As I write this, I’m home, in bed, it’s 3:00 AM and I cannot sleep. My body still thinks it’s 3:00 PM, jet lag sucks! So I thought, what better time than to start my layover in China 🇨🇳 blog.
The process was a lot easier than I imagined, so I thought I’d share in case it’s something you were stressing about or just wanted to know in the event that you too have a layover in China.
24-hour Transit Into China Without Visa
I’m flying back to Canada from my monthly long adventure to Vietnam (please be sure to check out my posts on that amazing trip).
When I landed in Guangzhou, China, at the Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport, the temporary immigration process to enter China was much simpler than I expected it to be.
If your layover in China is less than 1 day, you can possibly enjoy a 24-hour transit without a visa (24-hour TWOV). It is available to passengers of most nationalities at most ports of entry.
Most countries are eligible for the 24-hour TWOV except those listed below: Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Iran, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Malaysia, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen.
When I deplaned, I went over the area for the Visa (the sign is easily displayed – you’ll be heading to the right). I filled out the necessary application form and handed it to the kind lady at the counter. After providing her with my passport, boarding pass from my current flight, and for my flight onto Toronto, I was asked to take a seat as they reviewed my application to enter the country. The process was smooth and quick – I hardly had enough time to vlog that I was waiting for a response before she provided me with the answer – YES!
From there I went through to Customs and then made my way to Gate 50 (it’s downstair on the first floor – you’ll be walking to the right), the China Southern Airline counter for my FREE hotel accommodation. I found that gate a little hard to find, but once I found it, the rest of the process was fairly simple. I showed the counter agent my boarding pass and passport and was then asked to review a selection of hotels from an iPad and select one.
Free Hotel Provided By China Southern Airlines
I chose the W.Y. Lera Hotel based on the looks of the hotel alone, I didn’t read the whole summary of each hotel because there was a line up behind me. It looked like something I might see in Vegas – tall, flashy lights, had a tower, and it looked as if there was be something “happening” near by. That wasn’t the case so much. The hotel is located in the Huadu District of Guangzhou in the far northern suburbs of the city, quite the distance from any sightseeing in the city centre. But, it was provided for FREE and I am definitely grateful for that and am not in a position to complain.
I noticed online that China Southern Airlines also offered FREE sightseeing tours. I asked at the desk, they do, however, it ended at 1:00 PM and my flight was at 2:30 PM, I wouldn’t have enough time to finish the tour, get to the airport, through security and make my flight – so that was not an option for me.
After selecting my hotel, I was provided with a sticker with the hotel name and asked to wait in the designated area until the airport shuttle could take us to the hotel.
When I arrived at the hotel I asked at the front desk how long it would take by metro to get to the city centre – by subway 1.5 hours each way — having to grab my shuttle at 11:00 AM the next morning, this was not going to work either, so I would have NO sightseeing during my time in China 😞.
I really applaud China Southern Airlines for providing this service to their passengers, I was happy to sleep in a (hard) bed rather than on an airport floor. This is a 3-star hotel, has 178 rooms. The room was “nice”, it wasn’t outstanding. The room was tired and dated. The carpet was worn and dirty, the decor tired. Also, the WiFi did not work in my hotel room at all, it barely worked in the lobby. The rest of the hotel however, was quite nice.
Breakfast was provided a NO COST, the buffet style selection was endless and was quite yummy.
The best part was the view from the 22nd floor revolving restaurant (it did not revolve while I was eating breakfast). It was an overcast day and was overlooking the tops of other buildings, but, I still found the views quite nice.
The next morning, I decided to go for a walk around the hotel to check out the neighbourhood.
It was pure suburbia, mostly stores, banks and car dealerships. I found it interesting nonetheless simply because of the language of the signs.
It would have been nice to see some of the things I wanted to during my brief stay in Guangzhou. The city features avant-garde architecture such as Zaha Hadid’s Guangzhou Opera House; the carved box-shaped Guangdong Museum; and the iconic Canton TV Tower skyscraper, resembling a thin hourglass. The Chen Clan Ancestral Hall, a temple complex from 1894.
At 11:00 AM the airport shuttle did exactly that – shuttled us the 20 minute drive to Baiyun International Airport. We arrived rather early. Having already received our boarding passes in Vietnam, we just needed to clear security and customs, which was a breeze. Although they did confiscate my fave hot sauce from Vietnam – it was over 100 ml 😢. (I only traveled with a carry on and a Herschel knapsack, no checked luggage / best way to travel 🧳).
While I waited for my flight to board, I sat, had coffee and chatted a bit with my new friend Petr, whom I met the night prior as we both waited for our shuttle to the hotel. That helped pass the time quickly. Then, off I went to departure Gate A160 to board and be on my way back to Canada.
The flight was long – I don’t know how else to make 15 hours pass fast – most of my flight was during the “day” – so I watched a lot of movies, read, did word search (I clearly made a typo in my Insta story above lol).
Upon landing at Pearson International, I was greeted with a blanket of white snow and a balmy temp of -11, a huge difference from the 31 degrees I had become accustomed to.
I’m suffering from jet lag, my sleep is off and I have no motivation for the time being. Thankfully I took 2 work days off at the end of my trip to deal with the time difference.
Next blog will cover my fave moments, foods and things about Vietnam and well as some things I wasn’t so fond of. Tune in shortly.