How to get a China visa in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan
Getting a China visa is most certainly not the easiest to get on the road. There are some notable exceptions, however, and Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan, is one of them. Coupled with a healthy couchsurfing community and a thriving cafe culture, there are worse places to do the visa wait.
Visa policy of China
ⓐ No Visa – length depending
Citizens of San Marino can visit China without a visa for up to 90 days
Citizens of the following 5 countries can visit China without a visa for up to 30 days:
Bahamas, Fiji, Grenada, Mauritius, Seychelles
Citizens of the following 3 countries can visit China without a visa for up to 15 days:
Brunei, Japan, Singapore
ⓑ Applying for a visa – 30 days
Citizens from all countries not listed above, or those from countries whose free visa only extends for 15 days and wish to enter into China for longer, need to apply for a Chinese visa in advance. A list of Chinese embassies and consulates around the world can be found here and information on requirements can be found here.
Getting a Chinese visa in Bishkek
Agency Name: Eurotour
Address: Manas St. 40, 1st Floor, Door 200 (on the corner of Manas and Kievskaya, enter street door next to the bank, go through and security gate, turn left and go one floor up)
Tel: Gulsara +996543900088 or Meerim (who speaks English) +996550344888
Price: $150 – paid directly to the agency + price of photos
Waiting time: 1 week
Length of visa: 1 month
Visa validity: 1 month (i.e. you must enter within a month)
How to get there using public transport: The agency is very centrally located and you should be able to walk from most city centre locations. If you are on Ala-Too square you can take marshrutkas #134, #137, #220 or #254 westbound and it will drop you off on the corner of Manas and Kievskaya. From the eastern side of Osh Bazaar, you can take the #107, #139 or #247. Regardless of your position in the city you can always use the extremely useful bus.kg website which has a handy map that allows you to pin your location and destination. Much recommended!
Opening Hours: Open all week including Sunday
Documents: To apply for the visa you will need:
- your passport with 6 months validity after expiry of the visa and 2 empty pages
- 1 filled-out Chinese visa application form
- 1 passport picture (3.3 x 4.8)
- print out of bank statement
Our experience: Firstly we took a trip to the Chinese Embassy to see if we could apply in person. The embassy staff were a lot friendlier than we had expected but there we hit a problem. In theory, it was possible to apply (it would have cost just $40) but we needed to have an invitation letter from an agency.
We then visited a number of agencies in Bishkek trying to obtain one but all of them wouldn’t give us the invitation letter alone. They would deal with the whole process but wouldn’t give just an invitation letter so we could do it ourselves.
Forced to go through an agency we found one that was a good mixture between cheap and reliable looking. The large agency Kyrgyz Concept (42/1, Isanov St. I) required too many additional things (work reference, bank statement, accommodation and transport booked through their company) and Akmuz Travel (Manas 40) were looking for over $200 per person to make the application. We also tried to contact Miss Liu (142 Chuy Av. – 0550600168) who has the reputation as the fixer of Chinese visas in Bishkek, but she didn’t seem too pleased to speak to us over the phone and put us off with her brisk and harsh tone. We contacted one more agency called Kyrgyz Service Company (Moscow str. 165, kscavia[at]gmail[dot]com, +996312318821), and although they wanted only 100$ for the service, the boss put us off by being overly-confident and giving us a 100% guarantee we would get the visa. She didn’t know much about the embassy opening times and required documents, however, so we figured it was a bit dodgy and despite the tempting low price, we preferred not to risk it.
We settled on Eurotour as we had read positive recommendations on Caravanistan and the lady we contacted, Meerim, spoke good English and was nice.
The first thing at Eurotour was to complete the application form and print out a copy of our bank statement (which we did on their computer in the office). We were then sent to a photographers to take photos (магазин салон Радуга – Shop/Salon Raduga – ul. Manas 38). Once that was done, Meerim picked them up herself.
As this was done over the weekend, on Monday morning we went again to the office. The boss (Gulsara) then drove us to the embassy for an interview. The interview was quite straight forward with questions such as our purpose of visit, countries we intended to visit after China, mode of transport (we said bus & train rather than explaining what hitchhiking was), how the trip was funded (self-funded), our profession and other harmless things. With that all satisfied we were allowed to leave.
We then had to wait 1 week. The next Monday we went to the office with our passports, she stuck in the visa (which seemed odd but there you go) and we were finally allowed to go to China.
Step-by-step quick overview:
- Complete application form
- Get photos taken
- Make application at the embassy / interview with embassy staff
- Wait 1 week
- Collect visa from Eurotours office
If you got your visa at this embassy, please share your experience in the comments!
written by: Jon