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Motorcycle travel in Tibet, Nepal, Bhutan, India...

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  #1  
Old 1 Jun 2007
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Official China Embassy Response

hey guys!

havent seen any embassy postings to the China situationso just thought id post the official responses from the embassies regarding a trip im planning to give u some idea what anyone getting into china is up against.

Chinese Embassy To Ireland:
no reply via email
no reply via post
no reply via visa line phone no. or reply to repeated voice messages
no reply via phone no of 1st secretary to ambassador or reply to repeaded voice messages (including one snotty)

Chinese Embassy to UK:
email correspondence:
ME
Dear Counsellor Jiang Yuansong,

I am emailing you to seek your guidance and advice in relation to a trip I am planning along with a friend which involves travel in China.

As part of an overall expedition to drive via motorcycle across many countries [starting in Ireland] to finish in Australia, Myself and my friend plan to drive across from Kazakhstan, through China to Vietnam. We plan to enter China at Huocheng, to pass through Urumqi, Xian, Shanghai and Nanning, to exit at Pingxiang.

Regarding Visas, I can find the information on your comprehensive website. However, I am eager to know of any procedures in place for the temporary importation of vehicles, including any compulsory insurance documentation. If you need to know more of our travel plans to provide us with accurate advice, please let me know.

I am eagerly awaiting your response.

Yours Sincerely,

Andrew O' Connor.

REPLY
Good afternoon.

You need to contact a Chinese International Travel Agency for your trip.

Kind regards
ME
Good Evening,

Thank you for your reply. Could you recommend a reputable Chinese International Travel Agency for our trip?

Yours Sincerely,
REPLY
Sorry, we don't have the information you need.

Best wishes
END
Grant, Chris, what do you think? Do you think not including a name on an email is a Chinese custom? Ill try some travel agencies, but not too optomistic. Suggestions all and any?
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  #2  
Old 1 Jun 2007
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Hi Andy, I'll follow this thread closely as I hope to ride through China myself. Plan B is riding to Vladivostok, then taking the ferry to Japan, then flying to Bangkok (less than 300usd for the bike I've been told) and touring southeast Asia. In the late 1980's I tried to ride from Switzerland to Vladivostok and contacted Russian embassies 3 times to seek approval. All 3 times I received the same form letter which basically said, "Who travels in Russia travels with Intourist. Please contact Intourist." Intourist was the official government tour operator. It was frustrating. I was finally able to speak to someone at a Russian embassy and was told independant travel was not allowed, period. Of course we all know that people have ridden through China on motorcycles, so it is possible. I have some friends in Italy that drove from Rome to Peking, retracing the Silk Route in Land Cruisers. One of these men now owns an "adventure oriented" travel agency. I'll ask what it took to get them in to China with their own vehicles and post what I learn here. This will take a few days no doubt. In the meantime, lets hope that someone who has recently crossed China will post some good news! Until then, best of luck. H.
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Last edited by hook; 1 Jun 2007 at 09:24.
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  #3  
Old 1 Jun 2007
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Talking the right address... but will it help ? ? ? ?

Why don't you try this Email address: support-en@cits.com.cn

It is from CITS, the official Chinese goverment travel and tourism censor-organization.

Their website www.cits.cn (unfortunately all in Chinese) and www.cits.net

Good luck (you will need it)

Maarten
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  #4  
Old 20 Jun 2007
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Seeing as how hit and miss all of this is, it almost makes me wonder if your best shot is to "work it out" locally. Ideally, it would be nice to have the documentation in hand before you leave but then again, this is adventure and border crossings can be some real monkey-butt moments. China really isn't the most organized place on the planet and even if you got the papers you may still have some troubles - likely a left hand, right hand problem.

I'm certainly not suggesting doing anything illegal but I reckon a little ol' fashioned shuck n' jive can come in handy once in a while when you're on the road! Passing out cigarettes doesn't hurt in some places either.

That said, Beemer Bob on advrider just came in though Laos but he was riding on a Chinese registered bike and didn't have any big problems getting in. If you haven't already, maybe you can contact him to get his take on the crossing facilites. I know he posted some of it up on his trip report.
China or bust... - ADVrider

I really wish I could add more info about crossing into China but I do have a feeling of the bureaucracy you're up against and...wow...it is truly monolithic! These kinds of frustrations are endless in and out of China...but once you're in you're actually quite free to roam (providing your not dragging an escort).

CC

CC
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  #5  
Old 20 Jun 2007
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Thumbs down China docs/KKH

Hi,

I am in China now (the bike is still at the border).

Rule number one - Forget the Embassy! Find an agent.

The rules changed at the beginning of June for temporary vehicle import.
There are apointed agents that must process yo through the customs procedures. The Chinese have wised up bigtime and if you dont have the Chinese docs for you and your bike I doubt that you will get in.
The customs agent requires 1500rmb (150 Euro) to process our 2 bikes. This is on top of the money paid to the travel agent for permits.

They have also introduced a "DEPOSIT" system - 10,000 RMB (1000 Euro) for the vehicle. I assume they will sign-up for the carnet de passage in the future.
We have not paid this money. We told the agent that we did not have it and if we paid it, how would we get it back on the KKH? The agent has paid it so they will get it back.

It has taken 3 days so far and everything was supposed to be prepared for us. We may be able to get the bikes in tomorrow PM. I do hope so. The border closes at the weekend.
Happy days

We were told today that the KKH is closed because heavy rains and flooding have washed the road/hillside away in north Pakistan. Expected to reopen on 15/07!!! If you are headed this way, check.

John


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  #6  
Old 20 Jun 2007
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Following Rule Nr 1

Hi John,

Have you got a contact for your agent?

Cheers

Ollie
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  #7  
Old 21 Jun 2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Redboots View Post
Hi,

We were told today that the KKH is closed because heavy rains and flooding have washed the road/hillside away in north Pakistan. Expected to reopen on 15/07!!! If you are headed this way, check.

John

K
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HAHAHAAH...."DEPOSIT"...some grease on my palms. HAHAHAHAH!

Hope you make it through good and clear. They'll make you wait but if you hang around along enough and don't go away, your persistence is sometimes rewarded.

FYI, was just on the KKH last year and on China side is mostly paved. Coming from Pakistan you would have 30-40kms of dirt road then another 80km of sealed to Tashkorgan. Sealed from Tashkorgan to Karakul Lake, then the graded road begins until Bulungkol (silver sand/lakes area...you'll know) and you head east through the mountains towards Kashgar . From there it's sealed all the way to Kashgar with a couple small water hazzards before you get out of the mountains. A couple places could provide really fun water crossing experiences if the faucet's really turned on..cuz sometimes the current moves pretty fast. Otherwise, mostly sealed.

Hope you can start your wheels rolling here soon. Waiting around for bureaucratic hassles SUCKS!

CC
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  #8  
Old 21 Jun 2007
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Hey guys, here is my main travel agency replies. I contacted some in the UK and in China.

China Highlights travel agency:
Jerry says that he needs 10 people to make the tour viable, it will be very costly and time consuming, many documents needed

Chinats.com:
Jane: Need many papers, very complicated procedure, could take up to 3 months to do all registration

Oriental travel Co. Ltd in England:
Greg was very helpful, however specialist arrangements need a £200 retainer to do the research. This is before any documentation is applied for. State permit to purchase petrol is necessary?

Discover China Tours:
Sandy was again very prompt with replies and helpful, they would design a full itinerary. “Did we want to stay in a 3,4 or 5 star hotel?” (how about a tent?)

Easy Tour China:
Wei: Detailed itinerary and costing would take time, very expensive, and the time needed to procure documents means planning trip for the next few months is almost impossible.



I think Chinats and Cits is the same thing. I remember looking at Cits anyway.
After some backwarding and forwarding, in short, all the travel agencies want to do a full itinerary, it will cost lots, and it will take time. None would give me a definite qoute on time or money, and just mentioned itierarys.I attempted to convince them to just process the border paperwork for us, but no go.

I have decided to get a chinese visa before i leave Ireland and then organise the bike at the border, with a stern western chin, persistence in the panniers, and some cigarettes too!!!


Does anyone know about a state permit to buy petrol?


KKH: is that the border crossing from Pakistan to China??
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  #9  
Old 21 Jun 2007
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State permit to buy petrol? In China? Man they shuckin' and jivin' you! They'd tell you you need a permit to carry around your ass if they thought you'd believe it. Damn these guys are too much.

If you go through official channels they're probably just going to give you a line of horse...umm...doodoo. What you want to do is a liability and risk for them. If they issue the permit and something big goes wrong, big brother will come a askin' whoever chopped the papers and nobody really wants that. Although only a chance, sometimes knocking on doors does wonders.

If you're only going to be in the very western part of China near Kashgar then you should be okay, but if you're playing around in the central or eastern parts, it's advisable to halve your speed and keep constant awareness.

KKH stands for the Karakoram Highway between Pakistan and China.

CC
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Buy "The Return - Riding Western China" DVD - Now on Holiday sale!!!
http://www.motocyclops.com/buydvd/

The world's newest, most super-awesome Chinese Motorcycle and Travel Community!
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  #10  
Old 22 Jun 2007
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Cheers Carl,

for boosting my resolve on just turning up at the border. Everyone seems to be in agreement on an ad hoc border crossing.

All in favour, say "I"!

Oh and carl, good luck in your Motography, the trailer rocks!

andy.
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  #11  
Old 23 Jun 2007
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Much Thanks Big-A,

The video is in production as we speak so I hope it turns out okay.

Good luck on the border crossings. It's so unfortunate that China is a difficult place to get into but once you're in, WOW. Impossible to describe.

Cheers,
Carl
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http://www.motocyclops.com/buydvd/

The world's newest, most super-awesome Chinese Motorcycle and Travel Community!
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Personal China travel info, photo and video site:
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  #12  
Old 24 Jun 2007
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Andy, if you are going to be in Western China, I would recommend contacting Caravan Cafe (CaravanCafé:HOME) if you need a travel agency to help you, these guys have helped other motorcycle travelers in the past, including me. They are based in Kashgar and run by an expat American.

The travel agencies are not going to just do border formalities for you because you also need to have a guide with you on the bike, that's the Chinese law. Which is why they need to do a full itinerary. Its a full package or nothing at all. Trying to do the paperwork yourself will be impossible.

Going through Western China is expensive if you do it legally, but let me tell you it is well worth it. China is changing rapidly and what you see in Xinjiang Province is guaranteed to be very different in the coming years. Now is the time to go...
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  #13  
Old 5 Jul 2007
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Question

hey Redboots, get the bike in after??

Dave, I contacted caravan cafe and seemed promising. However, caravan cafe is changing hands, so their travel agency is on the blink at the mo. they did, however, recommend another travel agency, Xinjiang Comfort International Agency Co. which they deal with.

Wayne there was very helpful, and gave us the positive reply that he would be able to organise our bikes for us. On providing an itinerary, however, it arose that trans-provincial crossing is very expensive and time consuming to prepare (3 months *again*). We would need a minimun of 3 bikes, to be accompanied by a liason officer escorting you in a lead vehicle, etc etc.

Wayne seems to be able to organise a bike entry and exit from the same (ie Xinjiang) province, to enter from kazakhstan and exit for pakistan via KKH.

On a separate thread of emails the Irish Embassy in Beijing contacted customs and they said we just have to contact a travel agency at our place of entry and they apply for permission on our behalf from the Ministry of Public Security PRC and China National Tourism Administration.

So at present, i have 2 options once we enter with our Xinjiang-only entry pass:
1 - leave at the KKH
2 - go across China anyway and wing it at the Vietnamese Border.

Thoughts anyone on option 2?
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  #14  
Old 5 Jul 2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aandy View Post
hey Redboots, get the bike in after??

Dave, I contacted caravan cafe and seemed promising. However, caravan cafe is changing hands, so their travel agency is on the blink at the mo. they did, however, recommend another travel agency, Xinjiang Comfort International Agency Co. which they deal with.

Wayne there was very helpful, and gave us the positive reply that he would be able to organise our bikes for us. On providing an itinerary, however, it arose that trans-provincial crossing is very expensive and time consuming to prepare (3 months *again*). We would need a minimun of 3 bikes, to be accompanied by a liason officer escorting you in a lead vehicle, etc etc.

Wayne seems to be able to organise a bike entry and exit from the same (ie Xinjiang) province, to enter from kazakhstan and exit for pakistan via KKH.

On a separate thread of emails the Irish Embassy in Beijing contacted customs and they said we just have to contact a travel agency at our place of entry and they apply for permission on our behalf from the Ministry of Public Security PRC and China National Tourism Administration.

So at present, i have 2 options once we enter with our Xinjiang-only entry pass:
1 - leave at the KKH
2 - go across China anyway and wing it at the Vietnamese Border.

Thoughts anyone on option 2?
That's too bad that Caravan Cafe is changing hands...but they get all the paperwork through another agency anyway, so the process should remain unchanged. Maybe you can get a better price too, if you are going through them direct.

Regarding Option 2, what are you going to tell the Chinese officials when they stop you and your itinerary says you will exit through the KKH and you are obviously going in the opposite direction? And you WILL be stopped at the checkpoints. Remember that western China is a sensitive area for the government and military and they certainly keep tabs on their own people and especially foreigners. Its going to be hard to prove ignorance if you have papers specifying an alternative route. And don't expect that you can "work something out" with the Chinese military, these guys don't mess around. Honestly, I don't think this option is realistic, you probably will not even make it out of Xinjiang.

I would stick with your plan to continue via the KKH, the KKH is one of the most spectacular roads on the planet on a bike and one you don't want to miss. Go to our HU blog and check out the KKH pictures, maybe this will make your decision easier. You will still be doing a journey that few motorcyclists take.

Keep us posted...
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  #15  
Old 20 Jul 2007
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Trans Mongolian railway entry to China with bike

I'm on my way from Germany to southern China. Currently in northern Sweden. Plan is to ride to Moscow and put the bike on Trans Mongolian train to Beijing.

Anyone ever done this??
Anyone know about the customs procedures on these trains, documents needed etc?

I'd be interested to hear anyone's thoughts on whether this will be an easier or harder method of entry than riding across the border.

My research has yielded few and useless responses from embassies and high prices/ long processing times from travel agencies, as seems to be commonly the case. With so little concrete information available my plan so far is just to go for it and see what happens....

My main worry is having the bike confiscated at the Mongolia-China border. Once in China I'm hoping things will be easier to sort out. They have to be - I only have 3 days or so in Beijing before travelling down to Foshan (Guangzhou) where I'll start working on 27th Aug....apparently...

It would be great to keep this thread going with any new info - I reckon it's probably the most useful source on the web.
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