20 day trip to China & Seoul
Replies: 7 - Last Post: Oct 8, 2012 8:11 PM Last Post By: qingdao_aborigi...
Sep 21, 2012 10:18 AM
20 day trip to China & SeoulBeginning of November my husband and I will visit Seoul and China. We are in our early forties and interested in culture, sightseeing etc. and don't speak Chinese/Korean.
I am looking for some recommendations:
-What shouldn't we miss in Seoul (we are there for 5 days)?
-I heard a lot that Beijing is ugly, polluted etc. but since we are going anyway for four days, what is the best way to enjoy the place?
- Is the Opera super touristy or worthwhile seeing?
- Best place for peking duck? the tour guides seem to recommend all the same place...
- The Great Wall - what is really the best part to go and see and what's the best way to get there?
- we get there in the afternoon, stay the whole next day and leave the following morning. What would be great to see besides the terra cotta army? And what is the best way to get to the terra cotta army?
- I've been told to make trips from Shanghai to Hanghzou and Suzhou. Good idea? What's the best way of getting there?
Any other recommendations on what to do/see/eat in the places above?
Sep 21, 2012 10:41 AM
1Any reason Seoul is a must-see? For five days? Family visit? Otherwise, it seems a bit of an anomaly.
Your overall China plan is completely city-heavy without countryside, small town, or natural scenery. Is this what you want? The cities you mentioned themselves are all OK and collectively have plenty to see but after a while can cause one to suffer from urban overload.
Sep 21, 2012 2:42 PM
Since you have 20 days, I'd definitely add some countryside to your trip (Yangshuo and the Rice Terrace or Yunnan) if that is the sort of thing you like. It will add a different dimension to just the big cities that you are seeing. We are going to Suzhou and Tongl (water town) which is a fast train ride away from Shanghai. These places woll also add a a nice change of scenery to your trip.
The best advice is to know what you like -- i.e., do you like mountains? bike riding? etc. and then incorpate those activities into your itinerary. This will help you stay away from places that don't offer what your interests are or draw you closer to those regions.
Good luck with your planning and don't get all worked up over Beijing being a dirty city. Most big cities in Asia are like this and it just comes with the territory. That doesn't mean you should avoid these areas. It means accepting it for what it is and not letting it get in the way of having fun!
Sep 21, 2012 5:38 PM
3What shouldn't we miss in Seoul (we are there for 5 days)? Things on the Seoul Tourist hop-on-hop-off bus route. Spare day or two? Look up the Seoul-Busan free tourist bus running in 2012.
I heard a lot that Beijing is ugly, polluted etc. but since we are going anyway for four days, what is the best way to enjoy the place?
Hotels can help with transport to further places, otherwise use the metro for the central sites.
Is the Opera super touristy or worthwhile seeing? watch some YouTube clips to see if you'd like to see one in real life. It is a love-it-or-hate-it thing.
Best place for peking duck? the tour guides seem to recommend all the same place... most street restaurants will do it (if you know what to ask for, or look for in the menu-photos); those in the guide will likely be at extortionate prices.
The Great Wall - what is really the best part to go and see and what's the best way to get there? Again, hotels can help with that, cheaper done when already there, than paying an online agent to arrange it.
I've been told to make trips from Shanghai to Hanghzou and Suzhou. Good idea? What's the best way of getting there? - good idea. Train or bus. Maybe a water town, by bus. Water towns example; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tongli
Sep 22, 2012 12:42 PM
The city walls, about 13 km of them.
The Wild Goose pagodas
The muslim quarter and mosque
Drum and Bell towers.
Sep 23, 2012 5:54 AM
5I know there are some people out there that like the opera, but even for Chinese people it is an acquired taste. You likely won't understand what's going on, their movements are extremely stylized, and unless you really know what to listen for, you most likely won't really enjoy the singing voices. If you really want to see a performance type thing, I'd see if you could catch an acrobat show instead instead.
I echo the advice to take the subway when possible, but with one amendment -- absolutely avoid the subway at morning and evening rush hour because the crowds are massive and overwhelming, and if you're not particularly sure of where you're going you will find the experience very stressful. The subway is quite pleasant in the middle of the day and usually at night though.
Beijing really isn't all that bad. Have you booked a hotel? Maybe try to stay somewhere in Dongcheng or Xicheng district, where the majority of the remaining old hutongs are. Limit your sightseeing to a place or two a day. Trying to cover too much ground in a single day in Beijing can be exhausting and frustrating.
Do try and fit in some time in the countryside or out in nature somehow. China has beautiful natural scenery and the cities all kind of blend together after a bit. The cities you've chosen are fine, but there's a lot more to China than just the cities.
Sep 25, 2012 12:47 AM
I'm just back of a 20 days trip to China and Seoul, so it seems like I can give you some fresh advice on these places.
We spoke no korean at all but some (not very impressive) mandarin.
First of all, if you are planning to visit China by train I would advise to start thinking about travelling by plain, buying train tickets for foreigners seems to be a very hard business, it was so at least in the last days of august, so we decided to dropp Xi'an from our itinerary and to focus in Eastern China.
Beijing is a must, but the tourist attractions are overwhelming, huge and with a lot of people, again, I'm talking about the last week of august. The city was not so polluted as I expected, what was really polluted were the cities in Shanxi and Henan we visited in our way down to Shanghai, like Pingyao, Taiyuan and Kaifeng. If you are not planning to go to Xi'an I would skip Pingyao as it's very difficult to go down to Henan and Shanghai from there unless doing all the way back to Beijing. And even if planning to visit Pingyao and Xi'an it's very difficult to get train tickets, this was, as you can see, my biggest headache travelling independently in China.
If visiting Shanghai I would strongly reccommend to visit Hangzhou, it's west lake, traditional medicine shops and tea fields. Furthermore, almost all Hangzhou museums are free. Suzhou is not so impressive as Shanghai but it's a must if you are interested in buying good quality silk.
Finally, Seoul is another world, it's more like a western city, everything is very easy going, no pollution at all, and the level of English of koreans living in the capital is much better than the avarege level of English spoken by chinese people in Beijing and Shanghai (not to mention the smaller places). The must do's are the following:
- The DMZ tour (Book it as soon as possible).
- A visit to a Jimjilbang, korean sauna (But please note that some areas are for nude people, segregated by sex, if this is an issue for you).
- At least a night in a Hanok (Traditional korean guesthouse)
- The fish market
- A thursday afternoon temple experience in Bongeunsa
- Shopping for ginseng and cosmetics
- Going up the Tv tower hill at dusk
I enjoyed much more my time in Seoul than in China as you can guess. Basically because everything is much more easy going for foreigners. And, to my surprise, Seoul is not expensive at all, compared to European cities, only accomodation was expensive.
Oct 8, 2012 8:11 PM
(4 star Hotel)
From US$195.72 per night
(0 star Hotel)
From US$5.94 per night
(3 star Hotel)
From US$102.01 per night