I am travelling with a colleague to Beijing and Shanghai (one week in each city) in mid-April. Can anyone provide suggestions on the following:
1.) Good, clean, comfortable hotels in each city, having high-speed wireless internet access as one of the amenities. The hotels don't have to be luxurious, but the nicer the better, at a good price of course...
2.) Any must see attractions, bars, etc that may not show up on the typical top 10 list. We're looking for places that are unique and somewhat off the beaten path.
3.) An interpreter / tour guide that we could hire to go around with us. We're looking for someone who won't just translate the words, but also knows and is willing to discuss what is really going on and what would be interesting to see/do. Anyone have experience with such a person?
Any help would be appreciated! Thanks!
May I submit for your approval, the Bamboo Garden Hotel in Beijing. I paid $US 80 a night for a single room which was quite beautiful. It is clean, good and comfortable. The only item it does not have on your list is WIRELESS internet access. It has in-room broadband internet, so if you bring a long wire it's almost as good as wireless.
As for attractions not on the typical top ten list, I would suggest an outdoor dancing lesson. I was quite surprised when in Beijing how much people do in groups in outdoor courtyards. One night I was walking back from dinner through the hutong near my hotel, and came across a courtyard where women were line dancing in the dark! The courtyard was very dark, but people were watching the women, kids were playing on the playground equipment, men were doing tai chi. It's just amazing - it's like an outdoor community centre. Very cool to see.
Make sure to check out the hutong - all the small and winding alleys that are home to many Beijing residents. They are quickly disappearing as Beijing prettys itself up for the upcoming 2008 Olympics. The hutong is amazing to see, both for the cramped living conditions, but also for the friendly nature of the people and the amount of things that occur outdoors (due to the lack of indoor space).
Also, check out the people flying kites, either at Tiananmen square or in Ritan Park. It's amazing to see how HIGH these guys get their kites.
I could bring you around in my free time, if you like. I'm currently studying at the Shanghai Conservatory of Music, faculty of traditional Chinese instruments. Have been in Shanghai for 2.5 years and I've been to Beijing about 4 times so far. Feel free to drop me a message if you're interested. What's your budget like for lodging? And what are your sightseeing preferences?
you should not miss hangzhou, which is my favourite city in China. It's only 2-hr drive from shanghai.