China

Old Jan 16th, 2020, 01:26 PM
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China

Hi
My husband and I are adding 10-11 days onto a business trip in mid-April before the conference. I'm trying to put together a trip but have trouble deciding on timing and places to visit - it is a big country. The itinerary I have so far is as follows:
Day 1 Arrive Beijing
Day 2-3 tour around Beijing and the Great Wall (which location is the best to avoid terrible crowds, get to hike, not be in a car for many hours of the day? Any day tour companies you would recommend?)
Day 4 Fly to Xi'an
Day 5 tour around Xi'an
Day 6 Fly to Shanghai
Day 7 tour around Shanghai
Day 8 Day trip to water town (Shujiajiao, Suzhou, Tong-li - which one, or more than one?)
Day 9 and Day 10?

I have the option of staying 2 more nights. I was considering Yangshuo and Longsheng as I would have liked to go hiking in the rice fields however weather forecasts for April say it's the rainiest month of the year -over 20 days of rain. Has anyone traveled here in April? Is it really rainy - too uncomfortable to hike. Also if it rains a lot the view points would be fogged in I assume. Also, it seems like a lot of travel for 2-3 overnights - advice? I also considered Chengdu but not sure I am as interested in the sites there.

Are 3 nights sufficient for Beijing or should I add another day if we have it?

Any day tour companies you can recommend for any of the places I will be traveling?

Your help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!

Mary
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Old Jan 16th, 2020, 06:25 PM
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It really depends on what you want to see and do, but FWIW:

IIRC, I had 6 full days in Beijing and did not see every thing I wanted to see there.
I had 3 full days in Xi'an and did not see everything I wanted to see there.
And I travel HARD!

For a recent thread with details on how to get to the Great Wall (and which parts to consider visiting), see
Tour companies in China
And please note that you can visit the Great Wall easily by public transportation, which gives you the added bonus of actually seeing Chinese people in a setting that isn't contrived.

That same thread covers lots of reasons for avoiding tours in China (and there's really no need for them -- with even a bit of advance reading, it is really easy to travel there on your own) and lots of reasons for avoiding guides.

I would strongly encourage you to think about whether you want to spend a lot of time in transit, just to catch a glimpse a few places, or whether to limit the number of places you plan to visit so that you can see at least a few of their treasures.

Hope that helps!
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Old Jan 17th, 2020, 05:51 AM
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Thanks kja. Will look through the sites you mention. I also have a hesitancy to hire a guide but having said that, I thought a day guide to the historic places would be more informative and easy navigation. Any thoughts about Longsheng/Yangshuo in April. And which part of the wall did you visit when in Beijing?
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Old Jan 17th, 2020, 05:34 PM
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As the thread to which I already directed you notes, guides in China have access to only the information that is state sanctioned, and so often know less about the places to which they guide people than anyone who has read a guide book -- and that's if they actually have information, rather than misinformation. So while guides can be nice and they can be well intentioned and they might speak English well and they might say a lot, unfortunately, they aren't a good source of information.

Getting around Beijing and Xi'an and every other location I've visited in China is surprisingly easy.

As described in that other thread, the main section of the Great Wall I visited was Ba Da Ling and am glad I did. (I also went to Huangyaguan, but only because it was en route to another site I was visiting. It's interesting, but doesn't have the grandeur of Ba Da Ling, IMO.) There's information in that other thread about your other options for visiting the Great Wall and up-to-date information about how to reach those segments.

And as also noted in that thread, I hesitate to direct people to my trip report because I don't want to scare anyone -- I went at a time when intercity train tickets weren't readily available ahead of time or outside the city where the train would start, and I was on a budget, and so chose to find my hotels after arriving in each city, rather than booking ahead (except for my first hotel). But still, you might find some useful information in it -- if nothing else, the obvious evidence that one can manage independently in China. The sections on Beijing begin with posts # 13 and 46 (I started and ended my trip there); the section on Xi'an begins with post # 27. I didn't travel to Longsheng or Yangshuo.
https://www.fodors.com/community/asi...amazing-844129
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Old Jan 18th, 2020, 12:47 AM
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Tour companies in China
Look here in this thread. Guides with whom members have had positive experiences with are mentioned including Elysian and China Advocate.
We used guides there too who we hired thru my TA's global data base and had a very good experience with them.
Best of luck.
Larry

Last edited by Moderator1; Jan 18th, 2020 at 01:37 PM. Reason: We removed the bold font
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Old Jan 18th, 2020, 04:55 AM
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Thanks again kja and Larry. Iíll check out the posts and links. I know Iíll have many more questions after that.
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Old Jan 18th, 2020, 05:17 AM
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[QUOTE=nycmary;17048245]Thanks again kja and Larry. I’ll check out the posts and links. I know I’ll have many more questions after that.[/QUOTE
My pleasure!

Last edited by Moderator1; Jan 18th, 2020 at 01:40 PM.
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Old Jan 18th, 2020, 12:51 PM
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Originally Posted by nycmary View Post
Any day tour companies you can recommend for any of the places I will be traveling?
For problems with guides and information, see here:

Guides

and for problems with tours, see here:

Tours

But for one-day tours to the Great Wall with assorted levels of hiking difficulty expat-founded although now locally-run Beijing Hikers can be recommended. It's expat-priced, too, and the guides' information is far from completely accurate, but it is completely reliable, offers convenient access to less well-known sections often with lunch at a farmhouse thrown in, and your companions will mostly be other Beijing residents. There are no shopping stops or other shenanigans, and unusually in China tourism what you're offered is actually what you get.

Beijing Hikers
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Old Jan 19th, 2020, 05:10 AM
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Originally Posted by temppeternh View Post
For problems with guides and information, see here:

Guides

and for problems with tours, see here:

Tours

But for one-day tours to the Great Wall with assorted levels of hiking difficulty expat-founded although now locally-run Beijing Hikers can be recommended. It's expat-priced, too, and the guides' information is far from completely accurate, but it is completely reliable, offers convenient access to less well-known sections often with lunch at a farmhouse thrown in, and your companions will mostly be other Beijing residents. There are no shopping stops or other shenanigans, and unusually in China tourism what you're offered is actually what you get.

Beijing Hikers
Thank you temppeternh. I did check out Beijing Hikers and am glad that you recommended them. The hikes seem interesting and more off the beaten track. In your opinion does one need a guide for Shanghai and Xiían?
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Old Jan 19th, 2020, 10:28 AM
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I would not try to add Yangshuo to your plan. You are already moving around quite a bit. Also, they plant the rice in May.
Also, instead of flying domestically, I would take the train. More relaxed and more reliable.
Regarding Beijing, taking into account that the Forbidden City is closed on Monday. On other days, they also limit the number of visitors per day and often run out of tickets before lunch.
For the Great Wall, consider going to Mutianyu, much less crowded than Badaling but Badaling is easier to get to (which is also why it is more crowded). There are cheap alternatives to go to Badaling by bus. Besides the public bus that departs from Dongzhimen (see this video:
) there is also an organized bus that departs from the Swissotel every day and it is rather cheap: MUBUS - Beijing To MUTIANYU Great Wall Daily Shuttle Bus. ?80 ($12.9) | Take a free trip to the MUTIANYU Great Wall by Mubus. Mubus will offer you a easy and efficient bus transfer service from Beijing to the Mutianyu Great Wall everyday. Mubus depar But the most flexible way is to hire a driver (no guide is needed for the Wall). This will cost 600 to 800RMB per day.
For the water town, Tongli is actually in Suzhou. To do both Suzhou and Tongli in one day is too much though. Better spend 2 days there and relax. While in Suzhou, you go to Tongli via subway.
If you have some extra days, add one to Beijing, there is a lot to see there. The other you can use around Shanghai.
All these cities have good subways. It is easy to get around.
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Old Jan 19th, 2020, 05:15 PM
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Thanks Canadachinatraveller! Does it make sense to do these water towns from Shanghai over 2 days? Or is staying in Suzhou for an overnight and visiting Tongli the way to go. Great advice! Didnít know Firbidden City was closed on Monday. Will probably add a day to Beijing and a day to Shanghai or Suzhou. Thought about the train but the express train takes 5/6 hours. As we are time constrained I thought Iíd bite the bullet and fly. Are planes often canceled?
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Old Jan 19th, 2020, 05:53 PM
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Since you have to allow half an hour or so at each end getting to and from the airport, plus time AT the airport, flying will not be that much faster.
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Old Jan 19th, 2020, 06:39 PM
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Planes are often late. If you really want to save time you can take overnight trains. You would also save money on the price of a hotel room. But not everyone can handle overnight trains.
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