What to do when friends/family visits you in China. Part 1.

You’ve moved to China. For friends and family back home, you have opened the door for them to come to Asia. I am so fortunate to have had my friend, Chuma, visit me two times. This article will focus on the first time she came to visit and all the preparations that are needed to be done to make her visit possible. Here’s a checklist of what needs to happen on both ends:


1. The Invitation Process

  • Does your friend/family member have a valid passport? Make sure it’s not close to the expiration date and has enough pages for the tourist visa.
  • Write an invitation letter with the following information:
    • Who is coming to visit?
    • When will they arrive and leave?
    • Purpose of the visit.
    • My address in China.
  • Conclude the letter by saying, “I accept full immigration responsibility for the person coming to visit”.
  • Attach a copy of your work visa and residence permit.
  • Print the invitation letter out, sign and scan a copy to your friend or family member so he/she can apply for the relevant visa.
  • Applying for a tourist visa to China can be done online through the Chinese Consulate or through an agent; my friend opted for the agent route.


2. Budget

I cannot emphasize the importance of budgeting together. Take a look at the places you want to visit. Do a rough estimate of how much you think you’ll need for food, transportation and entertainment. Be sure to include entry fees to parks plus souvenirs. It’s good to create the same expectation of what you’ll be doing and how much you plan on spending.


3. What To Do While You’re At Work

Don’t forget to apply for annual leave so you’ll actually have the time off to spend with your friend. Be sure to discuss this with your line manager in your center. However, if you leave this until the last minute and aren’t able to get all the days off that you’d like, make sure to have a backup plan for your friend/family members to do/see while you’re at work.
My work day starts at 14:00 and ends at 20:15, Wednesday to Friday. We had free time in the mornings to go explore various markets, restaurants, and museums. My friend would continue adventuring the city by herself while I was at work. She went to shopping malls and also partook in the Hop-on-Hop-off bus which showed you the hot spots of Shanghai, which gave me piece of mind that my friend wouldn’t get lost!

4. Top Tourist Spots

  • Hot Springs Resort – We spent Christmas Eve relaxing at the resort. There were more than 10 hot spring pools, rich in minerals, that we soaked in. We tried every single one of them! The resort also had relaxation and quiet rooms.
  • Shanghai Disneyland – Who wouldn’t want to spend Christmas Day at the happiest place on earth? We braved the cold and the long queues. We went on a few rides and had an amazing lunch at the Cheesecake Factory in Disney Town!
  • Suzhou – We booked a hotel room at Crowne Plaza and enjoyed all that they had to offer. Suzhou is famous water town, so we cruised down the canals of the city and also explored the beautiful gardens there.
  • Beijing – We went with a group of friends and we all stayed at International Hostel. It was great because the hostel organised trips to the Great Wall and other tourist destinations. Be sure not to miss out on the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square.


This was surely a holiday to remember. If you plan well in advanced, follow my tips and tricks, and budget properly, you too can have the time of your life when you have friends and family visit you in China. Stay tuned for part 2, where I talk about our Hong Kong and Macau adventures!


Are you ready to show your friends and family your new home?

Teach, travel and train with EF English First



Post by Nomhla Mahalia Macingwane  EF English First Shanghai

MahaliaFrom Mthatha (Nelson Mandela’s hometown), Eastern Cape, South Africa.
I’m all about loving, living and taking each day as it comes! Always up for an adventure. There’s so much more to see and experience out there. Currently teaching English in beautiful Shanghai.

Click here to learn more about Mahalia