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dreamon

Driver license for 1 week?

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dreamon

Suppose that an American with a US driver license (and an AAA-issued international permit) arrives to Guangzhou airport very late at night and wants to rent a car. He doesn't speak Chinese. What happens? What's the best course of action? He will depart in one week, but he will have to drive around a lot. Does anything at all work at that airport late at night - food, information, money/ATM? Is there a convenient subway? Which map of Guangzhou is the best one (of those available in the U.S.)? Thanks!

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HedgePig

I don't believe an international drivers license is accepted in China as China is not a signatory to the international convention which recognises these.

Sorry, can't answer the Guangzhou specific questions.

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liuzhou

The previous answer is correct. China does not recognise non-Chinese licences. What you are suggesting is simply not possible. Sorry.

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anonymoose

Having just looked at a map, it appears that line 3 of the metro goes to Baiyun Airport. I have no idea about the Guangzhou metro specifically, but public transport tends to stop relatively early in China, so the metro might or might not be available depending on how late "late at night" means.

The airport is approximately 15 km from the centre of the city, so a taxi shouldn't cost too much if the passenger isn't taken for a ride.

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Erbse

Maybe he wants to drive by himself because he can't afford a driver. If he could, he would have paid a teacher to teach him some Chinese in advance as well.

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imron

Well, this person has thought that he'd like to hire a car to drive, and given he doesn't seem to have much idea about China, he's probably going to be budgeting costs similar to what he'd expect them to be in the US. That being the case I imagine for the cost of a day's car rental in the states you could get a car and driver in China and have change left over.

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liuzhou

It is irrelevant what he wants. He isn't going to be able to rent a self drive car.

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Lu

If the American is on some kind of business trip, perhaps his Guangzhou counterparts can arrange a car with driver, and other necessities such as a map.

Why is all this a hypothetical in the third person?

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jbradfor

"Doctor, I have this friend with a problem....."

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BertR
The previous answer is correct. China does not recognise non-Chinese licences. What you are suggesting is simply not possible. Sorry.

This is not completely correct. There is a treaty between China and Belgium to accept each others' driving license. See http://auto.people.com.cn/GB/14556/5292075.html

Although I'm Belgian, I have no intentions to ever use this privilege...

(... and from seeing the driving style of a lot of Chinese people in China, I hope that not too many Chinese people use their driving license when there are in Belgium... ;) )

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dreamon

HedgePig> I don't believe an international drivers license is accepted in China

I heard that it might be possible to get a temporary driver's license right at the airport. Is this false?

jbradfor> "Doctor, I have this friend with a problem....."

Patient: "Doctor, I have this friend with a problem....."

Doctor: "Excuse me, but I don't see anyone else here, only you?"

Patient: "That's exactly the problem, my friend!"

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fanglu

I have met someone who claimed to have hired a car and driven around Shandong. I have a vague recollection of laws for driving being loosened around the time of the olympics. None of that too solid sorry.

I would question though how someone who can't read road signs would be intending on driving in China.

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abcdefg
Suppose that an American with a US driver license (and an AAA-issued international permit) arrives to Guangzhou airport very late at night and wants to rent a car. He doesn't speak Chinese. What happens? What's the best course of action?

Take a taxi. You would be insane to drive in Guangzhou (or elsewhere in China) under these conditions. It's Really, Really not a good idea. Traffic in China is very different from your home town and you will also have trouble reading road signs.

Does anything at all work at that airport late at night - food, information, money/ATM?

Guangzhou airport is huge and modern. Most things work 24/7 there.

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dreamon

fanglu> I would question though how someone who can't read road signs would be intending on driving in China.

abcdefg> You would be insane to drive in Guangzhou (or elsewhere in China) under these conditions.

Is it really that bad? In Europe, one can drive without knowing the language. Judging from a few photos, China has standard European road sign pictograms, doesn't it? Of course, destination signs are a problem, but if one knows the hanzi for the target city or place and has a good roadmap, it should be doable, no?

abcdefg> Guangzhou airport is huge and modern. Most things work 24/7 there.

In the US, food courts and most services are often closed at night. How about ATMs, do they accept American debit cards? Do foodstores, restaurants, hotels etc. accept American credit cards? (Many online stores don't, so it's not obvious to me.)

Any advice regarding Chinese customs? What are the common issues that American tourists and business visitors encounter? Thanks!

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gougou

Quite a while back, I heard that foreign driver's licenses were accepted up to one month after getting to China. Was that not true, or is it not anymore?

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rezaf
Quite a while back, I heard that foreign driver's licenses were accepted up to one month after getting to China. Was that not true, or is it not anymore?

2 months ago my wife had an accident with a German guy. When the police arrived the guy showed his international driver's license and told the same thing to the police but the police said that there wasn't such a rule and the insurance company couldn't pay us because he didn't have a driver's license. In order to avoid this guy getting arrested we agreed that he pays us the compensation and fortunately it was solved.

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amandagmu
Is it really that bad?

Yes.

Europe, one can drive without knowing the language. Judging from a few photos, China has standard European road sign pictograms, doesn't it?

They don't follow the road rules.... No wait, let me re-phrase: they don't follow the "official" road rules. There's a set of unwritten rules for sure.

Of course, destination signs are a problem, but if one knows the hanzi for the target city or place and has a good roadmap, it should be doable, no?

Good luck finding a good road map, especially one that also has pinyin on it. (Suffice it to say that road maps are a recent thing in China.) Might I suggest you read Peter Hessler's Country Driving (2010) before coming here? It's quite well written and can answer some of your questions about the roads in China. There is also some witty banter regarding the driver's license exam...

In the US, food courts and most services are often closed at night. How about ATMs, do they accept American debit cards? Do foodstores, restaurants, hotels etc. accept American credit cards? (Many online stores don't, so it's not obvious to me.)

ATMs are not a problem, but I suggest going somewhere big like ICBC or Bank of China, mostly because they have more international partnerships. Down south there might also be HSBC, another good bank. Most expat places will take American credit cards (visa or mastercard) but don't count on it otherwise.

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dreamon

amandagmu> Good luck finding a good road map, especially one that also has pinyin on it. (Suffice it to say that road maps are a recent thing in China.)

How about Google Maps? They look good and have Pinyin, only without tones. Although for some reason they don't match their own satellite images, as if they are a bit shifted. And Pleco will read the signs...

amandagmu> Might I suggest you read Peter Hessler's Country Driving (2010) before coming here?

Thank you for the book reference! Sounds like a great reading.

Any tips on intercity travel by taxi? How about trains - are they tourist-friendly?

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