Hello, my name is Sasha, I`m from Russia, 24 years old. I`m traveling by hitch-hiking through all Asia. Now I`m in Indonesia, but I`m going to go to Nepal, Kathmandu, through Tibet, China, Laos, Thailand, Malaysia.
I will be happy if I`ll find somebody for traveling together, even mayby not all route from Kuala-Lumpur to Kathmandu, but just parts.
[ Edit: Sorry, no promos please. ]
I know that some people did hitch around the world. However, in most of these countries hitching is almost unknown; or limited to remote rural areas where contribution to the driver is a norm. Which latter they may not ask from you as you are not a local and they will be willing to save/help you out...
I did hitch Malaysia and highly recommend the route that takes along the railway track from the center to the north-east to near the thai border. It was the most beautiful part of the country and basically free of any tourists. With nice palms trees and hills, forests and mountains around - with a lot of possibility to trek - although this has little traffic.
It was interesting to hitch in Malaysia because locals were genuinely helpful, however i always had the impression that they would try to help me because i was in some trouble and not because they understood that i wanted to get from one place to another other. You will get stuck in a number of small villages, so you will need to camp or ask favour from locals...
I cycled in the other countries, so take my advice with a pinch of salt...
I think you will be fine hitching in Thailand, although near tourist areas you will have to watch out as friendly people will quickly turn out to be touts.
In Laos, the road north toward china will have a lot of trucks, so I think it will be easy to get a ride.
China: chinese are very friendly and usually eager to help rarely seen foreigners. You will be treated like a super-star most places as you will be far-far away from any tourist destinations. Even me on a bicycle was offered a ride many times... Your best choice would be truck drivers. It will just be a pain to try to build any dialogue with them...
When you enter into China, go to a bookstore in any bigger town and buy a bilingual map. They will not understand even if you think you can pronounce the name of your destination. That's why you will just have to point at it on the map.
Most of the times, you will sleep in small guesthouses for truckdrivers (2-3 euros/night) or in low budget hotels in towns (4-5 euros/night). It is quite easy and safe to camp in china.
Tibet: tibet is much bigger than the Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR). In sichuan, gensu and quinghai provinces, normally you can travel freely in the tibetan areas. However, travelling in TAR and further to the border of Nepal is restricted to guided/organized tours, which will costs you about 350-450 euros, depending on how many people are in the group. You can arrange this trip from your hostel either in Xining or Chengdu.
At provincial borders or sensitive areas (especially tibetan areas), you might be questioned by the police. As i was on a bicycle they didn't bother much, but i met i guy who hitched and was taken to police station a few times in tibet. You might also be followed by police in some tibetan/sensitive area town, but generally they will be friendly and very helpful. Don't be surprised if in most tibetan towns they will not let you stay in the hotel, you always have to look for a place that is permitted to foreigners. Sometimes, it is the place where government officials stay...
Hope this helped.
Adventure is out there!!!!
thank you very much) cycling is very cool, specially in Tibet - woow! So if you don`t want to go with tour-group, you can`t enter the region?
I`ve heard from some russian people they went to Tibet by hitching but without any permit, and it was not bad, I mean, nothing`s wrong, just more extreme. And great experience, of course. And freedom.) Enough arguments for me)) What do you think about that?
1) Tibetan areas can be found in China in Yunnan, Sichuan, Gensu, Quinghai provinces and in the Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR). Only TAR requires travel permit, but again it is restricted. I know that people managed to get into TAR without permit/guided group, but almost everybody ends up in the hand of police and gets evicted.
So, for ultimate experience, i recommend going to west of Sichuan and south of Quinghai provinces. Don't listen to anybody telling you that they are going to TAR to see real Tibet. You will still see real Tibet in these provinces too! Average altitude is even higher than at those areas that can be travelled in TAR. You can visit/sleep at ancient and new monasteries and see real towns. Travelling solo in sichuan and quinghai is actually a very-very challenging and tiring trip. So, what you would get for an organized/guided trip in TAR is an easy holiday compared to travelling solo in remote areas of Sichuan and Quinghai.
North of Nepal and Ladakh, Spiti Valley and Sikkim in India also has a large Tibetan population. These areas are ethnically and geographically different. In China you will mainly see the Tibetan Plateau, in Nepal and India it's the Himalayas. There are over 50 different ethnic groups within the Tibetan population...
It will also be interesting to travel on your own to get to know Tibetans a bit more. Such trip may change your view compared to the holy image streamed by the western media. It's worth digging into its history and read a bit more about current political conflicts even within the Tibetan society.
But don't get me wrong: travelling thru TAR with a group will still be interesting, especially when you are visiting the Mount Everest basecamp. Also, it is the only way to get into Nepal.
2) Now, if taking a guided tour is against your principles, there is another route. When you travel up from Yunnan, thru Sichuan and reach Quinghai, you can make your way towards Xinjiang thru the Takalaman desert. From there you can travel down on the Karakouram highway to Pakistan. This is considered to be one of the most beautiful roads in the world. Before the turbulance in Pakistan, it was possible to obtain visa at the border. I don't know the situation now. From Pakistan you can continue towards India and finally to Nepal.
Note if you plan to travel from Nepal to India: India will not let you back within two month even if you have a double-entry visa.
I haven't been to Nepal, but Ladakh and Spiti valleys are just amazingly spectacular. So, worth considering a trip there too.
Of course, all these high altitude places can be visited only from late June till early October.
And don't even go without a 50 factor suncream, good sunglasses and a hat (if you don't have these, you can buy cheap travel gear in Kunming or Dali in Yunnan)! And even in the summer, temperature drops below zero, with heavy storms day and night time.
Let me know if you need more info on Yunnan, Sichuan and Quinghai. I know a few routes there - some are almost unknown amongst foreigners - there are some really amazing roads!
Go for the adventure!
It`s very interesting through Pakistan! Ye, how did you guess that my aim is Ladakh?) And also Leh. It doesn`t matter for me, where to see 'real Tibet', I just have to go this way because I don`t have 500$ for air-ticket from Lhasa/Chengdu/... to Kathmandu. And I will go through Sichuan and other Tibet areas)
Great thanks for help)
I also wanted to ask, do you know something about Chinese tea - are there tea markets and shops in all areas of China or only special?) Have you ever been to tea ceremony? Is it expensive there?)
Thank you) I like your letters) Hope to see again))
They sell and drink tea everywhere in china. You don't necessarily have to go to an special tea shops. Some can be very expensive, some are cheap. Like the locals, you can buy a glass or plastic flask in any local shop for 1 euro, so you can have your tea on you all the time. Hot water is available free of charge anywhere, restaurants, guest houses...
In restaurants, tea is usually complementary and you can ask for as much as you want. In rural areas, same applies for rice - usually served in a bucket.
To participate a tea "ceremony" is something you may experience when staying with locals, or sometimes the owner of the guesthouse invites for a chat and tea. The kung-fu style is really nice. I participated chinese weddings as well, it is actually a very simple thing - you just drink a small cup of tea...
As for your route, my recommendation would be: (cities are just landmarks on the map, it's worths stopping at small establishments, villages and do a bit of trekking)
- Kunming (stay in Cloudland hostel!)
- Lijiang: here don't go to some "mama's place" that is popular amongst travellers, instead ask around even in guest houses where you could find cheap lodging. that's how i found one in a beautiful courtyard house and had amazing kung fu tea with the ladyowner.
- side trip to Tiger Leaping Gorge
- from Lijiang you can go either further west north and enter Sichuan - it's said to be very beautiful. It took an unknown road where they hadn't really seen a foreigner. It was also very-very beautiful and adventurous.
- this unknown road is: Lijiang direct road to Ninglang -> lake -> Yanyuan -> Xichang -> Mianning -> Jiulongxian -> small settlement at south tibet-sichuan highway
- go up north thru Litang to northern-tibet sichuan highway and head towards Quinghai province. before Sichu, there is a huge monastery where you can ask to sleep.
- Yushu and travel a bit south towards TAR border to visit monasteries
- from Yushu up to Xining
- from Xining toward Goldmund, head to Xinjiang province
- thru Takalaman desert
- Karakoram - Pakistani border (check visa!)
Pakistan: go trekking!
- visit pakistani / india border ceremony
- Amritsar golden palace (amazing!)
Try to enter Ladakh thru Kashmir - this is supposed be super-adventurous and spectacular and very-very little travelled.
From Leh go south to and try going down in Spiti (and visit Pin) Valley!
If you take this route: you will some of the most amazing sceneries, experience ultimate adventure and travel some roads that haven't seen by many foreigners in the world.
Have a great time!
Useful website for hitchhikers: http://hitchwiki.org/en/Asia
I can be a part of hitchhiking if you travel through India! But I can't be a part of you Hitch hiking in other countries.
[ Edit: Edited on 26-Apr-2011, at 03:46 by ptrlee ]
>- thru Takalaman desert
>- Karakoram - Pakistani border (check visa!)
>Pakistan: go trekking!
Now I think it`s quite dangerous to go to there..:-/ It`s a pity, I already was going to go through Karakoram