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To get from Kyrgyzstan to Pakistan, one needs to drive through an 575 km section inside China, the one from "Irkeshtam Port, 309 Provincial Road, Ulugqat, Kizilsu, Xinjiang, China" to "Kunjirap Daban, Tashkurgan, Kashgar, Xinjiang, China", part of which is the Chinese section of the Karakoram Highway.

This question is about getting my own vehicle through, on a journey from Georgia to India (to avoid dangerous parts of Pakistan).

How would I go about getting my vehicle through this section, whom to contact? As this is not a very long section, so paying for a Chinese guide is OK. Obviously affixing temporary Chinese licence plates is fine if required.

There are several questions about driving foreign vehicles in China, but this section is about this special section specifically, as the rules and practices about foreign vehicles in China can be different in each province.

Is it possible to cross this section in January? Wikipedia quotes that the Khunjerab Pass China-Pakistan border crossing is only open May to December, but maybe there is some way to do it in January? This will be a Volvo Laplander 4x4 (or even 6x6) offroad vehicle, so should have no technical problems.

If that route is not possible in January, then what it would take (from the legal issues) to drive this route: depart from Kyrgyzstan, from "Irkeshtam Port, 309 Provincial Road, Ulugqat, Kizilsu, Xinjiang, China", via "Phoenix Tea House, 219 National Road, Gar, Tibet, China" to "Zhangmuzhen, Nyalam, Xigaze, Tibet, China" and entering Nepal there (omitting Pakistan completely), to continue to India?

Place names in quotes in this question are what Google Maps recognizes and allows to plot a route between.

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    Your first problem will be making sure the pass is open. Due to snowfall it is closed from December till March. I'm sure you already have a carnet for your vehicle, you will need this to temporarily import the car; and you will need to arrange (in advance) visas for China and Pakistan. For the Chinese side, your vehicle needs plates and a permit - which (from what I can tell) is only available from the major cities - or through travel agents. However, all of this is moot as the passing will be closed due to the weather. +1 on the choice of the vehicle though. – Burhan Khalid Jul 21 '16 at 5:19
  • Somewhat related: driving a motorcycle in China (there's not much difference for cars I believe). The pass is described as closed in January, period, so you should not count on being able to pass it. These are extremely high mountain passes in winter! Your alternative question then is a duplicate of Is it possible for a foreigner to drive through (mainland) China in a foreign-registered car? +1 – mts Jul 21 '16 at 9:10
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    @mts: its not exactly duplicate, as here its specifically about driving through Xinjiang and Tibet which are apparently more difficult then other provinces of China. – yannn Jul 25 '16 at 20:46
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+50

Disclaimer 1: I have not done a similar trip with an own vehicle, so all of this is from researching the net, and some familiarity with China.

Disclaimer 2: Bureaucracy and rules in China can change quickly as the weather in the mountains, with little or no notice, depending on the political situation of the day, the mood of whoever handles your paperwork and other arbitrary stuff. It pays to have alternative plans up your sleeve.

Need for a Chinese Travel Agency

Now I am not sure if it is an exact prerequisite, as some claim:

According to the notice, international tourists' driving trips must be arranged by a certain number of tourism agencies with approval licenses like NAVO Tour.

but without doubt it will make for the smoothest experience to hire a travel agency to organize the paperwork and guide for you. The alternative (with unclear outcome) would be trying to get together all paperwork from the provincial government yourself, a feat which IMHO would require plenty of time, best contacts, mingling with local party cadres and excellent knowledge of Chinese or a translator.

I came across four such agencies in my research for this post and I am sure you could easily find more:

How to proceed

I would go ahead and contact several companies/travel agencies and get quotes as well as a feeling for how reliably they operate. Ideally you could try to get hold of people who previously used their services.
The process itself seems to be similar in all cases:

  • some 2-3, but minimum one month (in the case of touching only one province as you would, I still recommend planning more ahead) is necessary to prepare the paperwork for you.
  • you will need to provide a fixed itinerary beforehand (and you will be bound to it)
  • a list of other documents you will need to provide, here a sample:
    • Passport (scan or copy) & visa
    • Scan/copy of Home Driving License.
    • Scan/copy of International Driving License (permit).
    • Photo of driver
    • Motorbike/Vehicle Registration Certificate
    • Photo of vehicle or Motorbike (all four sides, with licence number on it).
    • scan/copy of technical inspection documents

What you get

Ideally the agency will then proceed with all the paperwork (after a downpayment) and on the agreed day when you cross the border there will be your guide waiting for you. Don't think of the guide as a regular tourist guide, but someone who gets the paperwork sorted for you.

  • you will have to leave a deposit at the border, which will be refunded upon exit from China
  • apparently you get
    • some sort of temporary driving licenses
    • temporary license plates
    • travel permits for you, the car, ...

The route

Given descriptions on the various sites already cited, the two crossings you have in mind are fairly standard. Do keep in mind though they are both at high altitude in the mountains and the passes will likely be closed in winter, with winter possibly extending well into what other places perceive as summer. Do not attempt to drive where the road is closed, besides bringing yourself into danger from possibly disastrous road conditions, Chinese officials will not look kindly upon you. This is a border region with heavy presence of military at times and I am aware of at least two military checkpoints on the stretch from Kashgar to the Pakistani border.

Finally I would also advise you to check whether the Pakistani part of the road is open and safe to pass.

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    @pnuts I edited that list a bit and corrected the second source, I guess for more detailed questions the agency would be best. Also removed your note, hope you don't mind (I guess that first agency means with white background). About the plate position, not sure, think I have seen similar, might be fine? But it does not really matter here, does it? – mts Sep 17 '16 at 17:16
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    @pnuts I've thought about the other Q but I don't have more than said comment and I don't really see myself answering it. To my knowledge it's not a scam but just gvt red tape, etc... – mts Sep 17 '16 at 17:19

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