Hong Kong or Shanghai?

Old Jun 10th, 2007, 07:32 PM
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Hong Kong or Shanghai?

I'm working on my 3 week China itinerary for July and am trying to decide if Hong Kong and/or Shanghai should be included in my plans.

I'm starting my trip with 7 days in Beijing (work-related) and was also thinking of doing 2 days in Xian and 3 days in Guilin/Yangshuo. I'm flying out of Beijing so will need to keep that in mind as well for planning the rest of my trip.

Is it worth it to go to go to Hong Kong and/or Shanghai as I've already been to Beijing? Or would I be better served skipping the large cities and going to smaller towns like experience Lijiang? Recommendations are welcomed!

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Old Jun 10th, 2007, 07:48 PM
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They are very different from Beijing and very different from each other. Lijiang is in a very beautiful area and would be smaller and less hectic than either of course. A hard choice between the 3.

Hong Kong has a lot of parkland and excellent walking (will be very hot in July so bear that in mind but still doable on shorter walks and early monring starts) so you can get away into the countryside, this is much harder to do in Shanghai. Air pollution in both is an issue. Both have easy air access from Beijing so would not really make a difference there. Why do you ahve to go back to Beijing anyway, can't you get an open jaw flight into Beijing and out of either Hong Kong or Shanghai, this would save backtracking and money (even for your employer maybe).
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Old Jun 11th, 2007, 09:40 PM
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Unfortunately we've already booked our airfare so we do have to get back to Beijing. You mentioned that Hong Kong has more parks than Shanghai. I'm also assuming that it's more westernized. Any other key differences?
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Old Jun 12th, 2007, 01:26 AM
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Hong Kong is not more westernized, that's a persistent myth based on a quite superficial, IMO, glance at both. I would venture to say that there are more practicing Buddhists here than in Shanghai, for a start; which actually makes Hong Kong more "traditionally" Chinese (if there is such a thing). There are hundreds of active temples, and several Buddhist monasteries, most of which did not survive the Cultural Revolution in the PRC but have thrived, thank you very much, in Hong Kong. Temples are thin are the ground in Shanghai. (I frankly don’t know what people mean when they say a place is “westernized” anyway; I take my shoes off in my house, eat with chopsticks and cook in a wok, but that does not by any stretch of the imagination make me Chinese. Conversely a Chinese who eats at McDonalds does not, IMO, loose any aspect of his Chinese nature by doing so. In any event, there are far more Starbucks in Shanghai than there are in many US cities, so don’t expect conical straw hats or anything....) Shanghai has slightly more than twice the population (excluding suburbs of Shanghai), it has about 12 million people (I am not sure they really know the number), Hong Kong has about 6 million. Hong Kong has a magnificent harbour surrounded by lovely green hills and thus quite a dramatic city- versus-mountain skyline. Shanghai has some great views along the river, some good views from the tops of buildings, and some really interesting architecture but not the same thrilling geography, IMO. There really is nothing like it anywhere else. Because of the harbour and outlying islands, you can take ferry rides or hire boats and do trips to small islands, beaches and remote villages in Hong Kong, which is not possible in Shanghai, although you can certainly go to an ancient capital like Shuzhou or a water village like Xitang for a day trip (2-3 hours or so each way by train or car). However, if you want outdoor activities like walks, bird watching, sailing, kayaking, etc, you have to come to Hong Kong.

I would say Hong Kong is quite a bit easier to get around in as a tourist. It is much more compact and you can walk, ferry, bus, taxi (very cheap) or take the subway to everything. Shanghai has a very good subway system but in a city that large is not as easy to get from place to place. Traffic can be quite heavy. The walking neighborhoods are more spread out. They do have some colonial pockets left with some interesting architecture left, however, which are worth a walk. English is better and more widely spoken in Hong Kong and is on all signage, but overall I don’t think you would find this a big issue in Shanghai. Both have a good and growing selection of restaurants of many cuisines (many in Shanghai are in fact outlets of ones started in Hong Kong or Singapore). Shopping in both is good, for local handicrafts and artifacts, and local artists, although I would be more wary of buying silk and cashmere in Shanghai and the PRC generally (too many chances of fakes) and personally would never buy jewelry in the PRC.

Both are going to be pretty hot and humid in July. Hong Kong will probably have a good bit more rain. Take a look at weatherbase.com

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Old Jun 12th, 2007, 05:27 AM
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English is more widely used in Hong Kong. People line up for things and give you more personal space. Most toilets are not hole-in-the-ground, even outside new/upscale places. There are more churches and Christians in general. I guess that's why some poeple say Hong Kong is more "westernized".

Also, don't know what visa you're on. But if you're flying back through Beijing, you need at least two-entry visa for China, as you re-enter China after Hong Kong.
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Old Jun 12th, 2007, 03:14 PM
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Great point about the type of visa. I had forgotten that Hong Kong would be considered a 2nd entry! Thanks.
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Old Jun 13th, 2007, 06:21 AM
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Having been to Shanghai once and Hong Kong 6 times - I say Hong Kong!
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