I have just returned from a fabulous month in China.
Rather than do a detailed trip report, I will do some trip notes –in order of the places we visited, and then some general notes at the end.
Thanks a lot to all the people who answered any questions I had when planning, and also to those who posted previous trip reports. I can’t remember all your names but I hope that you recognise your suggestions or recommendations in our trip.
Our itinerary was:
Fly into Beijing (one night)
Overnight train to Xi’an (3 nights)
Fly to Yichang to catch Victoria Cruise ship (4 nights)
Fly from Chongqing to Guangzhou (6 nights)
Fly to Shanghai (7 nights)
Fly to Beijing (7 nghts)
Overnight train from Beijing to Xi’an.
Lots of fun. An enjoyable experience. We booked soft sleeper (4 to a room). The little room is very clean and comfortable. 2 beds either side with clean blanket and pillow. They provide hot water, but nothing else (though there is a buffet car and local people walk on the train selling food at some stations). Make sure you take toilet paper (actually always carry some tissues in China) and soap or waterless hand sanitising stuff as the bathroom got pretty gross by the end of the trip.
Attractions we visited: Drum Tower, Bell Tower, Little Goose Pagoda, Muslim Quarter. The Muslim Quarter was definitely our favourite thing in Xi’an (explore the area around Nanyuan Men). The street is very interesting, and there are lots of Muslim men selling food from their street carts. The food is very very good and very cheap (Xian probably had the best street food out of any place we visited). There is also a bazaar that sells tourist things – knock offs and kitschy souvenirs. From memory, the prices were cheaper than in Beijing.
Terracotta Warriors: We arranged a tour to see the Warriors through our hostel. From what we could work out, generally the tours to the Warriors are arranged into Eastern Tours or Western Tours. The Western tour is longer and includes the Xianyang City and some less popular tourist sites. The Eastern tour sticks to the more popular tourist sites (Warriors, Huangqing Pool etc.) and is the more popular of the two. We took an Eastern tour. It included the Warriors, Huangqing pool, a Terracotta Warriors factory, the Qing tomb and a stop for lunch. We paid 220 RMB each and this included everything (entrance fees, tour guide, bus) except lunch. It was definitely worth it. We had a great day. The Warriors are amazing, though I must admit I found them a bit too touristy (they are housed in a big building and attached is a movie theatre and a gallery and a shop).
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