How to Transit China With Your Own Motorcycle

This guide explains what you need to know about transiting through China with your own motorcycle… 

Motorcycle Travel China

Contents

Picture of By Jah

By Jah

Jah is a China motorcycle travel expert and runs Ride China

Motorcycle Transit Through China

China is a cultural treasure. It is the third largest country at nearly 9.6 million square kilometres and has over 5,000 years of recorded history. So, travelling here is like visiting another world.

Landscapes such as the Three Parallel Rivers, Silk Road, Tibet and Yunnan spread across the land and are peppered with vestiges of ancient Chinese culture including the Great Wall, Forbidden City, X’ian’s Terracotta Army and Tiananmen Square.

China is a must travel destination – and for an adventurer, the best way to do that is on a motorcycle.

However, entering China with a foreign plated motorcycle can be tricky. In fact, it’s complicated and requires a lot of paperwork, planning, time and you must be accompanied by a licenced guide.

Some riders may wish to simply transit through China as quickly as possible due to the associated costs, and some might like to extend their time here and explore more by taking on a longer transit route and visiting some of the places mentioned above. 

Either way, we put together this guide to help explain the requirements for transiting through China on your own motorcycle. 

Transiting China

Can you transit China on a motorcycle?

First, let’s cover some basic information on transiting China with a motorcycle. You can certainly ride your own motorcycle (or drive your own car or vehicle) through China using over a dozen international borders. However, you can not freely do so. It’s not as easy as turning up at the border with your passport and paying for a temporary import. 

To take your vehicle through China you must have a licenced guide accompany you and a registered company will need to sort out all of the paperwork for you in advance. 

Which borders can you transit China through?

China is the largest Country in Asia and China is bordered by 14 countries: Afghanistan, Bhutan, India, Kazakhstan, North Korea, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Mongolia, Myanmar (Burma), Nepal, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Vietnam.

Why would you need to transit China?

You may need to travel across China from one of the above countries to the other in order to complete your route or trip. This is especially important for overland motorcycle travellers. Or, you may wish to explore China on your bike, in which case you’ll want to take on a longer transit route or join an organised tour. 

What are the difficulties in transiting China?

Paperwork is the biggest hurdle and is complicated. So you will need to hire a travel agent to handle the permits, customs papers and driver’s license. You also need a guide to accompany you. Luckily, there are some fantastic travel companies out there specialising in motorcycle transits who will handle all of this for you. Don’t be put off, with the right company, travelling through China on your bike will be fun, easy and an incredible experience.  

Transit process

Paperwork

To travel through China with your own motorcycle, you will need to hire a registered travel company to sort your paperwork out. The paperwork includes a self-driving permit, customs broker service, a customs deposit, driver’s licence and a temporary number plate. There may be additional paperwork requirements too dependent on you, your route and motorcycle. 

Paperwork preparation

It takes around 60 working days to prepare all your permits, temporary plates and driving licenses. So, if you’re considering transiting through China, you will need to start the ball rolling as early as possible.

Guide

You will also need a guide from a registered company. A guide must accompany your entire journey throughout China. You might find some agents offer the paperwork and say you can travel without a guide, but this is against the regulations laid out by the China Culture and Tourism Bureau.

A guide must be assigned to you or your group. It’s not worth the risk either, especially as you could end up in a traffic accident, or get caught at a check point or random police check. Without a guide you’ll face a hefty fine and deportation.

Don’t worry, guides are not there to spy on you. They’re professionals who know you want to explore and enjoy your time in China. They can either be on motorcycles up front leading the way or at the rear in a support vehicle. It’s up to you. 

Transit routes

The most popular route for overland motorcycle travellers transiting China is from Kyrgyzstan to Laos. It’s an easy gateway from Central Asia to Southeast Asia – and an awesome ride. This is because it cuts out the tricky and expensive ride through Myanmar – which is also still currently closed.

Kyrgyzstan to Pakistan is also a very popular transit route. It takes around five days and is relatively cheaper than the longer routes, but you don’t get to see much of China.

There are a number of other routes you can take such as Kyrgyzstan to Nepal, Mongolia to Laos and Laos to Kyrgyzstan or Mongolia.

Costs

It is expensive to transit through China because of the amount of paperwork needed and the guide that must accompany you the entire way. If you take this transit route solo with a guide it will be very expensive as you will also need to pay for brokering at borders, customs deposits etc on your own. So it makes sense to transit in a group and split the costs.

Transiting China in a group

Group travel will greatly reduce the cost as common costs will be shared. However, it is possible to travel through China solo or with a small group if you prefer – it all depends on your budget and travel style.

Joining a group can be done in a number of different ways. You can join Facebook groups specifically set up for it, online forums, scour the web or ask around in other Facebook groups to see if anyone is going that way.

You may already have your own small group, or ask the motorcycle tour company you’re going to be using to transit if they have an existing scheduled group you could join.

When to transit China

China has a continental climate and latitude spanning nearly 50 degrees. Much of the landmass is situated in the temperate zone, with the tropical and subtropical zones to the south, and reaching the Frigid Zone in the north, so temperatures differ strikingly across the country.

The ideal months to travel in China would be from March to November, these months are Spring, Summer and Autumn which are good for most parts of China.

Due to varied altitudes and latitudes of different destinations, there are some general weather guidelines to different regions.

Transit companies

The company you go with must be a registered international travel company with a deposited bond to the China Tourism Bureau and Chinese Customs. Search around for companies with a lot of experience with foreign overland motorcycle travellers and an excellent reputation because your money, time, motorcycle and trip are on the line.

Our services

I run Ride China and have been working in tourism for over 20 years. We offer China transiting services for motorcycle travellers as well as guided tours and expeditions through China. We know every road, local regulation and the highlights throughout our country. We can help with border crossings, paperwork, guides, transport logistics, self-drive permits, imports, exports, shipping to and from China, and all your travel services. We’re a highly recommended one-stop-agent.

So, if you have any queries about transiting China, please feel free to get in touch as we’re more than happy to help. 

About the author

Jah

As a motorcycle enthusiast and a veteran in the adventure travel business for over 20 years, I teamed up with my riding mates to establish Ride China – offering motorcycle tours, transiting and self drive tours throughout China since 2012.

We strive to provide safe and high quality motorcycle tours for riders around the world and offer guided tours and transiting all over China, Tibet, Yunnan, to Everest Base Camp and the Silk Road. Ride China proudly provides a one stop service for round the world overlanders to travel across China.

You can get in touch with Jah here:

Ride China

Read more on motorcycle touring in Asia

Thanks for checking out The Transit China by Motorcycle Guide. We hope you enjoyed it! Here’s a few more articles on motorcycle travel in Asia that we recommend you read next. 

Try these next…

Are you planning a motorcycle trip in China? Do you have any questions, tips or suggestions? Let us know in the comments below. 

2 thoughts on “How to Transit China With Your Own Motorcycle”

  1. 请问,我是中国人,在新加坡工作,我想驾驶新加坡摩托车回中国,请问可行吗?费用需要多少?可以在国内待多久?谢谢您
    TRANSLATED: Excuse me, I am Chinese and work in Singapore. I want to drive a Singaporean motorcycle back to China. Is it possible? How much does it cost? How long can I stay in the country? Thank you

    Reply
    • Hi Shenjungang, please contact Jah directly via email. His email address is listed in this article – he may be able to help you with this. Thanks and best of luck,
      Andy

      Reply

Leave a comment