hitchhike in China

Written by Misha Z. 中文翻譯在下方

My first experience hitchhiking in China was weird. After Europe and some Caucasian countries, it was the first time for me to travel in Asia and I met people, mostly Chinese, telling me that hitchhiking in China is impossible, that it’s dangerous and nobody will pick me up. so, it was a challenge and we accepted it.

Equipped with nothing but an old folding map and a compass we tried to get out of Guangzhou, a city incredibly big. We got a lift quite fast, but the driver couldn’t speak English and we were too fresh to learn basic Chinese, so we just pointed on the map where we wanted to go, he showed us to get in and we started to move. We had no idea where he is going, compass showed us moving completely wrong direction, but it was still an adventure. Our driver, very talkative Chinese, took us to his job and we had to help him out, where I had to climb a quite tall tower to repair a clock. After it, he bought us lunch and brought us to the city we wanted to go by making a big hook of 200km for himself.
There are a lot of people hitchhiking through the country, but China is so big, that you probably won’t meet them at all, but still Chinese know about hitchhiking well and use it. In Dali, we met a lot of hitchhikers standing on the same spot with dogs, luggages and backpacks and after maybe 20 minutes everyone got a lift.

Waiting time can be different, from instant to few hours, but in general, you can get a ride quite fast. There is also a possibility to get stuck on the highway on some not well-used roads but it’s like everywhere else too. We got stuck on an abandoned petrol station, on a highway which seemed not to be used at all and luckily we had our tent with us, so we found the highest place in the whole area to put up our tent for the night and then thunderstorm started, but that’s another story. In general, if you don’t have a tent a good choice is to ask locals to spend the night at their homes. It works well.

Chinese are curious about foreigners, so you have the bonus of curiosity which helps to hitchhike, but for them, it’s weird to see foreigners hitchhike or sleep in tents. For most Chinese foreigners are rich people. So if you get a lift and you don’t want to pay for it, make sure the driver knows it.

Most of the drivers were really friendly. They picked us up, gave us food, sometimes money, some of them bought us tickets for trains or busses. We traveled three people with backpacks around China and after making almost 4000km we split up just once.

So hitchhiking is really a nice way to see a country in different perspectives, get in touch with culture, meet friendly people and just have an amazing adventure.

Few tips for you, my hobo friend, which might be helpful on the road while discovering this amazing country.

  • orientation is the most important thing, so get out your iPhone and download few maps that will help you to find the points where to start your trip. Baidu maps are the Chinese version of google maps and since google services don’t work in China, Baidu maps are the best choice. It’s in Chinese but after spending some time you will figure out how to use it. It’s very detailed and it has also an option to get the maps offline so you won’t waste your mobile traffic, the alternative is maps.me
  • understanding difficulties you can easily avoid by getting some translation apps on your device. Baidu translator is one of them but needs the internet. Pleco is another option, but no way to write whole sentences, try to get both. Most of the time Chinese will use their own apps but in some cases, you might need yours.
  • the best places to hitchhike are toll gates and petrol stations. It’s better to avoid walking on highways cause it’s illegal and may attract police. Probably they will kindly take you to the next city and buy you a train ticket, but we heard stories of people being departed from the country. And highways are also fast and dangerous.
  • if you get stuck on a highway, best places for the tent are right behind the petrol station. They have warm water there and it’s mostly safe and accessible. You can start hitchhiking next day right after. in cities, you can camp in parks or on rooftops of buildings. Most of them are unlocked.
  • it’s better to find some rest places and petrol stations on the map in advance and mark them. If you will get a car which isn’t going to your destination you can ask them to bring you to next petrol station and keep going from there. just try to stay on the highway.
  • for most desperate of you, who wants to save more money, there is an option to ask for layover fruits and vegetables in supermarkets and local bazaars. also, some bakeries will throw away some stuff. Just simply use the translator on your iPhone.

In all other cases, don’t panic and hold thumbs higher.

hitchhiking is fun!







– 方位是最重要的事情,所以拿出你的iphone和事先下載的地圖,找到定點後開始你的旅行。百度地圖是中國版的google地圖,由於google服務在中國是沒用的,百度地圖是最好的選擇。它是中文,但花了一些時間後,你會弄清楚如何使用它。它非常詳細,也有一個離線使用地圖的選項,所以你不會浪費網路流量。替代方案是maps.me
– 在您的手機上獲取一些翻譯app,您可以輕鬆避免翻譯的困難,百度翻譯是其中之一,但需要網路。 Pleco是另一個選擇,但沒有辦法寫整個句子。試著下載這兩者。大多數時候,中國人會使用自己的app,但在某些情況下,您可能需要您的。
– 搭便車的最好的地方是收費站和加油站。最好避免在高速公路上行走那是非法的,並可能引來警方注意。有可能他們會帶你直接到下一個城市,買你一張火車票,但我們聽過人們遣送出國的故事。同時高速公路也是車輛快速通行和危險的地方。
– 如果你被困在高速公路上,最好的搭帳棚地方就在加油站後面。在那裡通常有溫水,它大多是安全和方便。你可以在隔天開始搭便車。在城市,你可以在公園或建築物的屋頂上營地。大多數都是可通行的。
– 最好在地圖上提前找到一些休息站和加油站,並標記他們。如果車子不是帶到你的目的地,可以要求他們帶你到下一個加油站,並從那裡繼續。最好試圖留在高速公路上。
– 大多數時候絕望的你,想節省更多的錢,有一個選擇要求超市和當地集市給你水果和蔬菜,也有一些麵包店會丟棄一些東西,只需使用您的iPhone上的翻譯。




    1. Hey, finally I got vpn to reply you. Never worrying for hitchhiking in China, remember not to walk on highway… one of our friends got a big problem with it, he was caught by police. We have more stories of hitchhiking to Xin Jiang these days. Check it out, if you are interested to go there 🤛🏻

      Liked by 1 person



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