China or India

Old Jul 24th, 2010, 11:33 AM
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China or India

It seems I may be whined enough to convince my husband to begin planning next year's trip and to go back to SE Asia again after back to back trips to Thailand/Cambodia and Vietnam. He's asked me if I would prefer China or India, both of which are on my must see list, so...I am hoping that Fodorites who have been to both can give me some assistance here. We will have approximately 3 1/2 weeks to travel.

Which trip would you do first and why?
What is the cost difference between the trips?

I realize they are each huge countries and that we cannot see all in one trip, but considering it may be the one and only trip to each...would you do a highlight tour or concentrate on one area - and if so, suggestions?

Thanks for any advise you can give. I will be doing tons of reading and preparation in the coming months, but want to get feelers out on which trip to concentrate on.
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Old Jul 24th, 2010, 11:49 AM
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This seems like an impossible question to answer for someone else.

I'd suggest you buy a guidebook for each country and do some reading. Also read some good trip reports here for some ideas. What catches your interest?

What is your travel style? Do you like to cover a lot of area, stopping briefly at places that interest you or do you prefer to choose places of special interest and spend more time at each place?
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Old Jul 24th, 2010, 03:27 PM
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Kathie - I've started my reading and have been reviewing trip reports here for the last year. I've happily contributed information when I can and have been most appreciative of all the help I've had from Fodorites. I certainly don't expect to be spoon fed, but would appreciate those opinions of travelers who have gone before me.

I've previously provided a rather lengthy description of my traveling style after Dogster nearly chewed off my ear, but here I go again with a brief summary.

My husband and I, age 67 & 54 have enjoyed extensive travel independently using an occasional guide as needed. We stay in moderately priced accommodations, like to see a lot, are not interested in vegging by a pool or staying at resorts as we live in a resort golf community and can stay at home if we want to do that. We enjoy people watching, ancient ruins, architecture, food, etc. We do not have the patience to spend hour upon hour in museums, but if one is especially good, we enjoy it. We are not that interested in shopping, although we'll pick up some souvenirs along the way. We love photography and we love seeing other cultures and exploring new things. We travel by plane, train, car, boat and occasionally by bus. We are very flexible and can easily go with the flow. In the past, we rarely made hotel reservations ahead of time, but on our recent trips to Thailand and Vietnam, we did so much research that we decided in advance where we wanted to be so as to fit the most in that we could.

So...any advice? Any thoughts? I know no one can tell me what I will like, but you can sure tell me what you enjoyed most and why.

Thanks in advance. - June
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Old Jul 24th, 2010, 05:17 PM
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dgunbug, I've read your VN report, so have some idea of how you travel. I'm wondering, though what catches your fancy about either China or India. I tend to make decisions about where to go on that basis.

You might find my trip planning process to be useful. Here's my blog about planning this year's trip:
http://www.travelindependently.com/c...ia-trip/page/2

It starts at the bottom of that page and goes up, then click on "follow me" on the top post and you'll get to the next page of posts (again bottom to top).
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Old Jul 24th, 2010, 06:04 PM
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Kathie - China has been a place I've been interested in seeing ever since I was a student in college, considering a major in in Asia studies. China was closed to tourist at the time, but it was my dream to go there and it still is. I am less familiar with India, but after reading some of the adventures of other travelers and having heard stories from friends and family members, it is another place that I want to visit. My husband has been adamant about never going to India, however, after lots of prompting, today he asked me which I would rather go to next year. And so, the dilemna - which first.

Planning the trip is not of concern. I will do my due diligence in researching and asking lots of questions, but first I must decide which location to go to this coming year.
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Old Jul 24th, 2010, 06:22 PM
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What I thought might be useful from my blog was the process I went through this year in deciding where to go. It also describes how Cheryl and I make the final decision on where to go after some research.

I'd say that if China is a place you've long wanted to go - make it now.
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Old Jul 24th, 2010, 06:39 PM
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I think this sums it up.... "China has been a place I've been interested in seeing ever since I was a student in college, considering a major in in Asia studies. China was closed to tourist at the time, but it was my dream to go there and it still is".......Go to China if that has always been your dream.
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Old Jul 24th, 2010, 08:11 PM
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I have been to both and my choice would be CHINA all the time. I will be in Mumbai again, in transit for one day, in a week or so and if I could have gone somewhere other than India I would have.
China blew me away actually with the friendliness of the people to the efficiency of everything that they do. The hotels are excellant and a good price and of course the food and everything else is fantastic.
I am going to Beijing this November for 2 weeks, last year I flew into Guilin in the south and toured around there then took a train ( 25 hours or so if I remember correctly) from Guilin to Shanghai which is a fantastic city. I stayed in the Howard Johnson Business Hotel in the ex pat area and it was beautiful. Lots of great shopping and lots and lots of DVD shops that are not pirate copies but are a fraction of the cost of normal DVDs elsewhere in the World ( about double the cost of pirate copies) and just about everything that has ever been filmed is available.
Shanghai also has a special centre which has hundreds of material shops and hundreds of dressmakers and designers etc where you can get anything made from any material available i.e. Alpaca, cashmere, silks and everything else. Arm yourself with either a picture of what you would like or a pattern for yourself or your family members. Another wonderful bargain are the silk doonas ( duvets) I bought several together with silk filled pillows - beautiful items and a fraction of the price from home.
We also took the train back to Guilin from Shanghai so I did spend a lot of time seeing the countryside which was lovely and not what I expected at all. I have also been to Shenzhen and Hong Kong and surrounds. Expect to see wide boulevards with lovely trees and flowers growing and everything looking nice. Expect to see more department stores than you thought could exist. Do not expect to see poverty because I think that must be in the remotest parts of the country.
If you do want to have a taste of both countries then fly into Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia having booked a trip to either New Delhi, Mumbai or wherever else they fly into India and then come back and fly into one of the cities in China to start your trip there. Air Asia is a low cost Airline based out of Kuala Lumpur which I use from Australia to Asian countries most of the time because they always have good specials ( sign up for their Red Alerts). In fact my husband and I are flying from KL to Myanmar return for $31.47 in September and also using them to go to Beijing in November. Malaysian Airlines usually have good prices from the USA as well. You will probably realize that my hobby is travelling - cannot help myself :0)
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Old Jul 25th, 2010, 07:49 AM
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I'm going to spend some time re-reading trip reports to see which is more alluring. I almost hate passing up a trip to India while my husband may agree to go - who knows...in the future he could change his mind.

Since we've been to Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam, I wonder if India will be more "foreign" for us than China. I think my husband's thoughts is that China will have a lot of similarities to what we've already seen and I'm wondering if he is correct.

I'venotbeeneverywhere - Unfortunately, due to time constraints, we do not want to flit from one country to another. The lots of shopping part of travel is not really an appeal to us. While we would like to see both modern and old China, it is the old China and the spectacular sites and scenery that are more appealing rather than the large cities and shopping.

Kathie - you are correct...I still need to do more reading. Thank you all for your imput. I will continue to due my research. In the meantime, all opinions regarding which country is your favorite and why are appreciated.
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Old Jul 25th, 2010, 07:57 AM
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Oh, ptooey, I didn't chew your ear. Not even a little nip. Take your husband to India while he's still crazy enough to do it. Make the bookings tomorrow. You won't regret it. India is a great adventure. Go read some of mine:
http://thedogster.wordpress.com/

Click on the book. Read.

On second thoughts, maybe Dogster's adventures might put you OFF!. lol.
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Old Jul 25th, 2010, 08:25 AM
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I do believe that dogster has yet to wag his tail in China. But we'll refrain from hoisting him with his own petard again.
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Old Jul 25th, 2010, 08:32 AM
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India and China will be different from what you've previously experienced. Go where you feel most drawn to.
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Old Jul 25th, 2010, 11:09 AM
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Dogster - I've been reading through your report "The Great Stubble Forward" and have been laughing all morning long. Just love your writing style - and no...it does not put me off! I'll have to read the rest along with other trip reports. Truly - you've not yet been to China? Did you get to Vietnam?
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Old Jul 25th, 2010, 12:20 PM
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As Dogster said, "India is a great adventure". Our visit to India was fascinating and unforgettable and, in many ways, a great adventure.
Yes, China is interesting and also fascinating but it does not compare to India as an adventure and truly different travel experience. Despite many misgivings, my wife and I went there in 2006, guided expertly by VP Singh (legendsandpalaces.com). It was a trip we will never forget.Be advised, however, that you will either love it or, possibly, hate it.
If you do decide to do India, you should certainly consider a private guided tour. The cost will be quite reasonable and, depending upon your choice of hotels, will certainly be less that a comparable trip to China.
By the way, I was 69 and my wife 67 when we went there.
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Old Jul 25th, 2010, 10:25 PM
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Well I'm very happy I made you laugh. The adventures of Mr. Dogster are a pathetic parade of stupidity, as you see. There, but for the grace of God, go you. Pick some juicy stories for your loved husband, with my compliments.

Nope, never been drawn to China and, I must confess, the more I read of Peter N-H's rants in Fodors, the less I want to go. He is the anti-travel agent. However, I was in Vietnam, again, just last week. Right now I'm in Cambodia, but just till tomorrow. I feel Bangkok needs me now.

And, without having tried him, I'd second JerryS's recco of the esteemed Mr VP Singh. He's been consistently excellent with advice in Fodors for ages. Now, I'll just pop in and shave a bit off The Great Stubble Forward.
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Old Jul 25th, 2010, 11:58 PM
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No stress, no rush, dogster, but we will be delighted to hear about your latest river cruise experience.
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Old Jul 26th, 2010, 04:00 AM
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China and India are of course completely different. However, the most important factor to me would be the time of year of the trip. Much as I love India, I would not recommend that a first time visitor go there between April and about end September. In many places it will be beastly hot (over 100 F on average and easily 110 in many places), and then from June or so in many places it will be raining very heavily. While the monsoon has a certain beauty to it, I am not sure it can be appreciate by a first-time visitor. And someplace like Goa in July when there will be 30 inches of rain may not be enjoyable for any visitor.

Conversely, if you plan a Jan or Feb trip, many parts of the PRC will be cold to freezing. Fine for sightseeiing provided you are prepared for it; but some people don't like cold-weather touring. Also work around the Lunar New Year, as you don't want to be travelling in or to the PRC at the beginning or end, and can find shops/restaurants to be closed for a week or so in most parts of the PRC (other than Hong Kong).

If it were my trip, I would go to India. But that is just me. And I have already seen the Great Wall, Forbidden City and other sites in the PRC enough times. If you have not, then perhaps that would be a good choice. I am also not a huge shopper (although India certainly has that as well, and I am not sure China is any better, and less so for things like jewelry and handicrafts.) I think the culture/spirituality/arts of India are more interesting, and I like the food better. I think the people are far, far friendlier (the above comment is the first I have ever seen about the “friendly” Chinese. I live in Hong Kong, which has many great points, but friendly locals are not one of them.)
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Old Jul 26th, 2010, 06:06 AM
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All comments are greatly appreciated. We have learned our lesson well after spending 3 1/2 weeks in Vietnam in May. Never again! So...the weather factor is already in the equation. We will continue to do our reading. Part of me says to go to India while my husband is so inclined. I never thought he would even consider going there. But, I will leave the ultimate decision to him (with a little guidance), as his preference would be to take a road trip around the USA or to go to Italy or Greece. I don't think I could go wrong with either India or Greece. How bad can life be when the greatest thing to anguish about is whether to go to China or India!
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Old Jul 26th, 2010, 06:54 AM
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Taking a break from sightseeing to chime in...

Cicerone - I, too, found Chinese people friendly - several, especially but not exclusively English-speakers, went well out of their way to be helpful. That was outside the main east coast cities, but I didn't need help there!

dgunbug - of course, this is like asking whether you should eat goat vindaloo or chicken kungpao for dinner, but if your husband may change his mind about India why take the risk?

India is sensory overload and in-your-face poverty, an experience you won't forget and may both love and hate. Sometimes it seems that everything China has, India has more of: more color (clothes and temples), more noise, more dirt, more smells (both good and bad), many more genuine historical sights (China having destroyed so much during the Cultural Revolution, and being busy replacing what's left with concrete and glass).

The food is wonderful in both countries, although perhaps more varied in China. Both countries have high mountains, but it's easier to get to them in India. Both countries have extreme poverty, but India's is more obvious, at least in the cities - you don't get beggars bothering you in China. Both countries have extensive train networks, but Chinese topp classes are more comfortable, and the trains are more likely to be on time.

India has the beaches of Goa and the backwaters of Kerala if you go south. And incomparable Varanasi in the north. In either country, getting even a little off the main tourist trail pays dividends. You can travel both countries independently, and even if you use a car and driver, get out and walk the streets - you learn a lot more doing that - but the sidewalks are much better in China.
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Old Jul 27th, 2010, 05:46 AM
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Thursdaysd - thanks for charming in. Anyone else out there?
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