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Domestic Travel for family of 7

Domestic Travel for family of 7

Old Mar 25, 12, 2:21 pm
  #1  
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Domestic Travel for family of 7

I found cheap air tickets on short notice going to HKG and leaving PEK, total of 10 days over Easter, travelling with two women and four children(17,16,13,11) well traveled and used to pain.

Hotels are booked mostly on Starwood points and I have reservations in HKG, Macao, Westin Xian and Great Wall Sheraton in PEK.

For domestic transport I found Shenzhen to Xian flights on elong for RMB 1,500 each for April 4th. Is there a cheaper or better way from Macao? How much time do we need to plan from Macao to Shenzhen Airport, ferry, Immigration, check in etc.?

For Xian to Beijing we want to take the overnight train. Can we buy soft sleeper tickets for 7 people at the station at departure or is that too risky? What is the best way to make reservations?

Is it easy to get a minibus taxi for 7 people in Xian and PEK?

I went with Mrs Zorro to PEK 10 years ago and we managed reasonably well without language skills, haggling with private car drivers to get around, but 7 people maybe a bit more challenging.

Any advice is appreciated, thanks.
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Old Mar 25, 12, 4:52 pm
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You can get to Shenzhen from Macau rather easily, but it is certainly annoying, and adds on the cost.

http://www.turbojet.com.hk/eng/schedule/prd_3.asp

I don't think MFM or HKG has a direct XIY flight so there's no real reason to switch it up, unless you're keen on flying CX or something.

Looking at Shenzhen I see a bit lower...although I'm looking on qunar.com which is in Chinese.

As for the train tickets you should try to work that out in advance, because 7 of those are going to be tough I imagine....softs should work too if they're not available.
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Old Mar 25, 12, 5:48 pm
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Originally Posted by benzemalyonnais View Post
I don't think MFM or HKG has a direct XIY flight so there's no real reason to switch it up, unless you're keen on flying CX or something.
HKG has non-stop service from XIY, but I agree that SZX is the best option in this situation.

Last edited by 14940674; Mar 25, 12 at 5:58 pm
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Old Mar 25, 12, 6:24 pm
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I've done the Macau to Shenzhen turbojet to catch a domestic flight out of Shenzhen before. Actually, it's quite easy. Time frames:
60 minutes for boat passage itself
10 minutes for getting through Fuyong terminal, immigration, etc. This goes very fast since few foreigners are usually on the boat.
15 minutes for free shuttle bus from port exit to airport entrance (may be faster now, they were doing road construction on this linkage when I did it)
60 minutes for check-in and security and getting to gate
30 minutes additional for inefficiencies and contingencies.
Total of 175 minutes. So, about 3 hours before a Shenzhen-scheduled flight time, you should leave Macau main ferry port on a scheduled turbojet service. Travelling alone, I'd shave it to 2.5 hours but with this big a group, I would lengthen time.

Since there is no MFM-XIY flight, best you could do as alternative is ferry/turbo to HKIA and fly from there, but you wouldn't avoid an overwater trip at similar cost, and the plane tickets would cost more. Might as well to SZX.

On train tickets: Xi'an is notorious for getting sleeper train tickets out of. For a group of 7, I doubt you can get tickets on short notice, and even if you could, they'd be spread out all over the train. For all-adults it's doable to take a chance but not sure your kids would be up for splitting up. Suggest this is one instance where your best options are:
1) Contact your hotel or a travel agent in advance to book the tickets, with extra fee for each. Hotel you have. For agent, you can try www.travelchinaguide.com which seems to have more reasonable fees. They will need ID (passport) numbers for every member of the party. I suggest you purchase two entire 4-berth soft sleeper compartments (if they will let you buy the 8th berth). Make it clear you need same compartment. Or you can try 6-berth hard sleeper with one person in next compartment.
2) Fly, bookable in advance by yourself.
3) Dual train strategy which may be doable yourself at last minute: (a) High-speed (bullet) train from Xi'an North station to Zhengzhou--preferably a G train taking 2+ hours (seat tickets, no sleepers), followed by (b) High speed (but not bullet) train from Zhengzhou to Beijing West station--best choice would be one of the D or T trains taking only 5.5 hours (could be done as seat also). Any switch/connection allow 1 hour between arrival of first and departure of second.

For #3 tactic, assume it will be a daytime travel sequence not overnight. Usually G tickets to Zhengzhou would be available short notice as long as not a holiday, the D/T out of Zhengzhou might be trickier but could be done as hard or soft seat rather than sleeper, if on a 5.5 hour long service. Surviveable. At Xi'an, both segments can be purchased. Cut-off time for ticket purchase is 30 minutes before departure. You may wish to deal with this as soon as you arrive in Xi'an, or have hotel get the tickets.

Minivans are easy to rent, but arrange in advance to avoid inefficiencies and downtime. Renting through hotel may be more expensive but get a quote anyway. If you are stuck for ideas, people on this forum have used with success private commercial service
http://www.tour-bj.com/www/index.php...tid/116/id/318
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Old Mar 27, 12, 3:50 am
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Many thanks everybody, will go through Xian Hotel concierge I guess, otherwise look for flights.
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Old Mar 27, 12, 9:31 am
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In BJ, C-trip has rates for mini vans & large vans with good drivers for a full day. Also Sheraton GW is very near subway line 10.
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Old Mar 27, 12, 10:50 am
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Originally Posted by jiejie View Post
They will need ID (passport) numbers for every member of the party. I suggest you purchase two entire 4-berth soft sleeper compartments (if they will let you buy the 8th berth).
I have been told that the new "real name" requirements don't permit you the purchase of more than one ticket per passport number, so you can no longer "buy out" a compartment. I'd be interested if anyone knows to the contrary.
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Old Mar 27, 12, 4:47 pm
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Originally Posted by chazas View Post
I have been told that the new "real name" requirements don't permit you the purchase of more than one ticket per passport number, so you can no longer "buy out" a compartment. I'd be interested if anyone knows to the contrary.
Yes, this is what I have heard, but haven't tried it (or had friends try it) since the new requirements were implemented. This is why I put the "..if they will let you buy the 8th berth..." comment in my post above. It's still worth a try--nothing ventured, nothing gained. There's no downside to trying.

Worst case, then 3 of the traveling party have a "stranger" to torture. And it's also possible that even if somebody is assigned to the spare berth, if there's another one empty when the train boards, that person may ask to be moved. Or maybe it will be the sort of Chinese traveler the family can "adopt" temporarily. Sometimes you get lucky and get with a native returning to his home city, who can tell you loads of inside information that is helpful. Assuming you can deal with the communications barrier.
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Old Mar 27, 12, 4:57 pm
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I assume you're covered on the flights/trains --just making sure you've remembered the China visa requirement
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Old Mar 27, 12, 5:20 pm
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Originally Posted by Wingman32 View Post
I assume you're covered on the flights/trains --just making sure you've remembered the China visa requirement
Good point! I assumed this poster already had visas, then re-read the part about "short notice" and went Uh-Oh. OP, please quickly come back and tell us you have or are getting those visas! So we don't have a future "Domestic Travel for family of 7 Ends with Turnback at Beijing Airport" thread.
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Old Mar 28, 12, 1:58 am
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Visas are sorted out, thanks for reminding me. Spanish nationals had no problems, as German national I dropped my passsport this morning at HK Airports visa service, together with a whopping 1350 HK$.

Should be able to pick it up this evening.
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Old Mar 28, 12, 7:13 am
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Originally Posted by Zorro View Post
Visas are sorted out, thanks for reminding me. Spanish nationals had no problems, as German national I dropped my passsport this morning at HK Airports visa service, together with a whopping 1350 HK$.

Should be able to pick it up this evening.
Ouch! Why did you not just use Forever Bright in Kowloon if you needed an agent? I think their half-day service is under HKD 500 for your passport.
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Old Mar 31, 12, 8:40 pm
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The Westin XiŽan concierge managed to get us 2 soft sleeper cabins @ 4 pax after we faxed him our passport and CC copies. He charged 50 RMB per ticket, price was 438. No problem with getting 8 tickets for 7 persons, apparently.

The remaining problem is now the transport to Shenzhen airport from Macao. It appears the first boat to Shenzhen airport leaves at 11.30 am, our flight leaves at 14.05 pm to XiŽan, which cuts it a bit fine. Is there any other transport option which avoids overnighting in Shenzhen?.

Thanks everybody.
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Old Mar 31, 12, 9:35 pm
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Originally Posted by Zorro View Post
The remaining problem is now the transport to Shenzhen airport from Macao. It appears the first boat to Shenzhen airport leaves at 11.30 am, our flight leaves at 14.05 pm to XiŽan, which cuts it a bit fine. Is there any other transport option which avoids overnighting in Shenzhen?.

Thanks everybody.
Should be an earlier ferry from Macau to Shekou port.
Then taxi to airport.

RKKWAN
is an expert on PRD transportation, would have the latest
on that.
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