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16 day China Trip - first time! - Any advice?

California
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16 day China Trip - first time! - Any advice?

We are going to China for the first time in June/July for 16 days. Have our family of 5, with 3 kids, ages 9,13,17.

Day 1: Flight

Day 2-5: Beijing -see usual sites

Day 6-7: Xian - Terracotta Soldiers

Day 8-9 Chengdu -Visit Panda Breeding Center

Day 10-12: Shanghai include side trip to a watertown (which one best?)

Day 13-16: Hong Kong

I could extend our trip by an extra 1-2 days if needed.

I don't plan to go on a guided tour but rather use a private driver/guide and car. Would I be able to do without in any cities? I hear Hong Kong is okay to do on your own.

Would everyone recommend intercity flights between all the cities?

When should I purchase these flights? Ahead of time or wait til get to China. And where should I purchase if buy in China?

Also all the hotels I looked at seem to require 2 rooms for the amount of people I have, which I really prefer 1 room with the kids. Any suggestions or recommendations on places to stay?

Appreciate any advice. Thanks.

1. Re: 16 day China Trip - first time! - Any advice?

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Beijing, China
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2. Re: 16 day China Trip - first time! - Any advice?

Usually good discount tickets book 1 month ahead,but you'd better check tickets very open,since the price change all the time

June is very prety in Jiuzhaigou,i was thinking if you are going to chengdu,it worth to go there

I only know Beijing,in the Crown plaza Wangfujing,they alowed one room 4 people,other hotels don't know

California
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3. Re: 16 day China Trip - first time! - Any advice?

Thanks ChengduUK. I hear that it is best to go in the morning when the pandas are more active particularly in the summer. So plan to get to the center when they open in the morning.

Beijing, CHINA
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4. Re: 16 day China Trip - first time! - Any advice?

If extend your trip in Chengdu 2 days would be better.

Self-tour in Shanghai and in Beijing (some day) is OK.

The best itinerary day by day just for your reference.

4 days in Beijing is enough. Do NOT miss the follow scenic spots in Beijing. there are also many scenic spots and many programmers you can choose for your 3 children.

Sightseeing Tiananmen Square, Forbidden City and Beihai Park.(hire English tour guide with you would be better)

sightseeing the Great Wall and Ming Tombs.(join package group or hire English tour guide and private driver with you would be better)

sightseeing the Temple of Heaven and Summer Palace;(hire English tour guide with you would be better)

sightseeing the Lama Temple, Bird's Nest and Water Cube.(on your own is OK)

At the evening of 4th day take by the train from Beijing to Xian (1200km) lasting about 11 hours.

2 days in Xian would be better. sightseeing the Terra Cotta Soldiers, Huaqing Hot Springs Park, and Banpo, an old Neolithic (and possibly matriarchal) village on first day in Xian.

sightseeing the Old City Wall, Shaanxi Provincial Museum, Grand Wild Goose Pagoda and Xian. And then take by the late flight from Xian to Chengdu.

(hire English tour guide and private driver with you in Xian would be better)

sightseeing 3 days in Chengdu would better. The pandas in Wolong Giant Panda Natural Reserve have been transferred to Bifengxia Base after Earth Quake. So suggest you spending two days in Bifengxia.

And then take by the late flight from Chengdu to Shanghai.

Sightseeing 3 days in SHanghai is OK. The water-town near Shanghai is Zhujiajiao and Zhouzhuang. Sightseeing Zhujiajiao at least one day and Zhouzhuagn two days is BETTER. and then take by flight or train from Shanghai to Shenzhen and then take by bus or boat into Hong Kong. You can take by train or flight from Shanghai to Hong Kong DIRECTLY.

Sightseeing in Hong Kong.

in China you can buy your flight tickets in advance 10-20 by Ctrip.com directly or by travel agency.

You can book one standard room and one room with 3 beds or add extra bed in standard room.

California
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5. Re: 16 day China Trip - first time! - Any advice?

chineseqing_2008,

Thanks for the info. So purchasing 1 month ahead is fine? I saw in some other posts that 1 wk prior would provide great savings. Is this the case for purchasing for end of June/early July when it is high season?

Thanks.

California
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6. Re: 16 day China Trip - first time! - Any advice?

travelingislife2008,

Thanks for all the information. We were planning to go to the Chengdu Panda Breeding Research Center. I have heard you are able to hold the panda bear for a donation fee.

Is there advantages to flying from Shanghai to Shenzhen instead of to Hong Kong directly? When I checked the flight cost - seemed like 70 RMB difference. What is the cost for the boat ride from Shenzhen to Hong Kong and how long is the ride?

Thanks.

Beijing, CHINA
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7. Re: 16 day China Trip - first time! - Any advice?

Is there advantages to flying from Shanghai to Shenzhen instead of to Hong Kong directly?

Yes. The cost must be cheaper from Shanghai to Shenzhen than to Hong Kong directly.

What is the cost for the boat ride from Shenzhen to Hong Kong and how long is the ride?

The cost of boat from Shenzhen to Hong Kong is about $1,848, $308, $208 for different cabin seat and last about 60 minutes.

Milwaukee Wisconsin
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8. Re: 16 day China Trip - first time! - Any advice?

I recommend overnight train. They are high speed and modern. Travelling by plane, in my opinion, is work and puts you in a "holding pattern" until your next stop. Travel by train and you are still on your adventure. Between Beijing and Xian you will pass farm fields, coal plants, cave dwellings (about two hours before arrival in Xian). No contest-go by train.

Our kids are same ages, feel free to look up some of my prior posts...they best loved The Great Wall (and tobaggon ride down-Mutianyu), the markets in Xian, especially the Muslim Quarter (which we felt sure Indiana Jones would love), the water fountain and plaza in Xian, and wandering near the Lakes area in Beijing(especially the youngest who loved seeing the fishermen with their long poles, and the "duck island." You can rent boats by the hour).

We, of course, stopped at the Hard Rock Cafe as well.

As for guide, see prior posts...we had Qing in Beijing...absolutely perfect for touring with kids.

As mentioned elsewhere, she purchased train tickets for us in advance...very helpful...kids love her because she is young and fun (and knowledgeable)...you will enjoy your time with her, not just learn about China from a driver on a bus.

Shanghai, China
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9. Re: 16 day China Trip - first time! - Any advice?

You would be hard-pressed to fit 5 of you into 1 single room. Better hunt for family suites or better still, serviced apartments.

Would suggest Tongli water village, try to stay overnight if you can. The guesthouse that I usually book at has a room that would sleep 3, 4 at a stretch, or 5 if all of you can squeeze (erm, the boys might be too big, I don't know) or bring an extra sleeping bag.

Do Beijing -- Xi'an by overnight train, you'll have to fly the rest. And yes, it's usually much cheaper (half the price) to fly to Shenzhen/Guangzhou rather than Hong Kong. Did you factor the taxes in as well?

Melbourne, Australia
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for Beijing, Lijiang
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10. Re: 16 day China Trip - first time! - Any advice?

There is apartment style accomodation in Bejing, Shanghai & Xian.

It you look on www.wotif.com and select apartment it will come up with a list

Beijing has quite a selection, Shanghai a few. We have stayed at the Westin Residences in Beijing & The New Harbour Serviced Apartments in Shanghai.

There is the Citadines in Xian. - I don't think his one is on wotif so here is a link www.citadines.com/china/xian/central.html

All the cities you have chosen are fine to do by yourself even without a guide. Although a guide does help to get a bit of background on Chinese life & also seeing some places that are off he tour radar.