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16 days China, second visit, where would you go?

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16 days China, second visit, where would you go?

Old Jun 9th, 2010, 09:52 AM
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16 days China, second visit, where would you go?

I am in the beginning stages of planning a 14-16 day trip to China, Sept. or Oct. 2011. I will be using FF miles for the air tickets, and can come and go from either/or Beijing and Shanghai. We have been to China on a tour, in 2001, and would prefer not to repeat the places we visited: Shanghai,Yangtze cruise, Xian, Beijing. We are 55 and 60 yo, and want to try to do this trip on our own without a tour, and hire local guides in each city.

With only 2-2 1/2 weeks, what area of China should we concentrate on? Maybe use Shanghai as the gateway and stay in southern China? Or Beijing and stay in the north? What are the must-see places besides those we've already visited? I may be able to use miles for the domestic flights in China if I plan ahead with the award itinerary to save time traveling between cities. We have no problems with taking trains if need be. This would not be the last time we could ever visit China; I'm sure we'd be back at some point in the future to see more.
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Old Jun 12th, 2010, 12:00 AM
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Datong, Wutaishan and Pingyao have some spectacular sights and experiences. How about flying into Beijing, heading south through those cities, maybe back to Xian. (if you were on a tour you may not have seen much more than the terracotta warriors). Then back up to Beijing picking up some other sights on the way. I think there may be some other caves and the Shaolin temple close to that direction.
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Old Jun 12th, 2010, 05:24 AM
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Ignore hiverhuang, who seems not to have read your post, and has an odd idea of "popular" places. And ignore the advice about contacting the website he's pushing. Unless you're traveling over a holiday, and except for your first city, you don't need advance reservations, and you'll get better rates just showing up.

My second trip to China I followed the Silk Road to Kashgar, and my third I spent time in the southwest - of the two I think I'd recommend the southwest. My trip reports are at wilhelmwords.com - asia2001 and rtw2004.
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Old Jun 12th, 2010, 10:43 AM
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thursdaysd:
I'm leaning toward a swing through the south, using Shanghai and/or Guangzou as gateway cities depending on the award tickets I can get. I would assume in the fall, especially if this trip happens in October, that the weather is warmer than north in and around Beijing. I went to the library and got Fodors, frommers, and Rough Guide books to study about suggested itineraries and cities.

I've looked at some of the trip reports here as guidelines, but most were for 3 weeks. Due to work schedules, we can only be gone 2 1/2 weeks counting transpac flying time. I know to avoid the first week of October.

In the south, what 2-4 places besides Shangai would you recommend?
Susie
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Old Jun 12th, 2010, 10:46 AM
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Focus on pandas? In Wolong or Chengdu. You can even volunteer in the sanctuary, which I did.

Also, you can overnight on the Great Wall, actually sleeping in a watch tower. It was awe inspiring.

If these things interest you, I have reports on each here on Fodors. There are links to pictures.

Report on Volunteering at Wolong Panda Reserve
Great Wall sleepover and Mongolia Trip Report

Have a wonderful second trip!
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Old Jun 12th, 2010, 10:47 AM
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I had fun around Kunming (see my RTW2004
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Old Jun 12th, 2010, 10:55 AM
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Hit the wrong keys...

I had fun around Kunming (see my RTW2004 TR linked above). There are towns to the south that see few tourists, and Lijiang and Dali to the north that see a lot - but if you're energetic there's also Tiger Leaping Gorge - sooner you see that the better. A bit further north there's Chengdu - interesting city, pandas, a very big Buddha (Leshan), a couple of sacred mountains (Emei Shan and Qingchen Shan) and the Tibetan plateau starts to the west. Can be cold and damp, though.

If you start in Shanghai I'd visit Hangzhou, Suzhou and maybe a water town. I went to Putuoshan, a sacred island, and would go back but not on a short trip. Can't help with the southeast.
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Old Jun 13th, 2010, 09:57 PM
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I am almost tempted to say you should repeat your 2001 tour itin because you won’t recognize the places you saw 10 years ago. They have changed almost beyond recognition. (Other than of course things like the Forbidden City and the terracotta warriors, although more of those have been dug out in the last 10 years.) It might be interesting to compare your photos then and now…The area of the Yangtze where I imagine you did your cruise is more of a lake than a river now. I also can’t imagine you saw everything there is to see in place like Beijing.

But I can see where you might want to expand your horizons. There are of course huge swaths of the PRC which you have not seen, and it is hard to advise without knowing your particular interests. But one idea I would throw out there is the “Silk Road” area, esp Dunhuang, as the weather is pleasant then, and it’s quite off the beaten (Western) tourist path. With just over 2 weeks, it probably is possible to include a short trip to other areas of the PRC (like Yunnan Province) in an itin which includes Gansu Province/Dunhuang. Instead of Yunnan, if you can work out flights, you might have enough time to also include Tibet, although I tend to think that might be ambitious (although Tibet could of course be a separate trip.) You can fly non-stop to Dunhuang from Beijing, and from Shanghia via a change in Lanzhou (from where you can also take a car or train to Silk Road areas or to Dunhuang, but I don’t think there is much of interest to the tourist in Lanzhou itself).

In terms of timing, National Day is October 1, and that day through Monday October 3 2011 are public holidays. Much of the PRC used to close down for almost a week for National Day, which is no longer the case; but while not the huge travel extragranza it used to be, if you can avoid being in the PRC during the last week in September and the first week in October, I would say you should. No point in encountering crowded trains, planes, tourist sights, etc if you can avoid it by simply coming at another time. (This does not include Hong Kong, where only October 1 is a holiday.) I think you will find the weather in the latter half of October to be cooler and more enjoyable as well for most parts of the PRC, see weather websites.

If you want a beach, you might consider Hainan Island the “Hawaii” of China, some hyperbole there, but actually quite a pretty island. In very nice weather from October onwards (September can be rainy).

I also feel compelled to mention that Hong Kong is also part of China, is in excellent weather in the fall (esp from the latter half of October onwards, September is also prone to rain) offers a myriad of things to do and see, great restaurants, and has some of the best walking and hiking you will find anywhere in the PRC (as the trails are well-maintained, marked in English and reachable by public transport). It is not at all just about the shopping. There are usually (but not always) fireworks in the harbour on 1 October which are quite spectacular. I am not sure if your FF miles would allow you to include Hong Kong as a gateway, but if it does, you might consider it as well. It also would make a good base to expore the southeast PRC.
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Old Jun 14th, 2010, 08:48 AM
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> Much of the PRC used to close down for almost a week for National Day, which is no longer the case;

Not true.

The recent reallocation of the May holiday extra days elsewhere had no effect on the October holiday, and mainland residents will be continuing to take five working days plus a weekend off, this year from October 1 to 7 inclusive, at the cost of working the previous weekend to trade for the 6th and 7th. That small percentage with discretionary holiday or sufficiently high up the ladder to do as they please will no doubt add the 8th and the following weekend this year.

Travel in this period is by no means impossible, although all banks and most offices will be shut for a week (although sights are all open), and ATMs occasionally run out of money, but travel to resort destinations should be avoided, and in general it is better to be in a city at the beginning, move on in the middle of the holiday (when air fares may be as substantially 'discounted' as they are at other times) and then stay at the next destination until after it is over. Metropolises are often easier to get around during this holiday as the proportion of the population able to afford discretionary leisure travel is mostly city-based, so traffic drops, often government-owned vehicles are ordered off the roads, and getting around by taxi is much quicker than usual. There's also usually a perceptible drop in pollution.

Peter N-H
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Old Jun 15th, 2010, 06:46 PM
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Hong Kong would be a better entry city into China, in my opinion, than Guangzhou, which has very few interesting places to visit. And Shanghai possibly to depart. For a southern-central trip I suggest: Yangshuo, Dali, Lijiang, Suzhou and Tongli, each for two or three days.
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Old Jun 16th, 2010, 01:22 PM
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I will definitely be avoiding the National Day holiday week when I get the air tickets to China. Sounds like travel gridlock! My interests are temples, museums, UNESCO sites, historic architecture/towns, and some scenery. I'm not a big long distance hiker, but do enjoy walking. I'm not a big shopper other than for some unique pieces of folk art and food (cooking ingredients). I've been to Hong Kong twice before and other than coming or going don't have a real desire to spend any time there.

If possible, I'd like to fly between the cities to save time. If I plan it out in advance, the domestic China flights could be part of the award tix if I get them from ANA, as they allow multiple stopovers and an open jaw.
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Old Jun 16th, 2010, 08:18 PM
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A north-central route may be best for you. This could be a possible itinerary for two weeks. Arrive in Beijing, stay three nights. Go on a day trip to Jietai temple and Tanzhe temple, west of the city. Walk in old hutong neighborhoods and back lakes, north of Beihai park, one day.

Fly or take a train to Datong, visit Yungang caves, on outskirts of city and Hanging Monastery, as a day trip, stay two nights. Take a train to Pingyao, charming small town with intact city walls, stay two or three nights. Take a train to Taiyuan, fly to Beijing. In afternoon or next day, take train to Chengde, visit summer palace, temples, stay two nights. Consider a trip to Qufu, the hometown of Confucius, stay one night, perhaps after visiting Pingyao.

If you have any days left in Beijing, perhaps you could visit some former homes of notable residents, such as Lu Xun, Prince Gong, Lao She, Mei Lanfang, Mao Dun, Song Qingling and some of the temples in the city you have not been to.

"The Insider's Guide to Beijing," intended more for foreign residents, is a great book, listing historic sites, museums, restaurants, etc, seldom, if ever, mentioned in other China or Beijing travel books. The book should be available at the Amazon website or the Foreign Language bookstore on Wangfujing street. At this bookstore I bought "Beijing by Foot," a set of day walking self-tours. There are forty walks in the set I have, each the size of an index card and having a small map of the area. This gave my wife and I an opportunity to walk by some places we probably never would have seen using other China travel books.
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Old Jun 26th, 2010, 06:36 AM
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OK, after more research and feedback on other sites, I'm thinking of an itinerary Beijing - Guilin - Chengdu - Lijiang - Hangzhou-Shanghai. I wouldn't be spending any time in Beijing, just passing through as part of the first leg of my int'l flight. I'd spend a few days in Shanghai at the end, taking day trips to Tongli or Suzhou and whatever else is nearby.I can fly to all these cities and hopefully put them on my award ticket as stopovers.

What do you China experts think of this plan?
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Old Jun 30th, 2010, 12:35 PM
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After looking at flight schedules, if I fly Asiana TPAC I can enter China at Qindao from ICN, then carryon from there. Or maybe substitute Qindao for Chengdu and Lijiang and do Qindao-Guilin-Hangzou-Shanghai-Beijing, spending some time in Beijing at the end. The key will be flying China airlines between these cities so as to get the domestic flights as part of my award.

Any comments on this itinerary? Is it doable?
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Old Jul 10th, 2010, 05:18 AM
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Susiesan,
My wife & I have been to China in 2006 and had been looking for an itinerary that would not spend a lot of time at the same locations. We found 2 tour companies with what we were looking for. We are currently booked on the "Tibet Highlands & Shangri-La" 17 day tour w/ Chinaspree departing on Sept 9th. Take a look at their website and click on tours and then the Expedition tab to find this tour. A 2nd tour is with China Focus Travel (we used them in 2006), its an 18 day "Shangri-La Adventure" tour and there Sept 7th tour is still open.
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Old Jul 10th, 2010, 07:40 AM
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Have you done a search on this site on Chinaspree and China Focus? The OP certainly doesn't need to travel with them.
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Old Jul 10th, 2010, 07:47 AM
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Thursdaysd,
I don't understand your ?? I had done a search earlier on Chinaspree b/f booking w/them and I already traveled w/China Focus. Not sure what you mean by "OP". Please explain. Thanks
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Old Jul 10th, 2010, 08:09 AM
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OP = original poster, who expressed a desire in the first post to travel independently.

I see that you are new here, and I suggested that you do a search because there are several threads here providing in great detail a different view of the companies you are recommending, and of tour companies in China in general.
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Old Jul 10th, 2010, 09:06 AM
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thursdaysd,
Thanks for the clarification.
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Old Jul 10th, 2010, 11:49 AM
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franknmary: Sometimes I look at tour itineraries for ideas on where to go but I don't want to do a tour this time to China. From reading and research here on Fodors and on other websites I know China is easily doable on our own as we are experienced travelers in Asia. I'd even consider making it up as we go along but if I want to have the domestic flights already paid for as part of a FF award ticket then I have to plan my routing out ahead of time for the cities I will visit. Except for the first night when we arrive in China, I won't book any hotels ahead of time. I will have researched possibilities but I'll wait until we arrive in a city and then negotiate for the rate. I'm following PeterN_H's advice about avoiding tours, guides, and reservations.
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