In a country as vast as China, it is inevitable that tensions and intricacies abound. When it comes to visitors to the People’s Republic of China, to travel throughout the country you will need to know and be able to navigate the different regions by obtaining more than one type of travel permit. In addition to your Chinese visa, in whatever iteration (tourist, business, student, etc.), you will need separate visas for Hong Kong and Macau, and a separate travel permit for Tibet. Each of these areas has their own requirements, which savvy travelers must know.
Hong Kong is a Special Administrative Region (SAR) of China. As such, you will need to obtain an entirely separate visa for Hong Kong than for the rest of the country. However, so long as you have a multiple entry visa to China and are traveling from the mainland, getting a visa at the border is relatively straightforward, especially for those from the West; travelers from the UK may stay in Hong Kong for up to 180 days without obtaining a visa in advance, while other countries are limited variously to 7-90 days.
Like Hong Kong, Macau is also a SAR. Unlike Hong Kong, however, Macau does not always require a separate visa to enter, and those that are required to obtain one can almost always do so at the border. The exception to this rule is with citizens of Bangladesh, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Vietnam, who must always acquire a visa prior to arriving in Macau.
A particularly divisive region currently located within China, Tibet has fairly stringent travel requirements. Visitors from China must, in addition to their Chinese visa, obtain a Tibet Tourism Bureau permit, an Alien Travel permit, and, if you are traveling into a militarily sensitive area, a Military permit.
Within China, these may be obtained in nearby cities to Tibet, and are arranged for you exclusively by tour agencies. The enormity and diversity found within China is astounding, and well worth exploring by the average traveler. Knowing what you will need to travel to all of the areas in the country before you set out is immensely important. Hong Kong, Macau, and Tibet are locations not to be missed on a technicality. Plan ahead and make sure you get the most out of your visit.