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Backpacking in China area

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1. Posted by pokriefke (Budding Member 12 posts) 4y

Next autumn (2012) I'm moving to Hong Kong half a year, and since I was a little quick ordering the flight tickets (which are not refundable), I have 1-1,5 month before the Uni starts, which I'm homeless in HK. What an opportunity!

So, first I thought about going to Mongolia working on a ranch..
Then I thought about taking a route through Vietnam-Thailand-Laos and then end with the Himalayas and Tibet.
Then I found out that since I'm going in August it probably will be raining all the time down in the south! So now I'm thinking about western China.
I hate crowded tourist places, and would rather see locals, culture and nature (even though I of course would se a little bit of everything worth seeing).


My Q1 is: Any one here have experiences with traveling in HK-Vietnam-Thailand-Laos area in August? (I'm gonna carry my laptop and camera and mostly everything I need for one semester study, so if the rain makes like EVERYTHING wet, and it's raining all the time that would be unfortunate :/).

Q2: I'm perhaps going to stay one some "work and live" places, mostly to get to know people, learn and save money. Any one have any recommendations?

Q3: I'm really interested in good ideas here, this is going to be the best month in my life! If YOU started in Hong Kong 2. August, then had one month and two weeks before you needed to return. WHAT WOULD YOU DO?

And finally, Q4: Since I'm traveling alone I would really like to meet people, and definitely other travelers! So, if you're backpacking around in China, somewhere, please let me know!

2. Posted by aboo10 (Respected Member 122 posts) 4y

Q1: Investigate a storage option and see if you can leave some of the non-essential travel items, or things specifically for study or regular living in HK before embarking on your tour.

Q3: My family and I spent 4 weeks in Yunnan a couple of years ago, and visited Kunming, Dali, Lijiang and Shangri La. We were very relaxed and could have covered more ground, but it is a beautiful spot, and you could easily access it from HK. Another area in China that is worth visiting is Yangshuo and Guilin, also gorgeous although quite touristy, but lots of backpacker accom available.

Q4: This summer (July/Aug) we are planning on doing another 4 weeks away, heading up to NW China to Urumqi and parts of the Silk Road. Our goal this time is to fly one way (we live in Shanghai) and return overland. Although my intuition tells me that you probably don't want to meet up with a family! We have 2 small children in tow.

Good luck and what a wonderful opportunity you have ahead of you!

3. Posted by pokriefke (Budding Member 12 posts) 4y

Thanks! Leaving some behind seems very smart, will check it out! I'll mark those places on my map as well, when I'll have enough marks I'll find a route through :) Family or not, thanks for your advice, and I will gladly meet you during my trip :D

4. Posted by surferjoe (Budding Member 7 posts) 4y

Are you looking at staying in Asia? Or would you be open to visiting some islands in the South Pacific. There is a direct flight from HK to the Micronesian islands if you are interested in that. That might eat up some time.

5. Posted by Degolasse (Travel Guru 823 posts) 4y

My recommendation would definitely be to travel China in that time. I'm not sure what the weather will be like in August though. As suggested above, I would also recommend Yunnan province - Dali, Lijiang, Tiger Leaping Gorge, and Shangri-la. I did this trip about 8 years ago, and again this Christmas, and though it's become crazy touristy in the last few years, it's still a wonderful place to be. We also added on Yuanyang just south of Kunming, which turned out to be the highlight of our time in China. It's a very relaxed and non-touristy area with beautiful scenery. It also makes a convenient stop if you were on your way to Vietnam overland. Also, as mentioned, Yangshuo is definitely worth seeing and is one of the most stunning places on the planet. Don't miss it. If you had 1.5 months, you could easily do a route like: HK - Yangshuo/Guilin - Kunming - Dali - Lijiang - TLG - Shangri-la - Kunming - Yuanyang - Sapa (Vietnam) - Hanoi - Halong Bay - Hanoi. You may even have a little spare time and could head down to Hue and Hoi An before flying back to HK.

After visiting 45 countries or so, this is still my favourite region in the world to travel, and I think you would have a great adventurous time. It's a well travelled backpacking route, so you'll meet lots of people.

I would also recommend storing stuff in HK. I stored the contents of my apartment with these guys all last summer and was happy with the service -


6. Posted by pokriefke (Budding Member 12 posts) 4y

Surferjoe: That sounds really lovely, but I'm traveling on a budget (student), so I'll guess I will se more places for less money by train :)

Dave: Thanks for tips! Sounds like a interesting route! This is really helpful :) And yea, storing it will be :D

7. Posted by saminchina (Budding Member 2 posts) 4y

A month will go pretty fast; it's a big country and traveling by train can take a lot of time and energy. When I first came to China I spent a few weeks in Yangshuo at one of the language centers (Omeida) learning Chinese. When you are new to China it is nice to be in a town with some English around and other travelers to hang out with. The town is fun; plenty of nightlife, cheap beer (10RMB at the bar, 3.5 outside), and a range of good food. The school does a volunteer program, which can help cut your costs if you want to hang around for a while. -snip-

I really liked the area -yeah it will rain in August, but not all the time and its a warm rain. It's still fun to cycle, swim, and explore. There's also epic rock climbing -some of it in caves protected from the elements.

Getting to Yangshuo from HK is easy -there are trains that leave from Guangzhou to Guilin, then a bus to Yangshuo, or an over night bus from Shenzhen to Yanghsuo (much more cramped, but cheap). You could chill in Yangshuo for a few weeks then take the train to Chengdu (pandas) or Xian (terracotta soldiers) before your course starts in Beijing. If I were you I'd try and minimize how much you bring and not back track to HK.

Let us know how it goes! Good luck and have fun!

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8. Posted by madpoet (Respected Member 413 posts) 4y

Many parts of China get unbearably hot in the summer. Yunnan is an exception. Northeast China is also a bit cooler. But avoid Shanghai, Beijing, and all of central or southeastern China.

Another possibility is to visit Indonesia, which I hear is nice at that time of year, and doesn't have the heavy rainy season other parts of SE Asia have at that time.

9. Posted by pokriefke (Budding Member 12 posts) 4y

Thanks! I'll bring all your tips on my way down there :D I've come up with a temporary route, but nothing is for sure yet. (I've made a map here on travellerspoint, if any of you can see it? I'm quite new here so still not sure how things work;) ) I don't know it its to far, or to short, but I'll guess I will figure it out on my way :)

I will keep you updated! :D

10. Posted by chazzmcdo12 (Budding Member 4 posts) 4y

Can i ask why you say to avoid beijing and shanghai 'madpoet'? I s it because of the heat in the summer.
I will be travelling both in August