I'm planning a trip to Australia but either on the way there (or back) I want to go to China. I know for certain I want to go to Beijing and Xian. I think also, from reading about organised tours that Chengdu seems to be the place to go to see some wildlife (Pandas)? Please correct me if I'm wrong!
I can't seem to find direct flights from Sydney to Beijing so am looking for advice really:
What's Shaghai like and if I did fly in there, how long would you recommend staying?
As for the rest of the trip - would you recommend travelling independently, is this easy to do so? Or doing an organised tour? I've seen some quite good tours with Beijing and Xian as the main places (and some with Shanghai too) but I'd quite like to go to Chengdu, and trips incorporating this seem to take it out my budget.
Just any advice about China and the places I've mentioned, travelling around and between would be very much appreciated.
Finally, any thoughts on whether to do it on the way out (sept) or the way back (up to a year later)?
Hi, me again, sorry - should have said. Only looking to spend up to 3 weeks in China at the moment.
Chengdu is the place to see the Pandas in their natural habitat.
No airline flies non-stop to Beijing from Sydney, you have to stop in HK or Shanghai. Check Air CHina and Qantas
Independent travel can be difficult if you dont speak the language. Not an issue in Beijing and Xian, but if you want to get out and see other parts, it will be hard. Dragon Bus china do hop-on, hop-off trips around various routes in china and will cover most of the areas you want to go to and are much cheaper than the full package tours.
Hi, Welcome to China! As you know Chengdu is a pleasant place. Here you can go to giant panda breeding base, cuddle giant pandas, or be volunteer for pandas. Snacks is also a distinctive flavor of Chengdu. In addition, when you in Sichuan, you can also visit Jiuzhaigou Valley. or Huanglong. You will be impressed by its picturesque landscape, especially its waters.
As you mentioned, there is direct flight from Sidney to Beijing!
I hope my information could be of help for you!
We travelled China without speaking the language and didn't do a tour either. We travelled by overnight train mostly, booked a few days in advance for each one asking the hostel where we were staying to write down in Mandarin what we needed. It was then as easy as handing the paper over to the train booking people.
We spent 3 days in Shanghai, it's an interesting city, the most modern in China and fun to compare to Beijing, they are very different - you'll be able to take an overnight (12 hours) train from Shanghai to Beijing.
3 weeks is quite a good amount of time to get a taster of China. I would definitely include Chengdu, see the pandas and even go to Leshan to see the big buddha, we never managed to get there because my giardia bug decided to rear it's ugly head again! If you want to experience a little more of China then an internal flight to Lijiang (this is quite a cheap flight, the same cost as the train) may be worthwhile to see Tiger Leaping gorge, you can hike overnight, day hikes or several nights - breathtaking and an interesting area of China with a matriarchal society.
You should maybe think about trying to get an open-jaw ticket so you could fly into Shanghai and then out of Hong Kong it would save you a lot of backtracking!
Hey, there's plenty of flights that go direct between Shanghai and Sydney, I seem to do it all the time. However, if I've understood correctly, your problem might be how to do it on the way. You might want to checkout going by air china or china eastern. Which uses shanghai as a hub, see if they fly to where you live but they definitely fly to sydney directly.
As for your trip, when you mentioned pandas in chengdu, they are actually in a zoo, hardly "wild life". But worth seeing never-the-less.
I've actually been to all those places you've described, including Lijiang, which is suggested by loubylou. They are all great places to go. If you want to the most you can, my suggestion is about 2 days in shanghai, 4-5 days in beijing, 2-3 days in Xian and 2-3 days in Chengdu. This would give you about a week left for travel time or go another place like yunnan.
Shanghai is a big city but it's just like any other city, 2 days is enough. There's lots to see in beijing, but they tend to be similar (and crowded), 4-5 days should be plenty.
Lots of historical sites in Xian, but what you really want to see is the terracotta warriors, they are a fair way out of the city and require a day, you should be able to do all the places around the city in one day including a walk on the city wall.
With chengdu, the only thing really there is the pandas, you can see the pandas and maybe head to jinli street for a few drinks. You can spend 2 more days either going to huanglong/jiuzaigou, which is what i suggest, or there are a few other mountains a short drive out of the city which are also pretty good.
With the time left, you might want to consider yunnan. If you go, I think it would be best to go with a tour. In fact, tours are worth considering for all the trips outside of the major cities, especially the long ones. The reason is that all big tour companies have deals with hotels and airlines that can do it cheaper. They will try to take you to a few places to try and sell you things, but the good side is you get to see all the places, stay at decent hotels, free breakfast, etc.
Do go with big chinese tour companies, you should be able to get some sort of a deal to link a few trips together. I got a deal last year in Xian to go to chengdu and jiuzaigou and fly back to beijing (normally you'd fly back to xian). I couldnt take it in the end, due to a very tight schedule to be back in beijing, but doing the trip myself ended up being twice as expensive.
Lastly, be aware at all times, look after your valuables closely, check money (to see if it's real) every time you get changes. When you take taxies, tell them the full address in detail, including the street, so they don't pretend to misunderstand you and take you to some other place. And also be patient at times, you'll do just fine.
PS: You can also check out some of my photos that i took at some of the places you might be going to.
We travelled to Beijing independentley, we were able to work out the underground trains etc to Tianamen Square.
We also went to Xian and booked a private tour from the hotel to see the terracota army and the hot springs it was very reasonable with lunch included. We stayed in Xian 3 days, but you would see what you want to see in 2 days. Xian city is worth a city tour too.
1. Chengdu is really a good place if you want to see the Pandas. Since there is Chengdu Panda Breed Reserve in Chengdu. It is a bit far away from downtown area. But it is really worth seeing it.
2. Beijing & Xian are 2 famous historical cities in China. And there are many world-wide highlights.
Eg, Beijing: Forbidden City, Great Wall, Ming Tomb, Summer Palace, and etc...
Xian: Terra-Cotta Warriors, the Ancient city Wall, and etc...
3. Shanghai is a modern city, compared with Beijing & Xian. The World Expo 2010 will be opened in Shanghai next month. Many foreigners come to China to see the World Expo. If you have a chance to visit Shanghai, I recommend you to stay in Shanghai for about 5 days. You can visit World Expo and Shanghai city.
4. For the tour in China, as you have a budget, in order to save momey, you can take SIC (Seat-In-Coach) tour in Beijing/Shanghai/Xian. It is very cheap, for one day city tour in the above cities, the tour will cost you about USD 50/ per day.
[ Edit: Sorry, no promos please. ]
GAP Adventures looks to have a good tour of all the spots you are looking to hit
Has anyone used them for a China tour?
It does look like a great tour, slightly pricy though. Seem to have added cost to that price as well.