• Population » 1.4 billion
    • The world’s most populous country.
  • Major language » Mandarin Chinese
  • Major religions » Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, Taoism
  • Life expectancy » 75 years (men), 78 years (women)
  • Currency » Chinese Yuan Renminbi (CNY)



  • China Summary » It’s complicated! And not worth the hassle, if can be avoided.
  • China has one of the world’s fastest-growing economies, and is a leading exporter.
  • China’s Communist Party retains a tight grip on political life and much of society.


  • China is the fourth most visited country in the world with a reported 59.3 million visitors in 2016.
  • Hong Kong and Macau are Special Administrative Regions of China.
  • Canadians (and all foreigners) must obtain a permit and be taking part in an organized tour to travel to Tibet.
  • A normal Chinese Tourist Visa can be extended at least once (and sometimes twice) in China, but the Group Chinese Visa (restricted to travel in Tibet) cannot be extended.
  • Formula 1 Chinese Grand Prix at Shanghai International Circuit in the spring.


  • It is important to know that driving in China with your own vehicle requires significant preparation, paperwork, time, effort, and money.
    • You will require a temporary Chinese driver’s license, along with permits for each of the Chinese provinces your journey will take you through, so you will need to plan a route well in advance.
    • China have some of the strictest laws with regards to foreign vehicles.
    • To help illustrate this, Guinness Book of World Records holders Liliana and Emil Schmid, who have been living overland for over 37 years and have travelled through 218 countries (as of 2021), have not visited China.
  • Drive » Right side
  • China is ranked as the second most dangerous place to drive
  • A guide from a recognised tour company is required to be with the overlanders at all times during your trip.
    • This makes a trips through China quite expensive and cost prohibitive for some.
      • To reduce expenses, one guide can accompany a group of overlanders who arrange to travel together through China.
    • Itinerary must be preplanned, with very little deviation is permitted.
    • The Wescotts used the assistance of Lisa Li at NAVO Tour for their arrangements.
      • Important: Start planning months ahead of time! Be prepared for lots of paperwork.
    • Another resource is Road Pioneer


  • Torugart Pass (elevation: 3,752 meters – 12,909 feet) between Kyrgyzstan and China (Google Maps) used by the Wescotts.


  • Going through China from the west KazakhstanKyrgyzstanTajikistan in September is a good time to cross. Not too hot through the Xinjang deserts and most of rainy season will be gone in Sichuan and Yunnan provinces. And you will arrive South East Asia in October just at the end of the rainy season.


  • Travelling with pets to China may require a 30 day quarantine at the border. Rules changed May 1, 2019 (PetTravel.com)

China’s World Rankings (2018)

  • Airport connectivity: 2nd
  • Innovation capability: 24th
  • Quality of vocational training: 40th
  • Roads quality: 42nd
  • life expectancy: 43rd
  • Judicial independence: 45th
  • Reliability of police services: 63rd
  • Freedom of the press: 140th (out of 140 surveyed)

Safety and Security

  • China has very little respect for other cultures or the rule of law. All tourists, but especially those from western countries, are at a high risk of arbitrary arrest and detention in China on trumped-up charges, most-often motivated for political purposes.
    • The courts are not independent. They have a 99% conviction rate. If arrested, there is very little chance of a fair trial.
    • Reference » Wikipedia
  • Canadians travelling to China will want to take extra care that their visas are in order. Chinese authorities have imprisoned Canadians for minor visa irregularities. (Dec 2018)
  • Higher levels of security precautions apply in Tibet and Xinjiang.
  • As of 2019, China has started seizing tourist’s phones and installing malware to search the devices (Source: Vice)
    • Visitors may want to leave their primary electronic devices at home, carrying an inexpensive unit instead, one that you leave behind before heading back home. They could be purchase after landing in China, which are preloaded with the Chinese government spyware.
    • An added security precaution would be to not access sensitive online accounts while in China or with any device that has been in China.

Government Tourism Advisories




This page was last updated on 2021.05.04 by Robert Vinet