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China/Vietnam or Japan for next big trip in Asia?

China/Vietnam or Japan for next big trip in Asia?

Mar 22nd, 2019, 01:58 PM
  #1  
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China/Vietnam or Japan for next big trip in Asia?

Iím thinking about a month-long trip for late winter/earlySpring 2020 and considering either 1) Japan or 2) China /Vietnam combined. We are now early 70s and mid 60s, and we both are slowing down in how much we do in a day.

My husband has an interest in China, primarily Beijing, for the major sights and the Great Wall. Itís not my first choice for a next trip, but Iím open to traveling there, especially since he is learning ChInese, and I know it would be fun for him to practice. I would also likely include Xiían and Hong Kong. In Vietnam, Iím most interested in Hanoi, Bai Tu Long bay, Ninh Binh and the central region, Hoi An and Hue.

I dont have an itinerary for Japan, but Iím sure I wouldnít have any difficulty figuring out filling a 4-week trip!

Weve been to Thailand, Cambodia (Siem Reap), Laos (Luang Prabang), as well as India and Sri Lanka. Not looking for additional suggestions - just wondering what you would prefer for a next trip? All of these places are on our ďmaybeĒ list.
progol is offline  
Mar 22nd, 2019, 02:42 PM
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We've been to VN and Hong Kong. Loved VN and with the exception of Ninh Binh we went to all the places you mention. We were there in Feb and it was very foggy in Bai Tu Long bay, but I still enjoyed our 2D 1N nights there. We have a TR from our 3 weeks there it's part of our long trip to SEASia. We did HK 4 or 5-day stopover going to Australia and didn't love it. Maybe because we ended up being there during the Chinese NY and it was impossible to literally walk anywhere. I don't think I've ever been anywhere as crowded. We took the ferry to Macau for the day and I thought that fun and interesting. It also wasn't as crowded as HK was. I'm in the midst of planning our month in Japan in the fall --- challenging, but can't wait to visit!
yestravel is offline  
Mar 22nd, 2019, 02:53 PM
  #3  
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Thanks, yestravel,
i know your earlier trip report very well, having studied it carefully when we went to SEAsia 5 years ago. Now I’ll just have to wait to hear about your trip to Japan. But thanks for the warning about the Chinese New Year in HK - I’ll definitely make sure to avoid it if we go. Still, Japan seems plenty tempting, too...



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Mar 22nd, 2019, 06:41 PM
  #4  
kja
 
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Hi, progol --

As you consider your options for Japan, consult japan-guide.com -- perhaps the single best (if imperfect) resource on Japan anywhere!

I haven't been to Viet Nam yet, but loved my time in China (northern only, so far). Beijing has an incredible wealth of fascinating sites; a week is a reasonable estimate IMO for a first-time visit. Xi'an also has a lot to offer -- I was glad to have 3 full days there.

Travel in China is much easier now than went I went, but you might find some useful information (and a few good stories) in this old trip report:
Thanks for helping make my trip to China amazing!

I take it that Indonesia is not among your top choices for your next trip? Maybe I missed it, but I know you had been hoping to visit there at one time.

Hope these comments help!
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Mar 22nd, 2019, 06:47 PM
  #5  
 
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Tet holiday (Chinese New Year) is on Jan 25th 2020.
If you give 2 weeks to Vietnam, you have enough time to visit all places you mentioned above (Do not add any place else - Less is more).
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Mar 22nd, 2019, 07:26 PM
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Originally Posted by yestravel View Post
. . . we ended up being there during the Chinese NY and it was impossible to literally walk anywhere. I don't think I've ever been anywhere as crowded.
I'm fascinated by this as a friend and I also inadvertently spent several days on our first trip to HK over Chinese New Year and found many areas deserted, none crowded. I wouldn't say it's the best time, unless one is a fan of fireworks, but not to be avoided. There must be a reasonable explanation why our experiences were so different but I don't know what it is. We stayed at the Salisbury YMCA in harbor view rooms so had the official fireworks display literally right outside the window over the water. We'd seen the barges from which the display is launched being set up over a couple of days as build-up and it was pretty great with the famous HK Island skyline as backdrop.

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Mar 22nd, 2019, 07:41 PM
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That is interesting. We were there in 2017 and also stayed at the Salisbury in a harbor view room. I love fireworks so that part was good for me. We had crowds walking from the hotel to the ferries and then awful crowds when we crossed on the ferries. Major attractions were jammed. We did take a bus across the island and that wasn’t crowded. Restaurants were packed and we had trouble getting tables. Not that there weren’t plenty of places to go to,but it became annoying.
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Mar 22nd, 2019, 11:51 PM
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Hi Progol,

I haven’t been to China and have no intentions of visiting so can’t comment there.

I have visited Vietnam many times over the last 30 years so clearly, I love the country. I have only been to Japan once, about 10 years ago and again, loved the country. Both countries have a huge amount to offer, however, they could not be more different.

Japan is ordered, clean, polite and almost clinically efficient, words that could not be applied to Vietnam! Vietnam is an assault on the senses in almost every way imaginable.

Both countries have great food, and an abundance of amazing sights. Two week to cover the sights you mention in Vietnam , would be possible, if a little rushed. Travel in Vietnam always takes longer than one might expect. In Japan the train system especially is incredibly efficient. I agree that you won’t have an issue filling 4 weeks in Japan. In fact the big problem will be in deciding what to leave out!

There is a lot of stuff on our blog about Vietnam but less about Japan as I never got around to transferring it for our old blog. What there is can be found @ https://accidentalnomads.com

On balance, I think my vote would be for Japan for a month. How would your husband feel about switching to learning Japanese?
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Mar 23rd, 2019, 03:42 AM
  #9  
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Thank you all for your thoughts! It’s always fun to read other people’s ideas and what would be a good trip. This is still very much in the planning/thinking about stage, but I lean toward China & Vietnam first, simply because I assume that Japan will be easier when we are older (except now that we’re starting to be “older”, that argument is becoming weaker!).

kja - Indonesia is still on my wish list! But not as much a priority for my husband as for me, so it’s moving down on the list a bit.! I’m also finding that those very long flights are taking their toll out on us. And with our Next Big Trip planned for Italy, it may be a while, but I still hope to get there. And I have read your TR to China, and will look at it again,

MmePerdu - good to know that you didn’t find New Years in HK that bad, but I suspect that if we do go, I’ll try to avoid the holiday and rhe possibility of huge crowds.

crellston - since it’s yiur Vietnam travels that first inspired me to think of Vietnam, I’ll have to look at your blog again to read about Japan. Having been to India twice, I think I can handle the chaos of Vietnam!

This decision can still go either way, and, I suspect, neither will be bad!
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Mar 23rd, 2019, 08:05 AM
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I would not want to visit northern Vietnam or northern China in the middle of winter. I have been in Hanoi in December and I left earlier than planned because of the weather.

Aside from the weather, all are are great destinations, although I would recommend spending time in China beyond Beijing and Xi'an, and not trying to combine it with Vietnam as it it is a huge country. Not difficult to spend more than two weeks in Vietnam, either.
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Mar 23rd, 2019, 11:09 AM
  #11  
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Thanks, thursdaysd,
I appreciate your comments. I do think of an entire trip in China, too, though it’s not my first choice. I’m interested in Vietnam but my husband has less interest in going there, and combining the 2 countries may satisfy both of our priorities. I’ll play around with the options, though, and will see what unfolds.
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Mar 23rd, 2019, 11:30 AM
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What is it about China that you find unattractive? There is lot of variety.
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Mar 23rd, 2019, 12:02 PM
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I don’t think of it as unattractive, it’s just not a priority. But the fact that there is heavy pollution in the cities and a lot of development is offputting. There are also other countries that call to me more. It’s a place I feel I should see more than want to see. It’s changed a lot over the last decade and it seems to be increasingly westernized, but not necessarily in a good way.

I’m also having a little difficulty with extensive walking so getting around a large city like Beijing and being able to manage the major sights is also making me a little concerned. While I do enjoy cities, the images I’ve seen of Chinese cities look overwhelming.

And there are so many places I’d like to visit but may not have the opportunity to see all the places I’d like to see. That being said, if someone said that I had to go to China for my next trip, I wouldn’t say no!

And, to some extent, the political paranoia, but I think there are many places in the world right now that have questionable policies and that alone wouldn’t stop me, but add a level of cautiousness to my travels.



Last edited by progol; Mar 23rd, 2019 at 12:29 PM.
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Mar 23rd, 2019, 12:13 PM
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Well, I would not go to Xinjiang or maybe Tibet, but that still leaves a lot of country. You might consider the area around Kunming and/or Chengdu.

I have a book called "Travels in Sacred China" by Martin Palmer that might give you some ideas. I visited the island of Putuoshan near Shanghai because of reading it and was glad I had. But it's been too long since I was there, I doubt I would recognize Beijing these days.
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Mar 23rd, 2019, 12:33 PM
  #15  
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Thanks for the suggestions, thursdaysd. Right now I’m in a very preliminary place with thinking about a trip, so I’ll consider your suggestions.
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Mar 23rd, 2019, 02:20 PM
  #16  
kja
 
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Originally Posted by progol View Post
Iím also having a little difficulty with extensive walking so getting around a large city like Beijing and being able to manage the major sights is also making me a little concerned. While I do enjoy cities, the images Iíve seen of Chinese cities look overwhelming.
FWIW (and it may be nothing!), Beijing has an excellent and very easy-to-use metro system that serves the main sights extremely well. That said, some of the main sights -- such as the Forbidden City and the Temple of Heaven -- are very large spaces, and so if you go, you might want to plan on extra time so that you can go slowly and stop once in a while.
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Mar 23rd, 2019, 05:33 PM
  #17  
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Thanks, kja, those are some of the sights that I’m thinking might present a problem. But you’re exactly right - I do walk as much as possible, but stop as needed. It works well in cities where it’s an excuse for an espresso, but I don’t think that approach will work at the Forbidden City!
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Mar 23rd, 2019, 05:58 PM
  #18  
kja
 
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I think a cafe that had been within the Forbidden City closed, but there are some places where you can sit -- or at least there were when I was there.
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Mar 23rd, 2019, 06:03 PM
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Have you considered what I call shooting stick and seems to also be called a walking seat?

https://www.distinctlybritish.com/sh...s-c102x2201032
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Mar 24th, 2019, 02:52 AM
  #20  
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Thanks, kja and thursdaysd.. I’m not at a point where I want to carry a walking stick - I can always find somewhere to sit, as it’s usually just a few minutes. Good to know, though, that there are places to sit within the Forbidden City site.

I appreciate your suggestions!
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