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Just Starting to Plan Trip to China--Where To Start?

Jacksonville...
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Just Starting to Plan Trip to China--Where To Start?

My husband and I just decided to take a trip to China and are in the very initial planning stages. To be honest, I'm a little overwhelmed because I don't know too much yet, and not sure where to start.

Any ideas on some recommended general iteneraries (by city) assuming a max of two weeks, including travel days from the U.S.? I'm up for flying in and out of different airports to avoid doubling-back. We of course want to see the main sites, but also like to get a little off the beaten track too. So a mix of city and semi-rural and touristy and non-touristy. I know it's a lot to start with, but wasn't sure if there was a "typical" itenerary for first-timers to the country.

Any direction would be appreciated. (I ordered a travel book, but it's so big, I'd at least like to narrow down my focus a bit to what are generally the important spots to start off.)

Thanks!

bheh1314
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1. Re: Just Starting to Plan Trip to China--Where To Start?

Hi

We are about to return to China for a 3rd visit later this year and found that by visiting the main tourist places first we were able to be more selective this time.

Our first trip was organised by Kuoni UK and we visited Beijing, Xian and Hong Kong. We did all the top tourist things The Great Wall at Badaling, Temple of Heaven, Forbidden City, Mings Tombs, Peking Duck dinner, Chinese Opera and time to wander around Tianamen Square. We did have limited time in Xian though we saw the Terracotta Warriors and walked the town walls (wonderful). In Hong Kong we were on our own but we had been a few times before so this was really relaxing. The trip was really well organised with very little time wasted but gave us a good insight into what China had to offer.

The second time we had a couple of nights in Beijing to visit the places we really felt we needed more time to see including The Sacred Way (Ming Tombs) and The Great Wall at Mutiyanu. In Beijing we hired a car and driver as we didn't want to waste any on the time we had. We then flew to Xian to revisit the Terracotta Warriors, they are so amazing that we didn't feel that our first visit did them justice, and then we travelled the Yangtze just 3 weeks before the dam was opened.

This year we are starting in Shanghai, then a short visit to Suzhou, We are then going to Lijiang, Yunnan for a week and then back to Hong Hong for another week.

China is vast especially compared to the UK where I live. The Chinese people are so nice,friendly and welcoming. China and her people have left a deep impression on us. Enjoy yourselves and make the most of every minute.

Miami Beach, Florida
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for Shanghai Region
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2. Re: Just Starting to Plan Trip to China--Where To Start?

Hi ADB,

I take it this is your first trip to China. Almost everyone thinks of Beijing as obligatory, what with the Great Wall, Forbidden City, Summer Palace and on and on. Almost all the buildings have been restored for the Olympics, so it is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see the major sites in such excellent condition. Figure four or five days including one at the GW.

You do not mention a time of year for your visit. I recommend fall as drier and temperate. What kind of travelers are you? Do you want to see as much as you can or do you want to settle down in a few cities/towns to get more of a feel for the location, culture and people?

If the former, then you can get a lot of itinerary suggestions from the tour company sites. You will spend a lot of time in airport taxis, terminals, and waiting. Internal travel will easily become one of your major activities, as China is a large as the USA. Imagine trying to see America in two weeks! Overnight trains are a good option for westerners from Xian-Bejing, and Beijing-Shanghai with comfortable overnight accomodations saving you time and money.

After traveling to China for eight times, I would start in Beijing, head to Lijiang for a few days, then to Yangshuo, and then to Shanghai. You get to see the two major cities, the restored Chinese architecture and great side trips of Lijiang, the countryside and farming solitude of Yangshuo (outside the town, stay at the Li River Retreat), and China's largest and most modern city, Shanghai. You start and leave from international gateways for non-stop flights.

At each stop you will enjoy "side trips" outside the metro areas such as the GW, Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, Li River villages and water towns outside Shanghai. You will get to stay at each hotel for three to five nights, letting you relax and avoid packing and unpacking constantly.

Many will say I forgot Xi'an, Hong Kong, Chengdu, Hong Kong and more. I did not forget them; instead I left them for your second trip. Some of your best memories will be of relaxing, enjoying the ambiance and looking out at Lijiang's rooftops or sitting in a secluded corner of one of Suzhou's many outstanding gardens.

Shanghai, China
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3. Re: Just Starting to Plan Trip to China--Where To Start?

a) Beijing (5 days) -- Huangshan & Hui-style villages (3 days) -- Hangzhou (1.5 days) -- Xitang (1 day including overnight) -- Shanghai (2 days)

b) Beijing (5 days) -- Pingyao (1 day) -- Xi'an (2 days) -- Luoyang & Shaolin (2 days) -- Shanghai (3 days)

c) Beijing (5 days) -- Taishan (2 days) -- Qufu (1 day) -- Nanjing (2 days) -- Suzhou (1 day) -- Tongli (1 day including overnight) -- Shanghai (2 days)

These are just some of the many options I could give you...!

Jacksonville...
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4. Re: Just Starting to Plan Trip to China--Where To Start?

Thanks everyone--this is a great start! It will probably take me a few days to sift through this information and look up the sites in my guidebook--afterwards I'm sure I'll have more questions.

I'm definitely the type that likes to pick a handful of cities (at most!) to stay in rather than staying in a new hotel each night. I also hate to go with tour groups--I like the flexibility that comes when traveling on your own.

Again--many thanks!

Shanghai, China
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5. Re: Just Starting to Plan Trip to China--Where To Start?

Some of the places I suggested are rather small and can be seen in a day, thus no point staying there for longer.

6. Re: Just Starting to Plan Trip to China--Where To Start?

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