Getting a Chinese visa in Bangkok is relatively straightforward if you only want a 30 day tourist visa – and you know where to find the visa section, because it’s not in the Chinese Embassy
To get your visa, you need to go the Visa section of the Chinese Embassy in Bangkok. Note that the Visa section is NOT part of the main Chinese Embassy at 57 Ratchadapisek Road.
The Visa section is nearby, but in a separate building on Ratchada Soi 3.
The Visa section is open for visa application from 9 am to 11:30am, and then pick up from 3 to 4pm.
To get there, catch the MRT to Phra Ram 9, get out at Exit 1 and walk up Ratchadapisek Road for 200 metres until you get to Ratchada Soi 3. Turn left into the Soi and the entrance to the China Embassy Visa section is about 100 metres down the road on the left hand side. It’s the first building on the street. It’s not particularly well signposted. If you look at the photo above, it shows the entrance to the Chinese Embassy Visa Section. The big shiny silver pillar is about the only distinguishing mark – there’s no actual sign that I could see. There tends to be a few people hanging about here too. If you arrive at a 7-11 on the left hand side of Ratchada Soi 3, you’ve gone too far.
Once you locate the building, the Visa section itself is on the 2nd floor. Go upstairs and fill in the form.
UPDATE: Chinese visa rules change frequently and seem to have become more and more difficult in Bangkok. If you read through the comments below, you’ll see that the Chinese visa authorities in Bangkok seem to actively look for reasons to NOT give you a visa. Expect to be asked for proof of hotel booking, flights out of China, a day by day itinerary of your movements in China, and a letter from your employers to prove your job, a letter from your university to prove you are a student, or a copy of your bank balance if you’re unemployed. Most importantly, I would suggest you contact the Chinese Embassy in Bangkok directly before going there to find out what their exact criteria are.
The forms are immediately in front of you as you walk in. You will need 1 photo. You may also need proof of your return flight and hotel reservation. (It’s technically required but often not asked for). If you are a US citizen, you need 2 photos, and you will need to fill in 2 copies of the form. You will also be charged a much higher fee for the visa.
Once you’ve filled in the form, you will need to take a number from the ticket machine. This is to the left of the table with the forms, along the back wall of the room. There were a lot of people standing around it hiding it from view when I was there, which left me a little confused at first.
Once your number is called, you hand over your passport, filled in form, photo and get a receipt. You don’t pay until you come back to collect it.
When you return, you simply queue up at the Cashier window on the far left, present your receipt, pay your fee and then go to the next window to collect your passport with Chinese visa stamp inside it.
You can normally only collect your visa in the morning, unless you have paid for the one day express service.
I would definitely recommend going early, both to drop off and collect your visa. The office opens at 9 and visas applications are accepted until 11 am (I think). By 10 am the place is heaving. That said, it is extremely efficient and the queue at both windows moves very fast.
Below is a photo of the Visa prices as at September 2010 as displayed on the wall of the Chinese Embassy. USA citizens pay far higher fees. Thai citizens pay 100 baht less than everyone else.
Current rates for the most popular 30 day tourist visa are 1100 Baht for pickup in 4 days, 1900 for 2-3 day express and 2300 for 1 day express service.
Be aware that China changes its visa rules frequently – during the Olympics it became almost impossible to get a visa (truly bizarre) and recently French nationals were having trouble getting visas due to a diplomatic spat between the two countries.