So I was hoping people with experience travelling China could help me out. I'm looking at where to be going because it's such a huge country, and I love the natural, outdoors environment more than the cities. So in looking at these places, I've found that the only option is by car, or obviously by walking and cycling but my visa time ain't that long ha! So I was wondering, should I consider renting a car for such places or maybe just hitch-hike or something? Getting buses and trains would be ideal, but when the option isn't there in a place like China what's a good course of action to take? Any help appreciated
We travelled around China for a little over two weeks in July - Beijing, train the Xian for the Warriors and Hua Shan, train the Chengdu for the pandas, train to Chingqong and a cheap boat trip down the Yangtse to the dam and Yuching and then a train to Shanghai. We used this site for buying tickets - excellent!
I don't think there is an inch of China that isn't covered by buses. You'll have no problems getting almost everywhere with public transit. If you are really going off the beaten trail (I recommend knowing some Chinese), you could always hire a taxi or guide.
I would recommend visiting the areas around Yangshuo. Beautiful area, where you can hike and bike to get as far from tourists as you want. I would also recommend the area around Dali - Lijiang - and Shangri-La. It's also pretty touristy, but there are lots of smaller towns that you can visit to get off the beaten trail. Finally, I would recommend Yuanyang. Really quiet, traditional area that is just touristy enough to make it easy to get to, but yet still undiscovered enough that you feel like the only tourist there. Oh, and it's amazingly beautiful.
Well that's good to hear, and I never even considered the option of a taxi or guide. Thanks to you both for recommending places to visit. While I like cities, I do love off the beaten track locations and away from the touristy spots. Really appreciate the helps guys
Buses and trains, and perhaps even a flight, will get where you want to go; and your hostel or hotel also can help arrange a driver to take you off the beaten path. Huangshan, or Yellow Mountains, in Anhui Province, is a scenic place to visit, as well as Yangshuo, where you can take boat/raft trips on the Li and Yulong rivers. I especially like the raft trip on the Yulong. The Longsheng rice terraces aren't too far away; and good for hiking. If you're in Xian to see the terra cotta soldiers, don't miss the Shaanxi Historic Museum. Going to Dali? You'll remember a visit to the hillside village of Nuodeng, about 160 kilometers away. Be careful on public transportation. I was successfully pickpocketed only once in four decades of travel ... that was on a minibus traveling from Yangshuo. Unbeknownst to me, the thief cut my right-front pants pocket to remove my wallet (I now use a money clip). If you're flying in China, be prepared for delays. Since you're from Ireland, I don't know how long your visa is valid for. But as of last November, Americans can now apply for a 10-year multiple-entry tourist visa.
Hello! I just want to share my experience in Beijing! I went there during autumn season for a week and I stayed at Days inn Hotel. It is near in their shopping district wangfujing. The hotel offers a lot of tour packages that's why transportation is not a problem for me. I tried their subway but I'm very disappointed because the people are not disciplined in queuing and also they are rude to others. And the public toilets are very dirty and everywhere smells like cigarette. The only thing I enjoyed is going to the historical great wall of China! But I suggest don't take the Bandaling route because theres a lot of local tourists there.
Well that's great to hear! I wouldn't have thought that hiring a driver was really a thing to be doing ha! But it's a possibility, I will indeed. Yeah I've heard about the pickpocketing alright. I never have been take god but I'll really have my wits about me around there. Can't believe the lad actually cut your trouser pocket though, that's mental! Thanks so much to you both for the suggestions on where to go and why. It's a great help, because while I'm finding places online that are recommended, it's by people who have travelled to the place that can give me suggestions on little gems that are hidden and less known about.
Well going from what I've seen in videos, I can't imagine public transport is going to be a fun method of travel in the cities, but sure, gotta be done! Thanks again guys, I've added the info to my itinerary
Don't be too skeptical about Chinese public transit until you've used it, and don't go with the attitude that it's something that just "has to be done".
I will admit, buses in China aren't great. Usually drivers are fast and scary, and seats are not comfortable. For longer overnight journeys, I would choose trains every time hands down. But for shorter rides, and rides to more remote towns, it's not too bad and it's a good way to see the countryside. Honestly though, take one public bus in India, and Chinese buses will feel like a dream ride.
Trains on the other hand are awesome. I've taken many over night train rides, and shorter local rides and I've had nothing but excellent experiences. In fact, on my first trip to China 10 years ago, riding the trains was the highlight of my month long trip. It was comfy, cheap, and I met nothing but incredibly friendly and welcoming locals every time. Actually, looking back on 15 years of travel to 45 countries, it still brings back some of my warmest travel memories. Of course, you do have to look out for yourself. Know where your belongings are and keep your valuables safe. That goes for anywhere you travel on public transit whether its China, Bolivia, Italy, or your own city.
Subway systems in most cities, including Beijing, are fine. They are cheap, reliable, and safe. Sure, they can be crowded at times and maybe pushy, they are no different than any other busy city.
I totally agree with Degolasse. One additional observation. Even though Beijing's subway is crowded, many people remain courteous, particularly to seniors. Young people have offered their seats to me. You don't see that in a lot of places around the world.