5 Things to Know If You're Traveling to Asia in 2017
From new routes to new visa rules, read this before planning a trip to Asia.
New visa rules
China has implemented a 144-hour rule covering Shanghai and the adjacent Zhejiang and Jiangsu provinces that allows travelers to remain in those areas for up to six days without a visa — as useful for cruisers as it is for air passengers.
Increased service to Asia
Last year, Air China announced new flights from Los Angeles to Shenzhen, while Hainan Airlines connected Las Vegas to Beijing. At the start of 2017, the budget airline AirAsia X received approval to fly to the U.S. through Hawaii and will operate five A330-343s four times weekly starting later this year.
New high-speed trains
As of 2016, a bullet-train tunnel connecting to Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido has shaved the travel time from Tokyo down to four hours. Construction has begun on India’s first bullet-train project, linking Mumbai and Ahmadabad.
Areas of caution
The U.S. Department of State has issued travel warnings for the Philippines and Bangladesh, where terror attacks took place last year. Buddhists in Myanmar have been protesting a plan to grant citizenship to minority Rohingya Muslims, creating unrest in certain areas.
Nation in mourning
Thailand entered a year of mourning after King Bhumibol Adulyadej died last October. While most normal activities have resumed, travelers should be wary of heightened emotions. Be careful when discussing the royal family in Thailand: a critical comment is punishable by up to 15 years in prison. Be aware that public transportation to certain shrines can be crowded on weekends with mourners going to pay their respects.