The Extra Mile

Do South Africans need visas for China, Korea and Japan?

We answer your travel questions

22 December 2019 - 00:00 By Elizabeth Sleith
A 120m-tall Ferris wheel called the Tianjin Eye sits on a bridge over the Hai River in Tianjin, China.
A 120m-tall Ferris wheel called the Tianjin Eye sits on a bridge over the Hai River in Tianjin, China.
Image: 123RF/chuyu

Q. We are planning to go on a cruise from Hong Kong to Shanghai, Tianjin (China) and Busan (Korea) — all overnight stays in port — and then on to Japan, where we will call at various ports before we spend a week in Tokyo. Will we need visas for all of these places, even though we will be aboard the MS Noordam most of the time? If so, what would the approximate cost be? — James and Lynette Pullen

A. The short answer is yes — you will need visas for China and Japan.

Although you will be on a cruise ship, if you want to go ashore at any of the destinations then you will need to clear local immigration and customs before being allowed off the ship. Port calls in exotic lands are one of the main reasons for going on a cruise, so some paperwork awaits you.

For Korea, South Africans need no visa for stays of 30 days or less.

For Japan you will need a multiple-entry tourist visa. Unfortunately, its embassy website is short on information except to say that if you need a multiple-entry visa, you must contact them well before your departure date. It might be useful to speak to a visa service provider such as Intergate Immigration (phone 011-234-4275).

For China, you must apply through one of the Chinese Visa Application Service Centres. According to the website, a single-entry visa costs R800; a multiple-entry visa will cost R1,100. See visaforchina.org.

• We can help with your destination dilemmas, visa mysteries and itinerary ideas. E-mail us on travelmag@sundaytimes.co.za