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China extends its visa-free policy and its high speed train network to new cities in Northeast China

Since January 1, 2014, Chinese cities of Shenyang and Dalian are benefiting from a 72-hour visa-free stay policy for travellers from 45 countries. In the meantime, high-speed railway services connecting Shanghai and several large cities in Northeastern China -including Harbin, Changchun, Shenyang and Dalian- opened to the public on Dec 28.

SHENGYANG – Shenyang is the capital of Northeast China’s Liaoning province, while Dalian, its provincial neighbor in the south, is known for its scenic views and seaside resorts. Shenyang and Dalian have both been designated  by China central government to introduce a 72-hour visa-free policy for foreign visitors. They are becoming the sixth and seventh destinations in China to offer travellers such a facility following last year Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chengdu and Chongqing.

Travellers from 45 countries are from now able to take advantage of the new policy. Tourism officials hope that the new visa-free regime will boost tourism to these areas together in parallel to the Southern part of China.

This policy comes at the right time as brand-new high-speed services are now shortening the travel time between Shanghai and northeast cities by at least 10 hours per journey. For example, the Harbin-Shanghai connection helped reducing the total travel journey from previously 32 hours to just 13 hours! Such an improvement will further strengthen the connectivity between the Yangtze Delta Region and China’s Northeast, outlining a more comprehensive transport network throughout the country.

In addition, according to Shanghai Railway Bureau, high-speed trains will also start  their maiden trips between Shenzhen and the cities of Shanghai, Nanjing, Hangzhou and Wenzhou, reducing also travel journeys by approximately 10 hours.

Even before any prices were published for the new high-speed rail operation, passengers have been pleased to experiencea remarkable drop in airline ticket prices. In some cases, the price of airline tickets from Shanghai to Northeastern cities decreased by as much as 80 percent around December 28 and still by about 60 percent for trips done around January 10, three weeks before the Spring Festival, when hundreds of millions of people are heading back home.

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