About China (CN)
China (CN) is more than a country in East Asia — it’s a phenomenal marriage of humanity and geography on a massive and cinematic scale, rivaled by maybe one other country in the world — the continental United States — with a billion more people. The question isn’t what does China have to offer, it’s: what doesn’t China have to offer? Mountains, valleys, rivers, lakes, beaches, deserts, islands, forests, karst, epic grasslands, and of course, the cities — those enormous, almost unimaginable feats of engineering that mark the map like constellations in the night sky. The world’s longest-running civilization occupies a land that’s deserving of attention from every traveler that’s ever set foot outside the door.
Perhaps no other country has adopted modern car culture with as much enthusiasm as China, where owning a car is not just a status symbol, but an emancipation from the tyranny of Chinese public transportation. Driving in China will be old hat to experienced Western drivers who’ve seen it all. The Chinese may be a forward-thinking people, but they haven’t reinvented the rules of the road. You’ll find broad, sweeping highways — some of them dozens of lanes wide — and immaculate tunnels that cut though towering mountain ranges. Realistically, there is a considerable downgrade between roads in massive urban areas and the outlying regions, where one and two-lane provincial routes wind around the landscape in an unmarked, dizzying maze. Fortunately, China car rental GPS has an English language option. But driving in China is what is. Millions of inexperienced drivers — all earning their stripes at the same time. It can be an exhilarating and rewarding experience, if you’re brave enough to accept the challenge and rent a car.
Choosing your car
Car rentals in China are supplied by the most reliable brand names in the car hire industry. Choose your car from Sixt, Europcar, Hertz, Dollar, Thrifty, Avis, and Alamo. And it’s no stretch to say that if it’s got wheels, the Chinese will make it and drive it. You’ll find the best deals on minicars and compact sedans, intermediate and fullsize sedans, premium and luxury SUVs, and 7-12 seater minivans.
Tips and advice
Defensive driving will be key to maintaining your sanity on Chinese roads. Do not expect other drivers to follow the rules, but as a visitor, you will be expected to practice lawful driving habits.
Generally speaking, right-of-way belongs to the first vehicle to reach the intersection. Meanwhile, the Chinese mindset holds that smaller vehicles (cars) must give way to larger vehicles (trucks).
Except on national expressways and major inter-city roads, there’s no such thing as two-way traffic. Chinese traffic flows in an all-ways direction. That means cars and motorcycles may use any part of the road surface in any direction with general impunity.
Keep in mind that you’ll be sharing nearly all roads (except expressways) with every conceivable mode of transportation that rolls or walks, including cars, bicycles, horse-drawn carts, and hordes of pedestrians.
G-level national roads are always toll roads. S-level roads are provincial routes, some of which require a toll. Driving between cities is almost always safer and more efficient on G-level roads.
There are a number of reasons to stick with G-level roads, but most importantly, that’s where you’ll find the petrol stations, which are not very common elsewhere.