Travel Gossip: China Visa-Free Entry for Foreign Cruise Tourists

By Billy Jiang, May 16, 2024

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Great news for international tourists planning to visit China soon – traveling to China is becoming increasingly convenient! 

Starting yesterday, May 15, 2024, the National Immigration Administration of China has announced a new policy that allows foreign tourist groups (comprising two or more people) traveling by cruise ship to enter China without a visa, provided they are organized and received by domestic travel agencies.

This visa-free policy applies to 13 coastal cities, where tourists can enter and stay for up to 15 days:

  • Beihai

  • Dalian

  • Guangzhou

  • Haikou

  • Lianyungang

  • Qingdao

  • Sanya

  • Shanghai

  • Shenzhen

  • Tianjin

  • Wenzhou

  • Xiamen

  • Zhoushan

It is important to note that the tour groups must travel to the next port on the same cruise ship and continue with the cruise until it exits China. 

Foreign cruise tourists' activities are limited to the coastal provinces, autonomous regions, and Beijing.

In addition, to support the development of cruise tourism, the National Immigration Administration has added seven new cruise ports to the list of ports where China's visa-free transit policy applies. 

This will facilitate foreign travelers meeting the visa-free transit conditions to transit through China by cruise ship:

  • Beihai

  • Dalian

  • Guangzhou

  • Lianyungang

  • Shenzhen

  • Wenzhou

  • Zhoushan

Since December 2023, China has introduced a series of visa-free policies for several European countries, attracting tourists from Japan, South Korea, and Southeast Asia, and addressing various barriers for foreigners visiting China. 

These strategic policy moves continue to make traveling to China more accessible.

READ MORE: Here's How to Travel to China Visa-Free...

The decision to fully implement visa-free entry for foreign cruise tourists seems to be a logical progression: Since March 2024, German cruise ships have been arriving in Shanghai. 


German cruise ship arriving in Shanghai. Screenshot by That's

Previously, the 15-day visa-free policy for Shanghai port cruise passengers only allowed activities within the Jiangsu Province, Zhejiang Province, and Shanghai. 

The new policy in December 2023 enabled these cruise travelers to book round-trip tours from Shanghai to Beijing.

Despite the tight schedule, the enthusiasm has been remarkable, with nearly every trip booking over 300 travelers for the Beijing tour, marking the largest German-speaking inbound tourist group to Beijing since the visa-free policy implementation. 


Cruise passengers 'race against time' from Shanghai to Beijing. Screenshot by That's

The two-day high-speed rail round-trip from Shanghai to Beijing has been described as a 'race against time' by CGTN News.

With the latest policy, cruise passengers should now have more time to explore the Chinese mainland. 

After all, China is vast, and it is worth taking the time to discover thoroughly.

Do you welcome the new visa-free policy? Would a cruise be your preferred way to travel? Share your thoughts with us.

For more updates on China's latest news, follow our WeChat official account, ThatsGBA.

[Cover image via Billy Jiang/That's]

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