Is 4-5* hotel necessary in China?

Mar 3rd, 2006, 03:21 PM
  #21  
 
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If you're on a budget you could spend less time in the big east coast cities and more time further inland. You could also book a couple of nights at a western chain and then move somewhere cheaper after you've had a chance to look at the rooms (provided you're not traveling over New Year's or National Day). $7000 for two (is it two?) sounds like a gracious plenty to me, but then I was happy in a $15/night room in Sam's Guesthouse in Chengdu...
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Mar 3rd, 2006, 05:43 PM
  #22  
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thanks, and just to clarify, $7000 budget for two includes airfare from Texas (which is at $1100 right now, but hoping it will drop down).
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Mar 3rd, 2006, 06:23 PM
  #23  
 
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seuaustin: just in casee i missed it - what cities are you going to?
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Mar 3rd, 2006, 06:48 PM
  #24  
 
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seuaustin - OK, that airfare still leaves you $4800 for 14 nights. Even if you did pay $150/night for a double, you'd still have $96/day each for everything else. Unless you're planning on lots of expensive souvenirs, or lots of Western alcohol, that still looks like plenty to me. Are you taking a lot of internal flights? I much prefer trains - even in soft sleeper it's not that expensive, and you meet a lot of locals, but with 14 days planes would make sense.

Don't get me wrong, I'm certainly in favor of comfort, and even some splurges - my six $15 nights in Chengdu followed one $100 night at the Sofitel - but given a choice between more travel or more luxury, I'll take more travel.
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Mar 3rd, 2006, 06:49 PM
  #25  
Amy
 
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My favorite hotel in China was $12.50 a night...and that was with a/c and private w.c.

That said, in Beijing I stayed at the Marco Polo for about $90 a night and found it to be just fine and a good location; I believe I booked through Expedia or another of the online discounters, although the other places that I stayed in I booked while I was in China.

Have a great trip; China is awesome.
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Mar 3rd, 2006, 09:23 PM
  #26  
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bhuty - i haven't decided on an itinerary yet. right now i'm exploring a trip that would include beijing, xi'an, yangshuo, shanghai/suzhou/hangzhou.

it looks a little tight for 2 weeks, so we might drop a destination or extend our trip a couple days, budget permitting.

but like i said, i'm still in early planning stage, tossing ideas around.

thursdaysd - i'm thinking about $50-80 a night for hotels. and i would take a train to xi'an. but no train to guilin, then then to shanghai is 24 hours via train. so we would have to fly. right now those flights look to be $150. i was figuring about $100/day for food and $100/day for sightseeing should be plenty. but i just have no idea how much those expenses run in china.

i'm trying to overestimate b/c extra expenses always creep up during vacations.

thank you all for your responses.
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Mar 3rd, 2006, 09:45 PM
  #27  
 
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RMB100 a day for food is still a lot, even if you do incl. fast food. Even if you go to the food courts in the shopping centres for chinese meals you'll still be paying less than RMB25pp for a big big meal. Lots of chinese takeaway style will be less than US$2pp.
Of course, if you insist on western meals then you pay the price.

-great wall and terracotta warriors (both incl. drivers, and entry fees to this and surrounding sites) will cost you about $100 all inclusive.
-Imagine a maximum of $10 a day for taxi's to take you to see everything else (and thats a lot)
-entry fees for most other sites average of $10 each (incl some type of tour guide service)

suzhou/hangzhou i'd say (Neil help me out here) that you can save a fair bit on accomodation at these cities and don't pay more than $50 at Xi'an for two people.

hope that gives you some budgeting helps. Its a rough guide but its not tight
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Mar 3rd, 2006, 09:53 PM
  #28  
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thanks, bhuty, that's exactly what i've been looking for. i just needed some figures to start with b/c i'm been grasping in the dark here.

i feel much better about our budget. i guess it's the whole "book [hotels/flights/trains] as you go" thing that has me extra worried about expenses.
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Mar 3rd, 2006, 10:04 PM
  #29  
 
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I think you'll be OK on the budget, although aside from Yangshuo those are all pricier cities. I'd recommend a driver for Suzhou (day trip from Shanghai?) because you're tight on time, but it's possible to do the terracotta warriors by local bus and guide yourself. Also, have you looked at flying home from Hong Kong - going south to Guilin after Shanghai? Otherwise I think you have more of a time than a money problem.
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Mar 4th, 2006, 01:36 AM
  #30  
 
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I strongly suggest that you skip Yangshuo. Unless you're going to China to eat banana pancakes, watch VCDs of crappy American blockbusters, drink crappy, cheap bear, and trade stories with pathetic, smelly hippies about 44 hour sleeper bus trips through Gansu province, you should definitely plan on giving Yangshuo a pass. Yanshuo is China's version of America Town. Just stay in Guilin and take a trip down the river instead.
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Mar 4th, 2006, 09:04 AM
  #31  
 
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BTW Amy - what/where was the great $12.50/night hotel? Can't know too many of those!
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Mar 4th, 2006, 12:24 PM
  #32  
Amy
 
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Sim's Cozy Guesthouse (www.gogosc.com) in Chengdu (home of a quite nice panda preserve and "gateway" city to Lhasa) was a lovely little oasis. It doesn't have quite the poshness of the Marco Polo, but it does have clean rooms with sturdy wooden furniture, a nice little garden/eating area, and Sim himself, who is serenity incarnate.

I think I may be getting a bit homesick!

I will say that my other hotels were generally not remarkable, but I had a two-floor place in Xi'an in a "4 star" for about $35 a night. It does seem that you can save significantly by not booking in advance in many places.
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Mar 4th, 2006, 12:26 PM
  #33  
Amy
 
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Oy, I wish this board had an edit functiion! Sim's was the $12.50 one, of course, and another note: there's a Sam's Guesthouse in Chengdu, too, rather better known it seems to the Chengdu cabbies.
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Mar 4th, 2006, 02:07 PM
  #34  
 
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Thanks amy - that's cheaper than Sam's (which is where I stayed in Chengdu) and looks nicer, too - although Sam's has an atmospheric courtyard with trees & streams and a great tea place. Second you on the pandas - also Leshan and Qingchen Shan, the weather was too bad for Emei Shan.
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Mar 4th, 2006, 05:24 PM
  #35  
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Amy - I read your fabulous trip report. Looks like you found hotels along the way, rather than book them in advance.

How did you find/decide on a hotel? Did you negotiate the price with them? If so, generally how much?

A lot of people recommend not booking hotels in advance. But few people have shared experiences of actually following that advice! So curious on your experience. Thanks.
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Mar 4th, 2006, 07:03 PM
  #36  
Amy
 
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I did book Beijing in advance, as I wanted to have some "security" and not have to stumble about after the long flight. I think I booked through Expedia or Priceline, one of those.

I'm not too good at negotiating, unless it's in one of those situations where you're sitting drinking little cups of tea and discussing your comparative levels of poverty and appreciation of handwork in order to end up buying something you really don't need, so I didn't try much except maybe, "Is there a better price available?" As it turned out, I was taken to the hotel in Xi'an by a "guide" at the train station (which I know is a no-no, but hey, it was 104 degrees and my resistance was down.) It was called Shan Xi Nan Fang Hotel, and was fine for $35 or so a night. It had a staircase in it up to the bedroom sleeping part, which was unique, and laundry there was only 84RMB for a bit ol' pile to get done. (Always a key factor when it's 104, eh?)

I had emailed Sim's for my first night's room a few days before I got there, and then I arranged my other nights there in accordance with my scheduled trip to Tibet. I booked that (hotel and bus of Han tourists included) right at Sim's; the hotel in Lhasa was the La Wei. (Perfectly fine, eminently forgettable.) I'm not sure of the Shigatse one, but I was glad I was only there for a night!

For Hong Kong I had contacted Booth Lodge by email from Chengdu but there had been some miscommunication and they didn't have me in until the next night; however, they had a (very large, $60 a night) room available anyway.

All in all, there seems to be plenty of accommodation, at least in the "off" time of summer. I wasn't really as adventurous as some, but I had researched a quite a bit on the net and continued to use it while there (lonelyplanet thorntree was quite helpful, as was the oriental list.)

Hope this rather long and meandering post helps; I'm feeling a bit wimpy now because I actually have all the hotels/guesthouses for my next trip (Poland/Lithuania) booked...but then, that's a different story.
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Mar 4th, 2006, 08:27 PM
  #37  
 
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seuaustin - other techniques - have your current hotel recommend and book the next, or just show up in town with a good guidebook (I used Lonely Planet for China). I wouldn't recommend showing up without a reservation just anywhere, works better for smaller, less touristed towns, or big ones out of season. I made sure I had reservations for hotels and trains over the National Day holiday, but after that things seemed pretty open.

Amy - please give my love to Vilnius. Are you going to Zakopane?
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Mar 5th, 2006, 05:14 AM
  #38  
Amy
 
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Hi, thursdaysd! I'll give a hello to Vilnius for you...although, alas, I'll only be there for two days.

I'll only be in Krakow for four days, so I wasn't sure about including Zakopane...I keep getting conflicting reports on it as a daytrip out of Krakow--not worth the time, really touristy, etc. (Not to hijack the thread or anything here, but what are your thoughts?)
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Mar 5th, 2006, 06:43 AM
  #39  
 
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Hi Amy! (Excuse us a minute, seuaustin). I would (did) stay in lovely Krakow if it's your first time. This time Poland is transit Ukraine-Slovakia, but I couldn't resist seeing Krakow again. For more email me through www.wilhelmswords.com or click my screen name.
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Mar 5th, 2006, 05:43 PM
  #40  
 
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if you arrive at night I;d book the first night then maybe negotiate the rest of the nights. I have negotiated up to about half price before but not always that good.
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