I am travelling to Beijing and Shenzhen with work in March. I'll have a few days at the beginning of my trip where I'd like to relax and have a look around Beijing, then work, at the end I'll have time to stay in Shenzhen and visit Hong Kong, possibly Macau and Guangzhou time dependent. I visited China about ten years ago with my parents to Beijing, Shanghai, Xi'an and Guilin. We were in a private tour but they were always keen for us to have a guide with us - would I encounter any issues? My mother passed away last year and I'd be travelling myself, I am a Western female in my twenties with limited Mandarin. I'd also probably be on a business visa. I'd like to use this opportunity to see some of the 'real' China.
I have acquaintances in Yinchuan, Ningxia; Baotou, Inner Mongolia, Taiyuan, Shanxi; Xining, Qinghai, Changsha, Hunan; and Sanya, Hainan. I am into experiencing culture and packing sights in (although I remember the pace on our holiday to China was too extreme!) I am not the kind of person who could spend a holiday on the beach! I was thinking perhaps Baotou and Ningxia would be the most interesting - I'd love to see Inner Mongolia but i have heard very mixed reviews about industrial Baotou which I'd use Baotou as a base as I'd like to see the Genghis Khan mausoleum at Ordos and possibly Xilamuren or similar grassland although it wont be green.
For Xining, I am not so sure as I;d like to see a little bit of Tibetan culture and go to Qinghai lake but the friend I have there will be working so not sure how easy it is to do myself although she will look for a tour. She was going to find me a private apartment to stay in but then I heard about having to register with the authorities as a foreigner, etc. But the province itself looks interesting plus the fact you could get to Zhangye in 2 hours.
So basically I am now thinking of flying from Shenzhen direct to Xining then taking the train or plane to Yinchuan. This puts me off as it is either a 12 hour train ride (can you bring a large case on the train) or an infrequent flight. Then a 6 hour train to Baotou and I'd fly back to Beijing where I'll get my flight home. Alternatively I can fly back from Shenzhen to Beijing and travel from there.
Sorry for the long post but any experience in these regions or if I am packing too much in or tips would be appreciated.
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