Need itinerary advice

Feb 14th, 2005, 04:29 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 18
Need itinerary advice

Hello fellow fodorites and experts on China (Peter and Ciccerone)

Have done a lot of reading on the site and while it is all very helpful, I fear I have read so much that I am now just confused. We have scheduled a trip to China during our daughters spring break in April. It is very quick (April 3 - 10) and so we feel as though we have to hit the "Big sites". However, if I can work in a side trip to some of the interesting places like Chengde, Guilin or Suzhou, I will.

Schedule is as follows so far with internal travel by air:

Sunday Arrive Beijing 6:30 am
Monday Beijing
Tuesday Depart Beijing (afternoon)Arrive Xian
Wednesday Xian
Thursday Depart Xian (morning) Arrive Shanghai
Friday Shanghai
Saturday Shanghai
Sunday Depart Shanghai Arrive Los Angeles

Are we spending too much time in Shanghai? Should we add a day to Beijing?

Daughters are 13 and 15 and very well traveled. We know we'll have to move quickly as our time is very short.

Should we take the sleeper from Beijing to Xian? How much of a time saver is that really? Like I said, I have read a lot of the China posts and it is very informative and at times extremely entertaining.

Perhaps some of you who have traveled with two or more children can recommend hotels that will sleep four to a room. I know it is not common, but if you know of any, pass on the names. I would be grateful.

Hope this isn't too much to ask. I just want to firm up the cities and then I feel like I can tweak the trip on the day in and day out.

Thanks in advance for your help.

marychris is offline  
Feb 14th, 2005, 05:25 PM
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 23,074
You absolutely need more time in Beijing. Cut a day from Shanghai.

The overnight train from Beijing to Xi'an may not save you too much time, but it will save you a night of hotel room, and I think your daughters (and you) will enjoy it. Soft sleeper is 4 people to a room, so you have privacy.

I don't think you'll have time to do any of the sidetrips.
rkkwan is offline  
Feb 14th, 2005, 05:29 PM
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Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 18
Thanks for the advice. Will add a day in Beijing. Is Chengde worth the trip do you think???
marychris is offline  
Feb 14th, 2005, 05:35 PM
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Chengde is a magnificant place, especially if you're interested in Tibetian Buddhism. However, you really don't have time to go to Chengde, in my opinion. You need at least 2 days to cover the main sites in the city, and then a good part of the day for the Great Wall. Chengde is 4 hours by train, and you need more than a day trip to visit the palace and a couple of the monasteries.

Also, you'll feel pretty tired on the 2nd and 3rd day after you arrive, due to jetlag. You really can't cramp too much stuff, or you won't have the energy to enjoy it.

Save Chengde for next time.
rkkwan is offline  
Feb 14th, 2005, 07:47 PM
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 37
Hi Mary & Chris.

Applying my experienced arithmetic to your trip, I could conclude -

1. Add a day in Beijing, subtract one in Shanghai.
2. Divide all cities equally by flts only. On short duration trips, long distance train journeys could only multiply your logistics. So better to equalise it with zero.
3. Chengdu is not a common factor in your itinerary & should be left to deal with separately on another ocassion. Suggest to sum it with Lhasa- Tibet on a different sheet.

rickshawdriver is offline  
Feb 15th, 2005, 02:13 AM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 7,689
With only 7 days on the ground in any country, I would be hesitant to try to hit three places, even in Europe where distances are not nearly as great. Jet lag will take more out of your kids than you, in my experience, and you should schedule time to rest. By the time to get to the hotel and collect yourselves on your first day, I think you will in reality have only one and a half days in Beijing, not enough to see even the big four, and you will have to decide whether to cut out Tiananmen Square, Forbidden City, Summer Palace or the Great Wall, and will have no time for the interesting side tours and shopping available. The Great Wall is in itself at least a half a day (and this if you go to the closes and most crowded portion) which leaves you one day for the rest.

If you have read my posts, you know that I am not a Shanghai fan. I would actually say drop Shanghai altogether and split time between Beijing and Xian. For kids that age, I think they will enjoy the “wow” factor of Beijing more, and you can do things like a rickshaw tour of the Hutoungs, lake boat trip at the Summer Palace, picnic on the Great Wall, acrobatic shows, etc that kids would enjoy more. Xian is such a great city with a lot to see and do beyond the terra cotta warriors (which are of course very interesting). Shanghai has some colonial architecture left (not much) but I don’t think the Bund or the whole colonial history thing will mean that much to teenagers.

I far far prefer Guilin to Shanghai, but with only 7 days I am not sure I would try to fit it in. Also it is generally very rainy in April in Guilin, which does take away from the river experience.

If you want to see an interesting modern city then go to Hong Kong, where 2 days is a bit short but you will certainly see more of interest in those 2 days than 2 days in Shanghai.

Run a search here for trips with families, as there have been posts on whether you can get 4 in a room; generally I think it is quite hard, as hotel rooms don’t have the two double beds you may be used to in US hotels. You might try international chain hotels who may have larger rooms or some double double rooms available. Generally 3 in a room is the most I have seen.

Early April in all those places will be cool to cold, except Hong Kong.
Cicerone is offline  
Feb 15th, 2005, 10:43 AM
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Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 18
Wow! Thanks so much for the input folks. I agree that Shanghai might not be worth the trouble. Fortunately, the children travel to Asia at least once or twice a year, as they attend Summer Camp in Phuket, so we are familiar with the jetlag. I agree that with three cities there would be no time to recharge. If I have to cut something in Beijing, it would most likely be Summer Palace. I watched a PBS special on it just last evening, and while it is beautiful, it reminds me of lot of places in Korea.

Just curious, with such a short time, do you think we should hire a guide? We don't usually, but in this case we may save a lot of time just in terms of getting to the right place, etc...Can anyone recommend a guide???

Thanks so much!!
marychris is offline  

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