Hi, I would really appreciate your opinion about following itinerary. We are couple from Europe, in their 30's, realistically speaking most likely never to visit china again. We realize that the time is tight, but want to cover as much as possible in the given time frame. Nature or cities - whatever. Thanks in advance for pointing out things which should be crossed out and what is there more impressive to see (shanghai?).
March 17 morning - arrival to Beijing. city, great wall etc.
March 21 evening - departure by overnight train to Xian - terracota
March 22 evening - flight to Kunming
March 23 morning - head towards Lijiang, Dali
March 27 morning - take bus to Yuanyang
March 28 - spend the day at the terrasses
March 29 - return to Kunming and take flight to Beijing
March 30 morning - depart china
Jan 13, 12, 7:55 am
1) With this short a time, you will need to be doing a bunch of internal flying. Budget accordingly.
2) Best to have no more than 4 destination hubs and that includes the start point and end point. That leaves two more places. There might need to be a connecting airport for transit in there, depending on final itinerary.
3) Do you have to return to Beijing? It would be far more effective to enter there but leave from a different city (Shanghai for instance) to avoid backtracking which wastes and money. Usually open-jaw intl tickets aren't much more if any than standard round-trip.
4) I strongly recommend you omit Yuanyang from this itinerary. While they are lovely, they really take too long to get to, and you run the gamble that weather may be too foggy to see anything, which is a problem at Yuanyang. You have no slack in this schedule to wait out the weather. Two full days on a bus (7-8 hours each way) for one day of seeing terraces is just not a good payoff. Two full days on a bus, out of a total of 13 days in China, is really a poor idea.
5) If you are determined to see rice terraces, it would be smarter to put the ones north of Guilin, the Dragon's Backbone (also known as the Longsheng or Longji Terraces) as a substitute. Besides being easier to get to (ex-Guilin), you can block out a module of about 4 days and get some very nice nature in the rice terraces and Yangshuo area. Hub is Guilin but for transport connections only, don't stay there.
6) If you need Kunming as a transport connection (air), do so, but try to avoid overnight stay if at all possible, as it just wastes time. Kunming is the least important priority on your itinerary as presented.
7) The time you have for Lijiang and Dali is not enough. I would skip Dali and go to Lijiang only, if you decide that's the priority. There is plenty in that area to keep you busy.
8) Time in Beijing looks about right. You are speed-visiting Xi'an in one day which can be done. Not ideal, but you have to prioritize other places above that and I think in this case, is a good decision.
17-21 Beijing. Overnight train (or evening flight) to Xi'an.
22 Xi'an and overnight.
23 Morning flight to Lijiang. (There is an early morning direct flight but it is costly--cheaper to connect via Chengdu but you will lose about 3 hours). Afternoon Lijiang town.
24-26 Lijiang area and Tiger Leaping Gorge. This is your nature time.
27 Morning fly to Shanghai (probably cheaper via Kunming rather than direct). Rest of day Shanghai.
28-29 Shanghai, possibly with a daytrip to Suzhou/Tongli or Hangzhou.
30 Exit Shanghai.
17-21 Beijing. As per above
22 Xian. Night flight to Guilin. Stay overnight there due to late hour of arrival.
23-26 Yangshuo and Rice Terraces. They are different directions out of Guilin so you'll need to have some travel in there. Prob 3 nights Y and 1 night terraces. This is your nature time.
27 Fly morning nonstop Guilin-Shanghai. Some good first class early bird specials on ctrip.com right now. Rest of day Shanghai.
28-30 As per above. Flights for this will be cheaper than the routing to Lijiang.
I think it is very tough to do justice to both Lijiang and Guilin areas on this short a trip and I do not recommend it. If you cannot bear to give up either of them, then cut a day out of Beijing, overnight train (or evening flight on the 20th to Xi'an). 21st Xi'an. 22nd--fly Lijiang, aft there also area 23, 24. On 25th fly to Guilin via Kunming. Fly 29th to Beijing.
If there is a possibility you can get your intl tickets to fly into Beijing and out of Kunming, that presents some potential cost/time efficiencies.
Thanks a lot Jiejie :). Unfortunatelly Beijing departure can not be changed. Most likely I will cut one day in Beijing and do the Guilin instead. I appreciate your helpful advice. L
you should spend at least one more day in Xi'an. There is so much to see.
Jan 13, 12, 4:25 pm
In general I think there is a bit too much traveling, stay put and see more where you are going. See jiejie's posts.