Qatar Airways and Visa - free transit stay at Shanghai
I always put a title of my trip and this one is under acronym Capitalist East Asia. Capitalist East Asia tour includes Shanghai as the financial capital of People Republic of China (PRC), Taipei – the capital of Taiwan or Republic of China as a remnant of the old capitalist China from early 20th century, Japan – the third largest economy in the world and Seoul, the capital of the capitalist South Korea. The trip in the region would take 2 weeks and 10 flights. Japan was the prime destination of my interest during this trip accompanied of metropolises of Shanghai, Taipei and Seoul.
I deliberately chose Shanghai airport as a stopover. The cheapest option was to fly with Qatar Airways to Shanghai. Then I booked a separate flight to Taipei, Taiwan with Chinese low-cost airline Spring. The rationale behind this itinerary is two-folded: first the direct route to Taipei was too expensive and I need to take advantage of 72-hours visa – free transit stay to see the city of Shanghai.
As a foreigner I need a tourist visa for mainland China (PRC). But in last few years the China government introduced transit visa – free allowance to stay in major cities which hosts international airport hubs. The condition to stay there up to 72-hours is to prove your transit stay with outward flight to a foreign country. It’s interesting and even ridiculous for that particular purpose the special administrative regions (SAR) of Hong Kong and Macao and Taiwan are considered as foreign outward destinations or their politico-administrative status being equal of independent countries like Japan and South Korea. And this come in the light of constant claims of PRC that Taiwan is part of PRC. Never mind the political issues and juridical nuances of the current international status of Taiwan but I need to take into account possible visa troubles during planning of my trip.
The check-in stuff of Qatar Airways in Sofia took my international passport and was looking for Chinese visa. There is no Chinese visa. I showed them my booking (e-ticket number included) of Spring Airlines from Shanghai to Taipei. They seemed not very happy as Spring Airlines is a widely unknown carrier in Bulgaria. After few minutes of consultations among junior and senior officers I got my boarding passes. At Doha airport (the first transit hub to go through) there were no questions and formal checking of my first passport page during boarding.
The Chinese immigrant officer at Pudong International Airport in Shanghai is unhappy and little bit embarrassed to have me applying for transit stay. After presenting my flight bookings I’m asked to sit down on a chair in a small separate area and wait to call me. It takes around 30 minutes to clear my travel plan and stamp the transit visa on my passport page. I was strongly warned not to leave the Shanghai municipality (province) borders. I didn’t object that as I mega metropolis city like Shanghai I needed 2-3 days for sightseeing for sure with all newly - build skyscrapers, the old area – The Bund, parks, etc.
On my way back from Seoul via Shanghai to Sofia with 1 day stop-over in Shanghai there were no questions and delays.
On the next year – 2016, I was very happy to return in China with regular tourist visa for on overland trip alongside the famous Silk route from Beijing to Urumqi in West China and Uzbekistan in Central Asia.
Doha Hamad Airport
Missed connecting flight
Recommend this airline for connecting flights