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Northern China – routing and timing advice

Northern China – routing and timing advice

Old Dec 2nd, 2009, 07:01 AM
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kja
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Northern China – routing and timing advice

I’m still in the preliminary stages of planning a solo trip that is likely to include Beijing, Tai Shan, Qufu, Luoyang, Xi’an, Pingyao, Wutai Shan, Datong, Chengde, and Cuandixia. I’m hoping to get some advice about routing and timing.

I expect to fly into and out of Beijing, and am currently inclined to take a generally clockwise route (rather than the counterclockwise order I suggested in my first post about this possible trip), in part because I think it might be easier to get a soft-sleeper from Xi’an to Pingyao than in the opposite direction and, if I understand correctly, the scenery between those 2 cities would not justify planning a long day journey just to see it – is that right? In addition, I’m getting the sense that pollution is likely to be worse in Shanxi than in the other areas I plan to visit, and I think I prefer risking an adverse reaction toward the end of my trip than toward the beginning. I could visit Beijing at the start, end, or both, with Chengde at either the beginning or end. I think I will try to visit Cuandixia for near the end of my journey, after I’ve gotten a bit accustomed to the language and customs. Do these ideas seem generally on target?

I’m still aiming for a trip of about 3.5 weeks. Ideally, I would begin my trip early in May, arriving in China after the May Day holiday has ended (perhaps on May 6 or 7). I do, however, have some flexibility and could delay a bit if there are good reasons for doing so. I haven’t found any information indicating that there will be local festivals, holidays, or events in my target destinations during this time frame, but would consider tailoring my trip to accommodate things I might particularly enjoy (or conversely, would want to avoid). I would also consider delaying my trip a bit if it would mean that the weather I would encounter would likely to be substantially more favorable.

So – what should I keep in mind when planning my route and when to go? Any and all comments will be much appreciated. Thanks in advance!
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Old Dec 2nd, 2009, 10:29 AM
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Not much to add to previous comments.

There aren't any particular festivals to worry about. Transport options are the same every day of the week. If you are sensitive to pollution you should be treating the whole trip as slightly hazardous and come prepared. Beijing and Xi'an both have terrible atmosphere, although things should have eased a little by May.

Look at bus for Xi'an to Pingyao unless you've identified an overnight train. But it's not far enough to make for a decent overnight. There are three options leaving between about 9pm and 11pm arriving between about 6.30am and 8pm. The Pingyao Station is only a short walk from the old city and there are plenty of modest hotels en route.

There's no particular reason to think 'language and customs' more of a problem with Cuandixia than anywhere else. It sees plenty of foreign visitors and you find your own way around the village. Even if you plan to stay overnight nothing more than tact, common sense, and money is needed.

I wouldn't move the dates either earlier or later. May weather in northern China is amongst the best.

Peter N-H
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Old Dec 2nd, 2009, 10:46 AM
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Thank you so much, PeterN_H - your input is proving invaluable to me (as I'm sure it has to many, many others).
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Old Feb 16th, 2010, 03:25 PM
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> Look at bus for Xi'an to Pingyao unless you've identified an overnight train. But it's not far enough to make for a decent overnight. There are three options leaving between about 9pm and 11pm arriving between about 6.30am and 8pm.

Could you perhaps give me some more information about these bus options from Xi'an to Pingyao? I haven't been able to track them down on the net or in my travel guides.

Also, to get from Qufu to Luoyang by train, I believe I would need to start in Yanzhou - is that correct? Are there bus options I should consider for that leg of my journey?

Thanks so much!
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Old Feb 16th, 2010, 05:20 PM
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> Could you perhaps give me some more information about these bus options from Xi'an to Pingyao? I haven't been able to track them down on the net or in my travel guides.

You simply ask at long distance bus stations in Xi'an. The one near the railway station is the one for Pingyao, I believe.

> Also, to get from Qufu to Luoyang by train, I believe I would need to start in Yanzhou - is that correct?

While there is a railway station in Qufu it's a small one, and many more trains stop at Yanzhou. Tickets for trains from Yanzhou are sold by agents in Qufu, however.

>Are there bus options I should consider for that leg of my journey?

Very possibly, and the highway route is more direct. But again, that's something you'd find out while there. Chances are there's a direct bus, although services crossing provincial borders tend to be a little less frequent.

Peter N-H
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Old Feb 17th, 2010, 06:38 AM
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Thanks again!
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