Independent travel in China?

Nov 8th, 2000, 11:57 AM
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Independent travel in China?

We are beginning plans for a 2002 trip to Asia. Two of us are extremely experienced travelers and hate organized tours. This summer we originally thought we'd do a tour to Turkey, but when we couldn't find exactly what we wanted, we planned our own and went independently. It was wonderful. Is that possible? We've been to Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, and Japan but not China. How difficult would it be to do on our own?
Nov 9th, 2000, 03:53 AM
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Hi Patrick
Welcome to China!
It's very easy to travel in china by your own are your owm boss,you can book your air tickets in china,book your hotel cheaply,and more and more people speak english.
i'm a taxi driver and tour guide in xi'an---the home town of terra-cotta warriors,i do a very speacial tour to terra-cotta warriors,cave dwelling village and banpo site,pls visit my
I have many friends in many cities in china,we are ready to help you here.
Nov 9th, 2000, 08:33 AM
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I went to China independently a couple of years ago, and it was fine. A bit more problematic than some other palces I've been, but certainly very doable. We went to Beijing, Kunming, Dali, Lijiang.

There was one slight problem regarding the reconfirmation of an internal flight (be sure to do so), but that worked out ok in the end. Sightseeing, etc. within cities was not a problem.

here are you thinking of visiting?

Nov 12th, 2000, 02:05 PM
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Hi Patrick, we have decided to go independent too and over the past week I have 2 websites that are a great help with the planning. They are
The first one is a backpackers site that gives tons of info and the second has hotels listed from 5 star to 2 star in most locations.
Howard - We are planning on going next September. We have 5 weeks and plan on travelling from top to bottom. How much time do you think we should allow for the bottom part ie. Kumning Lijang and Dali. Any tips would be a great help - Gayle
Nov 13th, 2000, 01:10 PM
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Gayle -

Assuming you are not focusing on Yunnan province, and have a number of other places in mind to visit, I would think a reasonable time to visit the area would be a full day in Kunming, a day for a day trip around Kunming (esp. if you are interested in visitng the Stone Forest, maybe three days in and around Lijiang, and two days in and around Dali. That would come to about a week in the area. I thought the highlight was Lijiang and around. Kunming is a big city rapidly losing its character, but you ahve to travel tehre to get to the other places, so you might as well stop there for a bit.


Nov 13th, 2000, 07:33 PM
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Hi Patrick,
As others have said - you should have no problem travelling throughout China on your own. People are very friendly and sign language is universal.

That said, though, sometimes it's helpful to find a local guide who can take you to places that you wouldn't otherwise go to and, if you are lucky, give you insightful background information on the specific site or region. If you've done your pre-trip research (and read lots of other travellers' accounts), you'll probably have a number of sites you wish to visit within each region... sometimes someone like Clarence is a real "find".

For Gayle: Howard's suggested number of days in Yunnan is probably just right, unless you are thinking of hiking through Tiger Leaping Gorge - you might want to add more time for that.

You both might find the China pages of our site of interest ... especially "Travellers' Notes".

China's a fascinating country - have a great time!

Judy in Hong Kong
Accommodating Asia...let travellers' experiences be your guide.

Nov 18th, 2000, 08:04 AM
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My wife and I returned this week from four weeks of travel in China (Biejing, Xian, Lhasa, Chengdu, Kunming, Dali, Liijang, and Shanghai. We have travelled independently to Europe, Nepal and Vietnam, but were concerned about communication in China, so we booked an independent tour with CITS (government travel agency) for the first half, and travelled independently for the second half. It turned out that we could have managed the entire trip independently on our own, as 'tourist infra-structure' is now well developed in China. On the other hand, the CITS touring included, for a reasonable price, a private guide, driver and van for the two of us (much more independence than a tour group); transport from and assistance at airports; full, advanced arrangement of travel to Tibet; and decent hotels and meals. Perhaps the most valuable aspect was that we saw quite a bit each day, and if we were on our own we might have wasted time with arrangements and problems. If anyone would like to discuss the CITS touring or the independent touring, please e-mail.
Nov 18th, 2000, 08:19 AM
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My e-mail was incorrect in the last e-mail. It is [email protected].

Also, we met an interesting guide in Liijang, who specializes in leading treks in the area between the Yunnan province, the Sichuan province, and Tibet.
Nov 19th, 2000, 08:40 PM
stephen blumm
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I just got back from China and I agree with most everything that has been said.

What you should be aware of is that once you get away from the tourist personnel, you will find very few people who understand English. This can be very daunting if you run into a problem and need help in English.

I have travelled in different parts of south Asia and central Asia on my own and I would say that I met fewer English speakers in China than in any other area.

But as the responses indicated, it is easy to get hooked up with tours and people who deal with tourists once you are in China.

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