On the Road – China Overland – With your own vehicle driving through China and Tibet
China Overland Tours – Discover China and Tibet in your own vehicle!
China is one of the world’s most fascinating countries – not only because of its extremely turbulent history, but, of course, also because of its unique nature. And what could be a better way to make a journey of discovery in China and Tibet than by doing a China overland tour in your own vehicle? Regardless of whether you choose a 4×4 or a motorbike, camper or truck, a China overland tour is the best way to get a unique insight into the country, its very friendly inhabitants and its breath-taking landscapes.
We, the Tibetmoto team, will take on the whole job of organising the trip for you: together, we will map the route of your dream journey through China overland, and the neighbouring Tibet as well. With our assistance, you will get a temporary Chinese driver´s license, license plate and insurance for your vehicle as well as all the necessary permits. And, of course, we will provide your tour guide, without which it is not possible to do a China overland tour. Roaming through China, driving your own vehicle? With Tibetmoto, your dream trip will become reality!
China and Tibet in your own vehicle – what route will you choose?
Many vacationers shy away from even considering a China overland tour because the many bureaucratic hurdles and the language barrier seem too difficult. With us, you will have a strong partner at your side working out of its own offices with German management on the spot in China, who know the language, the laws and the customs, and who is always available as your contact person.
We have a broad selection of China overland tours ready for you in our repertoire, for instance:
– Through Kyrgyzstan to China, and onward to Pakistan (from 5 days)
– From Kazakhstan through China, Tibet and Nepal (20 days)
– From Kyrgyzstan through Tibet and home from Laos (from 26 days)
– Through Mongolia and China to Laos (27-29 days)
– From Kyrgyzstan to China overland, and onward to Tibet and Nepal (15-20 days)
– The following borders are, in general, available for entry/exit:
Laos and Myanmar – Vietnam – Kirgistan – Kazakhstan – Mongolia – Pakistan – Nepal – Tadjikistan
Do you have your own idea about what you would like in your China overland tour? No problem. Get in touch with us and we will work together with you to create your dream route. Please bear in mind, however, that planning your trip will take some time due to the bureaucratic hurdles – the sooner you book your China overland tour with us, the smoother the planning will be!
China overland tours – how does that work, actually?
As an “overlander” or self-driver through China, you will need to keep some things in mind:
-You will need an official guide who will be legally responsible for you.
– Your vehicle will need a temporary Chinese license plate and insurance, and you will need a Chinese driver’s license.
-You will need certain permissions for your Tibet and China overland tours that can only be applied for by our experienced agency.
However, with Tibetmoto you do not have to worry about anything like that because we will take care of everything involving the bureaucracy for you. Licenses, permissions, everything you need to make a carefree journey through China and Tibet-we will take care of it all for you and provide a qualified guide to accompany you.
Visa requirements for China
If you want to travel through China in your own vehicle, you will need to get a visa in advance. A visa-on-arrival will not be issued at the Chinese borders. You can only apply for a visa, at the earliest, 3 months before the start of the trip. It is best to make the application directly from your home country, since it is not possible to apply for Chinese visas from some countries.
Why should you book your China overland tour with Tibetmoto?
That is easy: we take care of everything for you that needs to be done so that you can enjoy your China overland tour to the fullest. And that starts with planning the trip! You can choose one of our popular, tested and proven Tibet and China overland tours, or we can plan a completely personalised route together with you. The sooner you get started with the planning process, the more relaxed your preparation time will be. Normally, the Chinese authorities will need about 30 days for processing. We prefer to be on the safe side, and allow 40 days processing time for your trip in your own vehicle.
After you have booked your trip with us, we will guide you, step by step, through the necessary procedures. You will receive a form from us by email which you must fill out completely. It is best to scan the necessary documents such as vehicle documents, passport, etc, and upload them to a cloud service which we provide.
Then, when you arrive in your own vehicle at the Chinese border crossing, our guide will be waiting for you. He will already have all the necessary papers with him (except, of course, the originals, which you will have with you), and will help you take care of getting your temporary Chinese driver’s license and vehicle license plate from the appropriate Chinese authorities. When all the formalities have been taken care of, the fun part of your China overland tour will begin!
Through our guides, we are literally at your side at all times and can help you at any time with language difficulties or other problems. Out Tibetmoto team has a firm grip on the Chinese bureaucracy – and you will be able to concentrate completely on the fantastic beauty that your trip will offer you! An adventure that you will, guaranteed, never forget!
Dear Overlander community,
good news for all travellers who want to travel overland from China to Nepal: the new border at Gyirong (Girong), Tibet is open since early 2018. All overland travel was suspended after the devastating earthquake in 2015 and the border at Zhangmu was (and remains) closed. The new border at Gyirong serves China overland travellers in the future as a hub for leaving or entering China from/to Nepal.
There a also great news regarding the Qolma Pass for Overlander tours Tadjikistan-China! This border crossing is now open since May 2018. The distance to Kashgar is approx. 300 km- The Qolma Pass, which connects the Pamir Highway with the Karakorum Highway, was open between May and November since 2008, exept on weekends and holidays (official holidays and also inofficials like the Qurban Festival (arab. “Eid al-Adha”) in Usbekistan und Tadjikistan) and NOT for foreigners with a foreign registred vehicle. This changed now and the Qolma Pass for Overlander tours Tadjikistan-China is open for every overlander. Overland tours between Tadjikistan and China are offering a lot more opportunities now!
Before sending an inquiry, we suggest that you first read our FAQ section below!
For enquiries – What we need to know to be able to answer:
– Nationality / Age
– Travel period (day (if known), Month & Year)
– Transit period in days (1- 90 days)
– Entering China / departure from China (for example: from Kyrgyzstan to Laos)
– Number of Vehicles & Vehicle Types
Hendrik Heyne, founder of Tibetmoto, with overlander travellers in China from around the world
In addition to the supply vehicle, we rent everything necessary for a perfect expedition: Camping equipment: Group room/meeting tents, sleeping tents, folding cots, mobile kitchens, generators
China Overlander travel packages for film and TV productions in China
Order Service: We can order the following: Vehicle spare parts, expedition equipment, motorcycle clothing/helmets and much more!
Included Services with all China overland tours:
– Chinese driver´s license (temporary)
– Chinese number plate(temporary)
– Customs deposit bond
– Customs clearance
– 3rd party vehicle insurance
– All China / Tibet permits
– All necessary official translations
– English speaking Tibetmoto guide
– Expenses for guide traveling to / from borders
– Meals and accommodation for guide
– Optional supply vehicle (at additional costs)
– Advice concerning roads and itinerarie
– Tibetmoto service: Costumer support while on the road from Monday to Sunday, 8am to 9pm China time
– Letter of invitation (LOI) for applying a Chinese visa (for groups of 5 people or more)
Overland tour Mongolia – China - SEA Hi everyone, we booked the China part of our world trip with Tibetmoto. At Erenhot border we were greeted by out guide who helped us with the border formalities and accompanied us to the border of Tibet at Goldmud. From there we crossed the endless plateau landscape. At some point we spotted wild horses and stayed with nomads for a couple of nights.In Lhasa, we took a break for a few days after endless driving and continued to Yunnan province where our trip ended at the border to Lao.The trip was very well planned by Tibetmoto and we apprecited the many recommendations for overnight stops, routing and sights (both before and during the tour). The service was professional yet personal and you can feel that the team members are passionate travellers themselves.Last but not least: the tour price was very competative. And unlike other travel agencies we contacted we received always proper and detailed answers in comprehensive English language. That made planning much easier. Thanks guys!
Torugart pass to Shanghai On a bright Sunday morning in April 2017, my 1983 Land Rover “Edna” and I started on a trip that would take us from the Netherlands to China, crossing over 5,300 meters high mountain passes.End July 2017 we arrived at the Torugart pass, the border between Kyrgyzstan and China. From here we drove over 9000 Km to Shanghai, thereby travelling through XinJiang province and along the Himalayas through Tibet. The China part of the ‘expedition’ was arranged with strong support from Tibetmoto, which is run by Hendrik Heyne and his team.In short, thanks to Tibetmoto, particularly when it came to handling red-tape in China, this trip has become an unforgettable lifetime experience. Travel through China using your own vehicle without a guide is not possible. (Apparently being accompanied by a guide was already compulsory during the time of the old Silk routes!) This holds particularly true for the more ‘sensitive provinces’. Having said that, the guides that we were provided with (Thubten and Tashe) are probably the best one can get for such a journey: Very knowledgeable, supportive and in plain English just great fun to have on board. On a trip such as this, things are bound to not always go exactly as planned (…). However, also when it came to difficult questions e.g. with regard to the arrangement of visa’s and permits, Tibetmoto proved to be an indispensable partner.I would highly recommend their organization to anyone planning an overland trip to China.Ard Van Gerdijk
Overlanding with own vehicle in China through Tibet Moto In June and July I went through China with my Dutch registred vehicle, entering Xinjiang, going through Tibet an exiting from Yunnan to Laos, arranged by Tibet Moto. Everything was arranged very well. At the preparation stage the contact through email was crisp and clear. Hendrik took time to answer al my questions, he made me a travel schedule and adapted were necesery. Than we also had a skype meeting to talk through everything.Just before I intended to enter China, Tibet was suddenly closed by the government for foreigners. Hendrik walked the extra mile to arrange an alternative, with last minute changes in entry dates and vehicle permits, so I could wait in Kashgar for Tibet to be open again.The transit itself went smooth without any hickups. Ofcourse there are a lot of different aspects involved, going through a technical vehicle check, getting a chinese driver license and insurance for the vehicle. But they all turned out good. On the road there are a lot of police checks, there the documents prooved to be al legit, besides the time it takes there were no problems at all. The different guides asigned to me were professional and friendly, also helping from ordering food in restaurants to minor vehicle maintenance issues. In Yunnan I met personally with Hendrik and his wife. He took me out for dinner and beers, also on a personal level Hendrik is a trustworthy guy in my perception. Even after I departed China he showed interest in my wellbeing and he helped me with advise of travel agencies for overlanding. The departure out of China went very quick, before noon I already departed China.Overall I can really recommend Tibet Moto for other overlanders wishing to cross China. Crossing China with your own vehicle isnt cheap, but Tibet Moto was way cheaper than other travel agencies I contacted, with an excellent service. So well done Hendrik!
Overlander itineraries through China and Tibet 2018:
Tibet and China Overland transits are as special as the people who book with us.
There are hundreds of possiblilities to cross China with your own vehicle. The following China and Tibet overland itineraries are therefore more doable suggestions and serve as a guideline rather than as a way you have to take. We are happy to adapt all our itineries to your needs and ideas. Or create something entirely else.
The following itineraries can also be driven in reverse order:
|from / to||Kazakhstan||Kyrgyzstan||Mongolia|
A brief overview of frequently asked questions and our answers
Unfortunately, this is currently not possible. As organizers, we are legally responsible for our Overlanders. The legal risk for us would be too great if you got lost without a guide and got away from the agreed-upon route.
Can I use my own vehicle, enter China, leave the vehicle there, and leave China for X? After Y days, I would then want to return to China and continue my journey there.
That is not possible. Those who enter China with their own vehicle must leave the country again with the same vehicle at the same time.
Exceptions are possible, for example if you need to fly out of China for only a few days. In this case, you may deposit a certain amount.
The only option is to leave the country on day 90 and re-enter afterwards. A prolongation of the transit time is not possible without leaving the country. In 2016 it might be possible to apply for a six month transit. More about this possibility next year.
When traveling to China, an advance visa is always necessary. A visa on arrival will normally not be issued in China. However, we do not need to have your Chinese visa copy in advance if you only travel within China (and not through Tibet).
You can apply for Chinese visa in a third country on the way to China or in your home country, which we suggest. You can apply for a Chinese visa only if you enter China within three month after application. For example you plan to enter China on September 15. In this case, the earliest application date for your Chinese Overland visa is June 15.
Please note that in some countries its not possible to apply for a Chinese visa if you are not a resident of this country. For example, its not possible to apply for a Chinese visa at the Chinese embassy in Kyrgyzstan if you are not a resident of Kyrgyzstan and have lived there for at least six month.
For trips to Tibet, we need the Chinese visa copy at least 21 days in advance.
No problem! You can get an extension for your visa for another 30 days after you arrive in China. In some places, it will only take 24 hours. It is important to choose the right place to apply so it doesn’t take too long. The rule of thumb is: The smaller the town the faster the process will be.
I have special equipment with me, like a satellite phone, and many books, Will these be a problem while transiting China?
Imported objects do not normally cause problems. However, it depends on the individual case, and we can’t answer this question categorically. Satellite phones and tourist camera equipment (SLR camera, camcorder …) have never previously been a problem.
I have special equipment and will be doing professional film work. It is possible I will also be working for a TV production company or directly for the ARD or BBC, and want to shoot a documentary/movie/series/reality show in China or Tibet, and wish to enter the country overland with my own vehicles. What is necessary?
In addition to the normal transit papers you must also have CARFTE film permits. In such a case, we work with partners who can help with getting the necessary permits. Close cooperation between Tibet Moto, the film production company and our partner is necessary here, as well as a preparatory period of three to four months for planning and implementation.
Which documents are necessary for my transit papers and how far in advance should I apply for my transit visa?
Before booking we send you a form to fill out. Doing the form will take you about 30 minutes. The documents include passport, driver’s license and vehicle information such as colour and the chassis serial number.
We only need scanned copies and no originals. After booking, we set up a cloud (Dropbox) for you to upload all necessary documents.
We need about 70 days to set up your trip, so we need all papers and information 70 days in advance.
There is no way for us to arrange a trip for motorcycle or truck for Overlanders over 60. Unfortunately, Chinese law does not permit licenses for this age group and these vehicles. Other vehicles are exempt.
What happens if I do not reach the border in time for the purpose of entry because I, for example, broke down or became ill on the way?
In this case, our guide would wait for you at the border for as long as the travel plan still could be completed in its entirety. A few days delay would be possible, but we would have to bill you for extra guide costs. Punctuality is a prerequisite for a smooth journey.
What happens if, during the Overlander trip in China or Tibet, I am late, for example, because I have become sick or have a breakdown that is difficult to repair?
In such a case we will also bill you for extra guide costs and any possible expenses for changes to the permits (if such exist). In the case of serious damage to the vehicle, we recommend transporting the vehicle to the next sizeable city. The local guide will, of course, assist you in this. We can also do an express order for spare parts for you.
I should like to travel into China with my 4 × 4 truck. However, I have a 100cc Honda Dream with me that I certainly would not ride on while in the country. I promise! Does it have to be declared anyway?
All vehicles imported temporarily into China must be declared, even if they are not driven. Our price list above is, therefore, applicable to all vehicles.
I want to enter China as an overlander. However, I want to ship my vehicle from port X in China to Y, Is this possible?
Yes, this is normally possible. This is a special request that will require us to do a good bit of investigation into shipping possibilities. We charge a flat rate for the research which will be added to the Overlander price. For this, we can also offer you a good price from a third party Chinese shipping company.
I would like to save money. Immediately after entering China, I would like to have my vehicle transported within China by truck or train to the border exit X. I would then travel separately to the border exit X and pick up my car there. How much would that cost?
We are not a transport company. Because of that we normally do not offer services that mainly involve shipping. We are not familiar with the rules for this and do not know whether this kind of arrangement is even possible or legal. Because of that we cannot help with this request.
No, there is no need to arrange hotel bookings in advance. You can either book directly in the town or village where you stay for the night or in advance with the help of your guide or using a online booking engine.
You have to consider that you enter with your vehicle China as part of a group. This means that on all official transit papers the group size with all vehicle specifications are mentioned. This results in the fact that you are not able to enter China alone with you vehicle without the remaining group.
For example, it is possible that a part of the group for various reason can not make it to the border in time to enter China. The authorities won´t be allowing you to enter with you vehicle alone, since you are part of group and, even though you are there, would not be able to enter.
Generally, it is possible to enter on a working day (Mo-Fr), but not on weekends or public holidays.
If you decide to enter on a Friday, you can only receive your necessary documents at the traffic administration such as temporary driving license and temporary number plate on the next working day (Monday, if Monday is not a holiday). As well, the vehicle check can only take place on the next working day.
When entering China, you will meet your guide at the pre-decided border/day. There, the guide will help you with the formalities and communication with the border official. He will hold as well all necessary documents (beside your passport and original vehicle documents).
Afterwards, you will proceed to the next town to where the border checkpoint (administrative division) belongs to. In most cases this is the next bigger town close to the border. Its for example Jinhong if you arrive from Laos or Kashgar if you arrive from Kyrgyzstan.
On the following working day after your arrival you need to visit the traffic administration with you vehicle. The traffic administration will check you vehicle and issue your temporary driving license and temporary number plate beside other documents.
The waiting time is often quite long on this day, so its essential that we plan for the proceedings an entire day.
After the successful check of your vehicle and issuing of all necessary papers you can hit the road the following day.
Here an itinerary example:
Day 1 (Thu): Coming from Naryn (Kyrgyzstan) and entering into China from Torugart Pass. Meeting the guide at the Chinese border checkpoint of Torugart Port. Border proceedings and formalities. Drive to Kashgar.
Day 2 (Fri): Formalities at the traffic administration outside of Kashgar (40 kilometers drive). Issuing of temp. driving license, temp. number plate, vehicle check.
Day 3 (Sat): Free day. Visit the old town of Kashgar.
Day 4 (Sun): Visit Kashgar´s Sunday market. Begin you journey according to your itinerary.
We need an advanced payment of 20% once you decided to book your China transit with us. Upon receiving we initiate your booking. Four weeks (28 days) prior to your arrival at the Chinese border we need to receive the remaining amount of 80%.
If you book 6 month in advance you qualify for our Early Bird discount of 3% on all services beside the guide service.
The new border crossing near Gyirong (Girong) replaced after the earthquake 2015 the old border at Zhangmu/Kodari, but was closed due to construction until recently for foreign tourists.
The opening date for overland travel with you own vehicle at the new border at Gyirong is early 2018.
Therefore, we can offer this border again as a entry and exit border for China-Nepal overland travel in 2018.
That depends on the exact routing. For example your China transit is from Kyrgyzstan to Laos via Tibet. In this case you would have a guide for the Chinese province of Xinjiang (normally an Uighur guide), a different guide for Tibet (a Tibetan) and another guide for the Chinese province of Yunnan (a Yunnanese guide; normally a member of Yunnan´s many minority groups).
This has the advantage that you always travel with somebody who can speak the local language (not everywhere Mandarin Chinese is spoken), knows the local customs and traditions and knows the area extremely well.
After booking with us, but not longer than three month in advance prior to your Overland China entry, we will supply you with an official Letter of Invitation (LOI) from a government Tourism department if your group has at least 5 people, which is a requeuirement from the tourism bureau. Please note: We do not issue the LOI we apply for the LOI in your name. Therefore, it takes up to seven working days to be issued.
The letter will state your point and date of entry/exit, rough itinerary and some other details.
When applying for a Chinese visa and presenting the LOI, you do not need to proof:
- Hotel bookings
- Flight bookings
If your group is smaller than 5 people, we can provide you with hotel bookings.
In order to apply for your LOI, you need to fill out our China Overland form which we send to you after booking and inform us in which country and which city you apply for your Chinese visa.
Its generally possible to appy for a Chinese visa without an agent and by yourself. However, many people prefer to use an agent because they feel its more convenient. In case you use the service of an agent:
Make sure your agent is specialized in visa services or is a China specialist. A regular travel agent or the neighbor travel bureau in your hometown will often make things more complicate since they sometimes do not understand the procedure correctly or collect their information only from internet sources.
If you need a suggestion concerning a good visa agent, please ask us.
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