Have you been curious to see other portions of the world? Are you planning a unique holiday and do you wish to experience a truly exotic nation? If so, you might wish to travel to China by car. There are several advantages associated with this option. Not only can you plan a specific route in advance, but you will be provided with the ability to appreciate the natural and urban splendours along the way. Still, preparation is key when tackling such a journey. Unlike driving to more familiar destinations such as the European Union, there are a number of unique variables to take into account if you plan to reach China by car. Let us take a look at some of the most important takeaway points as well as some professional advice so that you know just what to expect.
Before moving on, it only makes sense to highlight what you need to know about legally driving a motor vehicle in China. Those who have travelled to Europe are most likely accustomed to having their licence recognised in a foreign country. This is not the case in China. In order to legally operate a motor vehicle, you will need to obtain a temporary driving licence. The only time when this is not the case is if you happen to currently possess a Belgian licence.
The good news is that obtaining a permit is generally straightforward. You will first need to present important documentation such as a series of recent photos, a valid licence and an official passport. Many websites also mention that drivers will need to pass an examination consisting of 100 multiple choice questions. However, this may depend upon where you apply for the temporary licence as well as your country of origin (many regulations in China are somewhat “grey” in terms of flexibility). In the event that a test is required, you will need to correctly answer 90 out of 100 questions. However, translators and tutors are available. It is always a good idea to determine in advance if an examination is necessary in order to obtain the proper information. You will not be allowed to cross the Chinese border without a temporary licence recognised by the government.
The Chinese land border is an incredible 13,743 miles in length. This signifies that it is the longest land-based border in the world. While some of the terrain throughout this massive region is challenging, there are a handful of common border crossings (depending upon your route). The most popular include:
The majority of these border crossings will enable you to reach major urban centres within China such as Xinjiang and Yunnan. If you wish to travel by car, consider at least one of these routes before planning the exact itinerary.
We mentioned previously, it is pivotal that you possess a valid temporary driving licence while visiting China by car. There are still some other important materials to have in your possession at all times. These include:
We should take a moment to highlight the third point within this list. When you travel to China by car, you will be obliged to stop at the border. The authorities will estimate the value of your vehicle. You are then required to leave a small proportional deposit based upon their assessment. Of course, this deposit is returned to you when you leave the country. If you do not possess paperwork stating the estimated value of your vehicle, it is not likely that this deposit will be refunded.
As you might have already imagined, there are numerous speed limits which need to be obeyed after you have arrived in China. Please note that these limits are just as applicable if you plan to arrive to China by motorcycle or car. As a general rule of thumb (and much like in other nations around the world), the limits tend to be higher when driving on expressways and larger inter-regional motorways. Speeds are naturally lower if you happen to find yourself within urban settings.
Most experts agree that you will (normally) not receive any type of infraction if you drive as much as ten per cent above the posted limit. However, speeds exceeding 15 per cent can result in a fine of 200 yuan. Those who drive 50 per cent or more than the posted speed limit might receive fines up up to 2,000 yuan, so it is best to adhere to regulations at all times. Pay particular attention to when these limits may changes (such as when entering an urban district after driving on the open road for hours). Having said this, the current limits are as follows:
Keep in mind that there are countless radar tracking devices and speed detection cameras, so it is best to remain conservative when driving throughout China in order to avoid a potentially hefty fine.
Due to the sheer size of the country, road conditions will vary (sometimes dramatically) between different regions. While motorways found within major cities are well maintained, the same cannot always be said for rural areas or more remote locations. Pay particular attention to the shoulders, as it is not uncommon for storm drain and manhole covers to be missing; causing potential damage to your vehicle. Some surface streets may not have any type of paving and thus, they can become dangerous during inclement weather conditions. Pay particular attention to these situations if you plan on driving to China by motorcycle or a vehicle with two-wheel drive.
Most expressways and major motorways are equipped with signs in both Chinese and English, so translation is normally not an issue. Still, smaller highways and remote locations might not have this benefit. This is also the case if you happen to be travelling in poorer regions, as they do not possess the finances to properly maintain signage. It is therefore a good idea to try and learn some of the basic Chinese symbols as well as the names of any regions that you wish to visit during your stay.
Pedestrians arguably represent one of the most profound safety concerns when driving through China. Many individuals choose to walk in the road as opposed to on any nearby pavement. This is largely due to congestion and such situations can often be seen in more populated areas. You may also encounter masses of bicyclists as well as carts drawn by animals. In any of these instances, try to remain as far away as possible (of course, taking into account nearby traffic).
Many Chinese drivers are rather relaxed in regards to their adherence to traffic laws. For example, some will simply pass through a light that has turned red or only slow down when approaching an intersection. While this might appear to be somewhat aggressive to western drivers, we need to keep in mind that such behaviour is quite normal; especially when dealing with locations outside of major cities.
Travelling to China by car is one of the best ways to truly absorb all that this amazing nation has to offer. However, you need to be prepared for what is in store so that no delays or confusion will be experienced. Be sure to contact the appropriate authorities if you have additional questions.