Although there are many types of visa for China, the most common is the L visa for tourists, the M visa for business, and the Q1/Q2 for those with a Chinese partner and the Z visa for people with work contracts in China.
Here’s a hot tip. Don’t overstay your visa, they really don’t like it. Over the four years or so of staying in China I was always on time with renewing my visa, in which case I would travel to Hong Kong and get it renewed, or, go to the local PSB (Public Security Bureau) in the mainland and get it renewed there.
My 30 day visa for mainland China had expired and even though I had only been in Hong Kong for a day I knew that I wanted to go back and explore more of China. So, it’s off to do a visa application for China while in Hong Kong.
For most people booking through travel agents this step will probably be handled by your travel agent but in my case and for many who step out there own journey its one of the things that you’ll have to take care of.