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Trip to China

Planning a 3-4 week trip to China this summer with my wife and looking for any tips, must sees and must avoids.

I know this isn't the TripAdvisor board but thanks for any advice and recommendations!

Comments

  • City wise, I'd say the top places to visit are:

    Beijing
    Xi'an
    Shanghai
    Hangzhou
    Suzhou
    Qingdao (amazing beer)
    Yangshou

    I'd also really recommend coming down to Yunnan, this is the most beautiful part of China, many people refer to it as paradise. The only (quite big) downside is the distance from anywhere else.

    Feel free to post any other questions and I'll do my best to answer them, I've been out here just over 3 years.
  • Cheers! Very early planning stage but will be sure to ask you more!
  • Take some throat sweets with you, something like Lockets. Pollution is none too good especially in Beijing.
  • Stu is right about the cities. You can get a bullet train between Shangha and Beijing, and a slower but interesting train to Xian.
    I think you have enough time to learn some rudimentary Mandarin, it isn't as hard as you think. If you each memorised five words per day between now and your trip you will have a good time.
    Avoid locals who are over friendly in tourist hot spots and invite you for tea, or to see calligraphy and art or to chat in English, they are out to rip you off.
    Bargain hard but respectfully when shopping in Beijing, and you can also get some decent bespoke clothes made if you time it right during your trip.
    It is a great experience and I highly recommend the Terracotta army, the great wall, Summer Palace, Forbidden City, Temple of Heaven and Beijing old town.
  • Cheers - this is really helpful. Learning basic Mandarin once a week from a friend who used to live there and now teaches it at my school so I reckon that will help at least a bit.
  • No advertising, but may i reccomend Chinese Express and Talk Chinese textbooks, (written by Mrs Plum). Look them up on Amazon, four and a half and five star ratings on there.
  • We went last April with a company called China Links so was more of a guided tour.

    As well as going to all the traditional places Seth mentions above we also had a cruise down the river Li from Guilin to a place call Yangshuo which we really enjoyed as it was very diverse and good nightlife.

    The things that really stick in the mind are the pollution in Beijing (you can get an app that lets you know if the level is safe or if you need to wear a mask!), being on the great wall, seeing the Terracotta army and how after every trip the older women on the tour would spend hours discussing if the toilets were clean and if there were western or only squat toilets available.

    We finished off with a trip to Hong Kong which we really enjoyed and if you are into horse racing a visit to Happy Valley is a must.

    The most surreal part of the trip was being in a hotel bar at midnight following the massives match thread as we came from 2 nil down to win 3-2. That is what you call an emotional rollercoaster and the few Chinese people remaining in the bar could not believe the cheering from the old white guy in the corner staring in disbelief at his computer!

    Hope this helps.
  • Include Chengdu in your travels; see some Pandas and fantastic food. If you can take the extra jump to Lhasa and a trip on the Lhasa Express (it touches 5,000m altitude) with fantastic views.
  • Chengdu has the best food in China, if you like spice.

    For learning the language pimsluer is great for the basics, although a lot of Chinese people, especially in the smaller, cooler parts of China don't speak mandarin so it can still be quite hard.

    I'd stay away from tour guides as they generally try to rip you off and earn most of their money from taking you to overpriced shops and getting a commission.

    Dexter is right, the river Li is breathtaking.

    Be wary of anyone taking you somewhere and buying you stuff like drinks or tea, you're going to get presented with a massive bill at the end.
  • don't know what to tell you

    Xian is a proper good tourist spot

    high speed rail now links most of the big cities (updated since seth last visited)

    check out ctrip.com for indication of internal flight prices

    i live way out in the wild west
    plenty to see and do out here.... but as with stu in yunan, it's just far

    depends what you are looking for

    what ARE you looking for?
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  • No high speed rail down here yet. =(
  • I last visited in 2013 and the changes since my previous visit were astonishing. Like to suggest you seek out some modern artistic stuff going on, especially Art, Dance, Drama and such like.
  • edited January 2015
    Have you been to Asia before? And I don't mean Bangkok, I mean deep Asia where there's hardly a single brick of Western culture. If you have, I'm sure you'll have a great time. If not, expect the unexpected!
  • Thanks everyone - very helpful. I guess we are looking to see main sights but also as much of the culture that our very limited language will permit. Haven't been to Asia at all so imagine it will be overwhelming but would look forward to the totally different experience.

    Price wise, how is it? Thinking about train and bus travel, medium to cheap hotels and eating.
  • Well a ticket for any journey of any length in the underground in Beijing last year was about 11p, and buses about 5p. The Beijing travelcard system is even cheaper. In the restaurant food bit, of one of the Beijing markets (might have been downstairs at the Silk market) I stood in front of the chef, instructed him on what vegetables to cook and how, and I had a great big bowl of vegetable rice, and a bottle of spring water for my lunch for under £2...I couldn't finish all the food. Shop around and spend wisely and it need not be expensive, obviously tourists are seen as easy prey, but some polite and good humoured resistance soon brings the prices of stuff down. Good to agree a price in advance for Tuk Tuk taxis and get a receipt for a yellow cab (all cheap) but sometimes the taxi drivers won't take you if they don't fancy it.
    Western style stuff, cakes or pizzas or coffee tend to be overpriced, and not as enjoyable as seeking out local stuff.
    Look at self posted youtube videos to get an idea of places like the Beijing subway, a bit of prior research can make the experience better.
    I agree about Beijing pollution, but on a good day, usually after some rain, a Beijing summer evening is simply splendid.
  • Hi CharltonMadrid, I'm Chinese and glad to know you're coming here. Everyone's offered some very useful information so I can't really add anything to what has already been said. Don't worry too much about travel expenses such as hotel rates and food prices. £1 equals ¥10 so you'll find that everything is actually very cheap here. Hope you'll have a great time. :smile:
  • hotels are cheap, mate.

    crazy scummy cheapies available for like a fiver

    but reasonable, solid cheapies that are part of national chains (days inn, hanting, home inn, even ibis) can cost ten to twenty quid.

    can go 5 star for between 50 and 100 quid, even in beijing and shanghai

    buses often cost 10p.... subway 10p upwards

    I'm currently in a one hour taxi ride to xian airport for 12 quid

    download wechat app, fella
    then add jessie, stu and i for ongoing advice
    my id is siviano
  • Mrs Plum uses wechat all the time and says it's great.
  • Yes CM we'll try our best to help you. My ID is JessieAddick.
  • Brilliant! This has all been a great help - much appreciated.
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  • seth plum said:

    Mrs Plum uses wechat all the time and says it's great.

    It's the best, especially if you're single ;)

    My ID: cafcstu

  • Don't forget Hong Kong.

    Always worth a visit and (still) subtly different from the mainland.
  • I went on a guided tour with Wendy Wu tours a couple of years ago and was so fantastic , I could relive it over and over. I couldn't reccomend them enough, they sorted everything.

    We visited Shanghai, Beijing and Xi'an.

    I didn't have a bad thing to say about any of the trip, except I have only had Chinese food probably twice since I came back, because it tastes nothing like what it does out there.

    I thought the tour would be more sheltered than exploring on our own, but they took us to some great places off the beaten track and all the main sights such as the wall, terracotta warriors, imperial city etc.

    The people taking sneaky pictures of you will be funny aswell. To this day I have no idea why a 15 strong Chinese family needed a picture with me at Chairman Mao's Mausoleum.
  • Wendy Wu, lead singer of The Photos.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Photos
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