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The best cities in China and Japan?

Travel Forums Asia The best cities in China and Japan?

1. Posted by Rach-a (Respected Member 368 posts) 8y

Hi people. I'm hoping to pay a visit to both China and Japan and I am curious to know what the best cities are there. Also if all goes well I could invest out there!! :-)

2. Posted by Gelli (Travel Guru 2457 posts) 8y

"Best" is a very subjective term, and also not a particularly helpful one. Best for what? to visit? to live in? to go out in? to hire workers in? to invest in in general terms, or in a specific industry? etc etc. I've spent a decent amount of time travelling around/working in both countries so can give you some ideas, but i'd prefer to have a bit more of an idea of what you are looking for first...

3. Posted by linhhuchon (Budding Member 8 posts) 8y

Have not been to Japan but Beijing, Shanghai, Hangzhou is a must if you come to china

Post 4 was removed by a moderator
5. Posted by MrsBB (Budding Member 19 posts) 8y


[ Edit: Edited on Aug 8, 2008, at 2:42 AM by MrsBB ]

6. Posted by Utrecht (Moderator 5595 posts) 8y


7. Posted by Rach-a (Respected Member 368 posts) 8y


Just watching the opening of the Beijing Olympics - very exciting!! Gelli, I mean "best" as in terms of what is the best to visit initially and then consider staying long term and investing in some property. If anyone has any 5 best things to do in each city it would be most helpful - then I can compare and decide that way!!

Thanks very much!! :)

8. Posted by Rach-a (Respected Member 368 posts) 8y

Mrs BB - I think Gelli was just trying to get a more general idea in terms of what I meant so that I could receive more help. I think sometimes it's difficult to determine the tone of what someone means when it is written and difficult to perceive but generally I find this site mega helpful and that's why I first travelled RTW. I wouldn't have done it without "Travellerspoint"!!

9. Posted by Gelli (Travel Guru 2457 posts) 8y

I'm obviously missing something here. My apologies if my reply came across sounding the wrong way or I offended somebody. As you suggest, rach, i was indeed just trying to get a general idea of what you mean't so i could better tailor a response (especially as i didn't know if you were investing to live, to let, or in business). A personal bugbear of mine is to spend 20mins composing a response to a question, just to get a short reply saying something like, "actually I mean't it more like..."

Looking for somewhere to live/invest in property is quite different to necessarily somewhere to visit. For example, I would suggest to anybody that goes to Japan that they should visit Kyoto. However I don't think i would suggest living there. It is a bit too touristy and prices are higher. If you wanted to live in the Kansai area, I would instead probably suggest they consider instead living in Kobe, 25mins away

China: In terms of buying property and living, i'd be inclined to probably move a bit away from the 3 big cities, as you'll get much more for your money. I think that Kunming, in the south, would be a very good city to live in, and when i was last there (2006) it was still very cheap. I actually almost bought an apartment as an investment/base for 6months or so. Close enough to Laos, Vietnam, Thailand and Hong Kong to give options, and much more relaxed feeling than many Chinese cities. Xi'an is nice enough, but better to visit than live. Chengdu is a good base to go off and see different things, but I think it could be a bit boring to live there. I would agree that Hanghzhou is a really nice place, and close enough to Shangers that it is easily accessible. Ditto Suzhou, whilst NanJing would also be a possibility.

Other options that I might suggest are Xiamen on the SE coast, and perhaps Wuhan which is pretty central and like most places, rapidly changing, and I also quite like Tsingtao. But there are literally hundreds of large-decent sized Chinese cities, most of which you have never heard of, and mainly nondescript, but all of which might suit you depending on what you are looking to do - it's a case of just touring round until you find one you like! I don't really know the northern cities (NE of Beijing) though places like Harbin apparently have their attractions. Just be aware that the Northern cities can get VERY cold in winter, and you might not want that. Smaller touristy places like Guilin/Yangshuo, Dali etc might also be worth considering depending on what you want to do.

Whilst i love both Beijing and Shanghai for different reasons, i don't think i would choose to buy in either, and wouldn't want to live there for more than a year or two. If i had to choose between them, i would probably live in Shanghai, though that is possibly because i got to know quite a few people when i was there. I have great, if different, memories of both cities. Having said that, if you can get a decent place in Shanghai in the next few months, it could well be worth buying as prices will rise up to Expo 2010. Guangzhou (and Shenzhen, which is a bit odd) suffers a bit in prices from it's proximity to Hong Kong. I only passed through it reasonably briefly so can't really comment.

Japan: i would avoid Tokyo like the plague. Great place to visit, but to live in, I think it would drive me mad after a while, whilst accom is so generally expensive that you either end up with a shoebox, or so far from the city that you may as well live further away on a shinkansen route (bullet train) rather than fight your way through the commuter traffic. If you do choose to live in the Tokyo area, i would plump for somewhere on in the Southern part of the Urban area, south of Yokohama and by the bay, such as Kamakura (famous temples etc), Chigasaki (surfing/beaches), Atami, Odawara etc, which are close enough you can easily get in/commute if required, but are a bit away from the bustle.

The Izu Peninusla South from Tokyo is gorgeous, but also a bit cut off and feels almost oddly backwards by Japanese standards. After that, I'm personally not a big fan of the southern band between Tokyo and Kyoto. Nagoya is probably fine, but i just found it kind of "null", whilst the string of cities/towns on the south coast such as Shizuoka and Hamamatsu are mostly uninspiring. As previously noted, I would pick Kobe or perhaps Osaka (Eastern side) instead of Kyoto in the Kansai region.

If you choose to go to Kyushu, Nagasaki, Kumamoto and Kagoshima are all pretty good spots to live, and Fukuoko/Hakata probably is as well, though i only ever used it to transfer between trains/buses/ferries. I like Shikoko as an island and i think somewhere like Matsuyama could be a cool place to live, but it is also an almost ignored island (no major cities or must go tourist attractions). Back on Honshu, the North (or West) fringe has a few interesting cities - Nagano, Kanazawa, Niigata and possibly Toyama (don't know it), plus Sendai on the East coast could all be worth a look.

Heading North, Hokkaido is my favourite of the 4 Islands, and I love Hakodate, but it is a bit out of the way. Sapporo is also a decent base/city, but because it was laid out by the Americans it is kind of on a grid system and feels oddly Un-Japanese. The rest of the towns of any size were fairly drab, though the scenery on the Island in general is stunning. It's also a long way away from many things, and be aware that Internal Japanese travel (flights and trains) is not cheap, so if you want somewhere that is reasonably accessible to see more of Japan, I'd probably say avoid Hokkaido (the Bullet train won't reach it for many years either).

And with that i'm going to stop. That's a very wide selection, and certainly not an exhaustive one. But we are talking about two wildly different (amongst themselves, let alone between each other) countries and, again, if i have more of an idea of your personality/interests/specific reasons for going, i might be able to offer a bit more specific advice. If you have queries about specific places, or the countries, feel free to ask me/post back here and I hope i'll be able to help.

Good luck!

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