5 differences in driving a car in China and Finland

It’s now been over three months since I got my Chinese drivers license. Besides that small little accident back then, driving in Guangzhou has been much easier than I ever thought. Today I’m listing the top 5 differences in driving in China and Finland.

1 Giving way to pedestrians

In both Finland and China it’s a legal responsiblity of a driver to give way to pedestrians, but I rarely see it happen in Guangzhou. Why? One reason could be the huge population, meaning if you give way to one, you end up stuck in the crossroad for a long time before everyone has passed. Luckily most intersections in the city center has traffic lights to solve the problem. But as a pedestrian still be careful of those right turning cars even though you have a green light to cross the road!

2 Making U-turns

I rarely remember making a U-turn in Finland, but in a huge city like Guangzhou you can’t avoid them! Interesting detail is, that the U-turn lane can be anywhere: on the left, on the right, under the bridge or over the tunnel. So keep an eye on the road signs.

3 Changing lanes

One of the biggest challenges in driving here is the need to change lanes all the time, or even if you stick to your lane, others will be passing you all the time. In Finland you are supposed to drive on the right lane and only use the left lane to ovetake someone. In many cities, there are only one lane going in each direction. But Guangzhou is gigantic compared Helsinki and choosing the right lane in time is crucial. I’m often forced to go the wrong way just because I didn’t change to the correct lane in time. Baidu Map Navigator is my best friend here!

4 Being more aggressive

Because of the huge amount of cars on the road, there are more aggressive drivers as well who are unwilling to give way or don’t care about traffic violations. Everytime I drive here, I see cars changing lanes without signaling, excessive speeding, dangerous overtaking just to mention a few.

5 Lack of using seatbelts and child car seats

The awareness in road safety is increasing in China, but unfortunately it still has a lot to improve. My husband’s family and relatives have been surprised of our rule of not to drive even an inch if someone is without a seatbelt. Kids and babies are being hold in the backseat and sometimes their heads can be seen peeking out the windows. Guangzhou is already paying attention to educating the citizens by short movies in public transport, but I’m not sure how many are paying attention to them.


But even though driving in General is more dangerous in Guangzhou than in Finland, I rarely see any major accidents. Somehow the cars flow on the roads in a crazy manner, but mostly still out of collision distance.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.
  • Jim

    Did you find lots of drivers seem lost since so much of the population in Guangzhou isn’t actually from there?

    [Reply]

    Sara Jaaksola Reply:

    It’s not easy even if you are from here. My husband always uses the navigator if we go to a new place inside the city. I often see cars stopped in even dangerous spots between Y intersections trying to decide which way to go. Or stopping in the traffic lights for too long as they check their gps.

    [Reply]

  • Susan Rein

    i kind of giggled while reading this…..it is amazing how far less accidents done occur….although this does sound like alot of the drivers in the United States too….by the way i love the pic of the u-turn lane, i havent ever see anything like this before….thanks again for sharing all of your amazing posts, i love reading about other places (even ones on the other side of the globe:))

    [Reply]

    Sara Jaaksola Reply:

    After seeing this photo my mother asked me what is a U-turn lane, only then I realized such things don’t excists in Finland! :D

    [Reply]