If you like the outdoors head to Yangshou (touristy but beautiful scenery) where you can cycle around or do kayak trips down the river.
Or visit the fabled mountain Huangshan which you can climb. Avoid in the summer as it VERY busy with tourists.
Beijing is a must to see the Forbidden City, Summer Palace and Great Wall.
How do people generally travel from say, Yangshou to Huangshan and Beijing? Is there a train or is it best to rent a car? (And do you have any idea if these are safe/reliable modes of transit?) Thanks!
i recommend you to go for shanghai and Beijing.
Hi YesEulen, there is no direct train from yangshuo to huangshan, but there is a directly airline instead. I do not recommend you to rent a car , because it is too long and dangerous for you (oneside it is a quite long distance around1000km; and majority of the road is mountain way, and some Chinese drivers drive not follow traffic rules).
I think the route yangshuo--huangshan--shanghai---beijing(or xian) is the best for foreign
travellers, that five place is the typical symbol to show chinese histroy, nature, and modern ...
Wish you a pleasnt trip. (any further question could send message to me , I would like to support you more)
[ Edit: Edited on 27-Jan-2011, at 00:05 by johnson.j ]
My friends and I went to South West China (Yunnan Province), which was an awesome place if you want to do a lot of outdoors stuff. Went to Kunming which was a beautiful city with cool sights to see like the stone forrest or hiking and century old temples. Also went to Lijang a really cool 400 year old village, and from there we went hiking at the Tiger Leaping Gorge.
Beijing And Shanghai were also really cool if you want to do more urban sight seeing
Thanks for the great responses everybody. It's leading me to also wonder, are the locals friendly and welcoming (in general)? I don't know any Chinese! Is it hard to get around without it?
A few stops worth doing in China include
Wutai Shan - one of the holiest Buddhist sites in China, filled with hilltop temples, monks and pilgrims who've traveled here for over 2000 years. Also one of the friendlier and more welcoming sites for western visitors.
Pingyao - and old walled city which hasn't been overwhelmed yet by tourism but soon will be. Interesting, and last I went very safe.
Longmen Grotto - One of the secret wonders of the world. Ancient buddhas carved into the mountainside by artists who lived in the caves while doing their work. Amazing in scale. Probably very similar to the site of the giant buddhas that the Taliban blew up over a decade ago.
The Caves at Datong. Most people overlook Datong as a place to visit which is a shame it has some incredible old teahouses, interesting architecture and shops in the older parts of town and has the incredible buddhist caves which alone would make this a place well worth visiting.
Hangzhou - the sacred lake just outside of Shanghai is beautiful and a great place to drink in the mixture of modern and ancient china.
Shanghai and Beijing are interesting - though personally I think Shanghai a bit overrated compared to other places. The Yu Gardens are amazing and walking through the old hutong there is fun and safe. And while it's a great place to party and dine, it's a modern city where European style buildings are the things most often highlighted by the tourist guides. It's also a great place to see one of the Chinese acrobat shows.
For something a little more flavorful head down the coast to Gulangyo or "Piano Island" (and you want to stay on the island). It was one of the tea ports open to the europeans before the opening of China to the west and has a lot of interesting history and architecture dating back several centuries. Some of the more amazing things are much more recent, like the bomb shelter tunnels, a old US Embassy that's now a (bad) hotel, and of course the collection of Pianos - brought by Europeans. The city of Xiamen right across the bay, 5 minutes away offers some interesting markets.
Heading up north into Manchuria, the city of Harbin is where Russia and China meet is great. Lots of Russian style architecture and food, interesting beer gardens, a tiger farm, the Unit 731 (the Japanese unit which conducted biologic warfare experiments in china during ww II) museum (horrific but well worth seeing), it was also housed one of the largest Jewish communities in hte world prior to the creation of Israel and was one of the places that Israel could have been (the Chinese government offered to let it be there), so there is some interesting and different history and things to see.
I can't say many great things about inner mongolia, it's far too touristy, but some people love it.
Hope some of those suggestions help.
How difficult is it to travel around China independently? From a traveler's standpoint (ie: buying train tickets, tours, etc) and in regards to communication (with locals, cabs, and street signs). I would prefer to travel independently over a tour...
[ Edit: Edited on 01-Feb-2011, at 13:01 by rborzillo ]
Independent travel around China is fairly easy- if you know the language. Otherwise, I'd suggest travelling with someone who does, or with a tour group.
Some people might tell you, "Oh, just ask a young person. All high school students learn English." While that may be true in theory, in reality, very few young Chinese know enough English to be able to communicate. People in souvenir shops, hotels and western restaurants may know some English, but they rarely do at train stations, in taxis, or any other form of transportation. Train tickets are still mostly in Chinese- as are many of the signs at the train stations (especially in more remote cities). Still, you might get lucky, and find someone who speaks English and takes pity on you, and so helps you find your way (that's happened to me many times).
Xin Nian Kuai Le! (Happy Chinese New Year!)
It's tough, but not too tough. but by no means is it a breeze - you'll deal with surly officials, people on the english speaking line who don't speak english, and plenty of people who will try to rip you off, but if your savvy enough to avoid being taken advantage of elsewhere you'll do alright traveling independently in China.
A lot of nicer hotels and hostels for a very minimal charge (usually about US $1) will be happy to get you tickets and reservations on the trains and buses. If you have specific questions feel free to mail me and I'll see if I can answer them.
Also in certain towns, like Pingyao, you'll find some crooked consortiums who'll buy up ALL of the outgoing train tickets (which are refundable) and resell them to you at a $5-10 premium unless you get them ahead of time. If you are prepared that won't be an issue.