I need some advise please..... I will be traveling through Asia for 4 months. We already have a ticket so now we are trying to sort the visas we need to the different countries we are going to. We have been checking in the net about the visas we need( china & vietnam). We are flighing from NZ to Beijing and we will be traveling by train to vietnam, laos,cambodia and fly back to London from Bankghok.
We have been told but not confirmed that we need an arrival and departure date in order to get the chinese visa but the plan is to travel overland through vietnam. Can we get a chinese visa without a departure date?, if so, would it be enough with a train ticket?. Or would it help if we get the Vietnam visa before to prove to the Chinese that we are leaving the country?
When I got my visa for China I had both an arrival and departure date so I can't talk from first hand experience, but I was in a similar situation with my Vietnam Visa (and a Russian visa which is amongst the hardest and strictest in the world to get). When I applied for my Vietnam visa, I filled in the application as it asked and seeing I was going overland through to Vietnam, I showed the ticket for my flight that was leaving Cambodia. This was good enough for Vietnam and a similar thing for Russia where I didn't have a flight in or out of the country and they are really strict with visas. I showed them the flight prior to arrival and the first flight after I say I am going to depart and then that was good enough. If it is good enough for a country like Russia, I can't imagine that doing a similar thing or showing a train ticket out will be a thing that would get you denied the visa for China. Do be careful though with when you apply for the visas because I know that China is very strict with regards to how long you have to use it from the date it was issued and they if you muck up on that when applying for the visa you will certainly be denied boarding on your flight to Beijing. I know a couple of people who had that happened and ended up losing about $20,000 worth of cruise payments that were not covered by travel insurance due to the clients own stupidness not to look in to the visa rules carefully.
When we got our Chinese visa in October we just put our arrival date and departure date in the boxes indicated on the visa application form. We weren't asked to produce an onward ticket out of the country or to show a ticket into China either and we entered overland via Hong Kong and exited overland via Macau. As AHarrold says once you submit the visa you have 3 months to enter China, after that the visa will be expired.
Not sure if every embassy is the same though, so it may be worth e-mailing the embassy you will be applying to?