Honeymoon in China -- Wacky!!!

Jul 27th, 2004, 09:56 PM
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Join Date: Jul 2004
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Honeymoon in China -- Wacky!!!

First, thanks to the venerable Peter N-H, Rkkwan, and all the other posters for the information you've shared here. This forum is a tremendous resource.

We'll be in China from October 4-19, 2004.
Here are my questions:

1. Traveling in the 1st 2 weeks of October.
-- Given our itinerary, we have to take 5 domestic flights (Hong Kong-Shanghai, Shanghai-Beijing, Beijing-Xian, Xian-Guilin, Guilin-Hong Kong; trains are out). Peter and others highly recommend that you just purchase tickets once in China (much cheaper), yet seem to hedge about holiday periods, as when we are there. I've checked out the posted fares on the web, and I've gotten estimates from travel agents-- it seems to be a wash (approx. $1660 for the 2 of us), and expensive. However, I dread spending half our honeymoon searching in vain for expected bargains which aren't there because half of the Chinese population is traveling. So, do we make reservations now and pay the "posted" fares for convenience and security, or do we follow the "Peter Principle" and assume that the discounts will be there for the taking without much hassle?

2. Do the same issues apply to the more upscale, Western hotels we intend on staying at? (although we're bargain travelers, it is our honeymoon, you know!)

3. We arrive in Hong Kong on 10/4 at 10 p.m., and hope to catch a flight to Shanghai within a short time after. What is the minimum time we should expect to spend getting through customs, getting our luggage, then checking in with the connecting flight to Shanghai? (we're flying internationally on Eva Air, which I don't think has connecting flights to the mainland).

4. At airports generally in China, should we expect any more delays/problems than one experiences at Western airports?

5. With 2 days in Xian, is the Hua Shan mountain worth a day trip (70 miles away)?

6. With 4 days in Yangshou, are the rice terraces near Longsheng worth the 3-hour bus rides each way?

7. I've heard mixed reviews on the Ming Tombs in Beijing. If we have to blow something off there, is that the choice?

8. In the countryside around Guilin and Yangshou, any problems with snakes or other slithery wildlife (yes, I'm a wuss)?

If anyone's curious, our itinerary is the standard bread and butter:
a. Arrive in Hong Kong on 10/4 at 10 a.m., take connecting flight in Shanghai.
b. Shanghai, 2 1/2 days (10/4-10/6)
c. Beijing, 4 days (10/7-10/10)
d. Xian, 2 days (10/11-10/12)
--2nd day is likely a trip to Hua Shan.
e. Yangshuo, 4 days (10/13-10/16)
--Hopefully, 1-day trip to Longsheng.
f. Hong Kong, 2 1/2 days (10/17-10/19). Depart for US at 3 pm on 10/19.
>>> Other than Guilin to HK, all flights will be early in morning.

NOTE: We would've loved to do Lijiang/Dali/Kunmming, but it just seemed to require too much extra travel time/flights given the nature and length of our trip (and however touristy, I was into seeing the 3 Gorges, but that was dinged for the same reason).

Thanks in advance for the help. Stay well.

Langdon_Alger is offline  
Jul 28th, 2004, 05:02 AM
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I can only answer the air travel questions...

1. $830 per person for 5 flights, including two international ones, HKG-PVD and Guilin-HKG, are not that bad. Those two will cost you ~$400. So, yes, you can probably get the other 3 internal flights for <$430, but I'd say you can save perhaps $200 per person. It's not like you will save half. In my opinion, as this is your honeymoon, and you're travelling during the October holiday, I'd spend that extra and have the peace of mind. Also save the hassle to haggling with local travel agents.

3. I believe you mean you're arriving on EVA at 10:00am, not pm. You will be only transitting, and they should be able to check through your luggage from your US departure point all the way to Shanghai. Just make sure you tell the check-in agent here about your second ticket HKG-PVD. Tonnes of people fly from Taiwan to the mainland through HKG, and I don't believe they have to go through customs and collect bags. So to answer your question, I believe an hour at HKG should be adequate, and 90-minutes will give you some margin and lots of time visiting the shops/restaurants there.
rkkwan is offline  
Jul 28th, 2004, 06:29 AM
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Thanks for the help, rkkwan. And you're right, I did mean 10 a.m., not 10 p.m.
Langdon_Alger is offline  
Jul 29th, 2004, 12:50 AM
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As has been made clear in earlier postings, air ticket discounts are not usually available during the week-long October first week holiday, and indeed prices for some transport now rises especially for that period.

On the latter part of the trip, however, it may well be possible to obtain discounts of up to 50%. The difficulties are during the dates of the national holiday, and domestic travel plummets to very little after that, until Chinese New Year the following Jan/Feb.

Hotels will also be very busy and full during the October holiday.

Chinese domestic flights are quite often delayed, although I've only had one problem in recent times. Most airports are now more modern and more efficient than any I've passed through in the U.S. (and certainly than JFK or LAX, or Heathrow in the UK, come to that). Unlike almost anywhere else in China, lines for documentation checks and for security are fairly orderly. Announcements are usually in English even in smaller places these days.

Of course, things can go wrong.

Yes, don't feel compelled to visit the Ming Tombs. But if you have the chance to visit the Western Qing or Eastern Qing, take that (a whole day in either case, however).

Things that slither in Guangxi Province get eaten. You're more likely to see them on your plate than in the no-quarter-given agricultural environment of China.

Peter N-H
PeterN_H is offline  
Jul 29th, 2004, 05:41 AM
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Sorry that I keep typing PVD in my last post. I lived in Providence, RI for several years, and can't get that code out of my head. Hong Kong-Shanghai flights arrive at Pudong, the correct code being PVG.
rkkwan is offline  
Jul 29th, 2004, 05:56 AM
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Thanks, Peter -- useful info. as always (and we've already purchased one of your books). Nonetheless, while I don't mean to pester, I am curious what your thoughts (or anyone else's) are regardng Longsheng (worth the haul from Yangshuo?) and Hua Shan (relatively close to Xian; Huang Shan by Shanghai seems too far away). Thanks again.
Langdon_Alger is offline  
Jul 29th, 2004, 05:59 AM
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Small world, rkkwan -- I went to college in Providence.
Langdon_Alger is offline  
Jul 30th, 2004, 02:52 AM
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I haven't visited Longsheng, but then I'd do everything I could to avoid Yangshuo in the first place. I had the misfortune to be there (the third time since 1988) for a few days earlier this year and wild water buffalos would drag me there again.

Although I've been up a few Chinese mountains, Hua Shan isn't one of them. Just be aware that most of the important ones are completely dwarfed by the surrounding hype. Expect a pleasant but not particularly memorable experience, marred by intense tourist pressure, souvenir shops spoiling views, etc.

Peter N-H
PeterN_H is offline  
Jul 30th, 2004, 06:33 AM
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4. So far I have been pleasantly surprised at how smoothly things have gone at several airports around the country, and sometimes the flights have left early as they seem to board passengers earlier than we are used to.
5. I would say no to HuaShan, not enough time in 2 days.
6. I loved the countryside around Guilin and Yangshuo and feel that you have time to visit the rice paddies in your 4 days.
8. I never saw any creepy crawlies, and Peter has told you why!
Have a great honeymoon.
Fenno is offline  
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