This is my first post on the forum; I'm backpacking through Australia and Asia starting february 2014.
Now I'm a bit concerned if my route for China is the right one... At the moment it looks like this
Hong Kong > Guilin > Shanghai > Beijing > Pingyao > Xian > Huanggoushu > entering Vietnam
Now my first challenge is already; should I take a plane or nighttrain to Guilin? Or is it smarter to alter the route and choose another city to enter China? I'm a month in China and quite flexible with the time and traveling, however I'm trying to keep the transportation itself as lowcost as possible.. Does anybody has any experience with this or already tried a similar route? Any help is apreciated!
the plan looks so so, it is not the best season to visit guilin in winter because of dry li river and in the early of feb in china, it is chinese new year when many places are in the busy rails, you better enter china after 10th, feb, guilin can be a choice bu not the best, it depends on your own. in addition I think base on you will go to huangguoshu in guizhou province, why not add kunming of yunnan province for options? kunming is also a nice place
I should've put it there, but I'm spending the first month (february) in Australia; the 3th of march we are planning to leave Hong Kong and move towards Guilin.
Kunming looks really nice too! Gonna check if I can add that to the list too, thanks Ruthbriggs
China is a wonderful country but vast and you should have a planned route with at least your first hotel booked.
If you don't speak the language and are visiting non tourist areas this is a challenge as we found but the people are very helpful and friendly.
We traveled from Vietnam into Southern China by plane and stayed for a few days in Fonsham.
I had a contact there via the Hospitality website and were invited to stay with the family for a few days and we were taken around all the most interesting sites in the area it was a great experience.
This is the website I've used to meet local people when we have traveled.
We booked with the Home Hotel group for accommodation and each time we moved on asked the hotel to write down in Chinese the name and address of the next hotel so we could show the taxi driver.
Taxi drivers do not speak English so this is important at least them when you have exited your train or bus you can get directly to the hotel.
When booking trains find out which is the tourist desk and book the tickets there as not all counters have English speaking cashiers.
You'll be asked to wait in a room and then moved onto the station area when the train arrives, It's very organised, you then queue in a line where the sign for your coach is.
There are also sleeper coaches like in Vietnam and these travel all over the Southern territories they are fantastic and very clean you take your shoes off before entering the coach putting your shoes in a carrier bag. There is a toilet on board also, don't book a seat near this as they can be a bit smelly. The price usually includes a meal if you are traveling a good distance and you will be eating at the same table as you fellow travelers it's all very civilised.
I can recommend the coaches or the train both are a good option.
We traveled on the way back from Beijing to Hong Kong by the overnight train which was very inexpensive and comfortable. You need to go thru customs when you get on this train and your luggage will be checked.
We had a problem getting money out of ATMs to start with not all systems would allow our withdrawels we ended up using the China bank which was OK.
We were last in China 6 years ago so it may have changed with regard to this.
I do hope you enjoy this experience as China is a wonderful country and we certainly will be going back again one day.
I ment to say traveled by train from shanghai to Hongkong not Beijing.