First trip to China - advice please
Replies: 5 - Last Post: Mar 31, 2013 3:01 AM Last Post By: Konniandmatt
Mar 22, 2013 7:12 PM
First trip to China - advice pleaseHi!
We are currently in the process of planning our first trip to China, and we are looking at using one of the many third party companies that book trains etc on our behalf (China DIY Travel is looking to be the one we go with at the moment) and before we go ahead we just wanted to get a bit of advice!
We have 2 weeks in total, flying into Hong Kong and out of Beijing.
Our current itinerary is:
3 nights Hong Kong (always wanted to visit, seemed like a good starting point)
2 nights Yangshuo (for the beautiful scenery)
1 night Zhengzhuo (to check out Song Mt and the Shaolin monastery, huge Kung fu fan as a child!)
2 nights Shanghai (feel like we shouldn't miss this?)
3 nights Beijing (for the culture and history in and around)
with 3 nights being spent on overnight trains.
Our concern is that we don't know if trying to see this much is a good idea in the time we have, and if not, what should we cut out? I think Shanghai would be the obvious cut, but would that be a mistake?
If you can recommend anywhere else that we shouldn't miss, we are open to any suggestions.
Thanks in advance for any advice you have
Mar 22, 2013 7:29 PM
1Shanghai would be the obvious cut, and not a great miss in my opinion.
Maybe look at a flight from Guilin to Zengzhou (if you want to go there).
So, overnight train from Shenzhen to Guilin; perhaps see the rice terraces first and spend a night there. Then down to Yangshuo for 2-3 nights. You can book the Shenzhen-Guilin train in Hong Kong for around HK$100 commission per ticket.
Then flight up to Zhengzhou and Shaolin (might need 2 nights; don't under estimate travel times). Look on ctrip.com ,elong.net and travelzen.com.
Zhengzhou is on the high speed line to Beijing- so not much need to use an agent to book in advance.
Probably have 4 nights in Beijing at the end.
Mar 23, 2013 9:04 PM
2Thanks for this. We've decided to cut Shanghai and possibly replace Zhengzhou with Xian. I've been told that it offers so much History that the commercialisation is worth it. would you agree?
As for not using an agent, I've been told that this is very difficult in China due to the language barrier?
Mar 23, 2013 9:53 PM
3You will find a lot of places in China highly commercialised and crowded with visitors. Unless you really have the time to get to out of the way places, plus the language skills to get there, I think you just have to accept China as it is and treat the massive crowds as part of the experience.
Xian has quite a lot to see, and its logistics are probably easier than Shaolin for a first time visitor.
I think the language barrier is less than of issue compared to the demand for certain tickets. You can often get tickets through a hotel travel desk for a much smaller commission, or get the hotel to write down in Chinese which ticket you want exactly, then get from the train station yourself.
If you are going Hong Kong- Guilin (Yangshuo)- Xian - Beijing, then I think the two routes you could have overnight trains are Shenzhen - Guilin, and Xian- Beijing, but do also look at flights on these routes as fares can be heavily discounted. If by train, tickets on the Xian- Beijing route do go fast, so you would probably need to use an agent to try to get that one. For peace of mind, I'd probably fly that route and book tickets online myself.
The Shenzhen - Guilin train can be booked by yourself in Hong Kong for a commission of around US$13 a ticket - or if the online ones can do it for a similar price and get the ticket to you at your Hong Kong hotel, do it that way. Or, if you are prepared to play it by ear, cross the border around lunch time and try to get a ticket for same day travel yourself, and if none are left, go by sleeper bus direct to Yangshuo.
Mar 24, 2013 6:49 PM
Mar 31, 2013 3:01 AM
Beijing is the centre of the Chinese universe and it deserves at least five days. We backpacked China last year, arrived at Beijing (from Canada) and had planned to spend one week. But we left Beijing only after one full month! There were so many things to see and so little time.
Feel free to peruse our travel notes for details and tips:
Happy and safe travels always, Matt.
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