ok i live in the U.S. southwest and want to goto china for about 3 or 4 months. i was thinking the summer of 2005 or 2006 and in the mean time i want to learn as much chinese as i can.
what i need to know is how much money do i need once i get to china, what kind of gear and supplies would i need, how much chinese should i learn to speak, what things should i know about the chinese people, and anyother good tips for a first time traveler.
i don't have to much money so completely low budget is what i want, i know NO chinese as of now, i have never traveled abroad by myself, i want to be mostly out of the eastern big cities, i'm only 23 years old and have no idea what i am in for. i want to go as light as i can backpacking or buses, trains.
what are some good web site's for me to get info about these things and any personal info you all could provide me would be very helpful.
what kind of trips do most people do when going to china.
is there anything i am forgetting to ask feel free to give me advice about anything that is important to know but i have not asked for. if you have any questions about me so you can give better advice please ask.
I'm a Chinese girl, maybe I can help you,but my English is not good. I'll go back China next year,if you need help ,tell me.I also want to visit some placese of China,maybe we can go together.
My hometown is Zhengzhou the provincical capital of Henan, six huors(by car) from Beijing,and near Luoyang.Luoyang is a old city,doyou know The Vairocana Buddha?The Longem Caves are in there.You can find it in the textbook of Art histroy.
China is a real good place to traval,cheap interesting and absolutely beautiful.
Good site for China:
I am a chinese college student in chengdu,sichuan province.
the first thing you should think of is what is your plan.do you want to visit the cities or natural views.big cities ,such as beijing,shanghai are worthy of being visted.and if you want to see natual views , I suggest you go to the southwest,such as yunnan,sichuan and tibet.
when you give me more details,I can give you futher suggestion.
if you have more questions ,contact me
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Thank you all so much for your input. i will give more info when i start planning more.
Hello! I'm a native Chinese who has guide foreigners for many times and been as a Chinese tutor for totally 4 foreign students, Please email to (ed: snipped...) to tell if you have some interest for my help.
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Hi there. I just spent the month of August backpacking through China (literally). I had a ton of travel agents, friends, co-workers, and other various people tell me I could never do it, that it would be too hard, too dangerous, and too expensive. It was one of the greatest experiences of my life.
I did most of my planning on my own as American travel agencies totally rip you off money wise and send you to all the overpriced touristy crap you don't really want to see.
I got the Lonely Planet and some other guides to China to start planning where I might want to go. Once I had gotten a good feel for that, I started to do google web searches of little know places (like Emei Mountain -- a sacred Buddhist mountain in Sichuan that provides a four day hike up the mountain to the summit at 10,000 ft). I figured out how and where to hike the "wild wall" sections of the Great wall. It was incredible.
So I encourage you to do it. I am an acpuncture student, so the only Chinese I knew were some medical words and some basic Chinese writing. We got along okay, but it was difficult because a lot of Chinese don't speak a stitch of English. The longer you are there, the more you will learn. I would recommend learning to read and write some basic Chinese rather than trying to speak it. They speak several different languages, but they all use the same characters for writing. And pronuciation of their words is sometimes such a slight difference, you may not even realize it (for example, depending on where you put the stress for the word "ma" you could be referring to 5 completely seperate things).
As for the money: getting to China is expensive, but once there everything is super cheap. Again, stay away from tourist traps and you will find great guesthouses and restaurants that literally cost like $2 for a huge meal that would feed 5 people.
The Chinese people we encountered were either really nice or really rude. They also get in your face about buying everything. A non-Asian walking around spells "money" to them and so they will shove evry thing in your face trying to get you to buy it. Learn to say no and keep walking and don't feel guilty.
The American travel agent that totally supported my efforts gave me the email address for a wonderful travel agent in Beijing. She and I emailed for several months. I asked her a ton of questions like: Is it even possible to go to this place? She worked hard to find out the answers to everything I asked her, and then worked to get me the best prices on some train rides and cruises, etc. She also got me in contact with local travel agents so that when we went somewhere new we could more easily pick up our train tickets, etc. When we met her in Beijing, she had hand written out a ton of chinese characters for us to give to taxis in all the cities we were going to so we could get around. She was great, and I would be happy to give you her contact info if you'd like.
I would defnitely recommend getting a native Chinese person to make certain accomodations for you like long distance travel -- train tickets are hard to get and the transportation system is very difficult to navigate alone if you don't speak any Chinese. She took the hard part out for us so that we could have fun trying to find our own accomodations and stuff.
And again, I am a student, so we did everything on a super tight budget.
Have fun, good luck, wish I could go back ... and feel free to contact me if you'd like specific details or contacts in China.
Tracy has some very good points. I'm Chinese, I speak Mandarin (but my accent gives me away as a foreigner very quick). There are some things you should understand.
1) China is an emerging captialistic market, everything is about money. Example: A perfectly reputable travel agency (every agency required to have government permits) booked us on a day boat tour. We got on the boat (ferry) and were looking for some seats. It turned out, your ticket only got you on the boat, the seats cost extra. So when you do stuff, make sure it includes everything. In America when you buy something, there are some BASIC stuff that you expect to come included (like seats), these thiongs are sometimes not included in China
2) EVERYTHINIG IS NEGOTIABLE! Everything! Including the prices on the menu in a 5 star restaurant. Rule of thumb, for street vendors, the quoted price is generally twice as much as what he/she is willing to sell you. Of course if you are obviously foreign, they may play hardball.
3) Learn the culture. If you have Chinese friends have them explain the culture. There are differences in culture, such as personal space, elders, food, staring, etc... The lonely planet book has a good explanation of Chinese culture.
4) Learn a few words of Mandarin, every Chinese LOVES a foreigner who tries to learn the language. Tho you will encounter many dialects on your travels, but generally everyone speaks or understands Mandarin. Oh, learn to read 'Male' or 'Female'.
5) Always have toilet paper and some spare change. Not all toilets have paper and some toilets require payment.
Don't want to turn you off about the trip. Just wanted to give a few words of advice. China is fun, tons of history, culture and nature. And its CHEAP, even if you get ripped off, its a cheap rip-off.. If you have any questions just msg me.
WOW, tracy that was great info and if you could send that agent i would love it. also what you did sounds like what i want to do. real backpacking ... no flashy things and if you have a list of places that your agent gave you or something like your itinerary or what ever you feel you can you are willing to share. ??? i don't think they let you give out email here but any thing is helpful.
thank all of you as well i am still saving up money so no real planning yet so this could very well end up being a 2006 trip.