AND YOUR 144 HOURS STARTS NOW

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - Escape - - ASK THE EXPERT DOC HOLIDAY - KIM CULYER

Can you please clar­ify our visa re­quire­ments if we are depart­ing from Shang­hai on a cruise?

DOC ¿

China of­fers many types of visas, which can of­ten make the process seem some­what con­fus­ing. They vary ac­cord­ing to where and how you en­ter the coun­try, how long you in­tend to stay and what you are there for.

Cur­rently, there is a tran­sit visa avail­able for Aus­tralian pass­port hold­ers depart­ing on a cruise from Shang­hai. You must be stay­ing in China less than 144 hours and you are re­stricted to re­main­ing in the Yangtze Delta re­gion (Shang­hai, Jiangsu and Zhe­jiang). You also need to be head­ing on to a third coun­try, so this will not suit if you are trav­el­ling to China then re­turn­ing straight back to Aus­tralia. You will be re­quired to present your cruise board­ing pass and itin­er­ary to the im­mi­gra­tion of­fi­cials upon en­ter­ing the coun­try. You may also need to show these to your air­line at check-in in Aus­tralia. When you ar­rive in China there is a desk is­su­ing visa-free doc­u­ments. You should head to that rather than the main hall.

This 144-hour visa ex­emp­tion also ap­plies if you are not cruis­ing but sim­ply want to visit this re­gion for less than six days, or the area of Bei­jingTian­jin-He­bei. You must re­main within the re­gions, de­part to a third coun­try and the hours be­gin from mid­night the day af­ter your ar­rival.

Other ar­range­ments also ex­ist, al­low­ing Aus­tralian pass­port hold­ers to tran­sit cer­tain ar­eas of main­land China and air­ports without a visa. There is the Di­rect Tran­sit ap­proval. This is pro­vided if you are tran­sit­ing China by air, stay­ing within the air­port and will not en­ter their bor­der con­trol. It is valid for 24 hours and you must have a con­firmed seat on a con­nect­ing flight.

Next, if you are tran­sit­ing through ei­ther Beijing, Shang­hai, Guangzhou, Chengdu, Chongqing, Shenyang, Dalian or Xian’s In­ter­na­tional air­ports to a third coun­try or re­gion and will be there less than 72 hours, you will be ex­empt from a visa. Again you will need a con­firmed seat on a flight to a third coun­try.

Hong Kong or Ma­cau are Spe­cial Ad­min­is­tra­tive Re­gions and Aus­tralian pass­port hold­ers do not re­quire a visa for stays up to 30 days. If you are join­ing a tour from ei­ther of these re­gions to the Chinese Pearl River Delta or Hainan Is­land, for less than six days, you are also ex­empt from a visa.

How­ever if you are in China and exit to visit Hong Kong or Ma­cau, you may need a new Chinese visa to re- en­ter. And, if you in­tend to ap­ply for a visa at the bor­der of Shen­zhen and Hong Kong or Zhuhai and Ma­cau and you have pre­vi­ously held a Chinese visa in an old pass­port you may be re­quired to show this. The Chinese au­thor­i­ties are strict with their en­try and exit re­quire­ments. They are sub­ject to change at any time and I strongly sug­gest you keep up to date by check­ing with your near­est Chinese Em­bassy. If things do change be­fore your de­par­ture, fast or rush visas are avail­able.

It’s worth not­ing the em­bassies will not process an out-of-state ap­pli­ca­tion. If your state doesn’t have a visa cen­tre (South Aus­tralia, for ex­am­ple) you must send ap­pli­ca­tions to Can­berra. A postal ap­pli­ca­tion will take about 14 days turn­around.

PRINCESS DI TOURS

I am trav­el­ling with my hus­band to Lon­don in the first week of Au­gust. I would like to see where Princess Diana grew up, but can’t find any in­for­ma­tion on tours. Are there day tours from Lon­don? DOC ¿

You can choose from ei­ther a guided day tour to Althorp or a do-it-your­self visit. If you’re in­ter­ested in a guided trip, Voel Coaches (voel­coaches.com) have a day tour from Lon­don to Althorp House, built in 1508 and home to the Spencer fam­ily.

The ac­tual es­tate is more than 500ha and en­com­passes farms, wood­lands and vil­lages. You can wan­der the smaller grounds of the home and view the ex­hi­bi­tions, Diana Princess of Wales and Walk­ing in Her Shoes. You can also ex­plore the in­te­rior of this house fea­tur­ing one of Europe’s finest pri­vate col­lec­tions of fur­ni­ture, pic­tures and ce­ram­ics. You can walk through six rooms de­pict­ing Diana’s child­hood, her wed­ding, her char­i­ta­ble work and her in­flu­ence on fash­ion and style, plus en­joy the grounds, lake and sum­mer­house. There’s also a col­lec­tion of im­ages by Mario Testino in the sta­bles block, a gift shop and cafe.

Al­ter­na­tively, if you’d rather ex­plore at leisure, there is a train ser­vice from Lon­don Eus­ton to Northamp­ton. From Northamp­ton train sta­tion, you could grab a taxi for about $40, or catch the pub­lic bus. Gates open at noon and close at 5pm. Note it will be closed to the pub­lic the week­end of Au­gust 25-26.

TIME FOR JO­HAN­NES­BURG

I will be tak­ing my first over­seas trip to South Africa in Au­gust on a booked tour, trav­el­ling alone. On the way home I have a stopover in Jo­han­nes­burg from 3.05pm to 9.15pm. Would this al­low time for sight­see­ing and what would you sug­gest? DOC ¿

Jo­han­nes­burg Air­port is 22km from the city. It’s a $70 taxi ride tak­ing about 30 min­utes. You will have about 3-4 hours to spare, if your lug­gage has been through-checked to Aus­tralia. The roads can be­come con­gested dur­ing those hours, so if you do want to leave the air­port, use the Gau­train (gau­train.co.za). From the air­port, it will take 20 min­utes to reach the sta­tion at Sand­ton. There are many in­ter­est­ing sites in Jo­han­nes­burg such as the Apartheid Mu­seum, Con­sti­tu­tion Hill and Soweto, but they re­quire a leisurely visit to truly ap­pre­ci­ate and ab­sorb. I sug­gest you avoid the stress and use this time to re­lax at the air­port. Add a few days in Jo­han­nes­burg to your next trip.

PIC­TURES: ISTOCK, VISIT BRI­TAIN

There are many types of visas for China and some ex­emp­tions; Jo­han­nes­burg needs time to truly ap­pre­ci­ate it, and Althorp House, the Spencer fam­ily home, is where Princess Diana grew up.

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