Hi I'm going out to China in July with a couple of friends and also meeting some friends out there. We have only 2 weeks maybe slightly more. Where do people suggest? We will prob start in Beijing and work west - my friend is heading towards Kazakhstan so we didn't know whether to follow her route or if we'd be missing out on some must sees. I'm not too bothered about big cities - i would prefer to see the more cultural and rural places.
how much does it cost to fly in between places - obviously i'm very aware of how big China is so it may not be easy to get around - what are the train services like between places?
Last question- how much would i need to budget for my two weeks?
PS we are planning on doing it quite cheaply - most of us have backpacked a lot so are used to living relatively basically. - and some of speak mandarin and cantonese
It's too greedy to get around in two weeks! Forget about traveling by train, since you are time limited. You may head to Xian for Chinese ancient culture then go to Jiuzhaigou and Yunnan Province for wonderful landscapes. It's hard to say how much budget you need, because you didn't tell what kind of hotel is your prefers. All I can tell is that I spent nearly $2000 for Tours4fun 11 days China highlights package (including 5-star hotel accommodations, some sorts of shows and domestic flights in China). But if you choose to spend nights in Youth Hotels, it will sure to save you a lot!
Spent a lot of time in china (2 and half years) and with two weeks choose an area and stick to it. I would spend a few days in Beijing, duck into Shanghai then go you to Huang Shan (Yellow Mountain) for some hiking, maybe hit up a few other mountains nearby. It is pretty easy to get over night trains between Shanghai and Beijing. Or i would i do Beijing, Pingyao and Xi'an. there are some nice mountains near and on the way to Xi'an from Beijing. Also Xi'an is the direction your friend will have to go, so you can spend time with her. Any more then that and you might go insane.
If you come to China,you cannot miss all these colourful historical and natural scenery.
Beijing:Great Wall(original part is not in beijing,though),Summer Palace(its ruined and robbed by Western United Army),Yihe Yuan,Forbidden City,Heaven Temple,Beijing Duck in QuanJuDe,Hutong Culture in old part of the city,Tiananmen Square(do you still remember 1989?),Beihai Park,Xiangshan Park.Wangfujin Road,Beijing Opera(though i dont like it very much),Shisan Tomb,ect.I think this is a city of many places of interest.But the air is not so good.
Shanghai:modern city,biggest economic city in mainland.I dont know it very much,but i think there you can see a lot of travel manual book,and many english speaking foreigners.
Zhejiang:very great province,beautiful history and culture,crazy industry desire,and increasingly economic development.
in Hangzhou,you can see West Lake,where Mrs Snake loves a human for preexistence favor.And in most Chinese eyes,Hangzhou represents a beautiful dream of heaven,together with Suzhou City.And Zhejiang produced a lot of great writers,philosophers,politicians,scientists.And its called the province of Water Country.And there are many beautiful mountains too.So its natural and cultural worthy to explore furthur into the land.Thousand Island Lake,Nanxi River,Taishun Bridge,Putuo Mountain,Yandan Mountain,Huangshan Mountain(its not in zhejiang,but its very close to Hangzhou.)Liuhe Tower,Lingyin Temple,Silk,Longjin Tea(both of them are the most precious kinds amongst all).And zhejiang has many beautiful water villages,which are ancient styled and very traditional lyric.Like Wu Village,Nan xun village, Xitang village.In chinese literature,"River South"is a kind of very classical and unique culture,which mostly means zhejiang,with some of Jiangsu Province.
Jiangsu:like Zhejiang,very resplendent.Qinhuai River,Zhongshan Tomb,the Thin West lake,Linshan Buddha,Tai Lake,ZhouZhuang Village,several fancy courtyards.There is a proverb:Up is Heaven,Down is Suzhou and Hangzhou.
Shandong:the reason i make this suggestion is because,the formal culture of China is originated here.You can visit the hometown of Confucius and Mencius,and Tai Mountain is spectacular too.
Tibet:VERY VERY GORGEOUS,but you should be healthy enough,because the air is subtle in high land.Brahmaputra River is very mysterious and beautiful.There you can understand Buddhism better than any other where.Because its not so many industry effort,i think there you would find more surprise and adventures.
Xinjiang:I think the desert is fun,and the sweet fruits,oh,i love it!And TianShan Lake,its called the lake in heaven.And Devil Castle is magical.Some temples are unique.Swan Lake is a place of many swans.Luobupo is called the place of death,the crucial station in Silk Road.
Qinghai:Qinghai Lake is fantastic.Its the original place of Huang River,and Chang River(the two is the longgest rivers in China,and long enough to be in the world,you cant miss them).
Yunnan:i dont know it very much.Yunnan means "the south of colourful clouds".Kunming,dali,lijiang,xianggelila,xishuangbanna,all of them are very very beautiful.Especially the last three,very famous in China,and even the world.Stone Forest.Step Farms,Yulong Snow Mountain.some Ancient Cities.
Sichuan:in History,its called the country of heaven(at that time,China is not united).SanxingDui is a forever mystery in Culture.Jiuzhai Gou is one of the most renowned tour place in China.Emei Mountain is one of the Holy Lands of Chinese Kungfu.Theres an E'mei faction in Chinese Kungfu history.Oh, and Leshan Buddha,its so incredible and large.ect.
Neimenggu:i love those great grassland and sheep and cows.Its a place with a lot of fun!
Guangxi:Guilin is famous.
Other provinces:they are all interesting and with many stories and sightseeings.But i dont have time to write one by one,so just including my interest and impression,i choose the other ones.
Hongkong Macao Taiwan,they are special,more like hybrids.So they are interesting too.
I think China means a mixture of many different cultures.And if you want to know China well,you should see all of them,ranging from the heroic gallent North to the mild lyric South,from the original West to the morden East coast,from the rural dialect to the urban taste,ect.
Wish you have a good time in China!