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Backpack Beijing to HK Dec 07 - solo female - help please!

Travel Forums Asia Backpack Beijing to HK Dec 07 - solo female - help please!

1. Posted by MishMish (Budding Member 44 posts) 9y

MishMish has indicated that this thread is about China

Last year I asked about a lot of China stuff hoping to have saved enough to backpack China. Unfortunately it didnt happen so this year I have almost a whole year to save.

Most of my questions were answered last year but there are a few now that I would like some help on:

  • Will AUD$4000-5000 last me in China for about a month?? My plan includes Beijing-Xian-Shanghai-Guilin-Yangtze River-Guongzhou-HK. I know the places I'm choosing are all over the place and I will need to travel back and forth but I really want to go to all of them!
  • Will a month be enough for all those places??
  • Yangtze River Cruise - how do I go about doing this??? Lonley Planet is quite confusing for this one.....Is it expensive? - for a few days cruise, it seemed to cost more than what I can spend in two weeks in other places. Is it worth doing in Winter? - Really want to do this place too since it will be gone in the near future.
  • I really want to go to Tibet also. How hard will it be to do myself?? Has anyone travelled to Tibet alone who could give me some tips??I've read the Lonely Planet section and it seems doable....
  • Catching long distance trains alone - I'm still deciding whether I should trudge along a small suitcase instead of just a backpack but the main concern is how safe will the trains be if I also have a suitcase?
  • Also, if I want a sleeper and I'm alone will this be a problem?? I read somewhere that the little rooms sleeps 4, being with 3 strangers might be scary in such a small room.....Should I just get the sitting down ones??
  • Finally, is a single entry visa be OK? May be a silly question but I'm a little worried....say if I go to Tibet and return into China, will I need another visa??

Sorry for all the questions, and thank you to anyone in advanced for your patience and time for helping me out! Its my first solo trip...and first trip without a guide/tour. I'm only 22 and Chinese (dont speak Mandarin; brought up in Australia) so this is all quite scary (but VERY exciting) for me.

Thank you!!!

2. Posted by jesswong (Budding Member 18 posts) 9y

hi, i think you budget is good enough, while it all depends on how your are going to spend it.

first, in December, it is very cold in BJ, Xi'an and SH, sometimes it snows in Dec. and it's the dry season for Li River in Guilin.

There are some budget hotels in BJ, such as youth hostel, i'm sure you could find some on internet.

if you only have a month, i suggest you take train from BJ to Xian, then fly from Sian to SH, fly from SH to Guilin, take bus from Yangshuo to GZ, take train from GZ to HK. you could find some cheap flight tickets in travel agent or online.

still i think the schedule is tight.

Pay much much more attention to your luggages in the train and bus, expecially while you get off the train and walk out the railway station.

If you go to Tibet, you don't need another Visa.

You still have some time to plan. good luck!

3. Posted by daphnemaia (Full Member 155 posts) 9y

wow. tight schedule. ur money wil last u, but do u have extra time? it would be better..

it wil b very cold (stupidly cold, some might say) in beijing in winter - not sure abt other areas. try to put beijing in the earlier part of ur trip, when temperature is stil around 1-2 degrees celsius. by the 2nd week it might be around -4 or -6 degrees celsius already. not very conducive for taking long walks while visiting places!

4. Posted by michab3 (Budding Member 4 posts) 9y

I can help with some of the info about Tibet. It isn't so difficult to come here. You will need a special permit, which is most readily available in Chengdu. I heard they cost somewhere around $50 U.S. The train is the cheapest way to come here, and you will need a permit to buy the ticket. Since Tibet is part of China, you will not need another visa, just the permit.
However, your time constraints would make it difficult to make it here and everywhere else as well, unless you were flying. It's two days by train. And, even though Lhasa is a small city compared to many in mainland China, there is a lot to see. The altitude also has to be accounted for. If you are not used to any altitude, then it can make it difficult to enjoy your time unless you are prepared to spend a week or more. Some people have no problems at all, but you should be careful about that.

There are ethnically Tibetan areas in China, though, if you want to get a taste of what it is like without the long travel. Yunnan province has a lot of Tibetans, as do Sichuan and Qinghai provinces.

M

5. Posted by GregW (Travel Guru 2635 posts) 9y

Quoting MishMish

* Catching long distance trains alone - I'm still deciding whether I should trudge along a small suitcase instead of just a backpack but the main concern is how safe will the trains be if I also have a suitcase?

  • Also, if I want a sleeper and I'm alone will this be a problem?? I read somewhere that the little rooms sleeps 4, being with 3 strangers might be scary in such a small room.....Should I just get the sitting down ones??

No, get the sleeper. The 4 people alone in the room is actually the 2nd class sleepers. The 3rd class sleeper is just a large dorm room with lots of open bunks. 1st class is two bunks. In general, everyone I met on the trains was really nice, and even though I spoke no Chinese (or Russian or Mongolian), people were very nice to me.

Frankly, I think that the 3rd class sleepers might even be the safer option, as there are SO many people around that it is less likely that something untoward will happen. But then again I am a big, hairy and somewhat ugly 35 year old man, so perhaps I was just a little much for the Chinese to try and mug.

There is a place to put your suitcase and/or backpack. Don't leave anything super valuable in it. I would sleep with money belt on, and my wallet under my pillow. I left my camera and other stuff in a small bag and I would put at the head of my bed. No one bothered me.

I'm only 22 and Chinese (dont speak Mandarin; brought up in Australia) so this is all quite scary (but VERY exciting) for me.

Excellent! I wish I could give you a hug (assuming you would accept it from a 35 year old hairy monster from Canada) and tell you everything is going to be alright. I'm totally stoked by your excitement of the adventure you have ahead.

I wish I was as brave as you were when I was 22.

Cheers.
Greg

6. Posted by A-T-PRC (Budding Member 10 posts) 9y

Most trains don't have the 2-softbunk option, just the 4 softbunk compartment and the 6 hardbunk compartment along with soft and hard seats.

Having more people around doesn't necessarily mean your stuff will be safer as many people might observe theft but not say or do anything about it, which is more of the norm.

The safer option on the train is to get the higher bunk so that your things are more difficult to get to and to basically use your luggage as a pillow while you sleep.

Generally when you travel around you ought to have locks on your baggage, so if you have to use the lavatory on the train, take the keys to the locks with you, along with your other valuables.

I wouldn't bring a lot of things, considering you can buy things along the way (at generally cheaper prices) if you need them, and the more things you have to mind and carry, the more of a hassle it is especially since you'll be by yourself. I think the most convenient baggage arrangement would be a hiker's backpack (those things seem like black holes) and some type of shoulder bag. The shoulder bag could be used when you're out and about touring places so you have a place to put your Lonely Planet, any Chinese phrasebooks you might bring, your camera, toilet tissue, hand sanitizer, etc.

The benefit about coming to China during the winter is that it's the slow season - things will be cheaper, including the Yangzi cruise, and places (like the more popular sections of the Great Wall) will be less crowded.

I'd recommend learning a little bit of Mandarin before coming, just enough to know how to say things, as well as a little travel vocab. I'm sure you can get by without it, but I think it'd make things easier.

7. Posted by MishMish (Budding Member 44 posts) 9y

Thank you so much to everyone for replying to my questions!

To those first few who were concerned with my time contraints....I really dont have any constraints haha its just that I was worried since the longer I go means more money and I may not have enough....

I can go for about 3 months but I just thought that the money I will have wont last me 3!

And thanks for all the tips on the trains. I dont think I will stop worrying about that until its all over!

I have a feeling that most my money will be spent buying train tickets!

Thank you again everyone!

8. Posted by Kamatino (Budding Member 5 posts) 9y

hi
wish i could help..even by coming along .. u are really brave for your age.. and i dream come true for me.. im not sure about it but i may be able come over with you to at that time of the year.. in fact im just beginning to retire and wanting to satiate my wander lust.. even when i was much much older than you i never had the guts to go it like this.. all the best to you sweetheart enjoy.. i wish i were with you and atleast some of your adventure spirit would rub off me too.
all the best anyway..