Next trip - China?

Old Apr 16th, 2006, 03:10 PM
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Next trip - China?

I'm starting to think about my next trip to Asia. This one will be with my sister and we're considering China, probably next May. After my recent trip to Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia, I think I'd rather do it independently, but we've taken two trips together with tour groups (Intrepid and Rick Steves) and enjoyed the people immensely - both felt it enriched our trip. But the trip with my daughter on our own was truly special, so I'm torn. And China seems a little harder than Southeast Asia, so I'm not sure. I get a sense that you wouldn't get the same kind of intimate experiences in China because so few speak English - is that an accurate perception?

As for the itinerary, we'd both like to do Beijing and Xian. My sister wants to do a Yangtze cruise, but I'd rather do Guilin/Yangshou. Thoughts on that? We both want to go to Chengdu and then on to Lhasa. We're torn between Shanghai and Hong Kong. Suggestions there? Plus, I'd really like to see Lijiang. Is it worth working in?

If we do a group, we'd want it to be a small group - no more than 12-16. And our preference would be one that gives a fair amount of independent time. So... I'm starting very early with my planning, but does anyone have any thoughts for us?

We'll have about three weeks total.
Thanks,
Karen
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Old Apr 16th, 2006, 07:09 PM
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Gosh, can I come to? Told my hubby last week that I was going to China next year. He said have a good trip honey ! Barb
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Old Apr 16th, 2006, 07:45 PM
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sounds like fun, i can come tooooooo.

how long do you think you would go for?

and yes i think a group would be easier in china....if you only wanted to go to shanghai, HK, beijing and xian, then i think you could easily do it on your own, but the other places may create more problems....others will know more about this....

i have only been to HK (several times) and beijing once....the other places i have not been to....we are considering shanghai and xian and would do those two on our own...

you will get tons of help here....

how about bkk and bali and malaysia with sister??

bob
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Old Apr 17th, 2006, 04:17 AM
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Hi there,
I Travelled Beijing - Xian (train); Xian - Chongquing (train) - Yangtze ship; Wuhan to Guilin (train); Guilin - Yangshauo (minibus); Yangshaou - Canton - and up as far as Xiamen with stops (bus). I was doing my own thing in 1997.

It is always a toss up between having company and having freedom to choose where to go next and when.

Almost ten years down the line I suspect it may be a little easier to book those train tickets. In Xian my guest house wrote down my requirements for me. In Wuhan I was saved from abject frustration by a passer by who spoke English.

Once I got to Guilin it was easy. Last stage to Xiamen a bit tricky. And in Xiamen I was actually escorted to the police station as I had no onward ticket and had extended my tourist visa.

Again, I got lucky as some family member or neighbour (I never discovered exactly which) - or a plain clothes cop!! - accompanied me, and all was sorted.

I don't think you will have a problem if you decide to travel independently. If it was do-able then, it is certainly do-able now - so many more people DO speak English, and tourism is rather more established. But - of course - you miss things without a guide.

Everything is a trade off. Only you can decide.

Best of luck.
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Old Apr 17th, 2006, 06:11 AM
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althom: Just got back from a trip to Hong Kong, Shanghai and Hangzhou. We've been to China about 4 times in the past 13 years, starting with our honeymoon in Hong Kong (still one of our favorite places on the planet). China is vast. Dependent upon how much time you have and how much time you'll spend in each place, I'd try to limit it a bit. Beijing has the Great Wall (about 2.5 hours away), the Ming tombs, and the big city itself requires about 2-3 days. Xian can be well-explored in 2 days. They are very far apart and requires air transportation. Yangtze river cruise is a total trip of its own. Dependent on your itinerary, the trip can require a couple of days or some folks will take a whole week. Guilin is definitely a picturesque experience. But it is also a hike from the other spots you mentioned. Then Chengdu and Llasa? Ummh... no offense, but that may be too much for one trip, and if you do want more spots in one trip, it is probably best to go with a tour group program so that there's someone else to navigate the logistics of transport. It's a bit like saying you want to visit the Statue of Liberty, Williamsburg, the Grand Canyon, Hollywood, Mount Rushmore and it's a toss-up between a cruise down the Mississippi or yachting in Hiltonhead. Anything is possible but MAN... it'll be a lot of work. China (IMHO)is also not as tourist friendly as Thailand, Laos and Cambodia. I'd say China may turn out to be one of the most fascinating trips, but intimate it is probably not(I'm not entirely sure what you mean by that). Not many speak English outside of the tourism industry. Hong Kong on the otherhand, is pretty westernized in their standard of living and many if not most speak at least a bit of English. I'd definitely recommend a tour for your first foray into China. After that, when you know better what to expect, you may want to go back on your own and visit places you missed.
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Old Apr 17th, 2006, 07:36 AM
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Guilin is reputed as the most beautiful scenery city of China. Characteristic of Guilin is its peaks rise as suddenly from the Earth as trees in the forest, in various shapes resemble buns, camel, fish, saw-teeth, horse, etc. it is the city you must visit it or you will miss the most beautiful landscape, the river is like green silk ribbon while the hills seem hairpins of jade

The landscape in Guilin is characterized by its “green hills, clear waters, pretty rocks and fantastic caves’’.

I am native of guilin and I am pretty familiar with guilin and yangshuo, i graduated from teacher's university, i have been worked as a teacher in the school, salesperson in the fiber optic christmas trees company for years. also worked in the travel service for more than 2 year, and i would like to offer tourists updated and useful information of new guilin, help people who visit guilin and and i am sincere and warmhearted.

welcome any enquire at [email protected]
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Old Apr 17th, 2006, 08:16 AM
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Karen, I'm delighted you are planning your next Asia trip! China is a bit harder than some other places in Asia, but still very do-able on your own. Again, the first task is to narrow where you want to go. As you learned from your first trip, it really does pay to slow down and get to know a bit about a place.

The Yangtze cruise gets mixed reviews. Do a search for people's opinions (I find that the search function here is a bit inconsistent, so when I'm looking for info, I typically do a search several times, days or weeks apart, and often turn up with new things.)
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Old Apr 17th, 2006, 04:15 PM
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Thanks, all. Tuxedo - yes, I know China is vast, and I realize we'll have to cut some of the things I want to do. (I dream big to start with!) What I meant by "intimate" is that on our recent trip we were able to interact with people on a personal level - have actual conversations (see my trip report for details - search for Karen in the title). Those interactions with locals were a highlight in Laos, Thailand, and Cambodia - which we may not have experienced had we been with a tour group. But in China, I'm thinking that since fewer people speak English, we might not have those kinds of experiences anyway and that logistics may be harder, so a tour group might be good.

Three weeks is short, but I'm thinking in 22 days we should be able to see about five places. There's an OAT trip that does...

- 4 days in Beijing
- 3 in Xian
- 3 day Yangtze cruise
- 1 night in Chengdu, enroute to...
- 3 nights Lhasa
- 1 more night in Chengdu
- 3 nights in Hong Kong

I like it a lot, except I'd love to squeeze in Lijiang - and I think I'd rather do the Li River than the Yangtze. Odyssey has a very similar trip to the OAT one except at the end, they do Shanghai rather than Hong Kong. None of the organized tours I've looked at has quite the itinerary I want. So I'm torn between making it easy and going with a tour group (but settling on the itinerary) vs getting the itinerary I want but going it alone (which my sister isn't as crazy about).

Fuzzy - yes, I'm guessing it would be easier now than when you went, but it still seems a little daunting! Plus, we'd probably do air rather than train (except maybe from Beijing to Xian).

Kathie - thanks for your input - yes, I've read the posts about the Yangtze and it seems to get mixed reviews. My sister wants to do it; I could easily skip it, I think - but hate to skip the Li. Will need to ponder that one. Maybe I'll have her read some of the postings to help us decide.

My remaining questions for now:
Lijiang - can anyone comment on it? Is it worthwhile
And Hong Kong vs Shanghai? If you had to choose one, which would it be? (Or NEITHER and apply the time elsewhere.)

Chinaguilinadvisor - yes, I know, I REALLY want to see Guilin!

And Barb/Bob - I'm sure we'd enjoy your company... but...

Bali and Malaysia? Haven't done any research on them! If not China, our next choices would probably be Vietnam, Turkey, or India... sigh... so many places! How am I ever going to get around to all of them? And we haven't even talked about South America!
Thanks all... more to come as I continue to work on this.
Karen
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Old Apr 17th, 2006, 06:54 PM
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Karen, I went to China for three weeks on my own and had a lovely time; I had some lovely conversations with student, among others, and even without English we managed a fair amount of communication. I've only been in Vietnam to compare (as far as Asia is concerned) but I'd say that while Vietnam was a bit simpler that China is certainly quite doable independently.

If you haven't seen my trip report (and I know there's a lot to read!) you can see it here: http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...7&tid=34656568

My itinerary was actually similar to OAT, as the time was short and I wanted to "hit the high spots", and I did enjoy travel with an OAT group to Peru, but I'd be a little leery of the days spent Yangtze cruising as well (not to mention the "shopping" time...)

Happy travels!
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