First things first ...
get your passport and visa
When I first planned my trip to China, I didn't
have a passport, so that was the first thing on my agenda.
I went to my local post office and got the
application. I saw that I needed to get two photographs of
myself, and here in my small town, there was a
packaging/shipping/passport-photo shop that handled that.
I got my pictures, which have to be a certain size with
your face taking up a certain percentage of that frame
(they're very particular about such things). And I took my
photos and the money required, along with my application,
to the U.S. Post Office. The post office acts on behalf of
the U.S. Department of State, which alone has the
authority to grant, issue or verify U.S. passports.
For those 16 and older, the passport
application fee is $67. The execution fee is $30. The total is
Your passport is recognized internationally and
verifies your identity and nationality. It's required for
entering most foreign countries.
If this is your first time, you need to go in
person to one of the passport acceptance facilities in the
U.S., such as a post office, probate court, some public
libraries, and county and municipal offices, and you must have
those two photographs of yourself, proof of U.S. citizenship
and a valid form of ID with a photo, such as a driver's
license. Be sure to check for the exact requirements.
Here's the official government site: http://travel.state.gov/passport/passport_1738.html
China travel visa
Once you have your passport, you need to fill
out an application for a China travel visa. There are many
places online where you can obtain a China travel visa,
and that's what I did -- searched online for a place that
looked reputable and secure. Here's one that offers
regular, as well as express and emergency visas: Travel Visa Pro.
The scariest part
about getting your China travel visa is that you have to
send your ACTUAL PASSPORT to them for processing! You just
paid almost $100 for that passport, and it's a very
important document, and now you have to send it somewhere
else! And if you dilly-dallied around before you got your
passport for China travel, you may be in a bit of a time
So DON'T DILLY-DALLY!
Get this stuff taken care of with plenty of time.
The China travel visa will be stamped on a page in your
passport. Your passport must have at least 6 months of validity
left beyond your intended stay in China, and must have at least
two blank visa pages side by side.
Then the real fun begins ... planning your travel to
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