For most people getting a Chinese Visa, it’s a pretty seamless process. Fill out the form completely, bring 1 passport photo, passport and get to the NYC consulate on the west side before 08:30. The line starts forming early, so getting there before the service windows open at 09:00 will put you at the head of the queue and done quickly. If you hold an American passport then the fee (130 USD) is the same regardless of what type of tourist visa you apply for. It’s wise to get at least a double entry visa if you intend to go to HK or Macao. If you work for a news/media company, make sure you get a letter from your employer stating that you’re going there strictly as a tourist.