ticket booking and proof of a hotel reservation OR an invitation letter issued by a relevant entity or individual in China: We were planning to stay with a friend and had an invitation letter from her. For more information on the letter of invitation, click here. While the invitation letter itself was fine, We got asked to come back with a copy of her passport and residence permit.

We were both hoping to get two-month visas. Turns out that in Ho Chi Minh City, as an Austrian passport holder, you can only get a one-month visa. As a U.S.A. passport holder, you qualify for a two-month visa that’s valid for 10 years. Depending on your situation though you may qualify for a Chinese visa extension/renewal. Update: I ended up extending my Chinese Visa in Chengdu and read that the process is similar in other cities. If you want to know how you can renew your visa in Chengdu click here.

How we worked it out

We rushed out of the consulate as fast as we could. My man connected to wifi at the cafe right next to the consulate and I rushed to a print shop that’s very close by.

If you are in need of new photos, prints or copies ask the guards. They know where the print shop is. Luckily our friend got back to us super fast and only 10 minutes later we had what we needed in our inbox.

At the print shop, I had new photos taken for VND 30,000, got copies of our Vietnam entry stamps and printed a copy of our friend’s passport and work permit. Luckily for us, the guards let us back inside.

We didn’t need to wait in line and went straight to the counter to get our number. We got to the counter within minutes and this time around, everything was fine.

The lady behind the counter gave us a slip, asked for a Vietnamese phone number in case there’s a problem and told us to come back in three working days.

Collecting our Visas + Cost

We applied for our visas on Monday and got told that we could pick them up on Thursday between 2 PM and 4 PM. On Thursday we arrived at 1:30 PM and there was already a line.

We were able to collect our visas at 3 PM. My man (U.S.A. passport holder) was granted a two-month visa for $140 while I (Austria passport holder) was granted a one-month visa for $30.

We needed to pay for our visas on the day we collected them, all payments need to be made in cash and the consulate takes only US dollars.

I needed to get Vietnamese Dong out and exchanged them for USD. If you don’t know where to go, read my short guide on where to exchange money in Ho Chi Minh City.

Le Van Tam Park
Le Van Tam Park near the Chinese Embassy

Tips on how to get a Chinese Visa in Ho Chi Minh City

Based on my experience at the Chinese consulate I have a handful of tips:

  • Have your application form filled out prior to going to the consulate (You can download it here)
  • While there is glue at the consulate, if you have some, just affix your photo to the application before you go
  • Bring all the basic documents + everything else you think may help
  • Arrive as early as you can and by 6 AM at the latest
  • Bring small change in case you need to make a copy or have new photos taken
  • Have a Vietnamese phone number on hand (We gave the embassy the local number of our Airbnb host)

This was my experience with getting a Chinese visa in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam. I can really only speak for myself and everyone’s experience will probably vary a little.

If you have any questions about the process, feel free to comment down below and I’ll get back to you! πŸ™‚

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  1. claire truong
    July 20, 2018 / 8:44 AM

    Hello, thank you for your insight. Did you pay the $30 at the counter of the consulate or you had to pay soemwhere else before coming to the consulate to pick up visa ?

    • Nina
      July 21, 2018 / 1:44 AM

      On the day I picked it up I paid the fee. Shortly afterward I had my visa! πŸ™‚ I didn’t need to go anywhere else – I simply handed the cash to the person working at the counter of the consulate πŸ™‚

  2. Bene
    July 23, 2018 / 7:34 AM

    Thanks! This is just what i’ve been looking for and it is very recent. Is my understanding right that you were holding a tourist visa in Vietnam when you applied for China tourist visa at the Chinese consulate in HCMC?

    • Nina
      July 23, 2018 / 1:58 PM

      Yes, that’s correct! I had a Vietnam Visa that I got at the consulate in Bangkok. A visa is definitely needed as you wouldn’t be able to enter the country without one (as a tourist) πŸ™‚

  3. Bene
    July 23, 2018 / 3:51 PM

    I was merely clarifying if my understanding that China now allows people on tourist visa to apply for Chinese visa in a country not their own. This is exactly what I plan to do when I get to HCMC next month. Last year it was impossible to apply for Chinese visa in a country you are not a resident of. I wasn’t asking whether you had Vietnamese visa or not because the answer to that is very obvious. In any case, this post was helpful. Thanks!

    • Nina
      July 24, 2018 / 2:05 AM

      It’s a valid question! πŸ™‚ Yes! They absolutely do! πŸ™‚ If you plan on getting your chinese visa in HCMC make sure to be prepared and arrive EARLY. I can’t stress this one enough. It was wild! πŸ˜€

  4. Ary
    July 30, 2018 / 9:54 PM

    Hi, I am going to Ho Chi Minh by the end of this week. I couldn’t get Chinese visa on my country (Argentina) because recently became very complicated to get it here. I have some questions about getting visa on HCM:
    1) I only will be staying for 3 days, can I ask for an urgent visa? I will go to another Vietnam city
    2) Can they send the passport to my hotel? Or can I send somebody to pick it up?
    3) What happened if I arribe later? There is a limit number of visas that they issued each day?

    • Nina
      August 4, 2018 / 4:22 AM

      1) Yes. They do offer express service. I believe express service would have been 1-2 working days and a little extra. Don’t quote me on that though, I don’t remember how many days express exactly took
      2) They definitely won’t be sending your passport to your hotel. You need to physically go there on the day of collection to pay, collect your passport and your visa. I am not sure if someone else could pick it up for you. On the day you apply for the visa simply ask the people working there. They will be able to advise you on that.
      3) As far as I am aware they don’t have a certain number of visas they are giving out. That being said, if you arrive after my recommended time you may not get inside the building and would, therefore, run the risk of not getting your visa. Come as early as you can. I recommend going between 5 and 6 AM.

      Hope that helps! πŸ™‚

  5. kshitij mishra
    August 12, 2018 / 8:35 AM

    I have an invitation letter from Chinese citizen.
    Do i need to book flight tickets? Or i can do it without flight tickets?

    • Nina
      August 28, 2018 / 4:19 PM

      It is recommended to bring them. They basically want to see that you intend to leave the country. If you aren’t yet sure when you’ll fly out you could always book a flight and cancel it.

  6. Zach
    August 22, 2018 / 6:49 AM

    Did you notice people cutting in line? I just spent three hours roasting outside the consulate in Hanoi, but gave up because the queue got bigger! People would just cut on the sides until it overflowed onto the road. It looked like there was bribing at 450k to skip to the single file queue. I would rather try my luck in Ho Chi Minh City.

    • Nina
      August 26, 2018 / 7:38 AM

      This pretty much describes my experience in Ho Chi Minh City. There’s lots of queue jumping going on. We got in because we arrived early. If we’d arrived an hour or so later we wouldn’t have made it because a lot of people who do come, end up jumping the queue. Neither of us speaks Vietnamese so it’s really difficult to do/say anything about it. I’d just go there as early as you can and would try again! πŸ™‚

  7. Alisa
    August 27, 2018 / 3:53 AM

    Nina, I can’t thank you enough for the article you wrote. I am currently in HCMC, want to apply for a Chinese visa, but there is almost 0 information on that. Thank you again for the insight and help, hopefully I will get my visa, too.
    I was told that it’s nearly impossible to get the visa in your place of residence, but Vietnam, Combogia, and probably some other South-East Asian countries.
    Will get back here and talk about my expirience as soon as I get (or not) the visa.

    • Nina
      August 28, 2018 / 4:04 PM

      I feel you on that one! I only found very little about it online. The only really helpful source was google reviews. I wouldn’t have gone this early if it wasn’t for people reviewing the Chinese embassy in HCMC on google! No worries at all! I really just wanted to share my experience in the hope of it helping others πŸ™‚ It can definitely be a difficult visa to get. I’d love for you to share your experience – I think it’d be super helpful for anyone reading this in the future πŸ™‚ I wish you all the best. Let me know how it goes! πŸ™‚

  8. Hoang Nguyen
    October 5, 2018 / 2:17 PM

    Hi Nina, would you please explain what do you mean with the Vietnamese entry stamps? Is it the stamp that put on your passport when you at the airport? I am having an Australian friend coming to HCMc and he will apply for Chinese visa here.

    • Nina
      October 6, 2018 / 4:11 AM

      Yes, it’s the stamp that you’ll get at the airport. They want to have a copy of the page in your passport that shows the stamp clearly. So he’d need to make sure to bring a copy of the passport page where the stamp is! πŸ™‚

  9. Horacio
    October 14, 2018 / 9:34 AM

    Hi Nina! We’ll go to HCM city next week to get the Chinese visa cause we will do, as you did, a housiting in Chengdu (yes, like you!!) but after we have other en Shenzhen, so we will probably need to extend our visa as you did too.
    Is there any possibility to get directly two or more months visa in HCM?
    Thanks a lot for you explanation πŸ™‚

    • Nina
      October 15, 2018 / 11:20 PM

      Hi Horacio! This is dependent on what type of passport you hold. If you go to the Chinese Consulate in Ho Chi Minh City and you are a U.S.A passport holder then you’ll get 2 months and your visa could be used again and again over a period of 10 years. If you are from most countries then you’ll only be able to get a one-month long visa. I wanted a two-month long visa and was told that this consulate currently only gives out one-month long visas to most passport holders, people with a passport from the U.S.A. being the most common exception due to the agreements that are set in place. I hope that makes sense! πŸ™‚ Sweet that you are doing two house sits in China btw! Chengdu was one of my favorite places on this trip, I loved it! Good luck at the consulate and make sure to arrive super early!! πŸ™‚

  10. Horacio
    October 16, 2018 / 3:10 PM

    Hi again Nina! I have one question more, do you know if the chinase embassy is giving 3 months or s6 month two entries visas?
    I’m looking to stay in Chengdu for more or less a month, after leave to HK, stay a few days and come back to Shenzhen for another month. Thanks a lot!

    • Nina
      October 17, 2018 / 8:25 AM

      As far as I am aware that’s not the case for the Chinese Embassy in Ho Chi Minh City. They only give 2 month long visas to U.S.A. passport holders. Most other nationalities are only able to qualify for a month-long visa. I wanted to get at least 2 months and it was then explained to me that I won’t be able to get that due to them only giving out month-long visas for Austrian (and other) passport holders. Both my visa and my man’s visa was a single entry which leads me to believe that that’s all they ever give out. I am not sure what I’d do in your case! :S

  11. Maneesh
    October 18, 2018 / 9:38 AM

    Thanks for taking the time to write this up

    • Nina
      December 3, 2018 / 4:42 PM

      Apologies for my late reply! No worries at all! I hope it was helpful to you! πŸ™‚

  12. Nigel
    October 30, 2018 / 5:33 PM

    No question as I just want to thank you for all the information you provided. I too have been on-line searching for information for days and you have checked all the boxes to my many questions.

    Thanks again

    • Nina
      October 31, 2018 / 6:30 AM

      I am thrilled to hear that what this post has been useful to you! It was so difficult for me to find decent and, most importantly, current information, I just had to put it into writing in the hopes that it may help someone else out! πŸ™‚

  13. Gabriela
    November 21, 2018 / 2:55 AM

    Hi Nina.
    Thanks for all the information you have shared.
    I’m living in Hcm with my husband and we have resident card.
    My question is can I go the consulate alone and apply the visa for both of us?

    • Nina
      November 22, 2018 / 11:06 AM

      As far as I am aware you’d both need to be physically present to apply for a visa!

  14. Brennen
    December 3, 2018 / 6:07 AM

    Hi Nina, great write up! What happens if I don’t get to the Consulate until 8 or 8:30am? Will I just have to wait longer in line? Or will I miss out on my chance to submit my application?

    • Nina
      December 3, 2018 / 7:35 AM

      If you get to the consulate at 8 or 8:30 AM you’ll be too late. As mentioned in my post, my recommendation is to get there between 5 and 5:30 AM. If you show up any later than that you probably won’t be getting inside.

      • Brennen
        December 3, 2018 / 7:46 AM

        Well noted, thank you very much!

        • Nina
          December 3, 2018 / 4:37 PM

          No worries at all! From my experience arriving there at 5:15 AM in the morning it’s highly unlikely that you’ll get in by arriving any later than 6 AM. The consulate, let me put it this way, is run in a very particular way. There are certain practices going on that I am personally not willing to support. I think if you read up on the reviews on Google, you’ll get a much better picture about how things are run there. Trust me when I say that the earlier you get there, the better. If you arrive at 8 AM, on any regular day, your chances of getting in are going to be zero to none, based on my personal experience of being there! πŸ™‚

  15. Frida Malene Bergseth
    December 25, 2018 / 7:49 PM

    Hi Nina!
    Thank you so much for writing this, as I have been struggling to find information on this matter.
    My question is, as it seems that HCMC only gives out 1 month entry to other passport holders (i’m from Norway) –
    I will be in HCMC in the beginning of March, but won’t go to Chine until the beginning of May, is it possible that the visa starts when i’m going to China, or is it only valid from the date they give it out and one month after that?
    I hope you understand my question, and can answer it.

    Thank you again!

    • Nina
      December 26, 2018 / 9:08 AM

      Hi Frida!

      Same here! When I was trying to figure this out I found very little information on the process and figured to do a little write-up! πŸ™‚

      The visa will be valid when you actually go to China. You will need to submit your desired entry date and your visa would then be issued to be valid from the day you physically enter China.

      I hope that makes sense!

      • Frida Malene Bergseth
        January 2, 2019 / 11:58 AM

        Thank you so much! I was very concerned about this, so thank you for helping me!

        • Nina
          January 2, 2019 / 2:11 PM

          No worries at all! πŸ™‚

  16. Stuart
    January 13, 2019 / 1:40 PM

    Hi Nina,
    Thanks for this information!
    Not sure of you know anything about children?
    Do they have to be present to actually apply for the visa?
    Or do you know if the paperwork just needs to be handed in without a visual on the person whose name is on the application?

    • Nina
      January 14, 2019 / 8:22 AM

      Hi Stuart,
      Unfortunately, I am not sure how this process works with children.
      It’s probably best to contact the embassy prior to visiting! πŸ™‚

  17. Markus
    March 13, 2019 / 9:24 AM

    Hi Nina,
    Thank you so much for this article. That really helped a lot.
    Do you have any knowledge about how it works for Germans? I guess it is not too different to Austrian passport holders?
    Also: You say in your article you were hoping for a two months visa but ended up with a one month visa.
    Does this mean that your flight ticket was booked for after a period of two months in China?
    I’m asking because I am wondering if you only need to have a ticket and as long as you have one, whatever the date is, it’s ok?

    • Nina
      March 18, 2019 / 7:09 PM

      As an Austrian passport holder, you are only ever going to get a 1-month long visa, regardless of what your ticket says. I can only assume that it would be similar for german passport holders, although I can’t confirm that. I intended to stay for two months and got informed that at this particular embassy, only 1-month long visas are being handed out, again, regardless of your bookings.

      You can always extend it when in China, I did make a post about this topic as well. I hope that helps! πŸ™‚

  18. April 3, 2019 / 8:43 AM

    Hi Nina. Thank you for providing this service. My fiancee is Vietnamese and I live in China. It’s been quite an ordeal for her to get a 1 month Chinese visa mainly because of the long line. The woman told her to come back in 5 days and wrote down a figure for the fee — $600! I’m assuming there was some mistake — one too many zeroes perhaps. We are panicking due to the difficulty of transferring the money in such a short time period. Do you think there was a mistake ?

    • Nina
      April 6, 2019 / 3:37 PM

      Regular one-month visas at the consulate will be way below $100. Mine was around $30. $600 is definitely not correct – only bribes could be this much.

  19. Julie
    May 9, 2019 / 12:55 PM

    I fricken love you! Thank you so much for all the details! I am going to go tomorrow, fingers crossed.

    • Nina
      May 19, 2019 / 7:29 AM

      I hope it went well!!

  20. Nick
    May 15, 2019 / 7:47 AM

    Hi. So were you not asked for travel insurance? I saw other websites saying it was on the ‘must bring’ list. I’m pondering whether I need it or not.

    • Nina
      May 19, 2019 / 7:29 AM

      Hi Nick, no, I wasn’t asked about travel insurance. It was two of us that applied and none of us were asked about it! πŸ™‚

  21. Sean
    May 30, 2019 / 8:42 PM

    Hello Nina,

    Thank you very much for the informative your website.

    I am gonna try to apply the Chinese VISA.
    And I will have an Invitation letter but I don’t know what is a requirement for it. Can I see the sample or could you teach me how we should write.

    Thank you very much.

    • Nina
      June 3, 2019 / 7:15 AM

      Hello Sean,

      You’re welcome! The content of your invitation letter is going to be hugely dependent on your reason for going to China. I’d just google it as I am sure that there are samples online! πŸ™‚

  22. Sean
    June 3, 2019 / 10:26 AM

    Hi Nina,

    Thank you so much for your information.
    I am gonna try to search.

    • Nina
      June 7, 2019 / 8:59 AM

      Hi Sean, you’re welcome! πŸ™‚

  23. AMY
    June 13, 2019 / 3:43 AM

    Hi Nina, this is really helpful thank you! Its the only blog I can find that refers to HCM rather than Hanoi!
    Question – did you have flights in and out of China to support your application given you wanted to extend? I know you said you had an invitation letter. We are catching the train out of China and have an invitation letter/hotel booking. I am hoping this is enough!

    • Nina
      June 14, 2019 / 7:25 AM

      Hi Amy! You’re welcome! I figured this post might be helpful as I could find hardly anything about this process, at the time, online. In regards to the flight tickets, there are sites with which you can book flights, and cancel them within 24 or 48 hours. The bookings are valid, it’s just that they can be canceled. That’s what I did and would do – it’s a pretty common practice. It wouldn’t have been possible any other way as I didn’t know when I’d be flying out! πŸ™‚

  24. Nir
    August 2, 2019 / 12:16 PM

    Thank you for your post!

    You mentioned that as an Austrian you can get only one month visa.
    Is it different amount of time than what Austrians are eligible?

    As an Israeli I’m eligible for 10 years visa to China and I wonder if this is what I’ll get in Hanoi.


    • Nina
      August 11, 2019 / 4:47 PM

      Yes! The visa that you’ll get depends on which passport you are holding. Different passport, different relations! πŸ™‚

  25. August 4, 2019 / 8:48 AM

    Do you know if I can apply some months in advance?
    For example, I want to enter China by the end of the year. Can I do the visa in August?

    If you know about it please tell me πŸ™‚

    • Nina
      August 11, 2019 / 4:46 PM

      Unfortunately, I am not sure. It didn’t seem that applying in advance is an option I am afraid. It depends on where you are from though! πŸ™‚

  26. Nir
    August 7, 2019 / 7:41 AM

    I have an Israeli passport and yesterday I have been to Saigon’s consulate to get a visa. I was denied because I’m in Vietnam as a tourist, they told me they only give visas to people which work or live here (and not for tourists).

    Other things to mention:
    1. They require accommodations for the whole period in China and they check it carefully.
    2. They make sure that the flight itinerary to China starts from saigon. For example, if you have a flight ticket from Hong Kong to China, you must also have another ticket from saigon to Hong Kong.
    3. Express service is not available
    4. They denied my passport picture because it’s color scale was too white

    The line was long indeed (I arrived at 5:15 am and got to the 1st clerk at 11am). The staff were nice, but they are real bureaucrats.

    • Ivy
      August 10, 2019 / 11:50 AM

      Hello, you were denied? I wonder if it will be the same for me. I am about to go to Saigon at the Chinese Embassy for a chinese work visa, but I am a business visa holder. Do you think the same policy applies to me?

      • Nir
        August 10, 2019 / 12:05 PM

        No, they told me that I’m not eligible because I have a tourist visa, I think you can apply.

        You might want to consider going to the embassy in Hanoi as they can provide you details by calling theming the phone. Note that those details are valid only for Hanoi embassy and not of Saigon consulate.

  27. Nick
    August 18, 2019 / 3:30 PM

    Possible to do a wok visa for china in saigon? i have ll the documents just need to make sure

    • Nina
      September 17, 2019 / 10:40 AM

      I am not sure. This would depend largely on the passport that you are holding! πŸ™‚

  28. Lukas
    December 14, 2019 / 1:40 PM

    First of all, thanks for your detailed information about the Chinese Visa application. The procedure is now (Dec 2019) basically still the same. The only thing that really changed is the location of the new Chinese Visa Application Center:

    Saigon Trade Center
    37 Đường TΓ΄n Đức ThαΊ―ng, BαΊΏn NghΓ©, QuαΊ­n 1, Hα»“ ChΓ­ Minh 70000, Vietnam

    Check out there new website at

    The office is on the 16th floor. Make sure to take the right elevator since they go to different floors. The new office is really modern and has even a photobox and a print service inside! But I still recommend you to get all your documents beforhand to avoid using this overpriced service and inconveniences.

    They charge a fee of 685,000 Dong for their service + the visa fee (depends on the country).

    My experience: The lady at the counter was surprisingly friendly. I had everything prepared beforehand but made some mistakes with the application form and she helped me to correct it. I had my flights and accommodation booked and got a hardcopy of all of them. I could pick my visa up after 4 business days and everything was quite easy. When I applied for the my visa I arrived at the center at 10.30 am and had to wait more than two hours. When I picked it up I was there 15 minutes before they would open and I didn’t even wait for half an hour. So if you’re in a hurry make sure to arrive before they open their doors.

    • Nina
      December 18, 2019 / 4:30 PM

      Hi Lukas, thank you so much for taking the time to leave a comment! It’s great to know that the application center is now at a different address and that the process is pretty much the same. I am glad that you got yours sorted so smoothly!

  29. October 8, 2021 / 3:45 PM

    I would like to get information about travelling visa to China

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