any suggestions would be appreciated

Jan 20th, 2005, 07:44 PM
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any suggestions would be appreciated

Just discovered Travel Talk and had a really great time reading all the recent exchanges regarding China. My family and I (5 adults) will be travelling from SFO to PVG around the end of March via Asiana - actually had Air China/UA reservations but cancelled after reading about no seat assignments and 72hr confirmations. Need some suggestions re air transport from Shanghai to Beijing... Dragonair? China Eastern?
The Portman-Ritz Carlton quoted us $108 for a van from PVG to the hotel - seems a bit high to me. But then with 5 adults and bags, we'd probably need 2 cabs. Ditto in Beijing, we're staying at the St Regis.
We will have 3 full days each in Shanghai and in Beijing - do you think we can pack in all the sights in each city?
DMary is offline  
Jan 20th, 2005, 08:44 PM
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Regarding the transportation from the airport to the Ritz. I've done the same and used the taxi service. There are vans as well as regular cars for the taxi service so if you pick the van then you should be ok and save a lot of money. Even with 2 cabs or vans you will still save a lot.
Hanuman is offline  
Jan 20th, 2005, 08:46 PM
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Hi, DMary.

A cab from the city to PVG cost us Y140 (US$17)- although in Beijing we found that the airport-city trip was 50% more than in the reverse direction, so you may be looking at an unofficial "surcharge" PVG-City. Even allowing for the possibility that two cabs may cost you more than our Y140 each the van quote is highway robbery.

You'll have no problem if you take licenced cabs from the rank (i.e., ignore anyone who approaches you). However, you will need the name and address of your hotel written in Chinese characters to show the drivers. You can get the hotel to fax that to you. Chinese cabbies are pretty good IMO.

If you don't want to mess around with cabs, most things in China are negotiable, so as a matter of principle if nothing else why not offer the hotel $50? At least they'll know that you've got their number. But given what I guess you're paying for those hotels it may be neither here nor there.

In Beijing a cab from the airport to the city cost Y90 (US$11) and on the way back Y60 ($7). Traffic will make some difference, but you're looking at around $20-25 at most for two cabs, I would think. Compared to Shanghai the Beijing quote isn't just a rip-off, it's grand larceny. But then, I guess the hotel rates are too.)

By the way, if anyone offers to wheel your bags around at the airport ignore them too - that way lies much grief.

I have no particular suggestions about PVG-PEK airlines - we were booked through on China Eastern and they were OK. I doubt that it makes much difference. You might find that they all have a 72-hour reconfirmation policy, don't know. I can tell you that China Eastern definitely does.

By the way, tipping is NOT practiced in China, other than by by visitors who don't know any better or are held to ransom by tour operators!
Neil_Oz is offline  
Jan 21st, 2005, 12:11 AM
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Dragon Air is an excellent small airline, it is associated with Cathay Pacific. I would choose it over China Eastern. Note that many smaller airlines in Asia require re-confirmation 72 hours before departure, your hotel can do this for you.

There was a thread a few weeks ago about transport options from Shanghai and Beijing airports, I have topped it for you. I agree you will need two cabs or a large van. When landing in China, my preference is always to have pre-arranged private transport. This saves time not having to wait in a taxi line, the driver knows exactly where to take you (i.e. no language confusion), and the driver meets you as you exit customs and helps with bags. IMO, well worth the price, although I agree that $108 seems steep. You might post a new message asking for recoos of private van services in the two cities that may be cheaper than two taxis. I generally use the hotelís car service, but prices I have paid are maybe 20% more than a taxi (but worth it IMO). You can also make up the difference by taking a taxi back to the airport, as private transport is not so important on that leg. Also in Shanghai, you might consider taking the new maglev train back to the airport. This could be a pain with a lot of baggage, but a futuristic experience, IMO, in what I call the Jetson City (when you see the over the top modern architecture, you will understand).

Three days in Shanghai is more than sufficient, IMO. In Beijing, you will be a bit rushed, but in March crowds should be small (although Easter week may be more crowded with westerners on holiday) and so you may be able to cover more ground. Assuming you want to go to the Great Wall, you really only have 2 days plus a bit in Beijing, and there is a lot to see and do. Dress warmly in both, could be quite cool to cold.

Both your hotel choices are very good, IMO.
Cicerone is offline  
Jan 21st, 2005, 09:18 AM
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Dragonair is a Hong Kong based airline which doesn't offer direct flights between Shanghai and Beijing. To fly Dragonair you would have to route through Hong Kong. Amongst the other Chinese domestic carriers, I don't really think there's much of a difference. You can fly from Hong Qiao airport (SHA) to Beijing. It's older and more disorganized than PVG but much closer to the Portman with more frequent flights.
Patty is offline  
Jan 21st, 2005, 06:59 PM
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Thanks everyone for all your suggestions! I am not good at bargaining but will start practicing as of now! This is our first foray into the real China (have been to HK a couple of times) - we tend to head for Europe every chance we get so this is a new experience for all of us. Emailed the Portman for a lower quote on the airport transfer. This being our first trip to China - just didn't feel like hassling with cab drivers, language problems, etc after a long flight.
Thanks again for the great suggestions and tips! Now I know where to go with travel questions!
DMary is offline  
Jan 22nd, 2005, 02:51 AM
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DMary, I will top a thread for you from Peter N-H where he described bargaining and shopping in China. The title is "Bargaining in Beijing", or something like that.

btw, I hope that you are aware that the miles you will earn on Asiana can be applied to your United Mileage Plus account (or to USAir Dividend Miles).
mrwunrfl is offline  
Jan 22nd, 2005, 12:51 PM
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DMary, I'm a hopeless haggler - hate it - but when I learned that the first asking price in China can be 8 times, or more, what the seller may be prepared to accept, I resigned myself to the necessity.

I can understand why you wouldn't want the hassle of cabs as soon as you arrive in China. But one thing I've learnt after turning up in strange countries is that things are seldom as difficult or intimidating as you imagine them to be. (I can hear someone thinking, "Right - sometimes they're worse".)
Neil_Oz is offline  
Jan 22nd, 2005, 07:45 PM
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Neil_Oz -- you sound like the perfect travelling companion for China... so what are you doing end of March?
This may sound stupid but since I'm new to this "travel talk" - what is "topping" and how do I access "the topping"?
DMary is offline  

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