I wish to travel through South West China over a period of 3 months but don't want to book all accomodation prior to going, will a one trip tourist visa allow me to go without booking everything in advance? and as I plan to arriv ein China mid October whats the latest i should leave it to submit my visa appliaction?
Apply for a standard tourist visa. That's for mainland China (not Hong Kong). Go to the website for the closest Chinese Consulate to where you live. (Google it if you don't know where it is). All the info re visas will be in there, including how long your visa takes to be processed. Make sure you're in the actual Chinese Consulate visa processing site, and not an agent's site. Agents charge a fee for handling the application (same with all visas for anywhere), but it's so easy to do yourself (again, no matter where you're going), so do it directly with the Consulate yourself.
Your tourist visa has nothing to do with booking your accommodation. It's perfectly normal for people to go places without knowing exactly where they'll stay on any given day. The consulate will issue your visa even with just your first night's accommodation listed on the form. almost 5 years ago