China to Once Again Welcome International Tourists — What to Know Before Going

China will start issuing tourist visas on Wednesday, and areas that do not require visas will be open to all travelers.

Tourists take photos under a 500-year-old ancient magnolia tree in full bloom at Faxi Temple in Hangzhou, China

VCG/VCG/Getty Images

China will once again begin issuing international tourist visas this week, opening one of the strictest borders in the world for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic swept the globe.

The country will resume issuing visas on Wednesday for the first time in three years, Reuters reported. Travelers who already had a visa that was issued before March 28, 2020, will also be able to enter the country as long as that visa hasn’t expired.

In addition, visa-free entry will resume in areas that didn’t require a visa before the pandemic, including on cruise ships passing through the Shanghai port, the wire service noted.

China, which first eliminated quarantine for international arrivals in January, will still require visitors to take a COVID-19 test 48 hours before their departure and input those results into their customs health declaration forms, CNN reported.

The opening comes months after Hong Kong started easing travel restrictions for international visitors. Currently, travelers to Hong Kong are required to undergo a rapid antigen test, which can be self-administered within 24 hours of their departure, or undergo a PCR test within 48 hours of their departure, according to the Hong Kong Tourism Board.

The opening also comes days after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention dropped its rule that required air passengers from China, Hong Kong, and Macau to show a negative COVID-19 test or documentation of recovery before boarding a flight to the United States. The rule had initially been put in place in January amid a surge in COVID-19 cases there.

International foreign travelers who fly to the U.S. are still required to show proof of being fully vaccinated before coming, according to the CDC.

While tourism can begin to resume, the Department of State has issued a “Level 3” travel alert for China, urging Americans to “reconsider travel” to the country “due to arbitrary enforcement of local laws.”

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