Henan or Sichuan
Replies: 15 - Last Post: Mar 20, 2013 9:10 PM Last Post By: ELECTRIC_PENGUIN
May 26, 2012 12:56 PM
Henan or SichuanHi everybody,
We are 2 girls, from France and from Israel planning a short trip to China during June 2012. We have heard Sichuan became too comercial and unpleasant. Do somebody knows a nice alternative for a stay of 12 days ? What about Henan Province ?
We have seen a great website with many links:
It seems as if they recommend very much Shaolin Temple / Song Mountains / Longmen Grottos and Kayfeng old city.
Many thanks in advance for any assistance.
G & F.
May 26, 2012 7:46 PM
May 26, 2012 7:58 PM
2All major tourist sites in China are quite commercial in that they charge admission, and have many visitors. Everyplace you go there will be shops and vendor trying to sell you things. Tourism is a major source of revenue for these areas.
That being said, the places you mentioned in Henan are definitely worth seeing. Sichuan has many worthwhile places as well.
I can't read the website you linked, so no comment on that.
May 26, 2012 9:03 PM
3Henan's an interesting part of China, and sees fewer foreign tourists than Sichuan, though the main sites in the province are very commercial, and packed with Chinese tourists. Shaolin temple itself is very, very commercial, but it's located in a lovely setting and there are some nice areas in the hills nearby where you can explore for free away from the crowds. The Longmen Grottos are a wonderful ancient work of art, but the set-up is typically Chinese: you get dropped off a bus a 15 minute walk away from the cave entrance, forcing you to either pay for a golf cart or walk through 15 minutes worth of shops in order to get to the caves. The entrance ticket is outrageously high, and once inside, your viewing of the caves is disturbed by loud Chinese tour groups with loudspeakers and music and propoganda blaring out of speakers. Apart from Longmen, the rest of Luoyang is a largely forgettable big city.
Kaifeng is quite interesting: there's been some tourist development here (there's a big theme park in the middle of the old town), but a fair amount of interesting old monuments remain, and the town has a nice atmosphere to it. It's also got good food, and some nice night markets. Fairly few foreign tourists visit Kaifeng, and whatever Chinese tour groups turn up seem largely restricted to the theme park. There's also a Jewish connection in Kaifeng, though it's quite tenuous these days.
So Henan is certainly interesting, but you're still going to come across the unpleasant, commercial aspects of Chinese tourism there.
May 27, 2012 1:52 AM
Unfortunately the reality is that any place that is half interesting is going to be touristy.
There is over 1 billion chinese and the majority of them , seems that way anyway are on the move.
In lots of places you will not see many westerners but you will see a lot of Chinese tourists
Guizhou and Hunan provinces are excellent , mostly devoid of westerners ., compared to say Guangxi province.
May 27, 2012 2:44 AM
5Places where it is easy to go to are full with chinese tourists in whole China. But chinese tourists for me are still more exotic than western tourists like you can see in SOA.
Sichuan to touristy? Well, it depends where you go. Last year in September I travelled in Sichuan like Litang, Ganzi, Bayu, Dege, Sertar, Manigango, Luhuo and Ma'erkang. I think i met approximately 10 other western travellers and once I saw a group of older western tourists in Dege visiting the printing monastery. And I didn't see much more chinese tourists. For 3 weeks travelling, that's not really much. Ah, and this was not a deserted uninteresting area, it was a fantastic trip concerning landscape, remote monasteries and tibetan life. Of course there were more tourists in places on the route to Jiujaigou. But again, when I visited the giant Buddah in Leshan, there where hundreds of chinese tourists but I didn't see one single western tourist on this daytrip.
May 27, 2012 4:16 AM
6Out of my 3 trips to China, I think the 10 day loop which we did starting in Chengdu and going to Kangding, Tagong, Danba and then back to Chengdu in Sichuan was the least touristy. The villages out of Danba had a few tourists - mostly Chinese but as with any part of China, the Chinese tourists don't tend to venture far from their accommodation so it is really easy to walk a little way and only come across locals.
May 27, 2012 10:28 AM
7I'd rank Sichuan as a destination way above Henan overall, with or without tourists. Most tourists (99%) will be Chinese domestic, not foreign, and for the most famous sites, there is no way to avoid them. However, most of these same tourists also travel in big busload groups, which move in predictable ways in predictable patterns. And they don't like to miss their mealtimes. So...sometimes the difference between mass crowding vs a pleasant situation is only an hour or so apart in time. Be prepared to get out of bed early--the Chinese rarely show up en masse at any place before 9:00 or 9:30. And some places, after 3-4 pm gets very quiet.
May 27, 2012 10:37 AM
8" . . . the Chinese rarely show up en masse at any place before 9:00 or 9:30."
Dawn flag-raising at Tiananmen Square apart. You'll be rousted from your slumber by heavy rumbles in the hall around 5am if you're staying in a Beijing hotel.
(Western Sichuan is indeed a great destination, but it can be unpredictably closed off to foreign tourists.)
May 27, 2012 11:13 AM
May 27, 2012 8:32 PM
10There are wonderful places throughout China worth visiting that get few tourists. But any tourist destination rated AAAAA or AAAA that is easy to get to will attract large crowds. The summer crowds at Jiuzhaigou were horrendous, even though we did a pretty good job of escaping them.
I imagine that a rather obscure site like the South Sichuan Bamboo Sea gets very few visitors while the Giant
Buddha at Emei has people lining up in long queues.
Is your trip 12 days in total, or 12 days to explore a specific area? Does that include time in Beijing, for example?
When I went in the summer, I visited the Bingling Si, Xiahe, and Langmu with very few tourists around. When I got to Jiuzhaigou it was a shock to see so many people - but still I feel lucky to have gone. Huanglong, nearby, had very few people.
May 28, 2012 1:52 AM
11I can't comment on Sichuan as I've not been. But I lived in Henan for 6 month last year and would find it hard to believe that anywhere could be more commercialised than Shaolin Temple. Furthermore, Kaifeng "old city"? If you mean the God-awful Song theme-park thing they have there, it's Chinese Disneyland. Longmen is alright (If you like statues of Buddha... LOTS of statues of Buddha) and I'd rank Luoyang "old city" well above Kaifeng.
There are other interesting places in Henan to visit. Anyang is nice and Nanyang has some good sights (Although it's a bit of a trek). Zhengzhou should be visted to appreciate what a REAL dump should be like.
May 28, 2012 2:22 AM
May 29, 2012 6:15 AM
13Can the OP please explain what about Sichuan province is too touristy? It's a huge province spanning 100's of quality sites from big cities, small villages, national parks, etc. Most of the tourists will be Chinese, not foreigners, they don't necassarily like or do the same things when travelling as western folks do.
Mar 17, 2013 9:49 PM
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