How to have a visa-free holiday in China

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Heading overseas and looking to put some extra punch into your itinerary? What about a few days in China on the way to Europe? Spending a few days experiencing some of the most stimulating cities on the planet, taking your taste buds out for a treat and sampling some of the treasures of Chinese culture?

China Eastern Airlines flies from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane to Shanghai, Hangzhou or Nanjing that offer visa-free stop overs to Australian passport holders, allowing them to remain in Shanghai, Zhejiang and Jiangsu province for 144 hours. That's up to six days to roam, explore and experience some of the sensational scenic, historic, culinary and cultural wonders that China has to offer.

Flying with China Eastern gives you incredible flexibility. Travel from Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane to Shanghai for example, enjoy a stopover and you can then continue your journey aboard a non-stop China Eastern flight to London, Paris, Frankfurt or Rome. Or Los Angeles, New York, Toronto or Vancouver, as well as cities throughout Japan, Korea and the rest of Asia.

Alternatively, fly from Sydney to Nanjing, explore the city then take a train to Shanghai and travel onwards from there, but the possibilities don't end with flights. For example, you could fly to Shanghai Pudong International Airport, spend a few days experiencing the city and its surrounds and depart on a cruise from the city's Port Wusongkou International Cruise Terminal to South Korea's Jeju island or Japan's Okinawa.

Qualifying for visa-free entry to China is easy. At the China Eastern Airlines check-in desk, inform the staff that you'll be applying for visa-free entry and present a valid ticket to a third country. On board the aircraft, complete the arrivals card. When you arrive in China, go through the 144-hour visa-free counter, presenting the confirmed onward ticket (to the third country) and residential address in China, it's as simple as that.

As well as your passport with at least six months' validity you'll need a ticket for onward travel to another country with a confirmed date and seat, proof of the right to enter that country in the form of a visa or a valid passport and a completed arrival/departure card.

To help travellers enjoy their time in Shanghai, China Eastern Airlines offers passengers with a stopover of more than six hours two choices from a list of three options, including daytime use of a hotel room, a Pudong or Hongqiao Airport dining voucher or a return Maglev train ticket between Pudong Airport and the city. Apply here oa.ceair.com.

On top of China Eastern Airlines' sensational fares, China's visa-free cities make this a winning combination for Australian travellers.

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Here are some of the essentials to pack into your Shanghai sojourn.

Iconic waterfront viewing of the Pudong side of Shanghai with its enormous collection of skyscrapers and the Huangpu River flowing through with its barges and cruise ships. After or during sunset is prime time when it's most magical and a dizzy array of lights takes over the night sky.

The leafy, villa-lined streets of the French Concession is Shanghai's style quarter, home to high-end boutiques, cafes, restaurants, and entertainment.

Repurposed from disused factories and cotton mills, the galleries within the amazing M50 art complex are at the forefront of China's artistic renaissance, a hotbed of avant-garde ideas and concepts.

Vast and impressive Shanghai Museum is an open book of Chinese history and culture, with highlights including the bronze and stone sculpture galleries, the painting gallery and the jade gallery. Hire an audio guide.

Laid out during the Ming Dynasty, Yu Garden is a tranquil corner of this bustling city with koi ponds spanned by wooden bridges, teahouses and rockeries built around the Exquisite Jade Rock.

Mr & Mrs Bund is one of the city's gastro stars, a funky, festive, glamorous space where chef Paul Pairet serves up the French classics with a twist. Book a window table for a night view of Pudong.

Take your taste buds out for local-style treats at Xintiandi's Crystal Jade, a haven of Cantonese contentment. Excellent dim sum, and the place to sample xiaolongbao, Shanghai's addictive snack food.

Nanjing Road East is buzzing with activity all hours of the day. No cars are allowed here and everywhere you turn there's some sort of shop with most of the big brands represented. On top of that there are some great hidden gems for food.

Australian travellers can make the most of China's 144-hour visa-free transit policy, which is carried out in Shanghai, Jiangsu and Zhejiang province. Direct flights are offered from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Cairns and Auckland on China Eastern. View the flight schedule here

This article is produced in association with China Eastern Airlines. 

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