Four weeks in China

Old May 6th, 1999, 05:57 PM
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Four weeks in China

I'm going to visit China this winter. Any tips for a budget travel? Suggestions for place to see? (busy cities like Shanghai are excluded, 'cause I guess they are all alike.)
Old May 20th, 1999, 11:40 PM
Steve Daw
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China is huge and there is plenty to do. I have been several times, and spent a year living there as a student and still have plenty left to see. Really it all depends on what sort of thing interests you.

I have a couple of intineraries that may suit you. I have tried to divide these up by area, as it is probably best not to try and skirt all over the country becuase it is huge! The idea would be either to stick to one area, or to combine selected things from differnt intinaries.

1. The South West.
Hong Kong - Yangshuo (near Guilin) - Dali (Yunnan province) - Lijiang (also in Yunnan) - Zhongdian (Yunnan)- Xishuangbanna or another southern Yunnanese tropical area.
This offers lush tropical scenery, paddy fields, small villages and the culture of Chinese ethnic minorities. Winter would be nice and comfortable at this time.

2. The North/ North West
Beijing - Xian - Xiahe (Gansu province) - Dunhuang (Gansu) - Turpan
Here you'd be following the old silk route and get a great appreciation of the diversity of China. Beijing and Xian are great to check out the imperial majesty of ancient China. After this things get very different. Xiahe is a Tibetan monestary town and the whole of Gansu province is sprinkled with large numbers of muslims. Turpan is an oasis of grape vines in the middle of the dessert. Problem is you're covering some big distances here. Also it would be very cold in Winter - eg. minus 20 celcius in Beijing.

3. Central
Shanghai - Hangzhou - Suzhou - Shaoxing - Nanjing - Putuoshan island
Shanghai is big and amazing - if you want to see the Chinese economic miracle in action, this is the place. Hangzhou is smaller and scenic. Shaoxing is a gem - little visited, small with loads of amazing canals that are facsinating to wander along. Nanjing is of great historical interest and a pleasant place.

Well that's about it. Overall my advice would be not to try and do too much. The main problem is that it can be difficult to buy sleeper tickets for the train so you have to allow time for this. Really, you have to buy tickets at least 2 days before departure, so keep this in mind.

Other thing to realise is that language will be your biggest problem, especially off the beaten track. The major cities, and places in the South West (as this is now a popular backpackers route) will be the easiest to survive in with English.

You are also right to try and stay of the big cities. However, it is worth checking out one big one, just so you get a taste for them.
Old May 21st, 1999, 09:43 AM
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If you are going to China, Beijing is a must - the Great Wall is near, the Summer Palace, Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, Temple of Heaven. I think Shanghai is worth a visit myself, but I would only give it 2-3 days. You will see the most bustling place in China, and it has a different feel from Beijing - less official and more of a Western/Chinese climate. It is Chinese enough that you won't think you are in New York or London. Suchow is a nice place to visit near Shanghai - it has many beautiful gardens and pagodas, and its many canals have had it compared to Venice. Definitely Hong Kong. The areas around Guilin are beautiful. If you really want to go somewhere different, maybe try some of the locations around Mongolia or Tibet.
Old May 27th, 1999, 08:56 AM
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Just got back from a China tour. Huangshan (the sacred yellow mountain) is fabulous. Clouds roll in and out and changes the scenery. One has to be patient though waiting for nature to reveal its beauty. I don't know how accessible it will be in winter. There is budget accomodation up in the mountains or you can try staying below the mountain and just make a day trip.
China Vista has a web page. Email me if you're interested in more info.
Old Jun 9th, 1999, 01:05 AM
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Train travel is your best bet if you have the time. Definitely Beijing to Urmqi, but make sure you get the fist class sleeper cabin. You can buy tickets at any major hotel travel agent. Or you can go to the train station and risk getting ripped-off. One city you must go--Xian. Check out the Muslim Alley. Look for a local restaurant that sells "soupy dumpling". It is the best in China!!
Old Jun 10th, 1999, 07:06 AM
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I am from Beijing, China. I have traveled A LOT since my first year in college 12 years ago, but still left so many places I have never been. For the first time visitor, I definitely recommend Beijing for at least 4 full days to see the Great Wall, Forbidden City, Temple of Heaven, and the Summer Palace. But, bear in mind that winter is not the best time to visit Beijing, but autumn is. Winter can be cold, sky is almost always gray due to pollution of burning coal for heating. The bright side is, though, there is no crowd. My (now) husband and I went to the Summer Palace again last winter, I was so quite and beautiful as if it is your own vacation home! As for big city, I agree with previous posts, Shanghai is worth a visit-it's big, but it's so different from any other big cities, such as NYC, Paris, Milan, even Tokyo and Hong Kong. Xian is another MUST-TO-SEE place for the first-time visitor. For scenery, I have to vote Huangshan-it's amazingly beautiful, and Guilin. Oh, you made me homesick!

As for the budget, almost all hotels cut their rate by at least 50% and everything is a bagging in the winter because it is off-season. Have a wonderful trip!
Old Jun 12th, 1999, 11:51 AM
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Sorry for some typos in my previous post. "I was so quite..." should be "it was so quite.", and "bagging" should be "Bargain".


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