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Gardenersue Nov 22nd, 2008 10:09 AM

First time to China- 10 days 3/13-22
Meeting daughter (who's studying & loving living in China) in Beijing and plan to spend 3-4 days there, then to Xian, then to Yunaan (where she wants to see Dali, Lijiang and one more town I can't remember, and fly back to EWR from Hong Kong 3/22. Is all this reasonable? Any suggestions? Plan to do this trip independently so we can test her language skills!

rkkwan Nov 22nd, 2008 10:30 AM

Everything is possible. But I am not sure you can go up the Jade Dragon Mountain this early in the year. And if you are thinking about going to Zhongdian/Shangri-La, that can get cold, and roads may not be passable. Average high/low in March for Zhongdian/Shangri-La is 10.5C/-5.5C, with an average of 2C.

Gardenersue Nov 23rd, 2008 07:18 PM

Any other suggestions if you think it's too cold?
We prefer not to be in cities. We need to fly out of Hong Kong 3/22 so don't have more than about 3 days in Yunaan. Is there one town to stay in and just take day trips from there considering how little time we have?

rkkwan Nov 23rd, 2008 09:01 PM

Lijiang and Dali are fine. It's an issue only if you're also planning to go to Zhongdian/Shangri-La.

Syl Nov 24th, 2008 07:33 AM

We were in Yunnan last month & found the nights cold in Lijiang.If you stay in a guesthouse,don't expect central heating.Enquire if they have electric blankets,mattresses & space heaters. The Impression Show Lijiang is a must.The most scenic part of our Yunnan trip was the Tiger Leaping Gorge ride from past the famous Tiger Leaping rock to Sean's Guesthouse, where the ride could be dangerous in rainy conditions.Unfortunately, Shangrila may be too cold & snowy at that time, because the drive is also picturesque & the Monastery is beautiful.If you do go to Shangrila,stay at the Songtsam,brand new,fantastic rooms with fireplace & serene setting.

Gardenersue Nov 28th, 2008 07:58 AM

Thanks for the info Syl. Am still trying to figure all this out and this is a very preliminary itinerary, but what do you think? We arrive in Beijing Friday 3/13 and spend 3 days. (Any hotel rec.'s that are reasonably priced, good location? No amenities needed other than safe and clean). Then take an overnight sleeper to Xian (evening of Sun. 3/15 arriving early 3/16, spend all day and evening in Xian and then next am (3/17) fly to Lijiang for 3/17-3/19. Then take 3 hour (?) ride afternoon of 3/19 to Dali and spend evening and next day there. Then take sleeper train from Dali to Kunming evening of 3/20 and arrive early am in Kunming where we fly from to HK on Sat for our flight back to US early afternoon on Sunday 3/22.
Any hotel rec's for Xian and Lijiang (I saw you mentioned Sean's Guesthouse on top of Tiger Leaping Gorge so does it make sense to stay there both nights in Lijiang or just one after our hike up the mountain?)

Syl Nov 28th, 2008 12:51 PM

When you arrive in Beijing, you'll be tired, which really gives you only 2 days there.I would recommend a 3rd full day in Beijing i.e. 3 nights.Must see Forbidden City,Temple of Heaven,Lama Temple, Summer Palace,Mutianyu Great Wall section (less busy), Olympic sights,markets,798 Art District & get a flavor of some hutongs that are qickly disappearing. A day & a night are enough in Xian to see the warriors, short walk on the wall & Muslim Mkt area(bought a NorthFace winter jacket there for $20 after bargaining big time). It's a polluted city but,because of the warriors,should be seen.Because of limited time, I suggest you then fly to Lijiang, spend 2 full days there staying in the Old Town,cable up the Mtn, see the fabulous Impression Show Lijiang (catch some of it on YouTube),then bus (or get a driver/taxi)early in the a.m. for the 2 hr drive to Tiger Leaping Gorge to start the 2 day hike (only if you're both in great condition because it's tough & check weather conditions re rain).Sleep on the top at either the Halfway house or Teahorse Inn &, after the hike, taxi or bus back to Lijiang(to sleep the night where you've left your luggage).Then bus down to Dali, etc.If you're not hiking TLG,read my suggestion re taking a cab or hiring a driver from Lijiang through Qiatou for the gorgeous ride to Sean's, stop for lunch there, walk around the scenic area a bit & return to Lijiang that night. As for hotels, don't know your price range, but we stayed at the Park Plaza Wangfujing in Beijing & got the AAA or Senior rate of $120 + tax(no breakfast incl but Starbuck's across way).In Xian, the Royal Garden which is approx $70 incl breakfast & is inside the city wall & in Lijiang, the Minimal Lounge Boutique Hotel, $30 a night pp with breakfast. Check out Trip Advisor for hotel reviews by travellers.Minimize your travel-to-destination time because it impedes on your actual touring time.Consider having your daughter book internal flights through a Chinese travel agent as she's in China & can get a huge discount by booking last minute.Check out Ctrip,Elong or 9588 on the internet to give you an idea of deep discounted fares.

rkkwan Nov 28th, 2008 01:43 PM

If you're spending that little time in Hong Kong, why even go there? I assume you're flying Continental? Why not just fly non-stop from Kunming back to Beijing and leave from there? The Kunming-Hong Kong ticket will cost you a bit more than internal Chinese flights.

Gardenersue Nov 29th, 2008 04:33 PM

Thanks so much Syl. Is this what you recommend?
Beijing 3/13-3/16 eve:Forbidden City,Temple of Heaven,Lama Temple, Summer Palace,Mutianyu Great Wall section, Olympic sights,markets,798 Art District & some hutongs. Overnight train to Xian
Xian 3/17 am-3/18 am TCW, short walk on the wall & Muslim Mkt (time for Shaanxi Prov. museum?) Fly to Lijiang early 3/18
Lianjing: 3/18 Stay in the Old Town, cable up Jade Dragon Mtn, see Impression Show,
3/19 Early am take bus, driver or taxi (is one quickest?) for 2 hr drive to Tiger Leaping Gorge to hike if weather is good. Sleep on the top at either the Halfway house or Teahorse Inn. If rain don't hike TLG but bus to Dali from Lijiang through Qiatou for the ride to Sean's, stop for lunch there, walk around the scenic area & return to Lijiang that night.
3/20 If we've done the hike are you saying to taxi or bus back to Lijiang this day to sleep the night where we've left our luggage? Suggestions for this day or do you think we should hike back down the mtn?
Does this leave enough time to get to HK that evening if we fly out of Lijiang morning of 3/21? Our flight leaves HK about 1 pm on 3/22 so we'd like to arrive in HK the night before.

To rkkwan, I was very surprised but when I priced a RT from Newark/Beijing/Newark it was actually significantly more than to fly out of HK and since there are 5 in my family, that price difference adds up!

Syl Nov 30th, 2008 09:10 AM

Susan,I'm exhausted just reading your plan,so please slow down & Google the sights in each city & check out to get an overall guide, walking tours, etc. per city.Please also go to the air travel sights that I suggested.Check out how much time is needed at each venue & how much time flying, waiting in airports, travel from airport to cities, etc. you need. I researched for many months prior to our trip to understand the logistics.Beijing can be done in 3 full days if you budget your time accordingly.Read the map & visit by areas.We had a private guide & driver in each city take us where we planned. That way, we wasted no time.It may pay, if you're 5 people. In Xian, you can see the warriors, museum & wall in a day, as long as your train arrives early & you have a driver. Save the Muslim Quarter for at night, but you'll be so tired from running around all day after a night on the train.Whew! As for air to Lijiang, see what time you arrive.Does the flight go directly to Lijiang from Xianyang Airport or do you have to connect in Kunming?Until you get to your hotel & check in, 1/2 day can go by. Need 1/2 day to see the old city including Mu Mansion & Black Dragon Pond.Next day do JDSM & the show & the day after that,if it's raining, don't go north to TLG but go south by bus to Dali.If you look at a map, Qiatou is the gateway to TLG, north of Lijiang, not south near Dali. Please check out, look at Sean's map & you'll understand more what I'm describing & buy the excellent Bradt Guide to Yunnan.

Gardenersue Nov 30th, 2008 11:24 AM

Thanks so much Syl. Now that I have a basic plan I'll look into the logistics to see if this will work out, and what needs to be eliminated. My daughter wants us to do all this on our own but I agree that a driver and guide will allow us to do much more in the limited time we have.

Shanghainese Dec 1st, 2008 08:27 AM

Susan -- Syl is right, try to leave enough time for unexpected delays when traveling, and have a plan B ready when plans hit a bump in the road.

I am sure when your DD says to do all this on your own, she doesn't mean to eliminate hired drivers (perhaps she can serve as the guide in Beijing and some other cities) throughout the trip, it'll smooth out the logistics.

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