An increasing number of Chinese are now adopting caravanning to enjoy their leisure
Konstantin Abert, along with a group of 40 Europeans, were excited to arrive at Beijing after a two-month drive in their recreational vehicles from Dusseldorf. They were just in time to visit All in Caravaning 2017, China’s largest exhibition of RVs and motor homes, which was recently held in Beijing.
More than 650 exhibitors from home and abroad showed products there, ranging from RVs to accessory parts.
“China is a safe country for caravanning, but the procedures are complicated for foreigners. I like China’s beautiful landscapes such as deserts and mountains and its delicious food,” says the 50-year-old from Germany, who has traveled to China regularly in his RV since 2006.
The group — comprising Germans, Swiss and French aged between 50 and 65 — traveled to nine countries along the Silk Road.
“The Chinese are very friendly and helped us when we were in need,” he says.
Meanwhile, just like Westerners, an increasing number of Chinese are adopting this new lifestyle to enjoy their leisure.
There were about 21,000 car parks for caravans on the Chinese mainland in 2016. And the Chinese government has announced plans last year to build another 2,000 campsites by 2020.
Speaking about the future, Axel Bartkus, the managing director of Messe Dusseldorf China Ltd, a co-organizer of the exhibition, says: “The Chinese market has great potential. And we’ve been working on the legal side to ensure more vehicles on the road, and more RVs campsites.
“Also, we have to do a lot of education on RVs in China.”
Commenting on caravanning, Ge Minwei, 49, who works in a TV station in Wuxi, Jiangsu province, the 2017 China Caravan Ambassador, says: “A caravan is like a mobile home, and you enjoy the scenery the instant you open the windows.
“It doesn’t matter where the destination is, as long as you can feel the happiness and relax.”
Ge often travels around with his
As more Chinese go for RVs, the imported brands are catering to the demands of Chinese customers.” Zhu Jun, the vice-general manager of Beijing-based company RV International, which is the Chinese agent for Germany trailer brands Hobby and Fendt
wife, and their dog in his spacious 8-meter-long trailer.
Speaking about how things have improved for caravanning, he says that in 2015, the Traffic Management Bureau of the Public Security Ministry allowed travel trailers’ to be on road in China, including highways.
“It’s not a legal clause, but it’s big progress for China’s RVs industry. Now, you only need to get a special license for your trailer.
“In the early years, I had to explain to traffic police what a trailer is and argue with them that a trailer can be run on road. Now, they are not surprised to see them.”
Explaining how caravanning works, he says RV lovers typically frequent places that have no water, electricity or toilets.
And when they get together, they obey an unwritten rule that each one carries his one’s own chair and food.
Ge says that when he first went to camping, he felt relaxed after enjoying a barbecue, drinking and chatting.
Before that, he thought of camping of tedious.
“When I woke up by the lake the next day, I realized I wanted this kind of life,” he says.
“You can take off your ‘mask’ and be yourself while hanging out with friends.
“You don’t label them in accordance with their social status.
“The only thing counts is that whether you share something in common,” he says.
After that, he fell in love with camping and then started to go caravanning.
Now, domestic and overseas corporations are eyeing the Chinese market.
Zhu Jun, the vice-general manager of Beijing-based company RV International, which is the Chinese agent for Germany trailer brands Hobby and Fendt, says: “As more Chinese go for RVs, the imported brands are catering to the demands of Chinese customers.”
Separately, China International Travel Service (HK) Holding Ltd will soon unveil a mobile app, allowing users to rent RVs and book from a network of 100 campsites in Yunnan province. And they are planning to expand the service to Hainan, Guizhou and Guangxi.
Giving details of the scheme, Lan Chunhong, the general manager of the company’s capital operation department, says: “You don’t have to spend money to buy a caravan. You only have to rent one to experience a road trip by RVs.
And we want to promote it (the service) as an affordable way of traveling in China.”
He says renting a caravan costs around 1,200 yuan ($178) per day and campsite costs between 50 and 100 yuan per day. A caravan is sufficient for a family of between four and six.
As of now, tourists can get a caravan at the airport at Kunming and return it in Dali, Lijiang and Xishuangbanna. Each campsite is around 50 kilometers from the next one, so it is convenient to drive from one to the other.
Lan also says that in China, a caravan campsite is often like a destination, with dining places and entertainment activities. “But our campsites are different. They only offer water and electricity supplies. So, after touring around in the daytime, travelers can stay there at night as all campsites are close to scenic spots.”
Like Westerners, an increasing number of Chinese are adopting the new lifestyle of caravanning to enjoy their leisure. Ge Minwei is one of them.