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Getting around China independently

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My husband and I are planning our first trip to China. I was thinking we could fly into Beijing (do a couple of organized day trips), then take the train to Shanghai (Where we would do some day trips that included water/ancient towns).

I am concerned about how easy it is to take the train from Beijing to Shanghai (or vice versa) My biggest concern is finding our way around the train stations. Are there signs in English? Are there English speaking information areas or English speaking ticket agents? Does anyone know of a private guide who could possibly take us to the train station on one end and help us figure it out or pick us up on the other?

Also, does anyone recommend a good stop between Beijing and Shanghai?

Thank you, Inor

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