I'm planning to spend 4 weeks in China and would like some help on how is best to use my time. I realise 4 weeks is not long for such a big country but does anybody have any ideas?
I don't want to be constantly travelling, I like to relax and take it easy but obviously I'd like to experience as much as I can in the time. Would I be best just staying in one region and leaving the rest for another time maybe? I'm going in November. I'd lke to take in the culture and the scenery and some of the authentic traditional lifestyle.
Hi,welcome to China.
4 weeks is really not enough for your travel in China. If it is your first time to China, Peking should be the city you shouldn't miss, as there are many places of interest and historic sites to visit. Also in Nov. the leaves will turn red in Mountain Xiang. which is also famous for its trees there. Also the Great Wall, Summer Palace, Palace Museum, etc...
Actually, 4weeks is even not enough for Peking itself.
YunNan will also be a good choice and I like it very much, the scenery there is special as many minority live there. You will know another side about China. Jiu Zhai Gou in Si Chuan Province is also terrific. Not sure if you know well about Chinese movie. "Hidden Dragon, Crauch Tiger" by An Li was set in there. If you ever watched the movie, you should have seen the beautiful scenery there. I also want to go to Tibet but you need to be healthy enough as the altitude there is high and if you are weak, you can't bear the less air there, though the environment is pretty good and special...
I live in Qingdao, Shandong Province, a seaside city. Our city will hold all the sailing games in 2008 Olympics. But to be honest, 4 weeks is a little bit long for our city as it is not big enough. But the scenery is not bad here either, also you can enjoy fresh seafood and the sea.
Not sure if my words will help. Whatever, wish you a pleasant trip to China.
Feel free to contact me if you need more help.
Based on my three weeks in China I would recommend Yangshuo for laid back relaxing. Lots of things to do (bike rides in the country, kayaking on the river, Chinese cooking school, Tai Chi lessons etc). Its a bit "touristy" in places but that could be a good or a bad thing. Overall it has a big village feel. Most people speak English, and there is plenty of Western food, bars, sports on TV etc if that is your thing.
The other highlight for me was Chengdu. Pandas, and the gateway to Tibet. Its a reasonably large city with lots of things to do. We spent a couple of days just wandering the streets. Didn't actually stay there by Holly's Hostel does good Western and Chinese food and looks pretty good.
As for staying in one region, I'm not sure. Overnight sleeper trains aren't the worst experience in the world, and if you can play Chinese Chess or speak a little Chinese you will make friends easily enough. We were on a guided tour so buying tickets and working out which bunk to sleep on wasn't an issue. Your mileage my vary. Great way to cover distance in otherwise "wasted" time.
There are plenty of internal flights as well. The exchange rate to the pound is fantastic (You'll get about 15 Yuan to £1). A one way flight from Beijing to Hong Kong cost me 1200 Yuan but again that was with the help of a local guide.
Most dishes at a pretty standard restaurant or cafe will set you back about 20-25 Yuan depending on what's in them (meat dishes are more expensive). Bottled water varies from 2 - 5 Yuan depending on where you buy it. (Up to 15 Yuan half way along the Great Wall from the guy who has been following you just waiting for you to collapse from dehydration)
This got way beyond the scope of your question. Hope some of my memory is accurate, I'm sure someone will correct me if I'm wrong.
Loved China, can't wait to go back.
i think yunnan is a good choice then. it is a beautiful region with many places of interest and also places to hang out like dali. maybe something like lijang (nice but very touristic) and a trek in the tiger leaping gorge (breath taking, the views i mean :-)), dali (relaxing), kunming (cool city, nightlife) and if there is some time left an overnight train to yangshuo (not a bad experience at all). there you can spend easily some time, too. it would be also fantastic for climbing. hope this helps a bit!
We spent three weeks in Yunnan, and did the things that angela g suggested as well as some other things (a bit of cycling, going up to the tibetan plateau at Zhongdian where there is an amazing monastery). It was a very full three weeks, and we could have spent at least another week there if we wanted to get a bit further off the beaten track - the sheer number of things to see was intimidating.
I think for 1 month it would be best to look at one area in depth - I've only been to Yunnan, but I would recommend it.
Thanks a lot everybody, that's great.
We're thinking of going to Yunnan and/or Sichuan, they both look amazing and the sort of thing we're after. I've got loads of questions, so if anybody can help on anything I'll be grateful . . .
We would also like to go to Tibet for a while, has anyone gone from Yunnan/Sichuan to Tibet? Is it easy to do (do we need extra visas etc)? Where is cool in Tibet?
For the sleeper trains, could someone give us an idea of how quick they are? It is hard to judge the scale of the place and I don't know how fast they travel, so if anybody could give an example of a journey they did and how long it took that would be useful for working out our travelling.
Money. I've heard travellers cheques are a pain to use in China, is this true? Would I be better of taking bank cards? How is China for cash machines/ATMs?
Finally, I'd appreciate any more recommendations for cool places to go in Yunnan, Sichuan (Mount Emei?) or Tibet, things to see and so on. I'll look into the ones you've all said already, thanks for that.
Many thanks again.
[ Edit: Edited on Aug 29, 2007, at 3:47 AM by timdunford ]
I'm currently in Tibet, so I can give you some advice about that. There are several hostels in town that have reasonable prices. Regular hotels are usually pricey and full this time of year. ATM's are everywhere, as are branches of Bank of China.
They are quite strict about permits now, but I do know that some people who come on the train don't have them, but if you are caught without one they send you out. If you are traveling alone, you might have a tough time getting a permit. I've heard that Sim's Cozy Guesthouse in Chengdu might be able to help with that. (This advice comes from some travel agents here).
If you take the train from Chengdu, it's 48 hours to Lhasa, a bit less if you come from Xining. Flight is definitely more expensive, but faster, only an hour and fifty minutes from Chengdu.
Sightseeing here can be expensive and sometimes difficult, although there are fewer tourists here now, and will be fewer as the season progresses. During the last month or so, the line to get tickets for the Potala (100 yuan) started forming about 8pm the night before and people were there all night waiting until the office opened at 8 am the next morning. A similar situation was occurring with the train. So, it is helpful to make some plans about those kinds of things in advance. Also, it can be difficult to arrange permits for traveling outside of Lhasa, so make sure those places are listed on your permit.
The rule is now that tourists aren't allowed to take pilgrim buses, but I know of some individual travelers who have. If you get caught, there is usually a fine of some kind. Tourists are supposed to rent cars and if you are going to a place that requires a permit, Samye Monastery and surround area, for example, you need to hire a car and a guide, which can become expensive. However, there are lots of tourists usually looking to share expenses, and they post signs around at the different agencies.
If you have any questions about Tibet, please let me know.
My partner and I are going to China for a month on the 9th September. We are flying into Beijing where we plan to spend 3-4 days before getting a train to a small town called Pingyao. It is a very traditional Chinese town and according to the guidebooks has not changed in over 3000 years!
We are then moving onto Xian to see the Terracotta Warriors etc so probably a couple of days there. Then Chengdu to see the Panda Sanctuary and we may get a flight and a permit and go into Tibet for a few days depending on how much time we have as I would love to vist Potala Palace and if possible, Everest Base Camp. I think while in that area it would be a shame to miss out on such an amzing place.
We then would like to go into Yunnan province as the scenery is meant to be amazing and we also want to do the Tiger Leaping Gorge trek which is roughly 100 kilometers from Lijiang, another place we would like to visit. Guilin is another must see. Google the name and you will see the most amazing pictures so we plan on heading there too.
We then head onto Hong Kong for a few days so if there is time we may visit Guangzhou but not a neccesity. We want to stay out of the main cities and experience rural China as the country is changing so rapidly. We haven't got a set plan just an idea of places we would like to visit and a rough route. If we plan to much we may miss out on a experience that crops up along the way!!
When are you visiting China?
We're travelling in November. Do you think it will be fairly quiet for tourists by then Michelle? We are going to try and get our Tibet visas before we travel I think.
Does anybody recommend any good places to see in Lhasa and the rest of Tibet? I've heard rumours of staying with monks/living their lifestyle?
How much are the hostels and trains roughly? We had planed to stay in one or two provinces but after hearing about the high speed trains we are thinking we can maybe fit a bit more in. (Is the train from Xining quicker because it is one of the high spped trains? Do you know how much it costs?)
Yunnan looks amazing Katyvose, we're going there hopefully. How have you booked your flights, are you doing them before you leave or when you're out there? How expensive are they?
Finally, I read on the Lonely planet site that Sichuan and Yunnan have been affected by floods lately, anybody know more on this? Or, more generally, what kind of clothes should I be packing for this trip?
Thanks for all the help. (Our Lonely Planet guide should be arriving soon so that should help us plan things better too)