You need to obtain a visa through a Chinese consulate before visiting China. Despite the visa requirement to enter China, you can still obtain a 72-hour Chinese Visa that offers a quick excursion from the Beijing Capital International Airport. To my surprise, the process is fairly easy and, depending what time of day you arrive, it can take only minutes to get through customs to explore what Beijing has to offer.
Beijing Capital International Airport Arrival
Upon arriving, you will pass through a thermal screening to detect if you have an increased body temperature. This is done to ensure you have not contracted any type of illness during your trip. While I have never been pulled aside for additional screening, I assume they will run a few types of tests to ensure its nothing contagious before admitting you back through customs. If you are planning to take advantage of the 72-hour Chinese Visa at Beijing Capital International Airport, you need to follow the signs for Exit and Baggage Claim. To make your International connecting flight, follow the International Transfer sign.
How to get a 72-Hour Chinese Visa
A dedicated lane for the 72-hour Chinese visa is located on the left-hand side of the immigration inspection station. Make sure you’re standing in the lane that says International Transit Passenger (leaving airport). I saw a lot foreigners still unsure on where to go, as it can be confusing for some. Sadly, there aren’t any airport employees directing traffic, so make sure you pay attention!
If you don’t have enough time to go outside the Beijing Capital International Airport, you will have to proceed to the international transfer line.
The Bald Thoughts
It’s always great to take advantage of a long layover or stopover and explore a country you may not otherwise be able to. I purposely book trips with extended time in between transfers for this reason alone. With this 72-hour Chinese Visa, you can explore the Great Wall of China, as I did during a recent layover.
The Great Wall of China is approximately 90 minutes from the airport without traffic. I’d advise a minimum 6 hour layover if you want to visit, not be rushed, and ensure you won’t miss your flight.
A good rule of thumb when traveling abroad is to carry a card that has no foreign transaction fees! A cab ride here and there can add up quickly on your monthly statement.