Hi all, few questions!
I am planning to travel to China with friends for 5 weeks- late August and September this year on a budget of around £1500 after flights. Firstly...is this sufficient? I've been to Vietnam and Thailand, how does China compare price wise?
Secondly I want to buy a guide book to do some research on visas, vaccinations and hostels- which guide book is best? Lonely Planet or Rough Guide?
Lastly in terms of traveling around China, are there hostels that are likely to be full in September to meet other travelers and young people? In addition is it feasible to in 5 weeks start in Beijing and head South with perhaps a flight home from Hanoi? Covering Xi'an, Shanghai and Hong Kong along the way?
Actually it turned out to be quite a lot of question...apologies, any help would be gratefully received!
It is very possible on your budget to do that trip. If you stick to the main tourist areas there are usually foreigner friendly youth hostels along the way. If you want to go off the beaten track it is usually state owned hotels with rooms ranging from 80 rmb to 150 rmb night. Dorms range from about 60 rmb to 20 rmb a depending on the area of the country. You have a lot of time. Big industrial China can get really boring quickly. I would say go from Beijing to Xi'an then to Xiahe, then south to Chengdu, then up to Northern Yunnan hike Tiger leaping gorge, work your way to Kunming then Yangshou and Guilin. Then overland to Hanoi. Most of the destinations have articles in the wiki guide on travellerspoint, so check those out. This trip is also a good balance of industrial and natural China. If looking for cheap plane tickets in China www.elong.net.
Lonely planet is pretty good for China, i have heard mixed reviews on the rough guide. Footprint is supposed to be good. But as they say in South East Asia "Same Same but different."
money is enough,,actually if u use it properly,avoid being trick, half is enough. i stayed in lijiang for a month now,only spend 2000rmb here. lonely planet is good, i saw every foreigner here r holding one,funny. youth hotel is good,price is 30-50 for one bed one night,and u can always meet people there,tibet,xi'an,hangzhou,suzhou,guilin,yangshuo,beihai,dali,lijiang,hainan,ect.. r very good place to go,not suggesting u to go shanghai,modern city with no fun.
Thanks very much for the responses and suggestions I'll check those out and perhaps steer away from the big cities a little!
In terms of getting visas, is it best as a British citizen simply to go to the embassy in London and get a single entry visa for £30 or so?
Also flights, does it cost a huge amount more to fly to Hanoi and then home from Beijing as opposed to a conventional return?
One last question, just since you both seem to have a good grasp on the geography of it all, in 5 weeks would Phnom Penh>Siem Riep>Hanoi and then up through China be feasible? Stopping briefly at the first places, mainly to see Angkor Wat and the 2 cities quickly....
What are travelling times and prices like on trains/buses once you get into China?
Thanks again, incredibly helpful!
How goes it?
Im headin into china end of july for a month and thought id give you a bit of info re visas, as they are a bit of a nightmare at the mo what with the olympics.
What you need to do is provide bookings of your travel in, travel out (flights or trains) and also some hotel bookings as well. If your able to go to london to the embassy then you will have to provide all these documents in order to get your visa.
Im waiting on mine coming back now from an agent (visatochina.com) who have been pretty cheap and easy to deal with. On their advice i sent them my flight booking in, a dummy flight booking out (guangzhou to kuala lumpur £50 airasia.com), I had to pay that £50 and just forfeit it as I couldnt think of another way of booking an exit when I dont know til i get there how i'll be gettin to vietnam. Anyways, thats an option. For my accomodation i booked 3 nights in Beijing and 3 in guangzhou on hostelworld.com. they only took a deposit so i only paid £10 all in and if i cancel then I get the deposit back to go against another booking.
1 piece of advice, dont say your staying here there and everywhere, you will be expected to show hotel bookings for everywhere you say your going to. So if you just say Beijing and guangzhou like i have then thats all you need to provide bookings for. One last thing, ive been told that a single entry is all thats available, a double entry is needed if you want to go to hong kong. Im hopin when i get there i can work a way around it, but from this side its not looking good. last, final thing (promise) dont mention tibet, hong kong or taiwan.
Do all that and you should get your visa
...and thats the easy way!
Good luck mate and if your in china before 20th august (when my visa runs out) gimme a shout.
Many, many thanks for that information mate.
I think I might book a return flight to Beijing and then give it a try with some cheap accommodation as you suggested from hostelworld and claim I'm staying there.
How long does the processing take from the moment you hand in the forms at the embassy in London do you think? Am I needing a be in a hurry to go to China late-August? (25th I'm afraid, I'm busy before so won't be able to meet up...)
All seems a highly complex system and not being able to go to Hong Kong is slightly frustrating but there you go, I suppose it has to be done!
Are flights around SE. Asia with airasia.com and other companies quite reasonable? I'm finding flight options to fly in one place from the UK and come out another are hugely expensive so I was thinking of just getting a return to Beijing or Shanghai and flying back there from another city cheaply at the end.
I've got the Lonely Planet now so might have a think about a route and then come back to you all and see what you think!
Thanks again, Merryman
No problems at all mate, its my pleasure to be able to help, the same way as many people on here have and no doubt will continue to help me!
Im about to go the pub so i'll just quickly answer your questions, but let me know if you need more info:
- visa should take between 3-5 days if you go there in person, google the chinese embassy in london for full details and of course app forms.
- Im flyin with Air Berlin from Berlin to Beijing, only costing me £218 one way. Im sure you can get an easyjet type flight to Berlin then on to Beijig, that might cut costs for you. Also, airasia.com are the asian version of easyjet so theyre really cheap. Check that option out before you fork out a fortune for return flights from beijing
- The sooner you get your visa the sooner you know that you have it and are sure that your gettin into the country, so id get all your stuff together quickly and go for it. Plus, if you make your flight bookings etc you may get them cheaper booking earlier.
Hope that helps, sorry we wont get to hook up, maybe another time, but sure if i dont chat to ye again then have a tsingtao for me dude!
Just to follow up on a couple other points. 5 weeks would be great for a good trip throughout China. If you start adding in Southeast Asia, it's fine as long as you don't mind the short trips. Although, you may leave wishing you had more time...
I prefer Lonely Planet over Rough Guides, although I've been using Lonely Planet for years. I would also add that the DK Eyewitness Travel Guide to China is superb, and has great pictures of where to visit if you need more than words to spark your imagination.
Asia is the new Europe for travel, and certainly China is a haven for backpackers out from university. You may want to book your lodgings in advance, and most of the hipper, youth hostels book via email.
As of today, you get 元10.6972 for every £1 and flights aren't cheap. A flight from Beijing to hanoi will set you back some. I'd suggest traveling from A to B and flying home rather than going from A to B back to A.
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Thanks again Gwelty and Redmundial!
I'm thinking of taking a week off from university and pushing my trip to 6 weeks as I'm hoping once I've paid for flights and visa etc it should be relatively cheap for food/hostels when I'm out there.....fingers crossed.
I've found return flights to Shanghai for £384 from London and am thinking of going from there to Beijing, Xi'an, then South through various places to Yangshuo...probably into Vietnam/Laos as I get the impression a 30 day double entry visa is going to be my best chance and 60 days isn't really viable at the moment...and then going up back towards Shanghai visiting places along the way, maybe on the train/bus or maybe with a cheap airasia flight dependent on prices. How does that sound? Doable in 6 weeks and covering lots of the major sights in China?
Thanks for the tip on the DK guide, I might get that just before leaving to read on the plane and get me excited with the pictures lol!
Its a pity the exchange rate isn't too good at the moment but I suppose there isn't anything I can do and I really want to go so have to just economise a bit...
As for booking hostels, its great to hear there will be lots of other students/young people travelling to meet, would you recommend any particular hostels for meeting people/drinking/partying in any of the major places like Beijing, Xi'an, Shanghai, Yangshuo...if so I might book some along with the flight as this should help my visa application I hope!
1 last question, with the visa do you just need a rough route mapped out, flights, and a few bits of accomodation booked or do you need booked things every single night? I can't really book for every night as I don't have the money yet (working atm!) and also will probably mix things up and change the route as and when I feel like it when in the country, booking everything before just isn't practical at all....
Thanks for any help in advance!