Updated: Sunday, January 24, 1:00pm local time
As we are looking at travel to and from China resuming at some point, we have archived a lot of the old — and by now obsolete — information and split the Covid-19 reporting articles into three parts: this one with travel updates within China, coming to China or leaving China, one with Covid-19 news and health information and one with government and business information. We hope this is helpful in finding the information you need.
These articles will be updated live — see date and time above — with verified news from trusted and official sources regarding the Coronavirus situation and how it impacts the lives of people living or travelling in Kunming and the rest of Yunnan. A lot of misinformation has been spread through WeChat groups and we hope that this article can provide a stable reference point.
We are working with a small team of news gatherers and verifiers, both foreign and Chinese. We are checking Chinese government information, national and international news sources, social media, academic resources and information from a couple of foreign embassies in China.
Below information is organized by topic which you can quickly access through the menu above. We will update the publishing date and time of this article as it is updated, so you will know how old the information in the article is.
If you have important news please email vera [at] gokunming [dot] com or contact us through the contact form. After verification it will be added to the article if relevant for Kunming and Yunnan residents.
Domestic and international government institutions and regulations
Chinese government guidelines and apps
Thursday January 14 update: With several new outbreaks across China and with Spring Festival coming up there are new guidelines for domestic travel. It is generally discouraged to travel. But, if you must, there is a new government app (in Chinese) where you can enter your points of departure and arrival and it will give you the requirements needed for travel. We have received reports of several villages in Xishuangbanna not allowing entry to non-residents, so please check local guidelines when planning a trip further afield in Yunnan.
Tuesday August 11 update: The Chinese embassy in Denmark has issued guidelines for travellers — those who are holding a valid residence permit and want to return to China may apply for a visa for free. We are checking with other embassies on the list of countries if that means that they will reopen and start processing visas. We'll keep you updated.
Thursday July 23 update: all travelers coming into China — Chinese and foreign — are now required to show a negative Covid-19 test, taken within 5 days of boarding their flight.
It is #mandatory to show a 'green code' on your phone when traveling by plane, train or subway or when entering certain places. You can get the code through Alipay (see 'health code' option in the picture below), or by scanning the QR code you can find at posted at airports, subway stations etc.
Thursday November 5 update: As of today, several Chinese embassies in Europe have closed for an unspecified period. Since an embassy approval of a negative Covid-19 test is required for travel to China this will affect people wishing to return to China. The Chinese embassy in the United Kingdom has issued a notice: China has decided to temporarily suspend entry into China by non-Chinese nationals in the UK holding visas or residence permits still valid at the time of this announcement... Entry by holders of diplomatic, service, courtesy or C visas will not be affected.
Please register with the embassy of your own country for updates.
Most embassies now advise travellers to avoid travel to China, or if they are already here to leave China by their own means if they have no reason to be here (this is up to every individual to decide what that means), and to not travel to Hubei province.
Monday February 3 update: The USA is not accepting visitors from China — also for people who are only transiting in the USA.. USA citizens, permanent residents and their immediate family can still travel to the USA but might be asked to stay quarantined for two weeks upon arrival.
More countries are closing their borders to travelers from China, so please check with your airline, and the IATA link provided in the 'border info' section.
Visa and residence permit administration
Friday May 15 update: We have received several reports that earlier this week a government decision has been made concerning current tourist visa holders who are at the end of their stay. 30-day extensions will be given on an individual and month by month basis for as long as the pandemic persists and international travel is not an option. Existing multiple-year (tourist) visas will not be affected by this. The fee for this extension varies by country. For student and work visas that are about to expire some more documentation from the ex-employer or school may be required. Same applies as before: go with your documents to the Entry and Exit Bureau before your current visa, residence permit or stay permit expires. They only give information regardig extensions on a case-by-case basis when you present in person — with your paperwork — at the bureau.
Friday May 8 update: Here is a pretty comprehensive write-up of what do at the end of the automatic 60 day extension, including an explanation of the difference between visa, residence permit and stay permit. In short: go to the entry and exit bureau before your current visa, residence permit or stay permit expires.
Friday April 3 update: here is a useful link with information about what exemptions could possibly apply to the ban on foreigners entering the country.
Wednesday April 1 update: There is still some confusion around the automatic and free 60 day extension on their current visa. We have received reports of employers or schools giving false information to employees or students and in one case even trying to charge money for this FREE extension. At the end of your current visa you receive an automatic and free extension of 60 days. This is a blanket government policy, and not up to schools or employers to make any decisions on or charge money for. If you are in doubt whether you will get this automatic extension, please call the Entry and Exit Bureau hotline: 63197353. If you feel your employer or school is not being truthful about the free and automatic extension please report to us: vera [at] gokunming [dot] come. Even after the 60 day extension expires you are not required to leave the country, see next paragraph. In all cases the Entry and Exit Bureau will discuss options on an individual basis so please call them if you are not sure what will happen with your visa.
Tuesday March 31 update: Over the last few days a notice has circulated about foreigners having to leave China at the end of the 60 day 'grace period' that gets automatically added after the current visa expires, and not admitted back into China. This notice has caused worry among the foreign community and was quickly taken down. One PSB officer in Shenzhen has written a clarification in order to stem the confusion somewhat. Today we called the Kunming Entry and Exit Bureau. The take-away from this is that everyone who is near the end of their current visa or near the end of the 60 day automatic extension should contact the Entry and Exit Bureau — see hotline phone number below — as cases will be discussed on individual basis.
Monday March 2 update: The Entry and Exit Bureau has reopened, as well as all PSB's.
Important notice: People who are at the end of their visa stay or residence permit validity but who can not leave China because of virus restrictions will automatically get a two-month extension on their residence permit, to allow for extra time to leave the country and go back to their home country or next destination without overstaying their current (and last) residence permit or visa. Please note that this does NOT apply to people who intend to renew their residence permit — they can apply for the extension as per the usual procedure at the Entry and Exit Bureau. If you are not sure, please contact the Entry and Exit Bureau at tel. 63197353.
Thursday February 20 update: The Entry and Exit Bureau service has not resumed.
This is the 24 hour emergency hotline for the Kunming Entry and Exit Bureau: 63197353 and email address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Anyone whose visa stay will expire soon should call this number to report their situation and begin the process of filing an extension.
Latest notice from the Entry and Exit Bureau: Foreigners in Kunming who cannot leave China or apply for extension of their visa/stay/residence due to quarantine or medical observation, permit and registration of the change of items of their residence permit in time should report to the Exit and Entry Administration Bureau through telephone or Wechat in advance and with permission, they can either make an appointment or reapply those formalities afterward.
Your company or school may be contacted by the local authorities and asked to give information about the number of foreign employees or students, whether they are in China or not, potential health issues, plans for returning if they are not in China, etc. Please cooperate if you get asked questions by your employer, your school or the local authorities.
Official WeChat account of Kunming Entry and Exit Bureau: kmgacrj
International travel updates
We will post developments with regards to changes in entry requirements and flights to China in general here — info that is relevant for travellers wishing to come (back) to China.
Sunday January 24 2021 update: We received a report from a traveller who was leaving China. The 60 day automatic extension was not recognized in her port of departure and she was almost denied boarding — as she was considered to have overstayed her visa. If you plan to leave the country, allocate plenty of time at the departure airport and have the phone number for the Kunming PSB at hand.
Tuesday June 16 update: This map by IATA — the International Air Transport Association — gives some insight in international travel restrictions (and how that affects flights, transfers etc).
Monday June 1 update: Transit through Hongkong airport is not yet possible.
Friday May 22 update: The restrictions on international flights to and from China have been extended until at least October. This means in effect that foreign nationals cannot enter China, unless you are eligible for a rare exemption — diplomats etc.
Thursday March 26 update: China suspends all travel of foreigners coming to China per March 28. This includes all foreigners holding a valid visa or a residence permit.
Please note that travelers who withhold or conceal travel history details may be held liable.
Airport and flights
Here is a handy overview of restrictions imposed by countries around the world with regards to travelers from mainland China, by IATA — the International Air Transport Association.
The border crossing with Laos is still closed and Laos is not issuing visas to travelers coming from China.
Saturday February 8 update: Visas to visitors from China are no longer issued at the Laos border
Friday May 29 update: Vietnam will open the borders and start issuing visas again as of July 1. Follow the link for details on borders, nationalities and application procedure. Please note — this does NOT mean that you can reenter China from Vietnam, until further notice.
Monday February 3 update: Vietnam has suspended all flights to and from China. (proxy needed). We have no confirmation as yet on the land border. No visas are issued to people who have been to China in the last two weeks.
Tuesday August 18 update: Thailand will likely be closed to foreign visitors until 2021.
Friday May 8 update: Thailand extends travel ban until end of May
Friday March 27 update: A Thai emergency decree bars all foreigners from entering the country until April 30
Domestic travel updates
Sunday January 24 2021 update: The government has further increased restrictions on travel, and requires negative Covid tests for those traveling from risk areas. Here is an article which lists the current risk areas. As this will likely change over time, search for 疫情风险等级查询 in wechat — it's a mini program that lists up to date info on which areas are considered high - medium - low level risk.
The general advice is to not travel unless necessary. Furthermore, as quarantine requirements are often decided at local level, please check carefully what the situation is at your destination. We have received reports of people who were ordered to quarantine because they travelled into Yunnan from across provincial borders, even if they did not arrive from a medium risk area. There may be increased scrutiny towards foreigners travelling, especially in rural areas.
Tuesday June 16 update: Here is more info about the measures taken in each province with regards to travellers from Beijing or high-risk areas.
Monday June 15 update: quarantine and Covid-19 tests may be imposed on travellers coming to Kunming from outbreak areas elsewhere in China. A green health code is mandatory in order to enter Kunming without further measures.
Monday June 15 update: Due to recent Covid-19 outbreaks in Beijing and elsewhere in China it is expected that interprovincial travelers will face more questions and scrutiny, from authorities but also from employers (schools). Contrary to rumours, there is no outbreak in Xi'an. Please check with your employer and plan your trips accordingly.
Trains and interprovincial buses are operating as normal — expect however more hassle: a temperature check, lots of questions, show your green code. Allow for extra time at the bus- or train station, be patient and wear a mask.
Kunming Airport is open and functioning as usual apart from extra temperature checks. The official advice is to come early and allow time for the extra checks. You can follow the Yunnan Airport Group (YAG) WeChat account for updates — kunmingairport is their WeChat ID.
Travel within Yunnan
Thursday April 30 update: teachers and students are not allowed to travel outside Kunming during the Labor Day holidays.
Monday April 27 update: We are continuing to add hotels in the Yunnan tourist destinations that are happy to welcome foreign visitors. If you know of more places that welcome foreign guests, please let us know. In general: please check before you travel if your hotel currently accepts foreign guests. Allow for extra time at the train station and have your 'green code' ready to present at the train station and at your hotel.
Wednesday April 22 update: Traveling within Yunnan province is possible but expect more hassle — extra checks at the train station and less options for accommodation. Please check with your hotel if they do indeed accept foreigners and what their requirements are. It can help to point out that you have the health app with a 'green code' and share your travel history. The people at trip.com are very helpful in checking with the hotels for you, and even looking for nearby hotels that do accept foreigners if your hotel of choice does not. A health certificate — to be obtained at your community health clinic — might be helpful but is not a requirement.
Thursday February 13 update: All highway exit closures within Kunming's jurisdiction have been lifted and traffic is resuming as normal..
Wednesday April 22 update: Please plan for half an hour extra at the train station, as a health check and checking in with a new app (similar to the 'green code' health code app) are now required for foreigners.
Official WeChat account for China Railway: chineserailways. Kunming Railway: kmtl2013
Dali and Xizhou
Thursday January 14 update: Here is the latest about travel requirements (in Chinese) for people traveling from different regions across China to Dali.
Lijiang and Tiger Leaping Gorge
Friday November 20 update: a Covid test is now required to travel to Liming in Lijiang Prefecture. No test is required to travel to Lijiang Old Town and surroundings. Tiger Leaping Gorge will be closed for about half a year.
Thursday July 23 update: Tiger Leaping Gorge is closed for landslide inspection. It will likely reopen soon but please check back for updates until the end of the rainy season.
Tuesday June 2 update: Tiger Leaping Gorge is open to international tourists. Please call 13988707922 in advance.
Tuesday April 28 update: Foreigners can not hike the Tiger Leaping Gorge but they can visit the upper gorge and viewing platform.
Follow these official WeChat news accounts from Lijiang for updates: Ljrbqmt (丽江日报) or ljdb8885566 (丽江读本)
Tuesday April 28 update: The Shika cable car is closed.
Thursday July 23 update: Lugu Lake is open to foreigners but you must show a health report, which you can get at most hospitals. Ask for "新冠病毒核酸检测", the nucleic acid Covid-19 detection test.
Tuesday April 28 update: The toll gate to Lugu Lake will not let foreigners pass.
Jianshui & Yuanyang rice terraces
These hotels are happy to welcome foreign guests: Timeless Hostel.
Thursday January 14 update: We have received reports that several villages in Xishuangbanna do not allow non-residents to enter.
These hotels are happy to welcome foreign guests: Jinghong Yourantai B&B
Follow the official Xishuangbanna Radio and TV WeChat account for updates: XSBNRTV
Ruili / Dehong
Local residents who have been traveling have been asked to stay away from Ruili until February 9.. No news on the border, but it's closed to foreigners anyhow.
Travel within Kunming
Public transport and taxis
A mask is now required for Didi drivers as well as passengers.
Buses are operating as usual. A mask is required to get on the bus. Official WeChat account of Kunming Bus: kmbus_weixin
The subway is operating as usual. Facemasks are now required for entry into the Kunming Metro system, as well as a green 'health code'. Official WeChat account of Kunming subway: gh_2b8d94a97c82
Parks have reopened, with measures in place to register and control the number of visitors.
Thursday April 16 update: the following hotels and guesthouses will gladly accept foreigners.
We are currently asking around and adding to the list as we go.
Thank you everyone in the international community in Kunming for sticking together in this difficult time. A special thanks to our Chinese friends who are helping to make Chinese news accessible and therefor being a true bridge between cultures.
In order to stem hearsay and fake news no comments will be open for this article.
If you have important news please email vera [at] gokunming [dot] com or contact us through the contact form. After verification it will be added to the article if relevant for Kunming and Yunnan residents.© Copyright 2005-2021 GoKunming.com all rights reserved. This material may not be republished, rewritten or redistributed without permission.