South / South-West China October 2012 pre-itinerary....
Replies: 1 - Last Post: Sep 6, 2012 1:52 PM Last Post By: meczko
Sep 6, 2012 4:53 AM
South / South-West China October 2012 pre-itinerary....Hello All,
Myself and my girlfriend are both in our late twenties, rather experienced backpackers, on a medium budget and looking for interesting natural and man-made destinations to experience. We both enjoy immersing ourselves with the more everyday occurances of a destination such as the locals might do, and tend to shy away from the larger more 'touristy' destinations, although obviously sometimes it's worth it...
We're planning to book return flights to Hong Kong early October and have 2 weeks to zoom around South and South-Western China, perferably on trains, but perhaps using internal flights if we must. I know the distances are massive - however we recently went from Mumbai to Kolkata by train in two weeks and found it no real problem - because it's not everyday we get to be in China, and we do enjoy the feeling of moving around and experiencing more and more places.
This map here includes places we intitially think we would like to pass through, and will give some of you an idea of what we're interested in seeing.
I wondered if anyone with experience in these areas / this region would have any advice for us?
Any tips / suggestions otherwise are greatly appreciated as I like to know as much as I can before heading to a destination so that I can spend my time experiencing it rather than uncovering it!
Sep 6, 2012 1:52 PM
1I have just returned from a trip to Yunnan and Sichuan, including some places you are planning to visit. If time permits, I will write and post a trip report in a week or so. In the meantime, just a few remarks on some of your planned places:
- Lijiang was a dissapointment for us, as we remembered it from our visit 5 years ago. Now the old town is a huge theme park, with literally crowds of Chinese tourists and a lot of fancy bars and cafes with crazy prices. Definitely not our stuff... It is also surrounded by a quite big modern city, with first skyscrapers starting to emerge. You would find it almost impossible to avoid Lijiang, as it is an important transport hub for that area, but I would rather minimize time spent there and move on to somewhere else.
- for Lugu Hu I would suggest to base yourself in Wuzhiluo on the Sichuan side, which has preserved more of an authentic village and has good possibilities for walks and bike rides. Lige on the Yunnan side which is so lauded in the guidebooks, turned into something like a tourist trap - it is just a cluster of quite pricey guesthouses and restaurants in an admittedly beatiful setting.
- Jiuzhaigou valley is mis-posted on your map, in fact it's north from Chengdu and also something like a full day bus ride. I never made it there actually but visited nearby Songpan 6 yrs ago.
- Yangshuo seems to be far out of the otherwise parts of your route.
Altogether, I think that two weeks are an extremely short amount of time for a foray into Yunnan and Sichuan out of Hongkong. Because of the rugged terrain, bus rides are quite longish (frequently ca. 6 to even 10 hrs) and railway connections are very limited (with tickets not always available at short notice). Our two trips to that area took around a month in each case and we still felt some time constraints. The first one in 2007 was Kunming - Dali - Lijiang - Tiger Leaping Gorge - Shangri La - Litang - Kangding - Chengdu, trip report on http://meczko.blog.onet.pl/; second one last month was Chongqing - Chengdu - (via Panzhihua) - Lijiang - Benzilan - Deqin/MeiliXueShan - Shaxi - Lugu Hu - Xichang - Chengdu - Zigong - Dazu - Chongqing. With your timeframe I would consider visiting some closer places in Fujian or Guangxi instead. HK itself is also worth spending a couple of days.
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