Proposing trip to china for two weeks in 2013
Replies: 10 - Last Post: Nov 16, 2012 7:40 PM Last Post By: jiejie
Nov 10, 2012 11:38 AM
Proposing trip to china for two weeks in 2013I am planning two weeks in China in 2013.
Idealy I would likme to fly into Hanoi and then cross to China and vice versa, travelling to guilin and then up to shanghai or beijing. I could then fly home from Beijing or Shanghai. I don't have to go to Beijing if it is inconvenient.
Where should I go to and stopm on the way up from southern china?
What is the best way to book flights as I think I will have to have at least one internal flight but dond't necessarily want any more.
How easy is it to book train or bus tickets? I speak virtually no mandarin except please thank you and my name is eretc.
Are there any trave; agencies you would advise to book the cheapest glights.
Also when is the best time to go. I can probably only go between May and July. I don't mind if it is hot as air - con is prety ggod there I think. Is there any cheaper toime of year to travel?
Thank you very much for your help.
Nov 10, 2012 5:23 PM
Nov 11, 2012 3:43 AM
2As for the technical information I don't have much to help you with. This website and and the Lonely Planet China book are your best friends when it comes to that sort of thing. However, living in China and having traveled across the country this past summer I can offer you a few travel tips:
1. Don't spend too much time in Shanghai. One or two days should do it. I'm sure it's a fun place for an expat to live, but for a traveler who is trying to get a taste of China in just a few weeks it's not really the place to be. It's really expensive and doesn't differ that much from most other ginormous cosmopolitan cities you could visit anywhere else.
2. If you do fly into Shanghai there are some things not too far away that are of interest. Hangzhou and the other water-cities near by are really nice. You can get to these cities by train from Shanghai. Take a bus inland to Tunxi to see the ancient villages of Hongcun and Xidi, and while in the area climb the beautiful Yellow Mountain (Huang Shan).
3. As opposed to Shanghai, Beijing is effing awesome! It's got an easygoing, artsy/bohemian vibe that Shanghai lacks entirely. You could spend your entire two weeks there and not regret it. Don't miss the Yonghe Gong Lama Temple, the Forbidden City, and the Great Wall someplace other than Badaling (may I suggest Jiankou? It's further away and costs a little more time and money to get to, but is absolutely breathtaking, and if you're lucky you will have it all to yourself!).
It is not easy to book train tickets for several stops in advance in China. Basically you just have to go to the train station or a ticket office in person and order a ticket for the next place you want to go and then do the same in the next city. Fortunately, buying tickets is pretty easy. All you have to do is say "Qu..." and the name of the city you want to go to. Use hand signals to show how many tickets you want. "Qu" is pronounced somewhere between "chew" and "cher" (not Cher) and means "go to". I hope this helps and that you enjoy China. Gan Bei!
Nov 11, 2012 5:09 AM
3Thank you very much for the responses above. It was helpful to understand that there is a difference in feeling between Shanghai and Beijing.
As for the comment that I need to do research, then that is why I was asking questions here. As a matter of fact I have been to Chinatown in Liverpool in order to get a feeling of China and see if i liked the experience, but that only gives an idea of Chinese life in the city and not in the country.
Nov 11, 2012 6:15 AM
4I am not sure where you are flying from, but getting to Hanoi for most westerners involves a flight via Tokyo, Shanghai or Hong Kong or Bangkok, so you night want to look into the logistics, and not have yourself waisting precious time going to Hanoi.
You will need a Visa for both Vietnam, and also China. You can arrange a Pre Approved Visa for flights into Vietnam, via online agencies, then you are given a letter for the airline to allow you board a flight into VN, then you get the Visa at the airport. (See VN/SE Asia branch)
With limited time, I would not fly to Hanoi, but for the south of China, consider Hong Kong, Shenzhen or Guangzhou, or even Kumning.
China is nothing like a Chinatown in the west, other than the mandarin on the menu. The major cities, like above, are congested, polluted and modern, with a few specs of the old chinese traditions.
Nov 11, 2012 6:31 AM
Nov 11, 2012 11:09 AM
6I'd also advocate re-framing this trip. Why Hanoi? It is actually an expensive destination to get to, and to go there without seeing more of Vietnam seems pointless and eats up time and money.
With only two weeks, your first decision is to commit to China or commit to Vietnam. If the latter, strongly suggest you focus on that country (even two weeks isn't enough to really see it properly) and defer China to the future. If the former, then give us two priorities (I assume Guilin area and Beijing) and we'll fill in the rest with some suggestions.
As to time of year between May and July, definitely the earlier the better. But if China is your choice, avoid the first week of May due to holiday period. May 10 onward is OK. By late June and July it is unpleasantly hot and humid, and pollution greatly increases. So if you need to block out your dates and reserve your holiday time period, go ahead and do that even while you are pondering the actual itinerary. Get this straight before you try to reserve air tickets, to avoid wasting cash. For China, usually it's better to plan a one-way journey flying into one city and returning for another, an "open-jaws" return ticket.
Nov 13, 2012 7:29 AM
7Definitely agree with reply 6 re no point flying to Hanoi if you are intending to visit China. If you really want to go somewhere a bit more British before you head into China proper, I suggest you fly in to Hong Kong as your first stop. It's probably the closest you can find to the feel of Chinatown in UK. You can walk from Hong Kong to Shenzhen in China.
Shanghai is definitely different from Beijing. Shanghai is more like New York, metropolitan, skyscrapers, the whole lot. Beijing is where you get the culture and the China on the postcard.
If this is your first time in an Asian country, I do not suggest that you take the bus. While it is generally safe to travel by long distance buses in China, there is very limited English service. If you are only traveling long distances in between cities, flights are your fastest choice. If you are going short distances, train would be a good option. Try to purchase your train ticket in advance and on certain routes the rail authority requires that you log in your passport number for added security. So make sure you buy your ticket at ticket counters. The most obvious train ticket counters are at the train stations. Major cities such as Shanghai and Beijing have English speaking counters. They will sell you seats or sleepers that are sufficiently comfortable even by western standards. Your train ticket will have English printed on it. Be wary of people that tries to sell you tickets outside of ticketing counters.
Nov 14, 2012 1:44 AM
8Jiejie has summed it up. I have a feeling that you might find Vietnam an easier place to visit than China. You could fill 2 weeks nicely visiting Hanoi, Halong Bay and SaPa or Mai Chau. No way that you can do both Vietnam and China. We booked tours in Vietnam through Handspan and found them good value.
Booking tickets in China can be difficult if you don't speak Mandarin. Hotels will book for you for a fee. I'd recommend Beijing over Shanghai although Shanghai is more convenient to the Guilin area.
Nov 16, 2012 7:35 PM
9About internal travel within China, for flights check ctrip.com and travel.zen.com. No point booking too early for good prices.
For trains it is a bit more tricky. Tickets availability very much depends on when you travel. Hard to predict. But for the fast train Beijing-Shanghai there is nothing to worry about as there are so many. Tickets go on sale online 12 days ahead. Then they go on sale at the station or with ticket vendors all over town 10 days prior to travel date. The most popular tickets like the deluxe sleepers between Beijing and Xi'An are all gone by then. Tourists cannot really buy ticket online because not only is the website in Chinese but also you need a Chinese bank card to pay.
You alternative is to use an agent such as www.chinatripadvisor.com. This one charges a pretty high fee and require advance payment but they will deliver to your hotel. Another one is firstname.lastname@example.org. The charge much less and do not require advance payment but will not deliver. You pick up the tickets at the station. A bit like a "will call" system.
Nov 16, 2012 7:40 PM
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