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Home> Destinations> America> San Francisco> Overview

San Francisco

Updated: 2014-06-27 / (wtcf.travel)





City Introduction

City and County of San Francisco (S.F.) is the only administrative zone with the integration of county and city in California, and is also the economic and cultural center in Northern California and Bay Area. With the population more than 800,000, San Francisco is the second densely populated city in USA, only after New York. The Gold Rush in 1849 made this sparsely populated city quickly become one of the major cities in the west of USA. In 1906, this city was hit by a heavy earthquake, and after the reconstruction, the Bay Area of this city was about 1,126km2, and became the important naval base and trade harbor in USA.





History and Culture

Since the Gold Rush in 1849, San Francisco turned from a small village to an important American city overnight. In 1904, San Francisco suffered the heaviest earthquake in the history, and was severely damaged; 80% of the buildings in this city collapsed and were destroyed. But it achieved the reconstruction very quickly. After the World War II, San Francisco achieved great development in industry, commerce, finance, tourism service industry and municipal facility construction. The major urban area was expanded from the single center to the town cluster consisting of three centers, that is, San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose. It was called Bay Area of San Francisco, from where the famous “Silicon Valley” developed. San Francisco was always one of the centers for the rebel culture and modern individualism in the 20th century. The “Beat Generation” underground literature, and the “Summer of Love” hippie movement as well as many homosexual groups in the 1960s made San Francisco become a very charming city.





Natural Environment

It is situated in San Francisco Peninsula (37°48’0”N, 122°25’0”W) in the west coast of the State of California, it covers 47 square miles, and is surrounded by water in three sides, enjoys beautiful environment. It is a mountainous city.

In the middle of the State of California, San Francisco is situated in the north end of the Peninsula formed by Santa Cruz Mountains. Adjacent to the Atlantic Ocean on the west and San Francisco on the east, San Francisco has 16 rivers and 43 hills, covers about 121.73km2, and has the population about 800,000. It is the fifth largest city in USA. San Francisco Bay Area consists of 9 counties, extends northward to Napa Valley Winery and Sonoma, eastward to Alameda and Contra Coast of San Francisco Bay Area, southward to San Jose and Santa Cruz.





Climate Change

San Francisco is surrounded by water in three sides. Due to the influence of California Current on the Atlantic Ocean, San Francisco has the typical Mediterranean Climate with cool summer. Due to long-term influence by the sea wind, the high temperature in the summer of San Francisco is usually about 20 degrees Celsius, and there is only about one week with the temperature higher than 30 degrees Celsius due to strong land wind in a year. September is the warmest month. In addition, since the water temperature in the Pacific Ocean is 10 to 15 degrees Celsius all year round, the temperature in the midnight of the summer might reduce to the level below 10 degrees Celsius. Adjacent to the sea and Golden Gate strait, San Francisco is frequently influenced by fog in the latter half of night and the morning. But it seldom rains in the summer. The rainy season is from January to the middle of April. Though it is cold in the winter, it hardly snows.

Information of Embassy and Consulate

Working time: Monday to Friday (except holidays), 9:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Office place: 1450 Laguna Street @ Geary Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94115

The entrance of the Visa Hall is situated on the side of the office building for the Consulate near Geary Blvd. Walk from the front gate of the Consulate (1450 Laguna Street) to the Geary Blvd direction till the traffic signal lamp (do not cross the street), turn right, and walk for 1/2 block, thus reaching the entrance of the Visa Hall. Notes: Do not bring any apparatuses for photographing, video recording or voice recording, such as photographing apparatus, recorder and photographing and recording machinery, into the Visa Hall because we do not take care of such apparatuses.

Contact us:

Certificate consulting/Email: visa.sf@gmail.com

Fax: 415-8525940

Mailing address: Visa Office, Consulate General of P.R.C in San Francisco, 1450 Laguna Street, San Francisco, CA 94115





Visa Information

New application procedures of American visa

With the effort of American Diplomatic Corps in China for simplifying visa application procedures, the Embassy and all Consulates issuing visa will implement new visa reservation, fee payment and document delivery systems since March 16, 2013. This system has already been used in several countries, providing more convenience for applicants to arrange visa interview appointments, pay visa formality fees, and check the status of the sent visa.

Since March 16, for most non-immigrant visas, applicants only need to pay the current visa application fee of USD 160, which remains unchanged. Applicants may also pay the fee online with any debit cards issued by Chinese banks. In addition, applicants may pay the fee with an UnionPay card at any China CITIC Bank ATMs, or pay in cash at any China CITIC Bank branches. Applicant may also use a new online system to have a visa interview appointment and check the application status. They may call the new center for reservation or for any doubts, without additional fee.

The new system allows applicant to get visas at any of the more than 800 China CITIC Bank branches. According to new reservation procedures, American Embassy and Consulate will continue to provide delivery service of non-immigrant visa renewals for the majority of applicants who are qualified for renewal without needing personal interview.

Application steps: Payment of visa application fee: Before making an appointment for interview with visa telephone center, please pay the visa application fee. When making such appointment, you will be asked by the visa telephone center to inform your visa receipt number. All applicants must pay visa application fee at a designated China CITIC Bank. The fee is non-returnable. The duplicate receipts issued by China CITIC Bank must be submitted together with other application materials. Please note that: No matter whether visa is issued, the application fee will not be returned. If the application fee is paid, but the application is not submitted within one year, the fee will not be returned either.

The applicants holding diplomatic passports and those applying for visas of Type A, G, C-2, C-3 and NATO as well as J subsidized by the American government may be exempted from such application fee. Visa application fee has been adjusted. The followings are examples of adjustment to visa application fees. Visas that need not to be applied to America first, such as B1/B2 (tourism and business), student (1) or communication and exchange visitors (J1): USD 160 (RMB 1008); visas that need to be applied to America first, such as H (work), L (assignment within the company), O (special talent), P (performer), Q (cultural exchange) and R (religious workers): USD 190 (RMB 1197); visa for unmarried couples (K): USD 240 (RMB 1512).

Materials required for applying for a tourism visa:

1. DS-160 table confirmation page. Please fill in your name code, Chinese name, house address in Chinese, company name and address.

2. One square color photo of 2 inch x2 inch (51mm x 51mm) with white background taken within six (6) months.

3. Voucher of the application fee: Please paste the receipt on the lower part of the confirmation page with glue or adhesive tape.

4. Valid passport: The validity period of the passport shall be at least six (6) months longer than your planned stay period in USA. The passports include past passports for traveling to the US and invalid passports. Since March 1, 2010, American Embassy in Beijing requires the applicants to fill in new DS-160 online application form. Please notice: Obtaining the visa is not equal to the right for final entry into USA. The US laws specify that the visa is only voucher allowing you to apply for entry into USA. The person obtaining the visa will accept the inspection by the official of Department of Homeland Security (DHS) before entering USA. The official of Department of Homeland Security (DHS) approves the applications of most applicants holding the visas, but reserves the right to refuse entry to anyone.





Currency Exchange

In case that the amount of the currencies and bills brought into USA (including the coins and currencies, traveler’s cheque, cash cheque and negotiable securities of USA or other countries) is over USD 10,000, it is required to fill out Custom Form 4790, and voluntarily declare it to the customs. In case that the applicant fails to make declaration, they might be called to undertake civil and criminal liabilities, including the confiscation of the held currencies and currency instruments.





Tourism Service Number

Emergency Number (police, fire and ambulance): 911

Road Conditions in California: 001-800-427-7623

Tourist Information Center: 001-415-391-2000

24h Real-Time Broadcast: 001-415-391-2001

San Francisco Convention & Visitors Bureau (SFCVB) TDD/TTY: 001-415-227-2619

Ground Traffic for San Francisco International Airport: 511

San Francisco Bus (muni) Information: 311






In the subway, it is prohibited to eat or walk in the carriages. The bags shall not occupy the seat, and it is not allowed to sit on the internal and external steps of the subway.

In the public places, the pedestrians cannot keep themselves separate from their belongings, otherwise the belongings will be considered as suspicious objects.

The alcoholic drink cannot be opened or drunk in the public places.

The taboos for the Americans include “13”, “Friday” and “3”, because these figures and dates have become the symbols for misfortune and disaster. The taboos for the Americans also include picking one’s ear, picking the nose, sneezing, stretching oneself, coughing, etc., because these are considered as the uncivilized behaviors.

The Americans have another three taboos, First, age, second, price of the things, and third, speaking of the following when meeting with others, “You grow fatter. “Because this is simply privacy.





Festivals(Important/Historical/Folks Ones)

The nationalities festivals every year in San Francisco start from the Chinese Spring Festival- with the detailed date to be determined according to the lunar calendar of China. The main celebration programs include, setting off the firecrackers and fireworks, posting Spring Festival couplets, and holding the Chinatown Lady Contest and the procession of dragon lantern dance throughout USA.


The Irish descents will celebrate St. Patrick’s Day by means of large precision with religious activities and wines on March 17 (or the Sunday nearest to this day). Though the Easter Day is not the legal holiday in San Francisco, the San Francisco persons will still hold the corresponding celebration activities. “San Francisco Bay Area Music Awards” were promulgated by the local music personnel in March.


The Japanese communities in San Francisco celebrate the Cherry Blossom Festival in the last ten days of April, when the artists specially coming from Japan will make the performance on the stage, as well as some celebrations held in Japan. With the longest history in North America, San Francisco International Film Festival is opened in April.


May 5 is the festival that the Cinco De Mayo persons celebrate the Mexicans defeated the French army in 1862, and the climax of this celebration is enthronement on the festival queen in the Civic Center.


In the last Sunday of June, the “Gay Freedom Day” parade holding LGBT walk across the street from Market Street.


July 4 is the Independence Day of USA. As a national festival, the fireworks are set off on the Crace Square and Golden Gate Bridge. cable car on Union Square and Powell Street Square.


Except the streets and markets in Japanese Town, San Francisco is relatively quiet in August. In September, San Francisco Expo is open in Civic Center, and several other expos are held in Folsom Street and Castro Street. In the last week of August, San Francisco Blues Festival is open in Fort Mason.


October 12 is Columbus Day to celebrate the Genoa explorer discovered new continent in 1492. In North Beach, there will be the Italian folk celebration activities. The traditional celebration programs include the religious ceremony of Saints Peter and Paul Church held on Washington Square, for the procession to the Fisherman’s Wharf to pray for good harvest in the fishery. The last day of October is Halloween, which may be an absolutely good opportunity for hosting the party, including pumpkin lamp, pumpkin cake, and the commuters may dress them up with the strange Halloween costumes.


On November 2, the Day of the Dead is held in Mexican communities. It is said that the souls of the ancestors return on this day, and the ceremony of seeing off the souls of the dead will be held in the nighttime in Mission District. San Francisco Jazz Festival is open in November. The fourth Thursday of November is Thanksgiving Day, when there is the non-official dress rehearsal for the program because the Christmas shopping will start soon!


During the Christmas Day in San Francisco, the shop windows of the department stores are decorated very beautiful, when it is the best time for the revelry of the people.


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