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Traveled by Bus and Train from Hong Kong through Hunan province and then stopped in Shanghai
As in any of the tourist cities, watch out for touts. Check out the CITS office on Shanghai Nan Lu. DO NOT buy tour packages from the hotel. They are full of tourist traps that try to get you to buy stuff and have awful food for lunch.
About 2 hours from Guilin, this is a magnificent view of agricultural farming high up in the mountians. You can also spend the night in the local village, which has a population of 600.
A town of about 300,000 in western Hunan province. This makes a great launching point for Fenghuang Old City (1hr) and Dehang Village (1hr). The accomodation in this city is reasonably priced and offers an alternative to spending the night in a village or hostel. You can get a double in a 2 star hotel for 80rmb. At that rate (if you're traveling with someone else), why bother with a hostel?
Cab fare starts at 3yuan, and because it is so low, many drivers won't pick you up unless you are going far or are willing to pay more. The main draw for this city is the Sea world, City Musuem, and Provincial Musuem. Be careful! On Sunday the entrance is free, so there are VERY long lines for the provincial musuem. I stayed at Han Ting Inn (www.htinns.com). This is a very good hotel chain that offers good value. I got a double room for 150rmb w/breakfeast. The rooms were nice. As for the city, I stayed for one day and had enough.
If you're bored in Changsha and need a day trip, come out to see the pavilion and also take a pleasant walk along the river front. Otherwise, this town is dreary and forgettable.
This small town of 80,000 is a beautiful, peaceful, and pleasant place to spend a few days. And you will need a few days if you want to see all the sights nearby. If you'd like, you can also stay overnight in the villages nearby, for 20 to 30rmb. But if you need creature comforts stay in WuYuan city instead.
If you have some extra time, go see the 'Pai Fang' or Memorial Arches. These are located within 1hr bus of HuangShan City in the citiy of Yi Shan.