basic info about visiting china

Old Mar 19th, 2007, 05:48 PM
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basic info about visiting china

Hello all,

I am thinking of touring China this year and need some basic information to get me started.

1. What's the best time to go there? When should I avoid going?

2. Is it better to take a tour or see it by yourself?

3. I think I may have about 10 days to spare for the trip. Is that enough?

4. For a first timer, what are the must see sights?

5. What sights are over-hyped and not really worth it?

Any help would be highly appreciated.

africatravel is offline  
Old Mar 19th, 2007, 05:55 PM
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china is a huge country and in 10 days you will be able to see very little...

many start with beijing and add xian from there and maybe a couple of days in shanghai....

others would go only to hong kong and spend the whole time there...

do you have a guide book...??

do some reading and then come back here and ask questions...
rhkkmk is offline  
Old Mar 19th, 2007, 06:18 PM
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rhkkmk has summed it up well. One could write a book in response to those questions, and in fact many have, but...

1. We found September-October very good travelling weather, but China is a very big country and we travelled not much further south than Shanghai. You need to consider what it will be like in the areas you'll be visiting. Avoid the New Year, May Day and October Labor Day holiday weeks.

2. Each method has its proponents and again it depends to an extent on your itinerary and how comfortable you are in doing your own thing in unfamiliar surrounds. If you were to split your time between say Beijing and Shanghai (with a side trip to say Suzhou and/or Hangzhou) I think there's little point in signing up for a tour. Both cities are easy to explore by yourself. In Beijing all major sites are easy to get to and from by taxi and foot, and you can join a day tour to the Great Wall. Organising transport and accommodation isn't difficult if you put in the spadework and do your homework. Given that you time is very limited you may opt to pay extra to have someone else look after the logistics.

3. Enough for what? is the question. Enough time to see the major highlights of a huge country with the world's oldest continuous civilisation? Well, of course not. But you can get a taste of the country (no more) if you stick to a few key destinations.

4. We enjoyed our time in Beijing and Shanghai, two very different cities with very different histories, and we were glad we made a side trip to Hangzhou and Suzhou. We didn't get to Xi'an, but it obviously has many fans. I wouldn't try to do any more in 10 days.

5. We didn't find any over-hyped sites, I'm glad to say. It's very difficult to over-hype the Great Wall, Forbidden City and Summer Palace, for example.

Finally ... yes, buy that guidebook!
Neil_Oz is offline  
Old Mar 19th, 2007, 07:21 PM
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5. Places are not overhyped. Just over crowded with Chinese tourists, which can really diminish the enjoyment.
rkkwan is offline  
Old Mar 19th, 2007, 07:24 PM
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rkk...i say ban all the chinese from seeing the sights in their country and allow us farangs to walk freely...

rhkkmk is offline  
Old Mar 19th, 2007, 07:44 PM
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It is a touchy subject and I have gotten into argument with others over this.

The matter of fact is that in the last decade, a lot more local Chinese can afford to travel for the first time. First time in their lives for these individuals, as well as first time in the history of China. There are 1.3 or whatever billion Chinese, and just a fraction of them going can totally overwhelm places like a Suzhou garden, Badaling Great Wall, Huangshan, or Jiuzhaigou National Park.

So what do you do? Well, some of the national parks like Jiuzhaigou or Zhangjiajie already charge very high admissions like US$15. Consider that many US and European national parks are free, and many Chinese living in the interior don't earn more than US$80-90 a month, if that. But still, that high admission isn't stopping more and more locals to go. In fact, often it is a status symbol to have been to Jiuzhaigou or Zhangjiajie.

I don't see what the authorities can do about that. Lottery system? That will only create a huge black market for alloted tickets, or create a huge incentive for corruption or favoritism. Open up more areas and build more facilities to handle the crowds (like the new airport at Jiuzhai/Huanglong or the cable car at Zhangjiajie) simply invites more people going and making things worse.

Personally, I feel somewhat lucky to have seen quite a bit (but not enough at all) of China when I was younger, 15-20 years ago. These days, I really have no desire to go to most tourist sites there.

Maybe things will get better in 20-30 years when locals know about queuing up, giving people personal space, or to speak quietly. But until then...
rkkwan is offline  
Old Mar 19th, 2007, 10:52 PM
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China has many sites to visit and appreciate. You can formulate your goals by reading travel books and first hand experience from blogs. I have lived in China for more than 6 years (in 3 different time periods -- three different assignments in China, first one between end of 1987 and late 1990)
You can check out my blog at
Please feel free to let me know what specific questions you have after you gather information.
guenovnd is offline  
Old Mar 20th, 2007, 06:46 PM
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I just visited Tongli a watertown near Shanghai, which boasts a beautiful garden... and hoards of people. After fighting my way through - which seriously dampened the serenity - I wonder if reservations and timed ticked entrance could help -- like they do at the Vatican and Galleria Borghese in Rome.
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