Flag of China

Flag of China



  • Population » 1.4 billion
    • The world’s 2nd most populous country, second only to India (as of April 2023).
  • Languages » Mandarin Chinese
  • Religions » Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, Taoism
  • Life expectancy » 75 years (men), 78 years (women)
  • Currency » Chinese Yuan Renminbi (CNY)



  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Han Yangling » A smaller version of the Xi’an terracotta warriors, the the tomb of Emperor Jing Di, who died in 141BC


  • Summary » It’s complicated! And not worth the expense or hassle, if can be avoided.
  • Overlanding 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

Overland Ports

  • Torugart Pass (elevation: 3,752 meters – 12,909 feet) between Kyrgyzstan and China (Google Maps) used by the Wescotts.
Map of China (Source » France, June 2021)

Map of China (Source » France, June 2021)



  • 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.

World Rankings

  • #17 in Best Countries Overall 2021 (US News & World Report)
    • #15 overall out of 73 in 2020
    • Ranked 55th for Adventure 2021
    • Ranked 23rd for Quality of Life 2021
  • World Economic Forum (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 an increased 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 at the border 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 Advice


  • 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.




This page was updated May 3, 2023