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China - seeking help on itinerary - add Guilin & reduce Shanghai by 2 days?

China - seeking help on itinerary - add Guilin & reduce Shanghai by 2 days?

Mar 23rd, 2010, 05:15 PM
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China - seeking help on itinerary - add Guilin & reduce Shanghai by 2 days?

We are going to be In China next month - 4 1/2 days in Beijing, 2 days in Xian and 3 1/2 days in Shanghai - first time on the Mainland. I am wondering if Shanghai is worth that many days; earlier, I was thinking in terms of side trips from Shanghai to Hangzhou or Souzhou. Now I am wondering if we shouldn't be going to Guilin for say 2 days and then flying to Shanghai. What are some must-see or must-do things in Guilin? What do you all think about this adjustment?

Many thanks in advance
huntley is offline  
Mar 23rd, 2010, 06:26 PM
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I don't think you can do much in 2 days in Guilin but if you don't mind rushing then I like to suggest that you allocate 1 day for the Li River cruise and perhaps another day to see the Longsheng rice terraces. I would prearrange everything since you will not have the time to do it once you're there.

For the Li River cruise you have the option of going on the big government run boat that cruise from Guilin to Yangshuo and the cruise will take around 4 hours returning to Guilin by coach. Or you can arrange for a car/van to take you to Xingping and board a raft and cruise the most scenic part of the river.

For Longsheng you can buy a coach ticket and pay some entrance fee once there but when I went I just hired a van and had them drop as off at the airport for our return journey.

IMO both Beijing and Shanghai are big cities and if you can divert to Guilin, Lijiang or Hangzhou then it will be more fun. Shanghai to me is more for business travel.
Hanuman is offline  
Mar 23rd, 2010, 06:34 PM
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Any chance you might consider dropping Shanghai (because you'll already be doing big city Beijing), and Guilin (because its China's worst tourist trap) in favour of something genuine, rural or at least smaller-scale, and not targeting tourists?

If you have to end up in Shanghai, why not consider Shaoxing and around? It's on a different scale, has no foreign tour groups, and a little-visited but pretty 'water town' in the countryside near by. Hangzhou (overrated, still thriving on a saying about comparison to heaven popularised in the 18th century--it has changed more than a little since then) is a short bus or train ride away, and Shanghai a little beyond.

Peter N-H
PeterN_H is offline  
Mar 23rd, 2010, 06:54 PM
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I thought the Li River cruise was one of the scenic highlights of my 3 week trip to China. It might be a tourist trap, but the karst formations make for really beautiful scenery.
shelleyk is offline  
Mar 23rd, 2010, 07:22 PM
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IMO the reason the tourist are going to these places is because it's worth going to!
Hanuman is offline  
Mar 23rd, 2010, 07:26 PM
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Sometimes I think "tourist traps" become tourist traps because they have the most to offer tourists. Some would say skip the Eiffel Tower in Paris and the Colosseum in Rome as they are too touristy. Others would say visit the rural countryside of Italy instead of the three most popular touristy cities -- Venice, Florence, and Rome -- the countryside is the TRUE ITALY. But having spent months in Italy almost everywhere, for my first trip there if I had it to do over again, I'd still choose Venice, Florence, and Italy over all the rest and I'd never feel I'd seen Paris without the Eiffel Tower or Rome without the Colosseum.

Is it possible some of those "rural" unknown towns in China are still unknown because they have less to offer or are just not as scenic, beautiful, and interesting as the more famous ones?
NeoPatrick is online now  
Mar 23rd, 2010, 08:16 PM
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huntley: For an earlier discussion on Yangshuo, and on an assortment of other rural possibilities that are not pizza-peddling tourist resorts see this thread:


For something on the history of Yangshuo's development, and further suggestions of alternatives, with web links, see this thread:


Many of Guilin's problems (and it has more tourist scams than any other destination in China) arise from the fact that even during the worst political upheavals it continued to receive tour groups. It has a very long history of problems.

It receives truly vast quantities of tour groups and backpackers, which of course proves its attractiveness, much as the popularity and staggeringly vast sales of McDonald's products prove their tastiness and nutrition.

I've been three times (see link above for an account), and while part of the point of coming to China for you may be to wade through vast numbers of tour groups to be hassled by greedy guides while you eat something not entirely dissimilar to spaghetti carbonara, if you're actually interested in China rather than a sort of self-Disneyfication, and in meeting people not involved in tourism and not actually out for every fen you possess, you may want to look elsewhere.

Advice from those who've been there (for and against--some people certainly do like Yangshuo even as tawdry as it is now) may be of more use than that of those who haven't--a bit like hearing a description of air from a fish.

Peter N-H
PeterN_H is offline  
Mar 24th, 2010, 05:16 AM
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NeoPatrick is online now  
Mar 24th, 2010, 09:03 AM
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There is a serious drought in SW China right now, and the water level on the Li is at record low. I doubt there's any cruise running at this time. Maybe it will improve by next month, but you probably should skip Guilin this time.
rkkwan is offline  
Mar 24th, 2010, 09:11 AM
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stick to the tourist trap areas, they're safer. there's more to see and do. I'd spent more time in Beijing, it was cleaner and easier to breath. In Xian and Shanghai the temps vary and you should have a mask...poor air quality, especially in Xian
merritt09 is offline  
Mar 24th, 2010, 09:17 AM
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Neo Patrick-I think your observation concerning places that have become tourist traps is very valid. The reason that an undiscovered, fabuluous place becomes over run with tourists is because it has something special to offer tourists, despite the crowds making the experience less than ideal. Peter- you have some very good advice to give regarding visiting China, but why do many of your comments seem to put down the opinion of others, especially if they do not agree with you?
shelleyk is offline  
Mar 24th, 2010, 09:50 AM
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> stick to the tourist trap areas, they're safer

China, despite a rising crime rate, remains one of the safer places in which to travel in Asia. You may, for instance, walk in any part of any city at any time of night and your fear will be of falling down an uncovered manhole on an ill-lit street, not of being assaulted or robbed.

And, of course, the few who target foreigners (and then for scams more than anything else, occasionally for direct thievery, and so rarely for assault that when it happens it make headlines), concentrate where the foreigners concentrate, not in places that few foreigners visit. The heavily touristed areas are those with more of the relatively few problems there are.

In less-visited destinations foreign visitors are even more of a curiosity than they are in popular tourist destinations, but will generally find themselves more welcomed, more likely to be invited into private homes or shown other courtesies, and never overcharged just because they are foreign. China is a vast country, the fourth or fifth largest in the world, and the destinations visited by organised tours amount to a very tiny proportion indeed of what the country has to offer.

Could we ask on what personal experience of independent travel in non 'tourist trap' areas this entirely incorrect observation about safety is based?

> I'd spent more time in Beijing, it was cleaner and easier to breath. In Xian and Shanghai the temps vary and you should have a mask...poor air quality, especially in Xian

But on average the air quality in Beijing is far worse than that of Shanghai, which has a seaside location to help it. The air in general in China is absolutely vile, and accurate figures for Beijing can be obtained from http://twitter.com/beijingair--hourly readings from a machine atop the US embassy in Beijing, and which count the most damaging particulates the Chinese figures carefully ignore (while also carefully averaging out their city figures with those from across the neighbouring countryside, and generally lying about them anyway).

During the month I just spent in Beijing we had several days of readings of 500 for AQI, which is the upper limit of the scale, and you could scarcely see a block down the street in the middle of the day. The WHO safe limit is 50. And this is an exponential scale. Those with asthma or other sensitivities should come with all prescription and over-the-counter medications they might need. Many healthy people experience sore eyes and runny noses, at least for a few days. Spring and autumn, with their winds (although these can bring sandstorms in the spring) tend to be the best seasons, when blue skies will actually be seen.

Needless to say, and while in no way arguing for the avoidance of cities altogether (nor at any point has this been argued), the problem is generally far less severe...

...in smaller towns and the countryside (including, of course, around Yangshuo).

Peter N-H
PeterN_H is offline  
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