Beijing China-should we go?

Oct 4th, 2005, 11:01 AM
  #1  
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Beijing China-should we go?

Hello. Normally, we post on the Europe board, as that's where all of our travel has been. However, just was offered a fantastic opportunity through a friend that works at the airlines for a special package-R/T air to Beijing, hotel, tours, and 2 meals per day for an unbelieveable price--too good to pass up!

My husband has always wanted to visit China, but I myself have never had any interest--not sure why. Should we go for it? It's a short trip-only 4 days, but I'm thinking a "once in a lifetime" opportunity, as we'd never likely do that on our own.

I hear the sights are wonderful, but the pollution, crowds, and beggars sort of detract from that. The long flight is also a negative factor. Opinions please.
travelbunnies is offline  
Oct 4th, 2005, 01:52 PM
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I can't think of any reason not to go. Having seen China you might end up deciding that you don't want to go back, or you might end up hooked, as so many are. We liked Beijing and its good-humoured people very much.

You'll certainly have time to see some stupendous relics of the world's oldest continuous civilisation, and get a glimpse of a country in rapid change as it heads to superpower status.

We spent a lot of time walking around Beijing, and didn't find it so crowded that it detracted from our experience. In fact the street life of the city was one of the highlights. Air pollution was at times very noticeable - depends on time of day and prevailing weather, but again it wasn't something that we were continually conscious of. As for beggars, a few in Shanghai but I don't remember seeing any in Beijing. It's certainly nowhere near the problem in many other Asian countries.

In general I've found that it's the things you don't do that you regret more than the things you do.
Neil_Oz is offline  
Oct 4th, 2005, 07:12 PM
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I have lived and worked in Asia for 10 years and just completed a 4 year assignment in Switzerland so I understand the attraction of both places, but not everyone does. Asia may really surprise you and you may end up finding it much more interesting than Europe. However, some things to consider.

Assuming you are coming from the US, I would say that to fly all that way for 4 days just to see Beijing may not be the best use of time unless the price is really really cheap (I mean only a few hundred dollars per person); if you can add on to the trip and see other parts of China or Asia that that would be better. Not sure how the jet lag will affect you, the time difference is significant, much more than Europe and this may cut into your first day or more. With only 4 days, this makes a big difference.

There are many great restaurants in Beijing these days, so the 2 meals a day may not be that attractive an option.

What hotel is in the package? There are lots of very average hotels in the boondocks of Beijing suburbs, and lots of great ones in prime locations.

Finally, do you have any free time or is everything pre-planned in bus tours which might include visits to "handicraft factories" that will be compulsory shopping stops. All these would be factors to consider in deciding how much you would enjoy the experience

What time of year is the trip? This would be somewhat of a factor in being able to see as much as you can in 4 days (i.e. in the heat of summer) and would also be a factor in terms of crowds.

Beggars are not an issue in China generally.

You need a visa to enter China and it takes some time to obtain one. Assuming you are US citizens, you can find downloadable forms on the the Chinese Embassy website at www.china-embassy.org. On the main page, click on "Visa and Passport" and read and follow the various instructions. I assume you want a tourist visa, which is an L visa.

Chinese Embassy
2201 Wisconsin Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20007
(202/338-6688)
Cicerone is offline  
Oct 5th, 2005, 07:36 AM
  #4  
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Thanks for the replies-I appreciate it.

Cicerone, to answer some of your questions:

Yes, we are flying in from the US, Cleve-Newark-Beijing. The airline tx are $300pp and the tour package $199pp, so it would be about $1,000 for two + a little spending money. We're not able to add on any days for this one. Jet lag is tough on me; easier on my husband, so I'm definitely concerned about that, given the short amount of time we're there.

The tour company is Pacific Delight Tours, and includes transfers, hotel (Days Hotel and Suites), brkfst, lunches and 2 full day tours of the highlights (great wall, Forbidden City, Summer Palace, etc.) We'll have some time on our own the arrival day (sleep, I'm sure!) and the last day before our flight out around 5pm.

It's next month. We'd leave 11/18 and return 11/22. We are working on the Visas.

My other concern is that I've read and also heard from a good friend who is fairly "well-traveled" that it's very dirty and the food should not be eaten? She said they brought their own food and water, and also knows of a colleague that got severely sick after eating and ended up hospitalized. Do I need to worry about that as well?

Thanks for all the advice. Still considering the pros/cons and haven't made final decision yet.

Ps one other factor that plays into things-since this is an "employee/buddy fare" we could get bumped from our flights if the plane is full and not be able to get there. In that case, would lose the cost of the tour and visa=$560 (plane tickets refundable.)

Thanks again for taking the time to post.
travelbunnies is offline  
Oct 5th, 2005, 09:15 AM
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If you leave 11/18, you arrive in the afternoon of 11/19. Basically you have 72 hours on the ground, but after subtracting transfer to/from airport, etc, you have two full days 11/20 and 11/21, and that's it.

I wouldn't do it even for the low price, unless you really care about the FF miles. [If you care about EQM, then your fare most likely only earn 50% EQM.]
rkkwan is offline  
Oct 5th, 2005, 12:04 PM
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It sounds like you have heard some very negative things about Beijing - and they are not necessarily true. I personally love Beijing. I've been there twice in the past couple years and can't wait to go again. You may or may not like it, but why don't you decide for yourself. Go with an open mind!

If you have the time and the money, I'd recommend that you do it! It will be a great adventure! And in my opinion, you will be very pleasantly surprised.
OJudy is online now  
Oct 5th, 2005, 12:37 PM
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I just returned from Beijing and flew the Continental flight from Newark. The flight shouldn't be full in Nov. and you could sleep a little on the plane. The time on the plane went quicker than I expected. When you arrive at 2:45 and transfer your hotel you could take a taxi to the Pearl Market and do a little shopping. Bargain hard. We paid only a few dollars for pearl necklaces and $10 for purses. Or you might want to go to Qianmen a street south of Tianaman Sq. with shops. We got massages for about $11 one evening. You can change money at the airport or possibly your hotel. Taxis are only $2 or $3. Just make sure they use the meter. You will be with the tour the next 2 days. On the last day you could take a taxi in the morning to Beihai park. We really liked this park and wished we had more time there. Fangshan restaurant is in the park. You might want to see the Temple of Heaven, but we didn't like it as much as Beihai Park. You can walk to the pearl market from the Temple of Heaven. Since your flight leaves at 4:45 pm you should try to do something on your own in the am. We loved Beijing and can't wait to go back. We were only there for 4 nights but packed a lot into our time there.
dilen is offline  
Oct 5th, 2005, 12:55 PM
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If you're going to fly on an employee/buddy pass, I wouldn't book a prepaid tour. Make a cancellable hotel reservation in case you don't get on the flight. It's easy to pick up a taxi at the airport and tour Beijing on your own or book a local day tour on arrival.

I'm not familiar with Days Hotels and Suites so can't tell you where it's located, but in general tour packages don't put you in the most central locations which is important if you only have 72 hours on the ground.

Personally I wouldn't do it, but it's not my decision to make.
Patty is online now  
Oct 5th, 2005, 03:01 PM
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Fr the hotel, check http://www.pacificdelighttours.com/f...es_Beijing.htm. Looks OK to me.

The best advice we had in regard to jet lag was NOT to sleep during the day of arrival - go to bed in the evening. Yes, we were tired on our first day, but fine next morning.

However .... travelbunnies, with all the references to jetlag, crowds, pollution, beggars and dirt it really sounds to me as though you're building up a "worry bank" of reasons not to go. If that's how you feel, I won't try to convince you otherwise, as you'll be programmed not to enjoy yourself anyway.

I must say though that the idea of bringing one's own food and water to China is just too outrageously silly for words. Ridiculous, absurd, hard to believe such people exist. You can't seriously be thinking that all the foreigners who visit China either bring weeks' worth of provisions or end up in hospital? This, in one of the world's great culinary cultures? Farcical, crazy, bizarre.

Certainly, as in many parts of the world, you shouldn't drink the tap water. The simple answer is to buy bottled water, which is available everywhere. A lot of people also use it to brush their teeth with.

As for food: there are always risks, as in many parts of the world, so I can't give you any guarantees. What I can tell you is that we spent three weeks travelling around China, eating where the locals eat, street stalls included, and never had a problem. Same story in Vietnam. Not so in the US, where I had the misfortune to eat something dodgy.

Delhi Belly, Montezuma's Revenge, it's always a possibility, but anecdotally the odds appear to be well and truly on the side of short-term visitors.

But as I say, it sounds to me as though you really don't want to do this, so I doubt that there's much point anyone here trying to reassure you.

BTW, we liked Beihai Park too, and the nearby Back Lakes and surrounding areas, but comparing it with the Summer Palace is like comparing apples with oranges. The Summer Palace is a vast complex of buildings and gardens which you can spend at least half a day exploring. Beihai Park is, well, a park.
Neil_Oz is offline  
Oct 6th, 2005, 09:25 AM
  #10  
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Neil, after thinking about it, you may be right. I'm so used to traveling to Europe, it seems that's always what's on my mind. However, I have decided that I'm going to go ahead and try this adventure and see what happens. I guess I'll never know if I pass up this opportunity! Thanks for all the advice, and I will report back how things went when we return.
travelbunnies is offline  
Oct 6th, 2005, 01:37 PM
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Good for you, travelbunnies! I hope the short time you'll have won't spoil the experience of this great city for you, and I'd be interested to hear your reactions after you get home.
Neil_Oz is offline  
Oct 6th, 2005, 01:46 PM
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Have a great time! Beijing is like no other city. Your husband must be very happy that you've made this decision! I too will be waiting to hear from you when you get back.
OJudy is online now  
Oct 6th, 2005, 08:29 PM
  #13  
 
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Definitely go. The people are polite and friendly, the city is amazingly clean, and very few beggars. There are the Dollar People, yes, but just ignore them or buy a few 2008 Olympics hats for $1. Beijing is built for crowds. Go for it.
Rian is offline  

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