Is 4-5* hotel necessary in China?

Mar 6th, 2006, 12:54 AM
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 17
it certainly isn't necessary to stay in a five star hotel, esp in big cities where there are tons of hotels to choose from. for best value, i prefer the hotel rooms offered at i have tried other online travel agents but for the same price, elong offers better quality hotels. for example, in beijing, u can try out h.q. ritz. the price is around us$100 i think, and it's a five star hotel. of course, there are many many other hotels that are much cheaper than that.

if you're adventurous, almost any budget could be enough to go around in china. plane tickets are cheap too. and u might also want to get soft sleeper in trains, but this is for the really adventurous types. it's like the train system is not designed to accomodate non-chinese speakers. i tried it out though, and it is nice to travel like a local and see what it's like.
nancy_in_beijing is offline  
Mar 6th, 2006, 07:41 AM
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I loved the Chinese trains, soft sleeper is very comfortable, and hard sleeper not that bad. I really appreciated having boiling water delivered in thermos flasks! But nancy_in_beijing (lucky nancy!) is right about the language. I never tried to buy my own ticket, I had my hotel or a local travel agent do it. And I traveled with a guide book with the town names in Mandarin as well as western script, which let me "read" the departure boards. The restaurant car menus were also in Mandarin, although there was usually someone around who had a little English and would help - and I got to where I could recognize the characters for chicken, pork, etc. BTW, I found the English-speaking Chinese I encountered while traveling some of the most helpful people anywhere.
thursdaysd is offline  
Mar 6th, 2006, 11:13 AM
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Thanks everyone for sharing your experiences. It is tremendously helpful. I've found trying to plan a trip to China to be more overwhelming than any other trip I've planned before.

I wouldn't mind taking overnight trains (in fact I probably prefer it to flying), but some of the routes I'd travel are 16 hours. Seems a bit long to be on a train. Thoughts? If you get a sleeper, is there a place to sit and stretch?

Also, people have mentioned that flights are about the same price as a soft sleeper. Where do you find these prices? From what I can find online, flights are around $150, while soft sleepers are around $60. Are the flights much cheaper than that if I book while in China?

Thanks again. I really appreciate your responses.
seuaustin is offline  
Mar 6th, 2006, 11:28 AM
Join Date: Feb 2004
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seuaustin -

For softsleepers, during the day, the upper berths are hatched against the walls, and you sit on the lower beds. It's quite comfortable for 4 people, especially if you know each other.

For hardsleepers, the berths are fixed, and you still sit on the lower beds. But you'll have very little headroom, and you have 6 people instead of 4.

16 hours traveling in softsleepers is absolutely fine.

As for airfare, yes, it's a lot cheaper when you buy them in China. Expect to pay about 40% of the full fare. So, the cost is indeed similar to softsleeper, or even a little less. But you save on the hotel if you take the train.
rkkwan is offline  
Mar 6th, 2006, 12:29 PM
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We paid about US$95 including tax to fly Beijing-Dalian (1-hr flight) and US$135 for Dalian-Shanghai (about 2 hrs from memory). Those flights were booked in advance by our Australian travel agent, and as rkkwan says, I'm sure we could have done better "on the ground", but it was the National Day holiday week and we weren't prepared to risk it. I'm told you can try bargaining with a Chinese TA but I'm not sure how you'd go if booking through your hotel.
Neil_Oz is offline  
Mar 6th, 2006, 03:35 PM
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Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 27
thank you rkkwan and Neil! that was very helpful.

although my DH and I like the certainty of planning, i think we will try a flexible trip. other than our first destination, i think we will book our hotels and transportation as we go. we'll try to find travel agents along the way to help us out.

there's so much to see in China that i'm sure we can figure out alternate plans should our intended plans not work out.

now comes the bigger task of figuring out where to go!
seuaustin is offline  
Mar 6th, 2006, 04:26 PM
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Good luck seuaustin! Worst case, any Chinese town of any size will have a branch of CITS you can use for tickets. Any good guide book will tell you where to find it (if you're thinking of buying one that doesn't, pick another book!).
thursdaysd is offline  
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