To visit China, an entrance visa is required from the Chinese government. I was able to download the application form off the internet but had to wait until I received an official letter of invitation from the Chinese government which must accompany the application. Plus, the application is 6 pages long. Plus, it's covered with Chinese writing with English squeezed in. I had considered driving down to Chicago and visiting the Chinese Consulate myself to apply for the visa, but it takes up to 4 days to process so I figured hiring a third party made more sense. There is a cost involved (probably around $200 when it's all said and done), but I think it would just about be break-even by the time I drove to Chicago and back -- especially if I had to stay overnight. Had to send them my passport so I can't go anywhere out of the country now until I get it back.
Then, Debbie asked me today if we should get Hepatitis A and/or B shots before we go. I hadn't considered it, but now I'm wondering if it would be better to be safe than sorry. Don't want to eat some dim sum off a cart on the street and then regret it later!