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in january on a budget: southern china, thailand or taiwan?

in january on a budget: southern china, thailand or taiwan?

Old Jul 4th, 2001, 08:32 AM
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in january on a budget: southern china, thailand or taiwan?

Help please? We have 12-14 days to travel in early January. We love food, architecture, music, markets and just wandering around. Big cities OK for a while but prefer smaller ones. (We don't like cold weather, so beijing is out!)
Have never been to asia proper but traveled quite a bit, including europe, morocco, south pacific and all over latin america and caribbean. Here goes:
1. We first considered landing in Shanghai, with a couple days there then doing countryside, including Guilin (sp?) and chongqing, possibly to three gorges. Then realized we're not sure the smaller boats ply the yangtze at this time of year? Don't want to do a big western cruise ship.
2. Next, we found a terrific airfare to Taipei; but from initial research, not sure we would be happy spending entire two weeks on Taiwan at that time of year? To get to mainland china, do you have to go through HongKong?
3. Third option is Thailand, which I've not researched much yet; we love the food and think the culture and architecture sounds fascinating but for some reason I have reservations about bangkok. any thoughts?

Sorry for long post but appreciate any advice! Thanks so much!
Old Jul 4th, 2001, 10:31 AM
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I haven't been to Taiwan, but I agree with you that I don't think I'd want to spend that much time there. I've been to mainland China, and I don' t think it's some place I'd like to visit on a budget. Thailand, though - is great for traveling on a budget. I initially had concerns about Bangkok, too, but I really enjoyed it. You don't have to stay in Bangkok the entire time. Stay there a few days then head north to Chiang Mai or south to a beach. January will be high season on the beach, so the prices won't be at their lowest, but there are still a lot of budget options available. Look at www.asiatravel.com to give you some ideas of places to visit in Thailand. We first visited 5 years ago and fell in love with it. We are returning in two weeks. Next year, we are taking a sabbatical and plan to spend at least a year there. I just can't say enough good things about it. There is a lot of good information on this board about it. Lonely Planet Thorn Tree probably has more budget info than you will find here, but you also have to sort through a lot of backpacker info. Have a great trip wherever you decide to go.
Old Jul 4th, 2001, 09:24 PM
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January is a good time for travel deals to most of Asia. Some comments regarding your ideas:
1. China is OK at this time of the the year. The Yangtze River is shallower ... I understand that Victoria Cruise has a ship that will be sailing in January; the Regal ships are too big.
3. This is a good time for Thailand, and pricing is pretty good. Bangkok has pluses and minuses like all big cities ... just need to focus and take advantage of the positives (e.g. good sightseeing, great hotels).
Old Jul 4th, 2001, 11:18 PM
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why don't you go to indonesia? either bali (ubud area) or yogyakarta (on java) would fit your bill perfectly. the arts -- music, dance, painting, sculpture, architecture (living and ancient), batik, mask making -- and the vibrant, complex and fascinating culture would make your first visit to asia mesmerizing. very, very cheap too!
avoid taiwan and southern china. both are dreary and pretty much cultureless.
thailand has a lot to offer, but i'd give indonesia the edge (slight).
Old Jul 5th, 2001, 06:15 AM
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Thanks for the suggestions. Indonesia does sound great, and I've never been, but my boyfriend spent a month there a few years ago so we'd rather go someplace neither of us has been. I can't seem to find any unqualified raves for Taiwan, and Thailand is starting to look better and better; guess I'll do some more research and come back with more questions! Thanks!
Old Sep 2nd, 2001, 11:33 AM
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I spent four weeks in Mainland China (Beijing, Xian, Shanghai), Hong Kong and Taiwan in June 2001. Eight nights were in Taipei, and I took two 1/2-day and one full day trips out of the capital city. Taiwan is about twice as expensive as Mainland China. I enjoyed my time there, but if this is your first trip, I would not take time in a 12-14 day itinerary to include it.

You MUST go through Hong Kong or another neutral place (IE: Japan) to go from mainland China to Taipei. Flights are expensive due to this detour; about $500 one way from mainland China to Taipei via Hong Kong (but you can get a long day layover in HK).

Shanghai was my favorite city of my trip!!!

I, too, am looking at Thailand. Try Pacific Delights Tours on Thailand. I had good luck travelling with them for 11 days in mainland china.

Happy Travels,
Old Sep 2nd, 2001, 05:10 PM
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January is cold in most areas in China, except perhaps Yunnan and Guangdong. Here is my suggesion:

Fly to Bangkok from the USA, spend a few days visiting northern part of the country, including Chiang Mai; back to Bangkok and go to Sim Reap of Cambodia to see Angkor Wat before it gets even more crowded. January is the best time for visiting these places. After returning from Cambodia, fly to Kunming of Yunnan Province(3 hours flight from Bangkok), and visit nearby Dali and Lijiang, both are very interesting places. Back to Bangkok, and return to the USA.
Old Sep 2nd, 2001, 07:50 PM
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I agree with several others that Thailand or Indonesia are the best options for a first trip of 12-14 days. In my experience, two weeks is enough time to stay in two places and really get the feel of the places. Every time you change locations you'll use up about a day going to and from airports and flying. It's not what I want to do on my vacation. So Thailand, visiting a northern city like Chaing Mai plus either Bangkok or one of the beach areas in souther Thailand would be a reasonable plan.

Since you've nixed Indonesia, I'd suggest also considering Malaysia. You might spend some time in Kuala Lampur and some time in a coastal town like Kuantan or Penang or Malacca. It's a lovely country and a different cultural experience from either Thailand or Indonesia.

I love Asia, it's my favorite part of the world. Like you, I've been to a number of counties in Europe, Northern Africa, the Middle East, the South Pacific, but Asia keeps calling me back.
Old Sep 2nd, 2001, 11:12 PM
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Hello, My trip to Mainland China was unforgettable. We were there in May this year and that may not be much help to you as you are going in winter. From mainland China we went to HK and then to Bangkok. What a wonderful experiennce.. I would love to go back to that part of the world and see more. We just don't know how lucky we are here in the good ole USA. Bangkok has a wonderful market to roam around in at night. Lots of things to do there. I was leery. People told me not to wear a back pack out in public. They will cut it right off your back. HK was so crowded, an island with almost 7 million people. They were shoulder to shoulder crossing the street. Whatever you choose I know you will enjoy. Beijing in Jan. I don't think so. But seeing the pandas and climbing the great wall were unforgetable.We did the cruise down the Yangtze and through the gorges. Most spectacular scenery ever. Whatever you decide.............ENJOY...........life is just to short not to.
Old Sep 3rd, 2001, 06:12 AM
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what a fun surprise to see my old post here... Actually, after all the indecision, we finally made one a couple weeks ago: Now we're going to Vietnam, in January. It seems to have all the things we were looking for
(great food, culture, varied landscape and inexpensive). We're flying into and out of Ho Chi Minh//Saigon and probably staying south. We are doing this independently, without a tour company or even a travel agent, so I'm sure I"ll have many more questions as it gets closer...thanks everyone!

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