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Which Hong Kong Day Trip to Mainland China? China Folk Culture Village?

Which Hong Kong Day Trip to Mainland China? China Folk Culture Village?

Old Oct 25th, 2006, 01:36 PM
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Which Hong Kong Day Trip to Mainland China? China Folk Culture Village?

Can someone help with an opinion on one or both of the following day tours?
Shekou/Guangzhou OR Shenzen Excursion.
The Shenzen tour includes a visit to the "China Folk Culture Village" with a carnival/parade in the evening. We are very interested in this, but wonder if perhaps it is not as good as it sounds. We expect it to be commercialised, but does it still offer a good cultural insight and would it be a worthwhile use of our time?
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Old Oct 25th, 2006, 06:42 PM
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What kind of cultural insight are you looking for that you don't believe you can find in Hong Kong? Shenzhen is a huge industrialized city that sprang up out of fields 15 years ago; there is very little to see there. I have not taken this tour, but live in Hong Kong and can predict that this tour will be very, very canned and will involve a mediocre lunch, and a stop at several "handicraft" factories that will be one person painting porcelain and 20 people trying to sell you porcelain. Please tell me what it is you want to experience and I can try to tell you how to achieve this in Hong Kong. If you are looking for a rural experience, going to Shenzehn is not the answer. I also don't think Guangzhou is much, see the other post on this.

How many days do you have in Hong Kong, what time of year is your trip, and have you been to Hong Kong before?
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Old Oct 25th, 2006, 11:42 PM
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I heartily second Cicerone's opinion. Shenzen and Guangzhou are highly industrial areas - certainly not "day trip" material.

If you feel you just "must" take a day trip perhaps Macau would work. There are a couple of museums, a temple or two, casinos (if you are into them) and interesting food with the portuguese influence.

Otherwise enjoy Hong Kong as there is plenty to see, do and eat there.
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Old Oct 26th, 2006, 12:07 AM
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Hmm, I just did some research on the "China Folk Culture Village" and have discovered that it is a theme park, not an actual working village. It is a collection of village houses and some native people from different regions of China demonstrating some native skills. One unkind reveiwer referred to it as the "Dineyfication of native people". I would definitely give it a miss....it would be like going to the European park inside Disney and trying to feel like you have experienced European culture. There are other ways to see Chinese culture, like walking the streets of Hong Kong with 7 million of them.
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Old Oct 26th, 2006, 03:46 AM
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Cicerone,

I will be in HK the third week of November for one week and had also planned to visit the China Folk Culture Village. I have since changed my mind since reading your (and CJBryant) views and will simply enjoy HK. Can you tell me, though, where I could view some type of dance or festival while I'm visiting HK?

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Old Oct 26th, 2006, 03:59 AM
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IMO your best source of info is the Leisure and Culture Services department. For a list of all activities, both free and paid, go to http://www.lcsd.gov.hk/en/cs_prog_week.php and for a list of paid programs, go to http://urbtix.cityline.com.hk/internet/action/index.do. The Sunbeam Theatre in North Point on Hong Kong island does a lot of Chinese Opera and may also have dance, they are listed on the cityline site above.

The Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts runs terrific programs all year, many of them are dance programs, take a look at http://www.hkapa.edu. Their programs should also show up on the lcsd site.

Also try the Hong Kong Arts Centre at hkac.org.hk. Their programs should also show up on the lcsd site.

There may be dinner shows with dance, I don’t know anything about them or their quality, but I will bet your hotel would have info.



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Old Oct 26th, 2006, 04:29 AM
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Hi Cicerone
Thanks for the info.
(Also to cjbryant!)
Like Mscleo I think we will give the folk village a miss. (Our group will also be in HK during the 3rd week of Nov. .... for 8 days.)
We are planning to do day trips to Macau and Lantau and will also visit Aberdeen to see the fishing junk village.
We have never been to HK before. We do know it is a vibrant and glamorous city with much to offer, (including a cultural aspect), but thought we may also be able to see something of a more "traditional" China, by venturing into the Mainland -even if it is only for one day. However, it seems we would need to travel a little further and stay overnight, to achieve this. Unfortunately, we are not able to.
Your opinion on a New Territories tour would be welcomed.

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Old Oct 26th, 2006, 07:50 AM
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Cicerone,

Thank you so much - all of your threads have been invaluable - I know I'll have a great time in HK and look forward to all the city has to offer.

jafagirl...enjoy your trip!
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Old Oct 27th, 2006, 12:23 AM
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I have not taken any of the New Territories tours (like “The Land Between”), so I can’t recco any one in particular. I am not an organized bus-tour sort of person. I have taken maybe 4 in my life, and only enjoyed one (day tour of villages in the Johor Bahru Malaysia area in 1986); my experience is that there is too much focus on shopping and too long a lunch break in bad restaurants.

I have had visiting friends/family who have taken the Land Between tour over the years and from their descriptions, is does not sound too thrilling and is pretty canned, and involves over and hour for lunch and between that and picking up/dropping off people at the various hotels, the actual time on the tour is not that long. IMO with a little effort you could get to see rural areas of Hong Kong on your own more enjoyably. My biggest issue with the tour is that it does not appear that you get out to see any villages, you mostly pass them in a bus and then stop at a temple, a fish farm and a look out.

You could do your own trip to the Fanling area in the New Territories and actually get out on foot to see some of the villages in the area on your own. (This is in fact where part of the Land Between Tour goes.) This is a pretty rural area and furthest away from the Shenzhen border area, although there is still some development in this area; it is going to be hard to escape this in any area in the Pearl River delta, including Shenzhen and Guangzhou. This weekend is a long holiday here and I am going hiking in that area on Monday, so I will make an effort to focus on what you might be able to do in that area non-hiking wise. (If you are interested in hikes and walks let me know.)

In the meantime, the only “tour” I think at all worthwhile are the walking tours offered by Jason Wordie, who is a local historian and writer here. Take at www.jasonswalks.com . He does not seem to offer tours of the Fanling area in particular, but I would encourage you to e-mail him and ask if he would be willing to arrange one. If you were willing to spend US$130 a person on the Shekou/ Guangzhou tour, US$90 on the Shenzhen tour, and US$40 on the Land Between Tour, then for about the same you could get Jason who would be more than worth it IMO. (He does great walking tours of Hong Kong itself which I have taken and would highly recommend, I just took one on Monday of the Happy Valley Cemetery that was fascinating history.) If you want to ask him about the New Territories, from my map and recollection, you might ask Jason about doing a walking down of the Fanling market and then the villages of Wo Hang and Luk Ken and the nearby Hakka villages. (Fanling has a very large and interesting local food market.)

Also, if you want to see traditional housing and clan halls, then you should go to one of either of the two "walled village" museums in Hong Kong, either the Sam Tung Uk Museum in Tsuen Wan or the Sheung Yiu Folk Museum on the Pak Tam Chung Nature Trail, Sai Kung. Take a look at http://www.heritagemuseum.gov.hk/eng...ch_sel_stu.htm. These might be better than going to the more touristy walled village offered on the Land Between tour (which I think may be Kat Hing Wai, where I understand locals ask for money when you ask to take their picture).

If you want to see some interesting food markets, then walk up Graham Street and down Peel Street right in Central on Hong Kong Island, tons of veggie, live fish, chickens, incense sellers, loads of atmosphere, or go to the Wan Chai street market area. The markets are in quite a small area of narrow mainly pedestrian-only streets running between Johnston Road and Queen's Road East, starting at Spring Garden Lane and ending at Wan Chai Road. The market area is directly south and across the street from the Wan Chai MTR station.

Also, since you have 8 days, you could easily do an overnight into the PRC if you really wanted to get to more rural areas. You could arrange to get a PRC visa here. You can also get a visa in 2-3 days in Hong Kong at the PRC Consulate. You can also use a travel agent. If you are arriving on a Saturday, this may be more difficult, as the PRC consulate in Hong Kong is only open from 9 am to 12:30 on Saturdays and is closed on Sundays, so you will have a shorter time to do it, but it may be possible. If you are going to try to get the visa in Hong Kong, bring passport-size photos as you will need them for the application, and you won't waste time getting them taken there. You could go to the PRC Consulate or a travel agent on your first day, and you would most likely have the visas by the third day or so. You could then go to the Kaiping area, which I have reccd to someone recently on another post recently. Kaiping is where you can see the diaolóu (often called somewhat erroneously “watch towers”). These were built by returning overseas Chinese in the early part of the last century and are quite something. I have been trying to get there myself for a trip, as I have only seen pictures at a recent Asia Society dinner and they look fascinating. You can bike around the area and look at them, you can apparently only go in one or two if any, but very interesting indeed. Some articles can be found at the Frommers.com website and at http://www.kaiping.gov.cn/test/diaolou/eng; http://www.chinaculture.org/gb/en_cu...ent_79330.htm; and http://whc.unesco.org/en/tentativelists/1688 . You can take a ferry to this area from Hong Kong in about 3 hours, but because of the return ferry schedule, a trip there requires an overnight stay. I think you would find this area quite rural and traditional and you would get to see the diaolóu, which not a lot of people have seen. If you do this, please post a trip report!!!

Now, just so you have a realistic idea of what to expect when you see “traditional” China, please get all pictures of that charming riverside village from Mission Impossible III out of your head. Those types of villages are very, very rare in China. (I actually burst out laughing when I saw that part of the film because I have been to the place it was shot and I thought “now everyone will come to China expecting to see THAT”.) Those scenes were filmed in Xitang, which is in Zhejiang Province. It is about 2 hours outside of Shanghai. It does actually exist in that charming form, BUT you have to pay an entrance fee to enter that old town area along the river. It is only 60 Yuan (US$7), but that will tell you something about the nature of the experience of "quaint villages" in China. China, or Asia for that matter, is not by any stretch of the imagination a land of charming villages. Japan would be one place in Asia where you might find that, esp a place like Kyoto. Having lived in both Switzerland and parts of Asia, I can tell you that if you are looking for villages like Xitang they are in my experience very hard to find and not at all the norm; unlike Europe where charming cobblestone villages with ancient churches are quite normal. (Disney wishes it could have the charm and cleanliness of a real Swiss village.) Both Asia and Europe are tremendously interesting for different reasons, but you have to adjust your expectations. The population of China is 1 billion and growing exponentially (despite draconian efforts to stop it); a good bit of that population live in huge, crowded polluted cities that you have never even heard of, or in tens of thousands of small, very uncharming villages with quite a bit of dirt, garbage, decrepit housing, poor sanitation, and livestock running around loose. Please don't expect to find a lot of Xitangs. There are some charming villages, like Lijiang in Yunnan Province which is very lovely, but these are rare.

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Old Oct 27th, 2006, 04:20 AM
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Now interestingly, while perusing my Countyside walking map at the hairdresser this afternoon to plan our walk for Monday, I saw that around Fanling there is a trail called the Lung Yeuk Tau Heritage Trail that encompasss several walled villages and looks interesting. I just stopped in here at Pacific Coffee and looked at the website for the Leisure and Culture Services Department here and found some info, take a look at http://www.amo.gov.hk/en/trails_lung.php. This trail might be worth doing together a trip to the Fanling market and a min-bus ride through the more rural area and a stop off at some villages. I don't expect the heritage trail is really rural as it is in Fanling which is a fairly big town (like 350,000 people), but they seem preserved bits of it. My guess is that one of these villages is the "walled village" visited on the Land Between Tour. You could take the KCR train to Fanling and go from there, quite easy to do. My walking group is going to try to do part of this walk on Monday, as none of us had heard of it, I will repost. FYI, I asked my Cantonese hairdresser about this area and the villages, and he just laughed and laughed, he thinks its hysterical that I want to go out and see these places...I keep telling him this is HIS heritage, so he should see it, he says "I like the bars in Wan Chai". He is like 25 years old, what can you do....

Also I meant to write that if you are interested in Kaiping in the PRC, you could always of course hire and car and drive and do it for a day trip from Hong Kong, that is just a more expensive option. If you have a group, it might be a good option and cheaper than ferries and hotels; just something to think about. Hertz or Avis rents cars and drivers (you can't and don't want to drive yourself) your hotel could also arrange this. I am guessing that the drive would be something over 2 hours each way, could be a bit more.
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Old Oct 27th, 2006, 04:25 AM
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According to the website I gave above, you can apply for a docent (guide) for the trail too, this is fascinating to me I never knew this. These are available for other walks too. It appears quite a bit of advance notice is necessary and I don't know that they are in English, but it may be worth enquiring....I certainly will at some point for myself.
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Old Oct 27th, 2006, 04:46 AM
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I've posted my pictures - finally - on my trip to Hong Kong almost 2 years ago when I went to some of the walled villages, ancestral halls, Tao monastries, etc, in the New Territories. I'll be in Hong Kong next week, but may not have time to go so many places:

rkkwan.zenfolio.com/p163727794/
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Old Oct 27th, 2006, 08:45 AM
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Hi,

I am just back from a trip with a group of 8 friends, plus my husband and I. We used my father's resort in ShenZhen as a base and visited HongKong, Macau, ShenZhen, and GuangZhou in 6 days.

I would say Macau is really fun. We had a good time there. We walked to a square and visited church and ruins. Some of my friend went to the TV tower. It sounded very fun. The new casino, the Wynn, is just like Vegas and it is not cheap to gamble there.

For GuangZhou, we visited the NanYue King Tomb museum, Chan Clan Academy and another temple. The visit to Guangzhou added more cultural value to our trip, otherwise, our trip seem to miss the historical and cultural side of China. I would say a good English guide is important to such a trip.

We didn't visit many places in ShenZhen, but my friends did go to see the shows in Chinese Cultural Village. They saw a horse show started around 4:30pm, I think, followed by a Chinese custom show and a folk dance show. They thought it was fun. We spent a lot of our time making suit in LuoHu shopping mall. It took a lot of time to measure 10 people, pick fabrics and styles. I found a good tailor recommended by NYTimes.

I think if you have time, don't give up ShenZhen or GuangZhou. I would visit one of the two city just to experience China. If you like to shop, LuoHu would be a fun place to experience.
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Old Oct 31st, 2006, 06:12 PM
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Thank you to everyone who posted a response to my query. You have helped immensely!
Cicerone: you are a "font of knowledge" - a special thank you, to you, for the time you invested!
(And happy holiday to Mscleo.)
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