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China-SEA itinerary help

China-SEA itinerary help

Old Jun 7, 12, 11:27 am
  #1  
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China-SEA itinerary help

Hi folks,

Long time lurker, first time poster. I've read through most of the forum and want to say thanks for all the great info.

I'm a 30 y/o canadian, single, professional, traveling solo. I am also a bit anti-social so don't tend to meet many new friends on trips (by choice!) I like big city life, people watching from park benches, historical sites, museums, natural sites, the journey itself, endless self-guided walking tours. I do not like shopping, organized tours, partying, drinking, tourist hoards, excessive planning. I'm a semi-budget traveller, but finally making a bit more $ to splurge on that flight over a 24hr train, mid-range hotels vs grungy backpacker dives etc.

I'm flying in to HKG Aug 1st, out from BKK Aug 27th. Planning to spend the last 10 days in Cambodia/BKK. Trying to decide what to do with the rest of my time. Always wanted to "see China" and have numerous "plans" but not enough time to do it all.

Must sees - Beijing, Xi'an.
Not for me - Tibet, any activities that would be boring solo - cruises, 30hr train rides, etc.
On my list - dunhuang, turpan, chengdu, chongqing, guilin. maybe shanghai though it seems not so "chinese" and missable.

I know this is a hot, wet and busy time to be visiting but no other options unfortunately. Being from Newfoundland the heat will likely kill me since it never cracks 30 degrees here ever.

My initial thoughts for the 16ish days in China:
HKG x3 with day trip to Macau
PEK x3 with trip to wall,
Xi'an x2 mostly for warriors, also city walls.

That leaves 8 days to play with. I realize HKG to PEK is quite the trot, so flights for sure. Is this enough time to head west on a silk road type deal maybe to Dunhuang or even Urumqi/Turpan? Or would it be smarter to head down through Sichuan/Chongqing from Xi'an and leave silk road for next time? Or maybe I should consider Kunming/Dali or other Southwest areas.

Either of these areas less crowded than others? I don't mind crowds of people per se, but crowds of tourists are such a turn off. I get that its high season but any areas where crowds aren't such a concern? How far in advance will hard sleepers need to be reserved in August? I've read they're both impossible or simple to get.

I figured I would catch a flight to Phnom Penh or Siem Reap when finished in China. Have considered cutting China out almost entirely and going through Vietnam overland but this trip all started because I wanted to go to China, and flights were over $1000 more to PEK/SHA vs HKG/BKK that I booked. Also Angkor is something I can't wait to see so I'm going for it.

Sorry for the long post, but any helpful hints/suggestions from the experts around here are greatly appreciated!
yytleisure is offline  
Old Jun 7, 12, 1:54 pm
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I have similar interests as you do and have been to China multiple times over the last 7 years or so. My partner works there most of the time so I'm off to visit him. And much of the time I'm on my own exploring local life. Some thoughts:

Be aware of visa rules for China. E.g. Do you need Multi-entry or are you in China just once. (different from HKG)

Macau: I didn't find it particularly interesting. I don't gamble.

China: I Love to people watch and one of my favorite ways is to go to large public parks in Shanghai or Beijing in the early morning to see the people come out and exercise (tai chi, badminton without a net, ballroom dancing, pickup choirs , kite flying, etc.). An advantage of going alone is to be able to interact with the locals. If I show interest I frequently am approached to participate. I've. Even been offered people's kites to fly, joined a pickup choir even though I can't read Chinese characters, played badminton and asked to dance.

In Beijing there is a famous "antique market" on weekends. I go to watch not to buy. There are hundreds of vendors selling all sorts of interesting things.

Chengdu: the panda reserve is great fun, but get there early in the day. The Sichuan cuisine is great to try, but be prepared for hot and spicy.

Xian: in addition to the warriors and wall, check out the Muslim market in the evening in the city center. Lots of people watching, food and such.

The museu in Xian: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shaanxi_History_Museum is wonderful. I found it more interesting than the Famous Shanghai museum as it covered in more depth the whole of Chinese cultural history. The museum has a limited number of tickets each day and has dicounts or free for seniors.

Last year I went with my partner to the Yellow Mountains. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Huangshan

I Loved it there. It is very popular with Chinese, but you see very few Westerners there. One reason for that, is that to experience it you have to do a lot of work. To see the mountains you climb up and down long uneven steps so there is a lot of work required. The reward is some of the most spectacular natural beauty I've ever seen anywhere. We spent two days there overnighting in a hotel in the midlevel plateau. (people also camped up there if you're into that)

Local festivals. While in Shanghai, I found out about a local kiting club that had a competition out by the sea. We went there for a 1/2 day and had great fun seeing acrobatic synchronized kite teams and the like. Everyone wanted to take photos with me for some reason.

Local spas: In Shanghai (and I'm sure most cities) they have local spas where families go to take baths, get massage, haircuts, pedicure, eat etc. in my experience the sexes are segregated and there is nude bathing with many different choices of mineral soaks, etc. My large body gets lots of attention, but I find it a very relaxing place to go. May be better experienced in cooler weather.

You sound like an adventurous person. Just jump in and have a blast!
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Old Jun 7, 12, 3:52 pm
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thanks for the response! your suggestions sound right up my alley - yes sounds like we have a similar interests.

I'm somewhat aware of the visa rules, hoping to get away with just a single entry, we'll see how that goes. I'm assuming i can arrive in HKG, day trip to macau and back if i decide to go ahead with it (i'm not a gambler either), back to HKG and then just enter China once, do my thing for a couple weeks then head to Cambodia.

Thanks for the tips on antique/muslim markets. i'm not a shopper but watching people shop is entirely different. also just seeing different things for sale you won't find in "the mall" here at home is great.

Yellow mountains sounds right up my alley - unfortunately i'm a bit of a sweaty man and from the sounds of it i'd perish halfway up of heatstroke/dehydration. uneven/difficult to navigate/strenuous doesnt bother me but in 35 degree humid heat won't work too well for those of us living in the middle of the north atlantic. how long would you say it took to get to the top? possible to take breaks along the way for side sights?
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Old Jun 7, 12, 5:58 pm
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Originally Posted by yytleisure View Post
thanks for the response! your suggestions sound right up my alley - yes sounds like we have a similar interests.

...

Yellow mountains sounds right up my alley - unfortunately i'm a bit of a sweaty man and from the sounds of it i'd perish halfway up of heatstroke/dehydration. uneven/difficult to navigate/strenuous doesnt bother me but in 35 degree humid heat won't work too well for those of us living in the middle of the north atlantic. how long would you say it took to get to the top? possible to take breaks along the way for side sights?
I highly recommend the Yellow Mountains. I think we went in hot weather August/Sept or some such last year. The air up in the mountains was a lot cooler than further down. I'm a big, sweaty 65 yr old and got along OK. Make sure you have water (you can buy it along the trail at main points). What we did was to stay in a guest house/hotel at the bottom of the mountain and got up early (as most everyone does) and took a bus to the base of the mountain where you catch a cable car up to the area where you hike from . So you don't have to hike in the lower/warmer areas. As I said we stayed over night, but some folks just go up and down in a day.

The cable car to the top is 15 minutes or so. And once there you are close to the area where all the hotels are. So you can rest, eat, etc. There are also some places where you can buy food, water, and so on. Once up in that area the trails (which are all concrete steps or steps carved into the mountain rock) go in many directions. I think there are 3 or 4 main trails which lead to different areas. Each trail involved going up/down the equivalent of 10-20 flights of stairs and ended at a lookout point where you could rest, get water, etc. Some trails are in a loop, but all go back to the central hotel area.

Here's a link to a map of the hiking area.

http://www.china-map-guide.com/attra...w-mountain.htm

I don't see distance markers on the map, but I think we went on one trail the first day and a second trial the second day which wound around to a high point and then a spectacular trail on the edge of the mountain. I seem to remember each day's hiking was in the area of 4-5 km.

Oh and one other thing, if you go up take with you ONLY what you absolutely need. Once at the top of the cable car everything is hand carried. We took a back pack each and I took only prescription medicine, CPAP and a change of clothes. You can store anything else for a day or so at a hotel down in the city or some such.

If I can figure out how to upload an image, I'll do that.

Best to you.
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Old Jun 7, 12, 6:15 pm
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I would suggest spending more time in Hong Kong and Beijing. Two full days in either city isn't nearly enough. Don't try to do everything in one trip. You'll enjoy it more if it's more leisurely.
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Old Jun 7, 12, 10:13 pm
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You have enough time to go to Dunhuang, Turpan, Urumqi, but you already worried about heat, and you're going to see temperatures way above 40C in many of these places. Will you enjoy your time with this kind of heat?
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Old Jun 9, 12, 11:02 pm
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Originally Posted by MSPeconomist View Post
I would suggest spending more time in Hong Kong and Beijing. Two full days in either city isn't nearly enough. Don't try to do everything in one trip. You'll enjoy it more if it's more leisurely.
+1
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Old Jun 11, 12, 3:15 pm
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thanks for the help. its a work in progress of course. will update with final plans.
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