Im travelling by train through China in august. I will be entering by land from Vietnam to Beijing, and exiting on the Trans-Mongolian to Ulaan Bataar. I will be in China for about a month.
Can anyone recommend a good route? Best places to see? Between Vietnam and Beijing.
see the thread at http://www.travellerspoint.com/forum.cfm?thread=60958
I crossed the border last year at this time China to Vietnam. I'm excited for you. Hanoi to Beijing, whatever you do, don't skip Guilin. You can get there conveniently from Nanning, the capital of Guanxi.
Pretty much all of China lies between the Vietnam border and Beijing. You could take a western route, via Yunnan and Sichuan (spectacular scenery, pandas, and really great- hot- food) then on to Xian (ancient capital of China, with terra cotta warriors), and finally Beijing.
Or you could take an eastern coastal route, via Hong Kong and Macau, Fuzhou and Hangzhou to Shanghai (this is the more modern and prosperous China). Then continue north to Qingdao (beer capital of China, and a nice place to chill out for awhile), then Beijing.
I just wouldn't go the middle route, which is "mei yi si" (uninteresting). Well, there are some places of interest, but you'd miss all the major sights.
China is a big country. You won't see everything in a month, especially if you are travelling by train, instead of flying.
Thanks guys! Really good to hear your opinions. I would probably take the western route that you talked about. Id like to see Xian and the great wall. Taking in beautiful scenery is my preference. I realise that I wont see all of China in a month. The plan is to pick a route that takes in some of the highlights.
I am hoping to learn at least some basic chinese phrases. I was in town today looking at books on the chinese language. Then realised that there are many different dialects. Which one is the most widely spoken? Should I pick up a book on Mandarin, for example?
Most Chinese (especially in the cities) speak Mandarin [Putonghua] or at least understand it. The only place where they really don't is in and around Hong Kong, where they speak Cantonese. But enough people in Hong Kong speak English that it's easy to get by without it.
If you don't speak Chinese, train travel can be frustrating sometimes. I hope you have a good phrasebook.