We are planning a 6 weeks trip to China and have tentatively settled on the following itinerary. Would love to hear your thoughts: must-see additions, changes, etc.
Beijing (5 days) Datong (1 Day) Taihuai (4 Days) Pingyao (2 days) Xi'an (2 days) Lhasa(8 days) Lijiang, Dali, Zhongdian (5 days), Guillin, Yangshuo(5days) HongKong(5days)
We have some doubts:
The flight from Lhasa to Zhongdian? Where we can find it?
A Tibet tour in Lhasa, is better booking it before?
Thanks a lot!
I cant help you with much of this itinerary, but I do have one comment. Your Dali-Lijiang-Zhongdian route seems a little rushed in only 5 days. You'll probably only need one day in Zhongdian since its not too exciting and coming from Tibet, you probably won't see anything you haven't seen before. But Lijiang is a beautiful town worth of at least 2 if not 3 days of roaming around. Dali as well is worthy of 2 days more. And of course you've missed one of the highlights of the region - Tiger Leaping Gorge- which need at least 2 if not 3 days to do a hike there. Consider as well the time it takes to get between places. Though the rides between these towns aren't actually that long, once you factor in time to check out of your hotel, get to the bus station, take the trip, and then find a new hotel at your destination you've wasted half the day. So in a 5 day trip, you are probably only getting 3 1/2 of actual sightseeing. So I would say to do this part of your trip you should plan on at least a week. I spent nearly three weeks of my month long trip to China in these three towns.
About tours in Lhasa - I've never been so I can't give any difinitive advice, but have you looked into permit requirements for Tibet? It is my understanding that you need to be booked unto a tour to even be allowed into Tibet. I'm not positive on this, but it's probably something you should look into further.
We were in China last year, but did a different route than you are planning. One thing you might want to do is cut back your Beijing stay. It is a great city, but there is very little to do outside of seeing the main tourist sites. No night life. So if you pack it in fast & long during the day - Forbidden City / Tiananmen Sq, Summer Palace, the Wall, and maybe some other parks or museums you could be done in 3 or 4 days.
Degolasse is right about the travel times & accommodation search. Though it is quite possible to book ahead. The hostels are now listed on various website where you can contact & book online - and please stay in hostels in China, not in hotels. Here are 2 links:
Hotel booking service if you have to: http://www.sinohotel.com/
Also, I believe it is correct that you have to book a tour before being allowed into Tibet - but you can do that from some Chinese cities just before entry.
Xi'an - 2 days is plenty. I would advise against booking a tour to the Terracotta Warriors and surrounding sights - it costs about the same to hire a taxi to take you to the spots outside the city. You'll have a better time, I have done it both ways & the taxi way is far superior. If you study the LP guide, you'll know which places you want to see, though they don't list everything there. Don't bother with the Qin Shihuang tomb unless you have time to spare. If you like hiking, have the driver take you to main entrance to Li Shan where there is a nifty memorial to the defeat of Chiang Kaishek and the KMT - the Remonstration Pavillion. You will get a better insight into recent Chinese political history than any textbook. It is a place you will not likely see Western tourists. If you climb up to the top, you'll get some great exercise and meet lots of curious Chinese.
Glad you are giving HK 5 days - most people don't give it the credit it deserves. If you want details on what to do there, read my blog - we lived there for a year:
I agree with the others about Beijing. If you'd rather use a couple of days elsewhere, you can probably take a couple of days off of your time in Beijing. On the other hand, if Beijing's your first stop, you might want to allow yourselves some time to overcome any jetlag.
Major destinations in China are pretty spread out, so if you plan to take the train or long-distance bus to any of these destinations, be sure to take into account that getting to some of these places might be a day's journey or more. Try to keep your itinerary flexible.
Yunnan Airlines apparently has flights connecting Lhasa to Zhongdian. If you can't find any, you could try flights from Lhasa to the Xiaguan Airport in Dali / Xiaguan and just visit Dali before going to Zhongdian.
i suggest you cut 2 days in Guilin/Yangshuo, and leave more days to Lijiang-Zhongdian.
you are so busy, it is enough.