Unlocking China Without Visas: A Handbook for UAE Adventurers

Make the most of UAE traveler's 30-days visa-free trip to China. Explore the rich history, vibrant culture, and delectable cuisine of this remarkable country.

Unlocking China Without Visas: A Handbook for UAE Adventurers

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) and China enjoy strong diplomatic ties, and this translates to travel benefits for UAE citizens. You, as a UAE passport holder, can explore the wonders of China visa-free for up to 30 days! This guide will equip you with the knowledge and recommendations to make the most of your visa-free adventure in China, focusing on culturally rich cities with significant Muslim communities: Beijing, Shanghai, and Xi'an.

Essential Preparations

  • Passport and Visa: Ensure your UAE passport has at least six months of validity remaining from your intended arrival date in China. While a visa isn't required for stays under 30 days, double-check the latest regulations with the Chinese embassy in the UAE closer to your departure date.
  • Travel Insurance: Obtain comprehensive travel insurance that covers medical emergencies, trip cancellations, and lost baggage.
  • Flight Tickets and Accommodation: Book your flights and accommodation in advance, especially during peak seasons.
  • Currency Exchange: Exchange some Dirhams (AED) for Chinese Yuan (CNY) before departure. ATMs are readily available in major cities, but having some cash on hand is always helpful. Consider using a travel debit card for convenient transactions.
  • Learn Basic Mandarin: While English is increasingly understood in tourist areas, learning a few basic Mandarin phrases can go a long way. Download a translation app or phrasebook to assist with communication.

Visa-Free Entry Requirements

  • Valid UAE Passport: Ensure your passport has at least six months of validity remaining from your entry date to China.
  • Onward Ticket: You may be required to show proof of an onward flight or travel ticket out of China at immigration.
  • Sufficient Funds: Immigration officials might ask for proof of sufficient funds for your stay. Carrying bank statements or a credit card can help.
  • Completed Arrival Card: Fill out the arrival card provided on the plane or upon arrival, declaring any items you bring into China.
  • Entry Points: Visa-free entry is generally available at major airports and designated seaports. Check with your airline or travel agent for specific details.
  • Duration of Stay: Your visa-free stay cannot exceed 30 days. If you plan to stay longer, you'll need to apply for a visa beforehand.
  • Extension of Stay: Extending a visa-free stay is generally not possible.

Must-See Cities for UAE Travelers

1. Beijing: The historical and cultural heart of China, Beijing boasts iconic landmarks like the Great Wall, the Forbidden City, and Tiananmen Square.

  • Muslim Community: Beijing has a sizeable Muslim community concentrated in the Niujie Mosque area. Here, you'll find halal restaurants and shops catering to Muslim needs.
  • Activities: Explore the Hutongs (traditional alleyways) on a rickshaw tour, visit the vibrant Silk Market for souvenirs, and witness the changing of the guards ceremony at Tiananmen Square.
  • Food: Indulge in Peking Duck, one of the most famous food to tourists. Explore the bustling night markets for street food like dumplings and noodles. Halal options are readily available around Niujie Mosque.

2. Shanghai: The most bustling metropolis at the forefront of China's economic boom, blends futuristic skyscrapers with historic neighborhoods, offering a dynamic fusion of culture, commerce, and innovation.

  • Muslim Community: Shanghai also has a well-established Muslim community centered around the Huxi Mosque. Halal restaurants and shops abound in this area.
  • Activities: Marvel at the futuristic architecture of The Bund waterfront, take a Huangpu River cruise, and visit the Yuyuan Garden for a taste of traditional Chinese gardens.
  • Food: Shanghai cuisine revolves around fresh seafood and delectable dumplings. Explore the vibrant street food scene or indulge in fine dining experiences. Halal options are available around the Huxi Mosque area.

3. Xi'an: Immerse yourself in the rich history of the Silk Road era with a visit to Xi'an, home to the Terracotta Army.

  • Muslim Community: Xi'an boasts a significant Muslim population with the Great Mosque of Xi'an being a prominent landmark. Halal restaurants are readily available around the mosque.
  • Activities: Explore the awe-inspiring Terracotta Army, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Visit the ancient City Walls, and take a day trip to Mount Hua, one of China's most sacred mountains.
  • Food: Xi'an is renowned for its diverse and delicious Muslim cuisine, featuring iconic dishes such as hand-pulled noodles (biangbiang noodles) and savory lamb skewers seasoned with cumin and chili. These flavors reflect the city's rich cultural heritage and the influence of the Silk Road trade routes.

Maximizing Your 30-Day Visa-Free Trip

With 30 days at your disposal, you can explore more than just the three major cities mentioned. Consider these options:

  • High-Speed Rail Network: China boasts an extensive high-speed rail network, allowing you to efficiently travel between cities.
  • Day Trips: Each of the recommended cities offers exciting day trip options. From Beijing, explore the Great Wall sections further out or visit the Summer Palace. From Shanghai, take a boat trip to Zhujiajiao, a charming water town. From Xi'an, embark on a journey to the breathtaking Hukou Waterfall on the Yellow River.
  • Smaller Cities: Venture beyond the metropolises. Explore the charming city of Hangzhou, known for its beautiful West Lake. Immerse yourself in the rich history of Pingyao, a well-preserved ancient city.


  • Respect Local Customs: Be mindful of local customs and traditions. Dress modestly when visiting religious sites and avoid loud behavior in public places.
  • Embrace the Differences: China offers a unique cultural experience. Be open to trying new things and embracing the differences.
  • Learn a Few Phrases: Learning even a few basic Mandarin phrases can enhance your interactions with locals.

By following these tips and recommendations, you can make the most of your visa-free trip to China. Explore the rich history, vibrant culture, and delectable cuisine of this remarkable country.

  • Communication: Download a translation app or phrasebook to assist with communication. Many restaurants and tourist spots have English menus available.
  • Foreign Exchange: The UAE currency, Dirham, cannot be circulated or exchanged in China, so before traveling to China, you should exchange it into US dollars or euros in advance.
  • Internet Access: Consider purchasing a local SIM card for internet access during your stay. Some websites and social media platforms might be restricted in China. If you need to be connected to the whole internet during your trip, consider pre-install a VPN on your laptop and mobile phone, or use your international roaming data (the traffic is not filtered by GFW).
  • Cultural Etiquette: Learn some basic Chinese etiquette, it's easy. Unlike Japanese and Koreans, Chinese people do not bow when expressing gratitude; instead, they simply say "谢谢" (xiè xiè) verbally.
  • Bargaining: Bargaining is expected at street markets and some shops. Be polite and respectful during negotiations.
  • Safety: China is generally very safe for tourists, with minimal incidents of petty theft and virtually no serious crimes like robbery. However, in crowded places, it's important to keep a close watch on personal belongings and avoid getting separated from friends.
  • Weather: Research the weather conditions in the cities you'll be visiting to pack appropriate clothing.