Hello fellow travellers,
My husband and I are planning on travelling around China. We are actually situated in Hong Kong right now, and are in the midst of planning our trip to China. We are trying to avoid joining China tours because of all of the negativity we hear about them.
These are the main cities we want to go to in China: Guangzhou, Guilin, Shanghai, Luoyang, Xi'an, and Beijing. We also want to go to the Three Gorges, but not sure where we need to go to get there....
Can anyone give us help on how we can travel around China to the above mentioned cities....Is there a train pass that we can buy? What website link is there on the rail train in China? Are there bus options and if so, are they safe and better than trains?? If anyone can give us suggestions or share their experience...it would be greatly appreciated...thank you very much...
or if you know of a reputable tour company that is not too bad, i dont mind that either...
Please can anyone help.....
No, there's no train pass for China. All tickets are strictly point-to-point and must be bought separately for each journey. Do you need an English website for the trains, or will a Chinese one do? I think TravelChinaGuide website has train info, but the prices aren't that accurate. BTW, all tickets must be paid for in RMB cash, not USD or anything else!
Trains are definitely better than buses, I only take buses when I can't take a train.
The usual route for the 3 Gorges cruise is usually Chongqing-Yichang (downstream) or Yichang-Chongqing (upstream).
My suggested itinerary for you is Hong Kong-Guangzhou-Guilin/Yangshuo-Chongqing-Yichang-Luoyang-Xi'an-Beijing-Shanghai-Hong Kong. How much time do you actually have?
If you need help planning a tour, drop me a message and I'll see what I can do to help.
Sorry, not much online time at the moment...
We also want to go to the Three Gorges, but not sure where we need to go to get there....
The standard trip is between Chongqing and Wuhan. The tourist boats are much more expensive than the Chinese ones, and there are lots of options., Normally, they stop lots, but admission at everywhere you stop is not included and can mount up.
Is there a train pass that we can buy? What website link is there on the rail train in China? Are there bus options and if so, are they safe and better than trains??
There isn't a useful train pass you can get, no. Train timetables (in English) are at http://www.travelchinaguide.com/china-trains/index.htm. Tickets can normally only be bought a few days before departure (10 days in Shanghai and Beijing. 3 or 5 in most major cities, sometimes 24hours in smaller places), and fill up fast.
Getting tickets from obscure places, or on a train which does not originate at your station can be very hard without speaking Chinese. Most station staff refuse to even accept the possibility that there might be space on such trains, and won't even check. Which means that even if the timetable shows 5 trains, you may only really have a choice of 1 or 2.
There are many bus options, including overnight sleeper buses which are generally fine. However, buses are always more dangerous than trains (relatively speaking), divers tend to drive long hours, speeds and driving standards aren't always at the level you would like and road standards can be hit and miss, although most highways are good and empty. If you are stuck with a bus, it's no problem, although sleeper buses can be hard to sleep on, especially on top bunks on windy roads if you are not used to them. Buses are generally more expensive than traisn as well.
There isn't one overridingly obvious route, so my suggestion would be something like: go to Guangzhou first by train (regular from HK), then Guilin/Yangshuo (bus is the easiest). Then to Chongqing and take the boat to Wuhan, then train to Luoyang, Xian, Beijing and ending in Shanghai, from where you can go back to Hk if required. But realistically, after Guilin, there are several ways you can go. All of that is done without knowing where you need to finish.
Note that internalChinese flights are generally very competitive, and may well be worth a look. For example, naning (5hrs by train south of Guilin) to Shanghai takes 2hrs 40 and costs 550rmb. Hard sleeper on a train for the same trip would be only slightly less, and would take over 36hours.
On trains, Hard sleeper is perfectly fine, and is 3 bunks on top of each other in open compartments. Soft sleeper is 4bunks in compartments with doors but can cost almost twice as much. Unless you like to experience the real Chinese squeeze, Hard seat should only really be done relatively short distances, and with reserved seats if possible (otherwise, you will end up standing, and you are only interested in standing for a 33hour journey once). Seats are 5 per row, so not the roomiest, although they are perfectly ok. Soft seat is nice,but more expensive and only on certain trains.
Oh, and Wuhan is the longer standard version of the Yangzee trip. Yichang is teh place to go for a shorter condensed version. I haven't actually done the trip yet (ran out of time on my recent trip there, but will be back within a month or so) so can't tell you if the longer version is worth it. It is possible to go all the way form Chongqing to Shanghai, but that is several days (6?) and doesn't give you that much extra, in addition to being awkward to the rest of your itinerary.
Thanks guys for all of your detailed help. It seems from what Gelli is saying that it is worth taking a look at the internal Chinese flights...wondering if there is a website link to find out the flight fares and schedules??
It seems from what Gelli is saying that it is worth taking a look at the internal Chinese flights...wondering if there is a website link to find out the flight fares and schedules??