Our trip starts in less than two weeks. Even though we haven’t yet left British soil, we’ve managed to make mistakes and lose money. Here’s the sequence of events.
- Decide that we don’t need a Chinese tourist visa because we’ll be in the country for less than 72 hours either side of our North Korea tour, and therefore classed as ‘in transit’.
- Book a flight from Beijing to Hanoi via Guangzhou, as there’s no direct flight the day we want to leave.
- Realise that the above itinerary contravenes the terms of the transit visa.
- Grit teeth at loss of money for non-refundable flight. Book a direct flight from Beijing to Hanoi 1 day earlier.
- Realise that our Vietnam Visa isn’t yet valid on that day.
- Have a minor mental breakdown.
- Take a deep breath, slow down and assess the options: a) £400+ for 2 multiple entry Chinese tourist visas or b) Try to change dates of Vietnam visas.
- Call the Vietnamese embassy in London to enquire about the date change. Listen to a very long recorded message and completely fail to get through to an actual person. Repeat 4 times.
- Email the embassy. Receive a reply that visa date changes are possible for a fee.
- Visit the embassy and have new visas issued.
Crisis over. I won’t divulge how much money was lost in the above debacle but it was not inconsiderable, for 2 people aiming to stick to a pretty tight budget on this very long trip.
We were both pretty angry at ourselves. We don’t often make mistakes. Then again, we haven’t ever planned a trip to several countries with various (stupid) entry and exit regulations.
Lesson learned. Think very hard about ALL of the implications, THEN make irreversible bookings.