Help with three weeks in China

Old Mar 27th, 2012, 09:21 PM
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Help with three weeks in China

Hi all - please comment on our three week trip to China. All dates in Sept 2012.

Nothing at all booked yet, so open to any changes.

We're a couple (him 30, her 29) who tend to take one month-long trip each year. Previous trips were to India, Brazil/Argentina, Middle East, Russia, US, and Thailand/Laos/Cambodia.

This is our first trip to China, and a bit of a last hurrah before we curtail our travel for a few years to (hopefully) start a family.

Like to travel fast-paced, enjoy food, different cultures, amazing scenery, historical sights. Not into museums (unless unmissable) or shopping.

Dollar figures quoted are from initial research today, and are in Australian dollars (1AU$ = 1.05 US$)

Here's our initial plan -

Fri 7 - Leave Sydney at 8pm, arrive next day at 5.50am
Sat 8 - Beijing
Sun 9 - Beijing
Mon 10 - Beijing
Tues 11 - Beijing, overnight train to Pingyao
Wed 12 - Pingyao
Thur 13 - Pingyao, overnight train to Xian
Fri 14 - Xian
Sat 15 - Xian
Sun16 - Xian/Chendu (leave on 2.25pm flight to Chengdu, arrive 3.45pm - $113pp)
Mon 17 - Chengdu
Tues 18 - Chengdu/Lijiang (leave on 10pm flight, arrive 11.15pm - $72pp)
Wed 19 - Lijiang
Thur 20 - Lijiang
Fri 21 - Lijiang - Dali (3 hr bus)
Sat 22 - Dali
Sun 23 - Dali, overnight train to Kunming
Mon 24 - Kunming/Yangshuo (leave 5.10pm flight to Guilin, arrive 6.35pm - $155pp - head strainght to Yangshuo)
Tues 25 - Yangshuo
Wed 26 - Yangshuo
Thur 27 - Yangshuo
Fri 28 - Guilin/Hong Kong (leave 4pm flight, arrive 5.20pm - $170pp)
Sat 29 - Hong Kong
Sun 30 - Hong Kong. Leave flight to Sydney at 7.20pm
Mon 1 - Arrive Sydney 6.35am

Any comments or suggestions to improve gratefully recieved.

We've reluctently cut-out Shanghai, water towns, Yangzte River and Macau - anyone want to persuade me to add them back in at the expense of somewhere else?

Many thanks
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Old Mar 27th, 2012, 10:23 PM
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I limited my only trip to China so far to the north, so of the destinations you list, I've only been to Beijing, Pingyao, and Xi'an. I also travel at a fast pace, and think 4 days is not very much for Beijing. If you can find a way to add a day there, I don't think you would regret it. I think 2 days is good for Pingyao and about 2.5 days is OK for Xi'an (I'm glad I had 4 days there).

> enjoy food

In that case, in addition to Fodor's guide book , be sure to get Frommer's, which does (or at least did - check!) have great information about local specialties.

Although your trip will only overlap with a small part of mine, you might find parts of my trip report of use - just click on my name to find it.

China is fascinating - enjoy!
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Old Mar 28th, 2012, 11:28 PM
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Thanks Kja - I'll look into an extra day in Beijing - just not sure what to cut?

Suggestions anyone?

I read your TR - fantastic - sounds like an amazing trip.
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Old Mar 29th, 2012, 02:35 AM
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Cut it from Yangshuo. Otherwise, itinerary looks fine.
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Old Mar 29th, 2012, 05:57 AM
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I, too, would recommend cutting time from Yangshuo, if not leaving it out altogether. Ditto Hong Kong. Instead, consider heading south from Kunming, into a less touristy area.

See http://wilhelmswords.com/rtw2004/ - Kunming, Circling South for my trip there. You could also consider Xishuangbanna - I haven't been there, but would like to.
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Old Mar 29th, 2012, 07:03 AM
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Looks pretty good to me. I think you could cut a day from Dali. Not as much to see or do as LiJiang. One full day should be enough. Note that there is also a couple of trains (2 hours) between Dali and LiJiang. Make sure you book you trains early. I had a hard time getting what I wanted.
What do you plan to do in Chengdu. It seems to be an expensive short detour. I think that you should eventually pay less for your flights than your current estimates that seems to be at the high end of the range.
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Old Mar 29th, 2012, 07:09 AM
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I found lots to do in Chengdu (including eating well). Besides the city itself, side trips to LeShan and two sacred mountains are possible, in addition to visiting the pandas.
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Old Mar 29th, 2012, 03:26 PM
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Thanks all.

In Chengdu we were thinking a day trip to Leshan, and a day for Panada's / looking around.

The food is also a major draw to Schiuan - although I suppose it'll be entirely different to what we expect!

I'll look into cutting time in Yangshuo, for more in Beijing, and I'll also read up on areas south of Kunming.

Thursday - I've previously followed your advice and (TRs)for trips to Russia and India - you've helped helped me a great deal!
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Old Mar 29th, 2012, 03:28 PM
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JPDeM I'll also look at cutting Dali a bit, and looking at train options.

Re: flights, best to book now? Or whilst on the road?
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Old Mar 29th, 2012, 04:24 PM
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Happy to help, still waiting on your TRs, lol.

I agree that Dali is not so exciting, unless you use it as a basis for one of the local markets.

The advice used to be to wait until a couple of days ahead to book flights in China, but I think recent reports suggest that no longer produces the best results, at least for the most popular routes. But this probably way too early.
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Old Mar 29th, 2012, 05:00 PM
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> I read your TR - fantastic - sounds like an amazing trip

Thanks! It was amazing, and I trust that your trip will be, too. Let us know!
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Old Mar 29th, 2012, 06:36 PM
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Definitely need to book earlier, especially since the OP is flying routes with low frequencies.
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Old Mar 29th, 2012, 06:47 PM
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It is definitely way too early to book now. Flight schedules are only finalized 90 days before departures.
The optimal booking time depends on the route. The popular ones with many flights offer the best discounts at the last minute. On routes with only few flights you cannot be as agressive. Check the fares on ctrip.com for multiple dates such as 2 weeks from now, one month and 2 months to see the range of prices. One airlines that does not show on travel agent websites is the only discount airline, Spring Airlines. You need to book on their website directly. I dn't know what they are like in terms of quality. I will try them next week from HK to Shanghai ($80).
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Old Mar 29th, 2012, 06:48 PM
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Also, you will find Sichuan food all over China.
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