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Feedback wanted on monthlong China itinerary for spring 2020

Feedback wanted on monthlong China itinerary for spring 2020

Jun 26th, 2019, 03:59 AM
  #1  
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Feedback wanted on monthlong China itinerary for spring 2020

Okay, please (gently) comment or make recommendations or suggestions. I’ve got a tentative itinerary for a month’s trip to China for 2020, leaving at the end of March and returning by the end of April. I’m trying to hone in on how much time I’ll have for each location.

I’ve allocated 10 days to the Yunnan province and 4 days to Guilin/Yangshuo.

I plan to fly Cathay Pacific, which allows a stopover in Hong Kong on the ticket. I really am torn in Yunnan between wanting to stay in the larger and more touristy towns (Lijiang, Dali) vs staying in some of the smaller and less touristy towns, such as Shaxi and Xizhou. My inclination is to keep it simple and make visits to the smaller towns as either day trips (Dali to Zixhou) or stop in Shaxi between Dali and Lijiang, as I hope to use a private driver here.

I allocated 4 days to Guilin/Yangshuo in case we want to see the Longsheng rice terraces, but I’m not so sure that the extra travel makes sense as mid-April isn’t considered the best to view the terraces and I’d like to minimize the many long drives. Still, I do like to have the option. For that reason, I’ve also eliminated the Yuanyang rice terraces - far too long a drive for a short stay.

Kunming is our “bookend” for the Yunnan portion of the itinerary because it is the first stop after Hong Kong and endpoint of the first international flight (the outbound portion). And it ends the Yunnan portion because transportation to Guilin from any of the other cities is much higher in cost, so we still end up returning here. I’ve checked flights from Dali, Lijiang, and Shangri-La, and they are far too costly. It will be a combination of flights and trains between provinces and I’m thinking we will have a driver in Yunnan.

I’ve allocated 3 nights to Xi’an as I’ve read that there is much to see there.

In general, I prefer option 1 because it keeps things much simpler.

Option 1
Hong Kong - 4/5
(Yunnan itinerary)
Kunming -1
Dali - 3
Lijiang -3
Shangri-La - 2
Kunming - 1
Guilin/Yangshuo - 4
Xian - 3
Beijing - 6
Shanghai - 4

Option 2
(for Yunnan, the rest of the trip is the same as above)
Kunming - 1
Shangri La - 2
Lijiang - 3
Shaxi - 1
Dali - 2
Kunming - 1

Questions:

1) Should we do Option 1 or 2? If we do Option 1, we will not be in Shaxi on Friday for the market. If we do Option 2, will the quick change in altitude be a problem for us?

2)I know I won’t be able to hike, but are there ways to enjoy Tiger Leaping Gorge and Jade Dragon Snow mountain in short walks or easy hikes (ie, moderately level ground, no more than a mile)?

3) Should we keep the 4 days for Guilin/Yangshuo or add one to Yunnan?

4) is there an alternative to the second stay in Kunming?

5) Should we reduce the stay in Xi’an from 3 days to 2 and add it into Yunnan?

6) should we eliminate the stay in Shangri-La and add it to the smaller towns in Yunnan?













progol is offline  
Jun 26th, 2019, 06:38 AM
  #2  
 
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Well, I have some opinions, but take them with a grain of salt, as it has been fifteen years since I was in China. If I were going back I would not go to Guilin, as it was overrun with tourists when I went over twenty years ago, and from everything I hear has only gotten worse. If you are not going to the rice terraces, why bother? When I was in Lijiang in 2004 it was also very busy, and I hear is more so now. It was so busy that although I had decided not to hike Tiger Leaping Gorge I took a bus up to the far end for some peace and quiet (it really was deserted up there). I would check a guidebook to see what the situation is now, as my accommodation was very bare bones.

Rather than going to Guilin I would look into going south from Kunming - I went to Tonghai, Jianshui and Gejiu and saw one other independent and one small French tour group. Again, see what the guidebooks have to say, Odyssey has a guidebook specifically for Yunnan - Yunnan - ISBN:9622177751 - Odyssey Travel Guides Or think about going north to Szechuan. I would not cut Xi'an short, there's a lot to see there,
thursdaysd is offline  
Jun 26th, 2019, 06:58 AM
  #3  
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Thanks, thursdaysd,
I do appreciate your comments and they are very interesting suggestions. And it is a tossup, but I really do want to see the karsts along the Li River area. That is a stunning environment and one that has drawn me, moreso than the rice fields, in fact. From reviews, it looks like there are several nice guesthouses or hotels just outside of the city with great views and good ambience. But I will take your ideas into consideration.

I recognize that there will be a lot of tourists and Lijiang and Dali will not be lacking in them, but I do see that most people also really enjoy their stays despite the touristy aspects of the locations.

Thanks for your feedback, I do appreciate it.
progol is offline  
Jun 26th, 2019, 07:36 AM
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Understood! However, there is a lot of karst in south China, not just in Guilin. In fact, the Shilin Stone Forest is just outside Kunming - I spent the night but it is an easy day trip. I do agree that the Li River is more romantic. For other areas see: South China Karst - UNESCO World Heritage Centre

Some of my unedited photos from the 2004 trip are here (Dazu is the village at the far end of Tiger Leaping Gorge): https://kwilhelm.smugmug.com/Travel/...e-World-2004-5
thursdaysd is offline  
Jun 26th, 2019, 08:28 AM
  #5  
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Lovely photos, thursdaysd!

The Stone Forest looks interesting but not the same experience as seeing them in the water. And from what I’ve read, the Stone Forest can also be very crowded. Yes, the Guilin/Yangshuo trip may be a very touristy experience, but those karsts....that’s a must see! But I do remember reading that there are also smaller towns along the river there and they also might be worth visiting.
progol is offline  
Jun 26th, 2019, 08:07 PM
  #6  
kja
 
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Originally Posted by progol View Post
Should we reduce the stay in Xi’an from 3 days to 2
I spent 3 full days in Xi'an and didn't see everything I wanted to see there -- and I mean FULL days, up early and on the move until very late.
kja is offline  
Jun 27th, 2019, 02:50 AM
  #7  
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Thanks, kja! It’s because of you that I increased the stay here from 2 nights to 3 nights! So no, I’m not reducing our stay here.
progol is offline  
Jun 27th, 2019, 09:37 AM
  #8  
 
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I found what I thought were very good prices for a flight from Guilin to Kunming ($60 each on China Eastern flight MU5339) and a flight from Shangri la to Shenzhen ($150 each on Shenzhen airlines flight ZH8960) for this September 2019. Found through Google Flights.
jmgorga is offline  
Jun 27th, 2019, 03:37 PM
  #9  
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Thanks, gmorga, that’s good to know and helpful. Did you go directly to the airlines or use a 3rd party website? I ask because I see much cheaper rates on trip.com than elsewhere but I’ve also read many negative reviews of that site.

progol is offline  
Jun 29th, 2019, 12:13 PM
  #10  
 
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Stay in Xizhou over Dali. It was such a fantastic experience. We spend several nights at Sky Valley Heritage Boutique Hotel, a former Landowner’s courtyard home, totally redone. Wifi, TV, etc.
HappyTrvlr is offline  
Jun 29th, 2019, 01:16 PM
  #11  
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Originally Posted by HappyTrvlr View Post
Stay in Xizhou over Dali. It was such a fantastic experience. We spend several nights at Sky Valley Heritage Boutique Hotel, a former Landowner’s courtyard home, totally redone. Wifi, TV, etc.
Thank you so much! I'm so torn - it's early planning days, but it looks like Xizhou would be a great place to be a little more away from tourist crowds. But even Dali looks like it's pleasant, despite the crowds. How many nights did you stay there?
progol is offline  
Jun 29th, 2019, 09:46 PM
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progol, Don't know if you enjoy or avoid big festivals, but the Third Moon Fair officially looks to start on April 7, 2020, if you want to figure that into your plans one way or another.
https://www.yunnanexplorer.com/festivals/sanyuegai/

We also stayed in Xizhou, six nights I think, but traveled into Dali for a couple days to wander the fascinating fair. Magic shows, itinerant dentists, a horse market, a pharmacist with many endangered species parts, many foods, snake charmers, Tibetans, Mongolians. That was a long time ago but I imagine it's still fascinating.
Nelson is offline  
Jun 30th, 2019, 04:01 AM
  #13  
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Nelson, thank you! The fair is something I’ll try to include, though my timing is just a few days off. I’ll see what I can do to rearrange things. That’s really helpful to know you stayed in Xizhou, too. I’m inclined to do the same. It seems to be “discovered” and definitely on the tourist trail, but still somewhat off the beaten track.
progol is offline  
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