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First China Visit - Shanghai, Yunnan, Beijing

First China Visit - Shanghai, Yunnan, Beijing

Old Aug 28th, 2007, 12:39 AM
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First China Visit - Shanghai, Yunnan, Beijing

I hope that someone can give me guidance about our plans to visit China (my first - husband's 20th!! all his visits have been on business - our first on holiday) in July 2008. Based on a friend's recommendation I believe we'd like to go to Yunnan as it's unspoilt & we'd like to see a region that is not yet westernized. Do you agree that Yunnan is a good destination for this? We have rec'd a quote from China Odyssey - can anyone comment on the quality of their tours - should we get other quotes?

On this trip our travels will take us from Shanghai to Yunnan (various cities) to Beijing to Urumqi to Xian - in a more or less round about fashion. The part that is from Urumqi to Xian is frozen - part of a bigger tour with a focus on seeing a solar eclipse.

My question is about where to go in China if you want to see authentic Chinese culture, but still see the important things of a first time visitor. Grateful for your responses!
shedridt is offline  
Old Aug 28th, 2007, 12:56 AM
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i have spent 3 years in china first as a student (where i did extensive backpacking), then as an expat for a multinational company (where i traveled mostly for business trips).

if you have time, you can go visit inner mongolia (best time on july). but if u will be going to urumuqi (xinjiang) already, you will be seeing almost similar sites (deserts, grasslands). i have never been to urumuqi, but would love to go. definitely unspoilt natural beauty.

another good place to go is in jiuzhaigou (this is in sichuan). if u will be going to yunan...this would be on the way. very nice scenery (where they shot the crouching tiger hidden dragon film). but its not touristy at all as it is quite difficult to get there. definitely a jewel. mountains and green lakes.

if u are going to yunan, dont forget to stop by xishuangbana as they have authentic minority groups there are the culture would be interesting.

i think that wherever u decide to visit in china, you would definitely feel the culture (except in shanghai, as it is more of a metropolis--but very interesting as well. french architectures and authentic dumplings).

good luck and hope this helps!

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Old Aug 28th, 2007, 07:28 AM
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A few things:

1. The Olympics start on 8/8/08. You may want to consider skipping Beijing for this trip.

2. Jiuzhaigou is very beautiful, but it's packed with Chinese tourists. It's one of the "must visits" for the Chinese who can now afford to travel. With a new airport nearby, it's not hard to get to anymore.

3. "Not yet westernized" = poor. You can find lots of it everywhere in China, outside the major coastal cities in the east.

4. Yunnan is very pretty. Very nice weather, and it has many ethnic minority groups, which makes it extra interesting. But it's also a large province. The capital Kunming is very developed - with large hotels, Wal-Marts and everything. Lijiang - which is a favorite for many Western tourists - is very touristy. I have even heard the phrase "Disney-like" from more than one person. [Which is also true for many of the "watertowns" near Shanghai.]

When you get a big tour company to plan your trips, of course they're going to bring you to see the nicest places in China - and those are often crowded and touristy. But that's as real of a China as the poor, isolated, areas.

But I'll tell you that there are gems everywhere. It's a large country with very long history, so there's something to see anywhere you go. I suggest visiting Shanxi province to the west of Beijing. Lots of historical sites - Yungang Grottos, Wutai Shan, Pingyao, etc... and it's still comparatively unspoiled and the crowds more manageable.
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Old Aug 28th, 2007, 09:58 AM
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I have to echo what rkkwan writes about Jiuzhaigou - I went there 2 yrs ago & it was exceptionally crowded!!! I saw a lot of the backs of peoples backs!
Yunnan is just wonderful!
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Old Aug 28th, 2007, 10:00 AM
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You are right - go to Yunnan - as much as I hate to post it here and make more people go there. As with any destination, you need to go a ways out of town - with a guide or on some short trips to get away from what cynics here call "Disneyland." Skip Xish - it is much less interesting than the North - Dali, Lijiang, Kunming. Just forget that Kunming has a walmart - the city is nice and has some merit & you have to go there 1st anyway - so spend a day or so there. I think Dali is noisy and uninteresting, but many (youths esp) like it. However, the topography betw Dali and Lijiang is a critical area where two continents are colliding & quite beautiful. You might go out to Zhongdian which less touristed & v. interesting. Interestingly, this whole region was originally Tibet (expect massive hatred from Chinese readers on that comment)& altho it is culturally v. distinct & interst'g, it is often more Tibetan than Chinese. I have travelled the world & in my view, Yunnan is the most exotic place I have ever been.
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Old Aug 28th, 2007, 08:54 PM
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Thanks to all of you for your postings! Can I confirm that my friend's recommendation of a year or so ago to GO TO YUNNAN is a good idea - & FURTHER - can you confirm the places we should visit there?

I am so enthused about our trip - & thanks so much for your input - I am perplexed in making these plans more than I've ever been in trip planning & have been doing it for a long time!

Note that plans to go to Beijing & then intersect with Urumqi are more or less set in stone. Where to stay what to do in Beijing - not to worry about Urumqi as we'll only be there overnight?

Again - many thanks!

shedridt is offline  
Old Aug 28th, 2007, 09:38 PM
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merckxxx is correct that northwestern Yunnan was part of Tibet. It was gradually annexed by China to put into its Yunnan Province in the first half of the 20th Century. And of course, after China later annexed the whole Tibet.

But I think for the locals living in rural areas (i.e. not in the town of Zhongdian/Shangri-La), it probably matters little whether they are living in Chinese, Burmese, Tibetian, or English territory. For example, I visited a region in SW Yunnan last fall. The Wa people there don't even have a written language. They just past on their history orally. While some kids living near the towns go to schools and learn some Chinese, they still speak their own language, and most villages still don't have electricity, etc.

Or, in that NW part of Yunnan west of Zhongdian, some natives are not Tibetians, but a group called Dulong. Many villages totally isolated from the world, with the nearest roads miles and miles away. I don't think they care if their village is part of Tibet or China either.

Anyways, my very long winded trip report is here:


Photos here:

rkkwan is offline  
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