We are meeting 4 other couples at the Lao – China border on 8 May to share the cost of a guide in China:
- Rob & Robyn
- Guy & Cheryl
- Miles & Marina
- Phil & Mads
Unfortunately it is not allowed to drive your own vehicle through China without a guide which makes it rather expensive and a long process as you need to decide on an itinerary first before the travel agent can organise all the necessary permits to drive on those roads… Send us a message with any questions and we’ll do our best to tell you what we know if you want to travel through China with your own vehicle.
This is the route we drove in China. If you are interested, you can click on this image below and it will take you to the actual Google Map online. You can then zoom in (or out) to have a more detailed look.
We might show our campsite locations on here too at some point if we have time to get that organised.
After some research I found there was a Chinese visa application centre right here in Brisbane, so Jon visited a few times in his lunch breaks with questions to make sure we had the right things before applying.
Apply for visa in Brisbane 6 months before entry. Submit application form (and supplementary application form for me as I will be applying with my Dutch passport) plus flight itinerary and hotel booking and pay $128.50. Four days later you have your visa.
My visa was actually a little cheaper as I have a foreign passport. I applied for mine on Tuesday 4 December and Jon was able to pick it up on Monday 10 December. Jon however wasn’t that lucky, as his Australian passport was still in Singapore (for the visa for Kazakhstan), he tried to apply with his UK passport. But as there is no proof in that passport that he is allowed to stay in the country they wouldn’t except it. Now he will have to wait until the passports are back from Singapore, hopefully on time to apply for his Chinese one before we leave to Europe (update: it didn’t arrive on time, so he will have to apply for it when we get back. Passports only came back on Wednesday 12-12-12 from Singapore…luckily just in time before we fly out!).
Jon dropped off his application as soon as we were back from our xmas break in Europe and picks it up 4 days later on Friday 11 Jan – easy.
Visas for China – tick!
This is the information I found on the web before discovering there was an application centre in Brisbane:
single entry visa $60, double entry visa $90.
Visa Application Service Centre in Kuala Lumpur (CVASC) Address: 2nd floor, Plaza OSK, 25 Jalan Ampang, 50450 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Office Hours: Application Submission: 9:00-15:00 Monday-Friday Payment and Passport Collection: 9:00-16:00 Monday-Friday
Tel: +60-3-21758888, 21757888 Fax: +60-3-21756888 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: http://www.visaforchina.org
This is the ONLY place where we can pick up Chinese visas in South East Asia. I also found these phone numbers: +60-3-21636815 (Ext. 102, 103, 104, 105, 106), 21636814 Monday-Friday 9:00-11:45
1. Fill in the visa application form (attached – I am sure we can fill them in with help from NAVO to avoid certain issues like Tibet as recommended)
2. Fill in the supplementary application form (attached) – only needed when applying for a visa in a country you don’t have the nationality of. So, if we can apply in Australia only I will have to fill this one in. If we apply in Kuala Lumpur we will all have to fill this one in.
3. Make an appointment to hand in your visa application (in person). The appointment can be made online.
4. Pick up your passport 4 days later (you can pay extra to pick it up in one business day)
Reading the information it seems we can only apply about a month in advance (up to 3 months maximum) for a single entry visa which will only be valid for 3 months. So we would have to wait until 29 Feb (doesn’t exist in 2013 so assume 1 March for that reason) before we could apply to enter on 29 May. I wonder if we can use the double entry visa to get around that as they are valid for 6 months… (update: yes you can! We applied for a double entry visa and were therefore able to apply before leaving Australia).
Also, I found an address for a visa application centre in KL, but when I look at the online appointment system I cannot pick KL to hand in my application.
Border crossing from Lao into China
Please read about this border crossing on the Laos page.
Border crossing from China into Mongolia
Please read about this border crossing on the Mongolia page.
We bought a China Mobile sim card. As nobody in the shop spoke English it was a bit tricky to get what we wanted. We think we have bought a sim card with 1Gb of data for 1 month and we can buy top-ups for 1Gb when it finishes. We had to show our passport again just to buy a prepaid card. Surprisingly, China doesn’t have a lot of 3G and if you want to buy a sim card that will allow you to receive 3G speeds you need to pay a lot more, so we opted for 2G instead. It works for downloading emails ok, but nothing more exciting than that.
Again we are not able to create a local hotspot with our iphone, although the Samsung from Cheryl is able to create a hotspot. Not sure why.
In China it’s possible to view our blog (wordpress with our own domain name), we can receive comments and reply to comments (we used the iPhone WordPress app), but we can’t log in to the admin part of our blog to make any changes or add a new post. We also can’t access You Tube, Google or Facebook and are looking into either vpn or a web proxy to allow us to access these again.
Our phone number is: +86 187 8795 7720
NOTE: Be aware when you are going to buy your top-up, that you can only buy these in the same province as where you bought the sim card… We don’t know if you can buy it before you leave the province and then activate once you are in a different province as we couldn’t test this (as we had already left the province where we bought the card before we wanted to buy a top-up).
We ended up buying a new simcard with data once the month ran out. The sim card itself wasn’t expensive so it didn’t really matter.
I bought 2 months access via a webproxy for $12 so we would be able to access our blog, youtube (to upload videos) and facebook. It all seemed to work fine until we tried to actually upload photos for our blog on wordpress and a new video we made to youtube. Turns out you can’t use a webproxy to upload photos and videos, or at least not the one we used (Securitales).
I do recommend them if all you want to do is access blocked sites like facebook and youtube, but if you need to upload things to youtube or wordpress you might have to look further. We heard people talk about ‘strong vpn’, so check them out. We gave up and decided to wait until we are in Mongolia so we can access it all again.
Below is our planned itinerary, we cannot deviate from this route, but we are allowed to go faster or slower through the route (as long as we make it out on time!). Unfortunately we had to cut out Tibet and Everest Base Camp as some of the vehicles in our group are not able to go to those altitudes 🙁 But nevertheless we are looking forward to experiencing China.
|1||Thu||9-May-13||Mohan磨憨/ Entry入境/ Mengla勐腊||32||650-1000m||Enter China, and deal with the related procedures at border. Drive to Mengla|
|2||Fri||10-May-13||Mengla勐腊/ Mengxing勐醒/ Jinghong景洪||200||540m||Finish the rest procedures at Mengla and then drive to Jinghong. Visiting options: Ganlanba Dai village, Menglun Tropical Botanic Garden;|
|3||Sat||11-May-13||Jinghong景洪/Pu’er普洱/Jiangcheng江城||270||1200m||Drive to Jiangcheng. Enjoy the ethnic scenery along the way|
|4||Sun||12-May-13||Jiangcheng江城/Luchun绿春/Laomeng老勐||220||1300m||The road condition is not good but with beautiful scenery|
|5||Mon||13-May-13||Laomeng老勐/Yuanyang 元阳||80||1500m||Drive to sightsee Yuanyang Rice Terraces. Picture hilltop villages, the only things visible above rolling fog and cloud banks; an artist’s palette of colours at sunrise and sunset; spiritrecharging treks through centuries-old rice covered hills, with a few water buffalo eyeing you contentedly nearby.|
|6||Tue||14-May-13||Yuanyang元阳/Jianshui建水||90||1300m||Although little Km, while most are mountain road. Jianshui is also an ancient town which is worth visiting|
|7||Wed||15-May-13||Jianshui建水/Kaiyuan开远/Mile弥勒/Shilin石林||220||1700m||Drive to Shilin, if you are interested in, can have a stop in Mile to visit Mile Temple.|
|8||Thu||16-May-13||Shilin石林/Kunming昆明||120||1900m||In the morning, visit the Stone Forest (Shilin), a conglomeration of utterly bizarre but stunning karst geology. After that, go to Kunming|
|9||Fri||17-May-13||Kunming昆明||1900m||You can do some shopping or easy walk these days, or can go to explore the city, such as Dian Lake, Golden Temple, etc.|
|10||Sat||18-May-13||Kunming昆明||REST AND MAINTENANCE DAY|
|11||Sun||19-May-13||Kunming昆明/Fumin富民/Luquan禄劝/Yuanmou元谋||230||1000m||Drive along the provicial road, feeling the local Yi ethnic culture. On the way, to vist the old Cliff with Yi language, and Ape-man fossil site around Yuanmou.|
|12||Mon||20-May-13||Yuanmou元谋/Anle安乐/Mouding牟定/Nanhua南华/Midu弥渡/Nanjian南涧||280||1900m||Drive to Nanjian|
|13||Tue||21-May-13||Nanjian南涧/Weibaoshan魏宝山/Weishan 巍山/Dali 大理||100||2000m||Visit Mt. Weibaoshan with most time of the day which is about 6 km far from Weishan county; then drive to Dali city and stay overnight in the acient town.|
|14||Wed||22-May-13||Dali大理||2000m||Visit options in Dali: Three Majestic Pagodas, Zhonghe Temple etc.|
|15||Thu||23-May-13||Dali大理/ Yunlong云龙/ Nuodeng 诺邓||165||2000m||Drive to Yunlong county and Dengnuo village, visit Dengnuo Salt wells. Guests decide to camp in Dengnuo village or back to Yunlong county (6KM from each other)|
|16||Fri||24-May-13||Nuodeng 诺邓/ Madeng马登/ Lijiang丽江||213||2400m||Drive to Lijiang by county and village road.|
|17||Sat||25-May-13||Lijiang丽江||2400m||Visit and have fun in and around Lijiang ancient town. Optional: Yufeng Temple, The Stockaded Village of Bai Minority, the Mural-paintings in Basha grotto, Collection of ancient Naxi hieroglyphics and musical scores etc.|
|18||Sun||26-May-13||Lijiang丽江/ Tiger Leaping Gorge虎跳峡||80||3300m||Drive to Tiger Leaping Gorge, around 1-2 hours, based on the traffic condition (a lot of cars and bus go through this road in the morning). Trekking in the gorge and guests could decide how many days they spend inside. We plan the 1 day and a half here temporary.|
|19||Mon||27-May-13||Tiger Leaping Gorge 虎跳峡||3300m||One full day visiting and trekking in Tiger Leaping Gorge.|
|20||Tue||28-May-13||Tiger Leaping Gorge 虎跳峡/ Baishuitai 白水台 (2400M)/ Shangri-La香格里拉||180||3300m||Drive to Baishuitai then to Shangri-La， enjoy the Baishuitai on the road. Get to Shangri-La and stay overnight.|
|21||Wed||29-May-13||Around Shangri-La||3300m||Drive to Great Treasure temple (15Km from Shangri-La), after visiting drive to Tianshengqiao (10Km from Shangri-La); back to Shangri-La and stay overnight.|
|22||Thu||30-May-13||Shangri-La||REST AND MAINTENANCE DAY|
|23||Fri||31-May-13||Shangri-La/Lijiang丽江||175||2400m||Visit and have fun in and around Lijiang ancient town. Optional: Yufeng Temple, The Stockaded Village of Bai Minority, the Mural-paintings in Basha grotto, Collection of ancient Naxi hieroglyphics and musical scores etc.|
|24||Sat||1-Jun-13||Lijiang丽江/Ninglang宁蒗/Lugu Lake泸沽湖||220||2600m||Drive to Lugu Lake, and you can camping by the lake. Although it is only 220km from Lijiang to Lugu Lake, while you may drive 5-6 hours since the road condition from Lijiang – Ninglang will be not good,most are mountain road.|
|25||Sun||2-Jun-13||Lugu Lake泸沽湖/Yanyuan盐源/Xichang西昌||270||1500m||Around 6 hours driving along the mountain road from Lugu Lake to Xichang, and enjoy the nature scenery on the way. After arrive in Xicang, feel the culture of local Yi minority. If still have time, can pay a visit around Qiong Lake. The Space sport is around 70km far away from Xicang City, but currently, it is not open for the public.|
|26||Mon||3-Jun-13||Xichang – Meigu – Mabian||270||750m||Drive from Xichang to Mabian. Not long distance, but the road condition is not good, especially from Meigu to Mabian|
|27||Tue||4-Jun-13||Mabian – Dafengding Nature Reserve||800m-4042m||Drive to the entrance of Mabian Dafengding Nature Reserve. You can do some trekking, photography there, and enjoy the amazing beauty gifted by the god. If you are lucky enough, except for other wild animal, you can also meet the wild Pandas.
Currently, it is not full-open to the public, visitors should obey the regulation there. Besides, the tourism facilities of the reserve is still under the construction, accommodation and restaurant are incomplete, but just coz of this, the reserve still keep it nature. When you visit there, you can take some food and water.
|28||Wed||5-Jun-13||Dafengding Nature Reserve – Mabian -Emei Shan||224||480m||Can continue to stay in Dafengding Nature Reserve. After that, drive to Emei Shan.|
|29||Thu||6-Jun-13||Emei Shan||500m||Hike/tour Emei Shan|
|30||Fri||7-Jun-13||Emei Shan – Ya’an – Chengdu成都||205||500m||Drive to Chengdu|
|31||Sat||8-Jun-13||Chengdu成都||REST AND MAINTENANCE DAY – Free day. You can drive to visit typical Jinli Street, Panda base, and other sightseeing places that you are interested in.|
|35||Wed||12-Jun-13||Wushan/Gaoyangzhen/Sandoupingzhen||262||150m||Drive to Yichang, where you can find the Three Gorges Dam, the world’s largest due to length rather than height. It is not the most spectacular, but it is worth a peek|
|36||Thu||13-Jun-13||Yichang宜昌/Zigui秭归/Gaoyang高阳/Muyu木鱼/Shennongjia神农架/Fang房县||320||900m||Drive from Yichang to Fang county, passing Shennongjia, which is famed for its medicinal plants and legendary ape-man.|
|37||Fri||14-Jun-13||Fang房县/Shiyan十堰/Shanyang山阳/Lantian蓝田/Xi’an西安||420||800m||Head to Xi’an, from Fang to Shiyan, some section are mountain road.|
|38||Sat||15-Jun-13||Xi’an西安||800m||Visit Terracotta Warriors, Wild Goose Pagoda,etc|
|39||Sun||16-Jun-13||Xi’an西安||800m||REST AND MAINTENANCE DAY|
|40||Mon||17-Jun-13||Xi’an西安/HuaShan||120||800m||Travel to Hua Shan, spend day climbing, sight-seeing|
|41||Tue||18-Jun-13||HuaShan/Weinan渭南/Luoyang洛阳||260||350m||Head to Luoyang, visit Baima Temple; etc|
|42||Wed||19-Jun-13||Luoyang洛阳/Pingyao||426||In the morning, go to visit Longmen Grottos, 13 Km south of Luoyang. It is a priceless Unesco World Heritage Site, the ravaged grottoes at Longmen constitute one of China’s few surviving masterpieces of Buddhist rock carving.|
|43||Thu||20-Jun-13||Pingyao||Ping Yao is an exceptionally well-preserved example of a traditional Han Chinese city
|44||Fri||21-Jun-13||Pingyao/Datong||384||Drive to Datong in the morning and visit the Datong Grottos in the afternoon|
|45||Sat||22-Jun-13||Datong大同||Drive to Hunyuan for the Hanging Temple which is a miracle in ancient Chinese construction, the whole temple was built on the mountain cliffs.|
|46||Sun||23-Jun-13||Datong大同/Changping||307||Visit Ming Temples in afternoon|
|47||Mon||24-Jun-13||Changping – Beijing北京||VISA DAY|
|48||Tue||25-Jun-13||Beijing北京||Day trip. Optional: Imperial Palace, Summer Palace, Temple of Heaven|
|50||Thu||27-Jun-13||Changping/Great wall 八达岭长城||REST AND MAINTENANCE DAY|
|51||Fri||28-Jun-13||Changping/Great wall 八达岭长城|
|52||Sat||29-Jun-13||Changping/Erenhot二连浩特||658||Head to Erenhot, will be a long driving day|
|53||Sun||30-Jun-13||Erenhot二连浩特/Exit||Exit process, and finish your China part, go on to drive to next destination|
We saw heaps of animals in China, including a red panda in the wild which has just made us so incredibly happy! Here are some of the other animals we saw… and I couldn’t resist and add a few of pandas as they are so cute!