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First time on holiday in China.... Questions

First time on holiday in China.... Questions

Old Jul 15, 19, 1:54 am
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First time on holiday in China.... Questions

All being well (visas and so on) I shall be setting foot on the mainland, for the first time, at the end of September. This will be a two week visit. I have questions. However, I'll preface this with the fact I have a friend who has been living in Shanghai for the past few years, so I'll not be without some help while I'm there. So just a few questions of this forum:

WHICH PHONE WORKS BEST?

Between the CMLink SIM, the personal number, my business number and the local SIM I'll pick up, I'll have a few of these. But which works best for a visitor? Android or iPhone? More importantly, will one work better than the other with VPN and does one have advantages over the other where a local SIM is used? I understand some Google services are blocked.

NAVIGATION?

All around the world I use Google Maps to navigate me through the streets and transit systems like a local. However, I understand I should not rely on this in China, even with VPN. What's the best mapping/navigation solution for a visitor (preferably with some English - I think Baidu is out for me)? Or do I need a combination of apps for maps and transit?

BIKE SHARE?

I used Mobike a couple of times in Manchester, before Manchester became the first city in the world to lose Mobike due to vandalism. If I set myself up a new account, in the UK (probably with my CMLink number), should I be able to use it in China*?

I think that's everything, for now. As I wrote above, I will have help - my friend and his wife will try to set up some kind of access to local payment systems (though my assumption is this will not ultimately be possible) and I'll be bringing the usual basket of currencies along (GBP, USD and EUR).

* I ask as I hope at least Mobike might work for me if my friend and his wife are not able to get something like WeChat Pay working for me.
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Old Jul 15, 19, 7:24 am
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1. All phones are okay

2. Baidu maps, but Google is good if you like English; get a VPN

3. Mobike
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Old Jul 15, 19, 8:13 am
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An issue you didn't raise:

Originally Posted by Internaut View Post
I shall be setting foot on the mainland, for the first time, at the end of September. This will be a two week visit.
Oct. 1-7 is a so-called "Golden Week," a weeklong national holiday. A LOT of people will be traveling during that week, and this year's Golden Week coincides with the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic. How much traveling will you be doing? You could be fighting for space on public transportation and at sites. Some who's been in China during those times could answer that better than I can.

In any case, enjoy your trip.
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Old Jul 15, 19, 8:21 am
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All is not well. This is the worst time to visit China. No access to Google maps will be the least of your worries.
This is what you need to prepare for: Tens of thousands of tourists find out why you shouldn?t visit Huangshan on Golden Week ? shanghaiist or https://mp.weixin.qq.com/s/eM6TvVpuRpTW3FZJ1BUjCQ
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Old Jul 15, 19, 8:24 am
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Thanks. I'm aware of Golden week and anticipate not moving far from Shanghai proper during that time. The slight upside, for me, is that my friend will have the week off.

Edit: If it's that bad, might explain why I got such a good business class deal :-/.
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Old Jul 15, 19, 9:59 am
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National Day, especially anniversary years -- this is one, holds a special place in the heart of most expats. That having been said, it is survivable.

1. Spending the entire time in Shanghai is boring, but if you focus on places that don't appeal to the masses, you'll survive
-avoid Lujiazui

2. Don't make the mistake of traveling to any domestic destinations that are popular with locals -- I did Yangshuo once...never again

3. If the idea of spending a week in Shanghai without a lot to do is unappealing, look into domestic and regional destinations that aren't so popular with Chinese
-simply reviewing fares on Ctrip a bit closer in should give you a sense of suitable places
-in the past, I've had great luck with Xinjiang, Gansu, Jeju, Kyushu, Hiroshima, Taiwan, Vietnam, other SE Asia (I have a hard time staying on top of "in" places down there because tastes and racial attitudes are rapidly changing)
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Old Jul 15, 19, 2:26 pm
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For mapping/navigation, I recommend Maps.Me. All in English, you can download for use offline, and has a reasonable number of PoIs. Use it in combination with Google, although be aware that you can't download offline versions of Google Maps for China.
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Old Jul 15, 19, 3:03 pm
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Originally Posted by moondog View Post
National Day, especially anniversary years -- this is one, holds a special place in the heart of most expats. That having been said, it is survivable.

1. Spending the entire time in Shanghai is boring, but if you focus on places that don't appeal to the masses, you'll survive
-avoid Lujiazui

2. Don't make the mistake of traveling to any domestic destinations that are popular with locals -- I did Yangshuo once...never again

3. If the idea of spending a week in Shanghai without a lot to do is unappealing, look into domestic and regional destinations that aren't so popular with Chinese
-simply reviewing fares on Ctrip a bit closer in should give you a sense of suitable places
-in the past, I've had great luck with Xinjiang, Gansu, Jeju, Kyushu, Hiroshima, Taiwan, Vietnam, other SE Asia (I have a hard time staying on top of "in" places down there because tastes and racial attitudes are rapidly changing)
Now thereís a thought.... A fully refundable excursion to somewhere outside of China gives me an additional entry, for a time (i.e. a double entry visa), even if I donít actually use the excursion. I shall look into the time limit on a multiple entry visa for a Brit citizen...
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Old Jul 15, 19, 3:31 pm
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Brits get 2-year multiple entry visas.
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Old Jul 15, 19, 4:21 pm
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Originally Posted by Internaut View Post
Now thereís a thought.... A fully refundable excursion to somewhere outside of China gives me an additional entry, for a time (i.e. a double entry visa), even if I donít actually use the excursion. I shall look into the time limit on a multiple entry visa for a Brit citizen...
Fully refundable kind of defeats the purpose, assuming you are interested in value, but I can't imagine you'd want to change your mind if you find a destination that interests you. Fyi, when going to new places, I often buy one way tickets in order to preserve flexibility (i.e. come back earlier or move on to somewhere else).

In addition to ctrip, I recommend that you check out Spring (ch.com). Spring's seats are definitely uncomfortable, but they often have insanely low fares ex-Shanghai, and an extra y100 is usually sufficient to snag a seat in the first several rows.
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Old Jul 16, 19, 12:47 am
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Originally Posted by moondog View Post
... other SE Asia (I have a hard time staying on top of "in" places down there because tastes and racial attitudes are rapidly changing)
George Town (Penang) is perennially "Chinese," and IMO it offers richer glimpses of traditional Chinese life and culture than the contrived heritage that pervades in China. But even though I agree that late September/first week of October is a lousy time to visit China as a tourist, Penang might be too far as an excursion from it.

Last edited by sinoflyer; Jul 16, 19 at 12:57 am Reason: grammar
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Old Jul 16, 19, 2:16 am
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As to Mobike, I wouldn't spend too much time trying to get it to work. I finally managed, but it took a lot of time and effort as my photo kept getting rejected.

As well, core Shanghai is not a great place for cycling, though Beijing isn't too bad and a bike is useful for getting out to the far reaches of West Lake at Hangzhou.
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Old Jul 16, 19, 2:23 am
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Originally Posted by 889 View Post
As to Mobike, I wouldn't spend too much time trying to get it to work. I finally managed, but it took a lot of time and effort as my photo kept getting rejected.

As well, core Shanghai is not a great place for cycling, though Beijing isn't too bad and a bike is useful for getting out to the far reaches of West Lake at Hangzhou.
Because I'm staying at hotel close to my friend, it looks like I'm out in the Burbs (will be at a Holiday Inn Express on Jinshajiang Road, Putuo District). For exploring the core, me and my camera will be on foot.
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Old Jul 16, 19, 2:48 am
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Originally Posted by Internaut View Post
Because I'm staying at hotel close to my friend, it looks like I'm out in the Burbs (will be at a Holiday Inn Express on Jinshajiang Road, Putuo District). For exploring the core, me and my camera will be on foot.
That's a pretty good location (I would not call it "burbs"). Line 13 is useful, and 3/4 are kind of useful. I would probably use bikes or Didi to get down to JA Temple or Line 2 from there because most transfers from the elevated line to subways aren't pleasant.
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Old Jul 16, 19, 3:05 am
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"Brits get 2-year multiple entry visas."

But only if they apply in Britain, it seems. (Not a problem for the OP, apparently.)

Fees included they are really expensive. OP might consider two 144-hour TWOVs with a cheap flight to HK etc in the middle.
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