Assistance with 3 Week China Itinerary for October
Replies: 12 - Last Post: Apr 7, 2013 6:33 PM Last Post By: Jennifer2995
Apr 3, 2013 3:14 AM
Assistance with 3 Week China Itinerary for OctoberHi,
I'd like some help refining my itinerary for my first trip to China. I have three weeks and I'll be flying into Beijing and out of Hong Kong. I'd definitely like to see:
Beijing and Great Wall (5-6 days)
Xian (2-3 days)
Shanghai (3-4 days)
Hong Kong and Macau (6-8 days; travel partner has business to attend to there so will need to stick around)
I realize this would be more than enough on its own, but I'd like to see if I might squeeze in a bit more, a couple of day trips or overnights. The places I'm considering are:
I know there are great things I'll be missing in Guangxi, Yunnan, Sichuan, Anhui and beyond but I feel I should save those for future trips when I have more time.
I'm more of a culture and history person who can be on my feet all day, while my travel partner is a big foodie who enjoys his share of history and culture but doesn't like to be too rushed (!). In the big cities we can make that work but I know from experience that trying to cram in too many side-trips won't be pleasant. Which of these secondary locations would really add to this itinerary? Help me narrow down this list - talk me out of some of these ideas, please!
Apr 3, 2013 3:30 AM
1You could do Pingyao for a couple of days before you go to Xian.
You could see Nanjing, Suzhou and Hangzhou as short overnight trips from Shanghai, or in a circle - Shanghai - Nanjing - Suzhou (Tongli) - Hangzhou - Shanghai. You could also stay a night in a smaller place such as Tongli or Xitang in that general area (but avoid weekends).
Fenghuang does not fit.
Chengde - possible from Beijing.
Apr 3, 2013 3:59 AM
2Chengde? Why? It's 3 hours from Beijing and really not worth the effort. If you go there, you'll not have enough time in Beijing. Furthermore, the entry price for the Summer Resort (The ONLY reason to go there) is laughably high (And is an almost exact replica of the Summer Palace anyway)
Pingyao IS worth the effort of shaving a day off one of/both your Beijing/Xian experiences.
3 to 4 days in Shanghai is about 2 days too long but, as Drumbrake says, you could use it as a jumping off point for trips somewhere else (Nanjing/Suzhou/Tongli/etc)
Fenghuang: miles away from anywhere.
6 to 8 days in Hong Kong/Macau is a hell of a long time. You might want to consider getting a multiple-entry Chinese visa and taking in some areas of Guangdong (Or even Guangxi) whilst you wait.
The first week of October is the National Day holiday! You do NOT want to be trying to travel around that period if you can possibly help it.
Apr 3, 2013 6:14 AM
Apr 3, 2013 3:20 PM
4Thanks to all for your suggestions. I won't be arriving until the beginning of the third week of October, so should miss out on the holiday.
Good to know that the Summer Resort is so similar to the Summer Palace, which of course I'll already be seeing in Beijing. Might be able to cross Chengde off the list for this trip, then, although I hear that the temples there are also nice. I realize that Fenghuang is out of the way, but it does seem so interesting. Still, may have to save that one too. If I could only make one side-trip from Shanghai, are there any recommendations between Nanjing, Suzhou and Hangzhou? Lots of history in Nanjing - I like that - but Suzhou and Hangzhou seem very nice.
I'm familiar with the various locations of the places I've mentioned; the issue for me is deciding which spots deserve my time and effort. If you could only choose two of these places, regardless of location, which ones would it be?
And one more question. I was planning on buying all my train tickets once I arrive at the ticket office in Beijing, instead of queuing over and over again in the various cities. It's too bad about not being able to buy online. This is possible, yes? Or should I consider paying the premium to purchase some of them in advance through a ticket agency? And get a flight from Shanghai to Hong Kong, which would give me an extra day?
Apr 3, 2013 3:51 PM
5Yes. You'll be able to buy all your train tickets in one location (There will be a 5 RMB surcharge).
You don't need an extra dai in Hong Kong. An extra day in Shanghai would allow you to visit another nearby city though. Personally, I'd leave Hangzhou to last (I.E. I'd do Suzhou, Nanjing and then, if I had time, Hangzhou). Hangzhou is OK... But it's just a lake really. I've seen lakes.
Apr 4, 2013 4:15 PM
Apr 4, 2013 11:14 PM
7I live in Shanghai and it gets lots of abuse on here but, for what it's worth, I think it's well worth 3 or 4 days. You could easily spent that much time roaming the backstreets, watching locals and enjoying the food/atmosphere/madness.
Went to Tongli, Suzhou and Hangzhou at Christmas.
Tongli we really enjoyed: spent a few days chilling out, not doing much, and it's especially atmospheric in the evenings, when the lights come on and the crowds dissipate.
Suzhou's gardens were a massive damp squid. Went to the one rated by the LP as 'possibly the best of the bunch' and it was rubbish, but then again, I regret not hiring a guide; I think without someone to explain what a particular view or scene means a lot of the gardens come across -to our ignorant eyes- as random hodgepodge of freaky concrete 'rocks' and some lame attempts at borrowed views.
But the town itself we liked, so it all balanced out. It's especially pleasant walking along the canals in the evening. Or maybe that's because of my personal obsession with canal-side walks.
Hangzhou has, as manchurianexile noted, a lake, and like him I've seen lakes, so I regret wasting the day it took us to walk around it, especially when we woke the next morning and had to cancel our trip to the hills for some tea-tasting/roaming about, as it was raining buckets.
What Hangzhou does have is some really good food. We ordered 14 dishes at Grandmas Kitchen (I think that's what it was called- it's by the western edge of the lake) and 11 of them were excellent.
Apr 4, 2013 11:16 PM
Apr 5, 2013 4:18 AM
Apr 5, 2013 7:55 PM
10Thanks to everyone for your suggestions. I've altered my possible itinerary a bit, so that it now looks like this:
Hong Kong & Macau (6-8)
If I can I'll add another day to Xian and Shanghai - it all depends on how long I'll need to spend in Hong Kong. Right now, it's looking to be the entire 8 days.
One more question. I may end up buying most of my train tickets in advance and having them sent to my hotel, to avoid the hassle after I arrive. Should I also get my train ticket to the Great Wall in advance, or can I pick that up easily the day before? Or must I take the bus? I'd like to visit the Mutianyu section.
Apr 5, 2013 9:24 PM
11Only bus (or taxi) to the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall.
Have a look at http://www.seat61.com/China.htm for some recommendations of the different ticket agents and the prices that they charge.
Shanghai - Hong Kong - probably best to fly - look at China Spring Airlines, or other airlines to Shenzhen.
Apr 7, 2013 6:29 PM
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