Overland China Travel

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Visiting China[edit]

Give a brief overview of what it's like to visit. How easy is the border, how safe is the country, are there great things to see and do, etc.

No country has a higher population than China. It’s known for the Great Wall in the north, large cities like Beijing (Peking) and Shanghai, dynasties in ancient times, and its current Communist government.

Included in China’s territory are Tibet and some other regions that, historically, were not Chinese.

Entering China with a Car or Motorbike[edit]

Correct as of: April 2014

Required Paperwork[edit]

(To check if you need a travel Visa for China, application instructions and fees see: China Visa online application at VisaHQ.com)
China is a difficult country for an Overlander to visit with their own vehicle.
It's mandatory to pay for a guide, Chinese Driver's license, etc. and the costs can be very high.

Foreign tourists who want to drive their own cars or ride own motorbikes into China and then drive on Chinese roads usually need to complete the following procedures:

  • Passport (valid for six months)
  • Chinese tourist visa
  • Temporary import of vehicles into China
  • Apply for a temporary driver’s license in China
  • Apply for Chinese temporary number plate
  • Arrange local guide

More information about paperwork please checkout https://www.roadpioneer.com/ .

Requirements based on a number of trips done by overlanders in 2018 can be found in this post, along with costs and information on wild camping, permits, routes, official guide companies: Overlanding in China

As of 2015, it appears the best and cheapest way to get it done is documented very well here http://laurastraveltales.com/travel-independently-through-china-take-2/

Another good report of 3 months self-drive in China in 2015 is here http://www.rouletout.ch/#!china-self-driving/kab20

Checkout http://www.xor.org.uk/silkroute/ to contact others who have done it, or people who might want to do it with you to share the costs.

Chinese agencies such as China NAVO Tour http://www.navo-tour.com, Drive-China Tours http://www.drive-china.com/ Adventure & Tour China https://www.adventuretourchina.com/tourcat/crossing/, web in english/french/german), ChinaExped https://www.ChinaExped.com,China Overland Europe and China Exploration http://www.chinaexploration.com/Overland/ ([1])specialize in arranging self drive holidays in China and will organize the required permits and licensing. These agencies can also arrange for individual travellers to join others for group travel and cost sharing.

The German run and based in China agency Tibetmoto http://www.tibetmoto.de/en offers budget Overlander tours in China and Tibet and can group people together. Here, people have the possibility to design their Overlander transit by themselves rather than book a pre-designed tour. Overlanders can publish their tour on the tibetmoto website and look for fellow travelers to join. [1]

Process at border[edit]

The procedure varies from border to border. Normally, at the entrance border your guide sent by the agency will welcome you. A guide for the China transit is absolutely necessary. [1] The guide will carry all necessary permits and papers which will be checked thoroughly. This might take up to several hours. You will proceed on your own but with the guide to the county or district capital. On the next day your vehicle will be checked by the traffic administration and Chinese driving licenses and number plates will be issued. You guide will help you with all procedures. Note that you have to arrive at a specific date at the border and that date can not be a weekend or a public holiday. As well, the following day has to be a working day.

Cost of entry[edit]

Very expensive.
Expect to pay around $5,000.00 USD for all paperwork, permits, drivers license, road tax etc. This is for one car, if you travel with more cars the cost per car will go down.

Permitted length of stay[edit]

The maximum duration of each stay is limited to 60 days. [1]

Extension of stay[edit]

Describe the process to extend the permitted length of entry for the vehicle, if possible.

Storing a vehicle and temporarily leaving the country[edit]

Describe if/how a vehicle can be stored, and for how long.
Also mention if the owner / temporary importer can leave the country while the vehicle is in storage.

Exiting with a vehicle[edit]

Describe the paperwork requirements and process at the border to exit.

Driving in China[edit]

Recommended books for Overlanding in China[edit]

Lonely Planet China (travel Guide)
Lonely Planet China (travel Guide)
by Lonely Planet
From $18.42 on Amazon
Work Less To Live Your Dreams: A Practical Guide To Sa...
Work Less To Live Your Dreams: A Practical Guide To Sa...
by Dan Grec
From $click on Amazon
Overlanders' Handbook: Worldwide Route And Planning Gu...
Overlanders' Handbook: Worldwide Route And Planning Gu...
by Chris Scott
From $22.49 on Amazon
Adventure Motorcycling Handbook: A Route & Planning Gu...
Adventure Motorcycling Handbook: A Route & Planning Gu...
by Chris Scott
From $click on Amazon
Footprints Of A Pilgrim: The Life And Loves Of Ruth Be...
Footprints Of A Pilgrim: The Life And Loves Of Ruth Be...
by Ruth Bell Graham
From $4.00 on Amazon

Travel insurance for China[edit]

World Nomads offer the most flexible Travel Insurance at the best prices for multi-country / multi-year trips. You can buy, extend and claim online, even after you've left home.

Vehicle insurance requirements[edit]

Yes or No if insurance is mandatory, and what kind is acceptable.

Cost of vehicle insurance[edit]

State the price of insurance and a time period.

Where to purchase vehicle insurance[edit]

Describe where insurance can be purchased.

Driving license[edit]

Chinese drivers license is needed. Usually you are supplied with a temporary one with all the other permits needed..

Driving side of road[edit]

Right. (Mainland China)

Left. (Hong Kong and Macau)

RHD vehicles can be driven in China

LHD vehicles can be driven in Hong Kong

LHD vehicles can be driven in Macau.

Mandatory items in vehicle[edit]

State any mandatory items that must be carried in the vehicle. (i.e. safety triangle, first aid kit, fire extinguisher, etc.)


General Road quality[edit]

Road conditions vary from impressive large scale motorway developments to abysmal broken concrete country roads. Traffic levels are low on most motorways and usually required paying a toll. Traffic conditions on regional and country roads are often crowded and dangerous. Road quality in major cities is good with well maintained sealed roads and usually ring roads to facilitate transit around city hubs.

Road signs[edit]

Briefly describe the overall quality & existence of road signs for directions and hazards.

Toll roads[edit]

China has an extensive system off toll roads. Prices vary on length of road and size of car. With my truck I ended up paying about 元500.00 CNY from Pakistan to Laos..

Bribery in China[edit]

Briefly describe how common bribery is and whether it should be expected, and the best way to deal with it.


Police checkpoints are infrequent and Police presence unobtrusive in all provinces beside T.A.R (Tibet Autonomous Region) and Xinjiang Province.

Traveling with pets[edit]

List the entry requirements and anything else required to travel with a pet.

Gas and Diesel price in China[edit]

Last updated: December 2018

Currency and unit to display:

Gasoline Grade Price
Unleaded €0.95 EUR per Liter[2]
Diesel €0.85 EUR per Liter[2]

Gas and Diesel Availability / Frequency[edit]

China has a well developed fuel distribution network along major routes with fuel being sold from modern well equipped service areas.

Gas and Diesel Quality[edit]

China has mandated 350ppm sulphur levels (Euro III) nationwide at present time, with 50ppm and 10ppm available in several provinces including Shanghai and Beijing.

In February 2013, the State Council issued a timetable for its program to upgrade fuel quality nationwide. By the end of 2014, automotive diesel fuel sulfur will be set at 50 ppm (China IV or National IV) and by the end of 2017, sulfur limits for automotive gasoline and automotive diesel will be 10 ppm maximum (China V or National V). Diesel fuel standards for China V are required to be issued by July 2013. See http://www.dieselnet.com/standards/cn/ld.php for more information.

Safety and Security Considerations[edit]

Driving at night[edit]

Discuss driving at night and if it should it be avoided. Mention why.

Vehicle parking[edit]

Discuss if vehicles can be parked on the street, if they are considered "safe" at night. If vehicles can not be parked on the street, list the other options that exist.

Special driving considerations[edit]

A List of special things to be careful of (i.e. Unsigned speed bumps, abnormal road rules, people or animals on the road, etc.).
List any roads that are not recommended to drive for safety or other security reasons.

Security advisories and information[edit]

Camping in China[edit]

I do not know of any campsites in China and ended up in parking lots of hotels..
Camping in public car parks and attractions is also possible usually by paying a small fee to the operator. Free camping in rural areas is possible. Camping in Xinjiang is not allowed, nor some special areas in Tibet.

Camping guide books[edit]

List and link to books specifically for camping.

Drinking water[edit]

Describe if the regular tap water is safe to drink. If not, describe where safe water can be purchased and the approximate average price range.


Reise Know-How maps proved accurate and reliable for eastern China; these can be ordered on-line from the producer, Reise, in Germany or through Omni Map in the USA.

GPS Maps of China[edit]

Review different GPS companies, quality and coverage (Tomtom, Garmin, OSM, Tracks4Africa). (with links to each).

GPS co-ordinates for camping, propane, gas, repairs, etc. in China[edit]

  • iOverlander is a website and iPhone application designed by Overlanders, for Overlanders. It contains GPS co-ordinates and reviews for camping, hotels, propane, water, mechanics, borders and much more.

Link to sites that have a list of GPS co-ordinates (or directions) for camping locations (including "wild" campsites), propane filling, gas stations, repair shops, places of interest, etc.

Special Overland Travel interests[edit]

List any special items / places that are popular with Overlanders

Vehicle Maintenance[edit]


4x4s / Trucks


Local Garages[edit]

Add known good mechanics here.

Buy or sell a car or motorbike in China[edit]

Describe how a foreigner can buy a vehicle. List any difficulties or limitations on where the vehicle can be driven.

Describe how a foreigner can sell a foreign-plated vehicle, or list not possible.'


Links to the source of any information - blogs or discussion forums, etc.

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Overlander Transit China Tibet Tibetmoto.de/en
  2. 2.0 2.1 World petrol prices, gas prices, diesel prices|MyTravelCost.com

Helpful External links[edit]

Add any helpful external links here.