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Self-Driving in Yunnan

While many of our guests in Yunnan choose to take the train or book a car with driver to get around on their tour, only few take the opportunity for self-driving. It actually is possible but you would need to apply for a Chinese driver's license first and is only recommended to those who stay in China a bit longer as you would need to go through a specific process, which takes up to about 1-2 weeks. If you have an international driver's license - forget about it, it's useless in China.

If you have your national driver's license it is not necessary to make a complete driver's license test in China with driving (road test) but 'only' a 100 question test of which 90 have to be answered correctly. There are several languages the applicant can choose from (Chinese, English, French, German and others) and your visa has to be valid for at least 3 months. You should be able to read and understand at least some Chinese characters which are essential when floating through Chinese traffic.

For further information on making your driver's license in Kunming, please check the details below.


Step 1 – Translation of current license

The Translators Association of Yunnan Province - 云南翻译工作者协会.
# 2 Guo Fang Road - 国防路2号
Cost: 40 RMB for translation.
Phone: 64145503 or 64196335.

Step 2 – Where to go next

Kunming Vehicle Management Station / Kunming Shi Che Guan Suo – 昆明市车管所 

# 12 Jing Kai Road - 经开路12号
Phone – 67267863

Step 3 – What to bring

  1. Drivers license + translated driver’s license + 1 copy each
  2. Passport and visa + 1 copy each
  3. Household Registration form / registration form from the local Police Station Bureau (original or copy)
  4. 4 passport photos (own photographer on site, 15 RMB); 3 for application, 1 for driver’s license upon pick-up after exam
  5. 60 RMB per exam
  6. 12 RMB for the physical test
  7. 10 RMB for the license
  8. A Chinese name with which you have to sign several times


The rough process:

Once you arrive at the Kunming Vehicle Management Station please hand over all the documents to the responsible person. Photos for the license can be done in the same building as well as the physical test (eyes, reaction etc.). If all is fine, you will be allowed to take the exam about 1 week after your registration. The test itself is a computerized, multiple-choice set of 100 randomly generated questions. If you pass, go back to the place where you initially registered, and receive your Chinese driver's license right away. If you fail, you can just stay seated, the test is resetted and and you can do the exam one more time. If you fail again you’ll have to register and pay for the exam again, eariest  a couple of days later.


Please note that above details to procedures, documents and prices are subject to change (also even migh vary from nationality to nationality). If you have any questions please contact us. If you need an interpreter, we can provide you  one of our experienced English speaking tour guides. If you think that you won't take this challenge and prefer to use private transportation with a driver instead, also no problem: please check our article on Transfers & Transportation for more information.