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gholi03 May 27th, 2010 05:00 PM

27 day China trip in August need some help with itinerary, please!
 
Hi there guys,

I am going to China in August with my partner on our honeymoon! We are starting in shanghai and finishing shanghai in the following order:

Shangha 2 nights
Beijing 4 nights
Xian 1 night
Chengdu 1 night
Chongqing 1 night
Chongqing to Yichang river cruise (3 nights)
Yichang 1 night
Hainan Island 6 nights

My questions are as follows:
1- We are planning on doing most of our journeys by train. We want to use overnight trains to save time on journeys and do most of the getting about whilst we are asleep. My questions are do we need to book these before we get to China or can this be done easily once we get there.
If we buy them when we get to China can we buy all the different legs from the first city?

2- The river cruise - We want to do the Jiangshan River Cruise which from what I have read is the cruise which is tailored for the Chineese themselves and there are no English speaking guides on board. This is no problem for us as we are OK at finding our own way around. But I have found very little information about this cruise. Such as:
- where does it leave from in Chingqing
- is it daily or is there a shipping schedule
- how do you buy tickets
If anyone has doen this cruise can you please advise any information on this.

I may have a few more questions later on but if someone can answer the above queries I will be greatful. Thanks.

gholi03 May 27th, 2010 05:02 PM

Just to add we have a few days other travelling before and after the China trip for all those who add the nights and come to the conclusion that this is not a 27 day China trip!! : )

thursdaysd May 27th, 2010 06:13 PM

Can't help with that specific cruise, but you might find this trip report from friends of mine helpful: http://meckleyearth.blogspot.com/201...1_archive.html. They took Chinese boats down river from Chongqing in 2004, but stayed in hotels each night. The report has hour-by-hour descriptions of the river, and photos, which may help you decide whether you want to take the time to do the cruise, or add time to the cities, which you are really rushing through. (Note that one of the couple spoke fluent Mandarin.) When I did the (western) cruise in 1997, the conditions were just as hazy.

Not only do you seem to be short-changing Xi'an and Chengdu, both of which kept me occupied for considerably longer, but you don't seem to have allowed for your nights on trains.

gholi03 May 28th, 2010 01:35 AM

Hi thursdaysd
Thanks for the reply to my query. I read the trip report, it was very detailed and interesting.

Firstly in reply to your point about the nights on trains. I have accounted for these, but just not added it to my list above. Adding them on my itinerary is as follows:
Shangha 2 nights
Night on train to Beijing
Beijing 4 nights
Night on train to Xian
Xian 1 night
Night on train to Chengdu
Chengdu 1 night
Take train to Chongqing at the end of 2nd day arriving same day and stay 1 night @Chongqing
Chongqing to Yichang river cruise (3 nights)
Yichang 1 night
Fly to Hainan (Haikou)
Hainan Island 6 nights
Fly back to shanghai
1 night @ Shanghai
Fly home

Moving on to the Xian and Chengdu itinerary. I hear what you are saying and I am slightly worried about this my self. But my reasoning is as follows.

I have read and spoken to friends who have also been to both places. The opinion is varied. Some like it and can spend 2-3 days some think 1 day is enough. So I have gone for the pragmatic approach and tried to hedge my bets and gone for 1.5 to 2 days.

We arrive in Xian on the morning from Beijing @ 08:25. So we have the full day and stay one night. The next day we have half the day and leave @ 14:06. I think in this day and half we should be able to see the army on the first day and possible the tombs. Then spend the evening and next morning to see the sights of the city. Any views and opinions on this will be appreciated.

Then we arrive at Chengdu @ 07:40. Which means we may be even able to get to go to the Panda sanctuary to view @ feeding time which I am told is the time to get there. Then have the rest of the day at Chengdu. We then stay the night and have all day the next day to see the sights. Enjoy tea at a teahouse (I have read and been told about the way they serve it and am looking forward to it, I am passinat about tea myself so expect to feel at home) Then grab a train from Chengdu to Chingqing @ 20:17 .

We will arrive @ Chingqing 22:25 see the city by night and stay the night. Wake up in the morning and grab the River Cruise which I am told leaves every morning at 9am.

You see we need to leave Chongqing to able to make Yichang by weds. As there are flight to Hainan on alternate days and We need to catch the flight on Thursday. Otherwise we will have to catch several trains or take various flights to get there. Making a three hour flight into a 27 hour train journey spread across two days or similar by flight.

We are on our honeymoon and will have to get back to work so we want a bit of time to unwind at hinan. So that is my thinking and reasoning. Any ideas on whether this is too complicated or wont work will be appreciated.

I really need to know the following:
- trains. Do I (or can I even) buy tickets either online or buy all the journeys when I get to Shanghai. this is something which is confusing. I dont know if you can buy tickets (lets say from Xian to Chengdu) but buy them @ Shanghai. Do Shanghai ticket offices sell the tickets for Xian.

- The river cruise. We want to take the Jiangshan mainly because it is the cheapest way to get downriver. But also I dont want some cruise where they try to sell me the trips. But I need to know do they leave everyday? Also do I buy tickets before I get there?

- also is there a quicker way to get to Hainan from Yichang other than the every other day flight (Tue/Thurs/Sat)to Haikou. I checked there does not seem to be any flights to Sanya.

Any ideas and advice is appreciated. Our itinerary is flexible in the sense that it is our own and we are not bound by anything apart from our in coming and outgoing flights.

Thanks..

thursdaysd May 28th, 2010 05:50 AM

I think I would feel happier about this itinerary if you put Hainan at the beginning, not the end - don't you think you'll need time to unwind from the wedding? I would also be inclined to cut a day or two from Hainan so you can slow up the rest of the trip.

As far as I know, you can still only buy train tickets for the city you are in, not more than 20 and more usually 10 days ahead of time. You could visit a travel agency (maybe CITS) in your first city, and arrange for them to have offices in other cities buy your tickets. You'll pay a fee for that, but it may not be that large.

In China you generally don't arrange things ahead of time, which is why your itinerary needs to be flexible. I don't think you are allowing time to get from the station to your hotel (or finding one if you haven't booked ahead), or your desire for a shower if you've spent the night on a train.

For more info on what to do in Chengdu see my TR at http://wilhelmswords.com/rtw2004 - there's also more info on Xi'an on that site in the Asia2001 section.

Have you tried Lonely Planet's thorntree or Bootsnall for info on the river cruise?

Cicerone Jun 8th, 2010 12:46 AM

I just want to comment on Hainan Island in August. I live in Hong Kong, and we have an almost identical weather pattern to Hainan Island. August can be <i>very</i> rainy, and we (and Hainan Island) can get typhoons. It may not be the best month for a “relaxing” beach vacation if it is poring rain or you are stuck inside with a typhoon! You could of course get nice weather, but the odds are that it will be rainy, so please look at weather websites and make sure you are OK with the possibility. While Hainan is very pretty, there is not a whole lot to do there if it is raining. Perhaps on your honeymoon you do not care, but I thought I should mention it.

Also Haikou in the north is NOT the nice part of the island. Sanya in the south is where you want to go IMO, that is where all the pretty beaches and good resort hotels are located; however it’s about 4 hours by car to Sanya from Haikou. I personally would not want to make that long a road trip on both ends of the trip (nor pay for it in a taxi, although a bus is an option). I think you should be able to find flights to Sanya from Shanghai and possibly other places in the PRC as well. There appears to be a good flight routing from Yichang to Sanya via a change in Shanghai which departs Yichang at 3:30 pm (on China Eastern) and arrives in Sanya (on China Southern) at 10 pm. This is a 2 hour layover in Shanghai, which is not too bad. It appears these flights go everyday, but you might want to confirm that. This would mean you could skip the one day layover in Shanghai and just go directly from Yichang.

But as I said, you may want to stay in other, drier, parts of the PRC.

Cicerone Jun 8th, 2010 02:33 AM

The Yichang- Sanya flights I was looking at were

China Eastern Flight 9366 Yichang to Shanghai
China Southern 3836 Shanghai to Sanya


There are also options connecting through Beijing, they seem to take a bit longer.

kja Jun 8th, 2010 07:07 AM

> We arrive in Xian on the morning from Beijing @ 08:25. So we have the full day and stay one night. The next day we have half the day and leave @ 14:06. I think in this day and half we should be able to see the army on the first day and possible the tombs. Then spend the evening and next morning to see the sights of the city. Any views and opinions on this will be appreciated.

I think it would be difficult to see the tombs on the same day as the Terra Cotta Army. And I don't think you would be able to see much of the city in one evening and a morning. I spent 4 days in Xi'an and did not see everything I had hoped to see. I think you can select a small number of sites to enjoy in 1.5 days in Xi'an, but think you would have to be a bit selective. Hope that helps!


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