Hitchhiking China (1 Viewer)

CowboySolo

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Hello SquatThePlanet! This is my first day, and also my first post. I've been trying to get as much information about hitchhiking China, though there seems to be little out there on the interweb. I've created this thread to put together on a single page any details that I might find useful, and also share them with future travelers. All that is written on this first page is subject to change (except flying dates and other individual details), this is indeed a First Draft.

The plan:
My plan is to hitchhike a big portion of China, see as much interesting places as possible outside the usual tourist spots, and meet locals to deepen my understanding of the culture, the language and traditions. Music is a big part of my life and I will, if necessary, stray away from the path to enjoy any local or national music. I enjoy much more rural areas, although big cities are not off my list.

Path:
I'm reaching Guanzhou on the 2nd of January at 23:00. I'm leaving from Guangzhou on the 23 of July at 00:15 (a total of 52 days minus the 2 airport days) I intend to be on Beijing on July to visit a teacher and friend of mine.

There are many paths to choose from!
One is to go straight up into Beijing, going through Hunan, Hubei, Henan, Hebei and back again straight down into Guangzhou;

Another would be to travel through the coast, to Fujian, Zhejiang, Jiangsu, Shangdong, Hebei and then back again.

Or go west and then east from Guangxi, Yunnan or Guizhou, Sichuan, Shaanxi, Shanxi and return again.

My preference would be to head West to start with, and if I have the time go slightly more the West (Visit Qinghai, Gansu) and then go back straight down the East coast.

Budget:
I have a total of $1,000, which translates to a total of 6,877 ¥ .

Experience:
This is my first time traveling to China, an Asian country and hitchhiking a long distance. My previous experiences are traveling to Europe (England to France, to Italy, to Spain) by bus and train. And walking from the capital of my country, San Juan, to my hometown, Jayuya (approx. 91km in 3 days), with two rare instances of unsolicited Hitchhiking (5-7 km each).

Conclusion: I'm a noobie.

I don't plan to plan (huh?) every single aspect of my journey. Thus, the journey will depend on the circumstances. For instance, if I make it to Beijing on 2 weeks, visiting Inner Mongolia or nearby provinces wouldn't hurt. But if, for whatever reason I spend a full month reaching Beijing, my return trip will be hastened.


Some useful websites and fun videos I've found:

https://www.travelchinaguide.com/

https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/traveler/none/china

http://hitchwiki.org/en/China




I recommend scavenging through ADVChina's channel. They are very helpful and they have a unique perspective on what goes on in China. True Transcient is very motivating and very helpful as well. While, David Choe is a good laugh.

Why am I doing this?

Because I can. It's been a dream of mine for a few years now, and whenever a dream isn't done, it starts to become a nightmare. I've seen it in many peoples faces, and I won't let it happen to me, they wanted to follow their dreams but instead followed the laid path because they thought one day when they established enough security they would be able to follow their dreams. Yet, time went by, they got old, and they got entangled with their duty. And duty...

"Duty is a four letter dirty word"
-Osho

All seriousness aside, I hope you find this first draft useful, otherwise entertaining, and perhaps motivating.

I want to hear more from you. Do have any suggestions (places to visit, things to do)? Any useful information or advise, warnings or stories. Have you every hitchhiked China? What was your starting point and your destination? How long it took you? Did you find it difficult? Have you never traveled China, but you want to? Anything, please feel free to share.

Regardless, I'll keep posting now and then until the day I leave, and finally I'll let you guys know my approach and how the trip went.

See you soon!

12-126_China_provinces.png
 
Click here to buy the Anarchist's Guide to Travel!
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Deleted member 125

I closed my account
well first off welcome to stp!

i have no experience hitch hiking in china but ide imagine cultural differences aside its alot like hitch hiking in north america. the videos you posted while entertaining arnt that helpful really, the first one focuses on riding a motor bike which you wont be doing, the second is just a general hitch hiking video but its lacking alot of imformation you might want to brush up on since you are pretty new to hitch hiking in general. and that last video well its a vice video with david choe so take that with a double grain of salt.

https://squattheplanet.com/threads/squat-the-planets-ultimate-gear-guide.26425/

thats a useful thread showing typically what folks carry in their packs yers of course may be a bit different but its a good jumping off point to be prepared especially since you are in china ( and said you wanted to stay to more rural areas ) and it may be difficult to find things that youd want to keep yerself at least somewhat comfortable.

heres a link to the hitch wiki on china, after just a quick scan through ide say that if i went to china without knowing at least a few of the differences ide be pretty bummed out that my thumb wasnt getting rides, apparently in china it means "ok" so me sticking my thumb out would be like me saying "no need for a ride...because im ok" so, little shit like that i guess would be good to brush up on.

http://hitchwiki.org/en/China

goodluck, look forward to hearing how it went!
 

Tude

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Welcome to STP! Great intro --- and sounds like an excellent trip!
 
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I don't want to be a dream catcher or anything here, I've never been to China, nonetheless hitchhiked there. I've never even been to Asia, so my knowledge isn't first hand.

However, on a trip while hitchhiking from Denmark through Germany, me and my friend got a ride from a very friendly German, who happened to be a professional photographer and had been filming for Mercedes through a decade. He told us about the latest gig he had been doing, which was to promote some new SUV Mercedes branch, where the whole commercial value in the event was to drive 3 of those cars around the world.

So anyways, on this said trip around the world, the man recollected how difficult it had been to get permission for Mercedes, to drive through China. According to him, there's many of the rural areas that aren't open to public, i.e. tourist, let alone foreigners. He was telling us how they'd drive through some of the most wrecked places he had seen on this earth, with industries, power-plants and a lot of poverty; starving people, abandoned children, wrecked houses and entire cities that were pretty close to being inhumane.

Now as I said, I haven't been there at all, I haven't read up on it, or even taken an act of critical thinking on what this man told me. I've felt no reason to question this mans recollection of his first hand experience, and thus based on what I've heard, I don't think travelling through and trough China might be such an easy endeavor.

But you seem to be digging quite well into the information that is available, and if you do have friends living in China, you'd better ask them their experiences with travelling "off the grid" in China's more rural areas. Most of all, you'd be so much more adequate to hitchhike with your bearings solid if you might find someone who could share their own experience on hitchhiking in China.

Either way it sounds like you're in for the challenge, hope you get some experience on the roads that'll help your dreams come through.
 

CowboySolo

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You bring forward an important point, and there's no shame on that. But, you mention how well I seem to be digging into all the information. And I must be honest with you, I'm not. There's very limited information regarding this sort of method of traveling about in China. In fact, thats the reason I started this thread. Because people who have done this, and are talking about it, either are not talking in a broad sense, delving into all the details, or they are simply not talking about it. Although, it might just be that I haven't done my homework properly and I have been searching on the wrong corners of the internet.

For instance, if you search for videos on YouTube for hitchhiking throughout Europe. You're going to find many videos, with many tips. Same thing for hitchhiking North America. But this is coming from someone who has never hitchhiked outside his own country (except for a 5 minute ride on England, and another on Italy, and some few on my own country, which in my opinion doesn't count.)

The reason for this, most likely, is that the majority of people who hitchhike are young. Certainly there must be older people. In my hometown alone I often give old men and women a lift from the bus station to downtown. But I'm yet to find someone at a later period in their lives hitchhiking Europe, North America or let alone China. (Although if you know of any don't hesitate on telling me, but I still think is a minority).

Before I ever traveled to a different continent, I was anxious to get to Asia. So two years ago I told my friend, "I'm going to China, will you come with me?" After a very short discussion he convinced me that traveling to Europe would be a better idea, since it would be more fun (and it was), saying that "Traveling to China would be something you'll do when you're old." I ended up going alone to Europe, and he stayed home watching Netflix and "having fun".

What I want to let you know with this, is that any little thing that might sound ridiculous can have a connection with real life. And there must be certain parts of China I won't be able to go through, and definitely places I won't want to go through.

Living in a country where the poorest have an iPhone and can live comfortably if they wish, sort of crystalizes a very poor perception of reality. It's like living your entire life (and most of us do) without ever seeing the inside of a human body, eye to eye. It separates us from our nature, it makes us feel like mighty and superior beings composed only of the highest and the divine and lacking of any "inferiority" from the "mud".

Poverty, starving people, abandoned children, wrecked houses and entire inhumane cities. As you mentioned. Is something I want to see before my youth runs out the door. And thanks to you, this data will now affect my research, and I'll make sure to include any new advancements.

Un fuerte abrazo!
 

Tony Pro

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I'm interested to know what you've dug up with regard to visas. You've got an American passport, right? I've heard the Chinese require all kinds of bullshit from Americans like confirmed hotel bookings before they give you a visa. But I also know Americans have hitched all over China so there must be a workaround. Know anything about this?
I want to do Europe to India some day but on the surface of it, it's impossible with an American passport. But china does seem to be the weak link in the wall of red tape.

I'm excited for you, man. You best report back with photos.
 

CowboySolo

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Yes, Puerto Ricans can only have American passports, with the exception (I think) of a man who was the first "Puerto Rican citizen", too bad nobody else in the planet took him seriously.

On regards to the visa requirements, I cannot tell you first hand the requirements per se (I'm waiting until April to apply), but I can affirm some of the details, since it has become an important step for Americans who want to go through China.

Some of the requirements beside completing the form are:
-Having a passport (with a blank page and six months of validity)
-A photocopy of the passport.
-Two Pictures 2x2
-The flight itinerary, and
-The booking itinerary.

This booking itinerary, as well as the flight itinerary, will be checked to include: your name, the name of the hotel or other places you'll be staying, how many days you'll be staying and the days you'll be leaving.

This presents a problem for many kinds of people, especially hitchhikers who won't be staying anywhere. But there are ways around it. For instance, you could book an extremely cheap hostel, or find a hotel that refunds your money after you apply for the Visa.

The only other way to replace this requirement is an Invitation Letter from a local Agency, but this only applies for group tours. Or an invitation letter from a local friend (which in my case would be the easiest route to travel, and the one I suggest to you).

Although, Tony, if you're just passing though, the Government allows you a 72 hour free transit visa, but only if you're coming from a flight that lands on certain airports (Guangzhou, Chengdu, Xi'an, Beijing, Shanhai, Chongqing, Dalian, or Shenyang) and it must be confirmed that you're leaving in 72 hours.

I'll be updating on any further information I find, and on my moves regarding this. In the meantime I found some FAQ's and documents that might prove useful.

FAQ:

https://www.visarite.com/FAQ_china_visa_new_policy.htm

The Chinese Visa Form:

https://www.visaforchina.org/SGP_EN/upload/Attach/mrbj/275102.pdf

Also make sure to check http://www.china-embassy.org/eng/visas/ or check nomadwiki.org for a quick run-through.

I hope everything goes well on your Journey, Tony. I'll make sure to include pictures as soon as I arrive.

Un fuerte abrazo!
 
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I've heard the Chinese require all kinds of bullshit from Americans like confirmed hotel bookings before they give you a visa. But I also know Americans have hitched all over China so there must be a workaround. Know anything about this?

Very true. In every country I've been in, getting in was the hardest part. (Especially the USA) Once you're in, you can do pretty much what you want. Never been to China, though, might be different there.

I've hitchiked a bit through Asia, and here are my advices:
-Like mentionned, make sure you know which areas you're allowed to visit as a foreigner. The military there doesn't fuck around.
-Make sure you have a letter written in the local language saying what you're doing. People will speak decent english in the cities, but won't speak a word in rural areas. And hitchhiking isn't really a thing there, so be prepared for actual discussions before getting a ride.
-Know the stigmas. In Asia, everyone thinks that white people are loaded with money. Seeing you look for free rides might be frowned upon. You can help that by learning the basics of the local languages beforehand, so at least you won't look like the young college boy party backpacker that just doesn't want to pay. Show you're genuinely interested in the culture. That'll go a looong way.

Also, on a personal note: I know that the extra visa is expensive, but... You're going to China and skipping Tibet? REALLY?!?!

Best of luck to you! Keep us updated!
 

CowboySolo

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There is a few reasons I'm not going to Tibet, but I would like to delve first into some of the recommendations you gave, and some of the concerns attached to them. As they are connected to the Tibet question and might help you understand why, being my first time on China, I'd rather skip Tibet.

Before I speak about this, I must accentuate once again I am not an official source of information, most of the information I'm gathering comes from researching various websites, guidelines found on the internet, and through some conversations with Chinese people. Inaccuracy is a possibility.

Restrictions:

From what I've gathered, most of the restricted areas that may concern foreigners, are either Military Bases, borders, and the unusual local spot intended for the benefit of Chinese only (museum, hotels or government facility). Cities and certain areas of the provinces, unlike in the 80's, are no longer banned for tourists to explore. This may be because the Chinese government is trying to promote the tourist income of economy. Although, the maximum amount of money allowed for foreigners to bring into China is $5,000 (20,000 ¥), otherwise you need to specify in documents and declare in customs.

Some other places, such as The Jiangsu National Security Education Museum in Nanjing is a good example of a place where only the Chinese are allowed in.

Some small hotels, may not allow foreigners, but the reality is that there is no reason other than they don't know how to register a foreigner into the based system.

As for borders, some of the most obvious include the boundaries where the provinces of Jilin and Liaoning meet with the notorious North Korea. Although this wouldn't be a problem, as the area is divided with the help of the Yalu and the Tumen rivers, but there is apparently a small blind-spot where one can easily cross, but you'd have to be very adventurous to proceed, or very crazy.

Other borders prohibited are the Afghanistan and Hindustan (India) borders. And that's where Tibet comes in. For there are apparently certain areas in Tibet you cannot simply travel on your own, you need a Government permit (a different one from the one you needed in order to get into Tibet.)

To conclude, air pollution presents a bigger problem for a hitchhiker than restrictions. As many of these can be avoided, or can be easily perceived beforehand as Government officials, the police, and the people, can warn you and even escort you out of the area if you mistakenly end up in the wrong place. Of course, Tibet falls out of this category because you can easily step into a prohibited area without even knowing. Unfortunately, I couldn't find which areas are those, I suppose they must be areas relatively close to the borders, and military bases, but I'm not certain.

Language:

I'm totally with you on this one. Learning the language will give you power over many aspects of the journey. You'll be able to incorporate a little bit more with the Chinese people, and understand their culture, their rituals, the different aspects of their internal world-view. As well, as you'll be able to immediately state your wants, your dislikes, your thoughts, your point of view, and your goal. Which can give you an edge on any given situation. As opposed to someone who doesn't learn the language who would be struggling to communicate and therefore might suffer numerous delays, misunderstandings and such.

Although, contrary to your thought, I don't find this to be a huge problem, and for anyone going to China without any knowledge of the language I would say go for it. The Chinese language is a vast language and it can take a couple of years to successfully become fluent on it, and if you have a hurry to travel China there is absolutely nothing wrong with going mute into the ancient lands. But, if you're worried this might present a problem, learn a few key words and phrases that will help you get by. I'll give you a list of a couple I think might be necessary:

我 wǒ: Me, I
(不)要 (bù) yào: (not) want
你 nǐ: You
很好 hěn hǎo: very good
多少钱?duō shǎo qián?: how much?
这个 zhè ge this
那个 nà ge: that
这儿 zhè'r: here
那儿 nà'r: there
哪儿 nǎ'r: where?

I won't give you a full revision, but I recommend you do research on your own. Here's a few pages that might prove useful:

Dictionary:
mdbg.net
Tones:
https://chinesepod.com/tools/pronunciation/section/17
Helpful phrases:
http://www.tour-beijing.com/beijing_travel/Chinese_Phrases_for_travelers.php#.WLF41RIrLx4

I do think a small letter would be appropriate for someone who doesn't understand the language who is trying to hitchhike. As for upper beginners, and intermediates on Chinese language, I wouldn't worry so much, but if you don't have much control and fluency over your speech, it might be a good idea to write a letter on Chinese stating your goal (where you are going, why you're going there, and why you rather hitchhike than take the bus or the train).

In the long run, as long as you're persistent you can get anywhere without having a clue of what others are saying and without bothering to learn anything new. No matter what route you're taking, whether you're going mute or fully capable of speaking and understanding others, exposure to the culture will happen anyhow, whether you comprehend it or not, whether you follow courteously or not.

As a rule of thumb, don't mess with others and other won't mess with you. However if they do mess, whatever you decide to do, is always best to be aware and act accordingly to intelligence, but if you can't do this, be responsible for the consequences of your actions.

Tibet:
Before starting this thread I actually wanted to end my journey on Tibet. To be honest, because of prices I decided against it. Tibet is a mysterious place and I'm very interested on it, but this time I'll have to skip.

One point I didn't mention, is you need a group visa to enter into Tibet. You can apply for it on any local agency, who in turn will also offer you the tour. I'm not very keen on this as I enjoy solo traveling, and I'd prefer to be around a few people and not a full group. I do think this might be a problem though, once you're in Lhasa, as I imagine you can visit certain ares on your own. It's all really about personal preference. I'm not very informed about the details, though, so perhaps I'm wrong.

Anyway, this were very interesting and important topics that helped me dig deeply into various questions I've been wandering about for the past weeks. I would like to delve more into some points that came out as I wrote, as they seem to be of utter importance to the conversation. Thank you very much, and I'd love to hear any other concerns or avise that you might have.

Until next time, un fuerte abrazo!
 
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Just to accompany you a little bit in what @WanderLost Radical was saying, having a card that tells the people what you're doing, written in their language is really a good idea, no matter how fluid you think your game is in the language and no matter how well your pronunciation might be, it could show to be a little difficult with communicating in some outer provinces.
Of course there's a big part of the journey that takes place in the demand of communication with foreigners, that being said I just want to acknowledge what was said about hitchhiking in other cultures, that it can be a very good idea to have explained plainly what you're doing. People expect something different from you when you're hitchhiking. It's quite an etiquette filled matter of traveling in my opinion, to hitchhike that is. It's really not that simple I'd say.

Maybe it is simple and I just made it more complicated, but I've travelled somewhere about 30.000 km by hitchhiking so I've had a fair bit of experience to say so.
 

CowboySolo

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I must apologize, my tutor was in a hurry and we spent a fair deal of time speaking about Communism and Capitalism. But I'll make sure to include a full response as soon as I'm done with some college endeavors this week. Bear with me, I have to translate some few words I'm not sure about and I want to speak to my teachers about it to give you the best response. See you soon though!

In the meantime, I've found a page that dwells on the topic of the letter:
http://hitchwiki.org/en/Hitchhiking_letter

And a blog were a man simplifies the letter into a cardboard:
http://www.yourworldyourhome.com/hitchhiking-china/

On the other hand, I've found this site to be extremely helpful:
http://www.muhranoff.travel.ru/chinA/dao_en.htm

It's a guideline that encompasses, in a brief manner, the roads in China.

Worth giving a look.

Un fuerte abrazo and see you soon!
 
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having a card that tells the people what you're doing, written in their language is really a good idea, no matter how fluid you think your game is in the language and no matter how well your pronunciation might be, it could show to be a little difficult with communicating in some outer provinces.

Especially since theres no such thing as "Chinese language" people speak different languages across China. Ie. Mandarin, cantonese etc
 

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