We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.
We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

China or Japan

Chicago, IL
Level Contributor
18 posts
62 reviews
Save Topic
China or Japan

Trying to decide whether to go to China next year or Japan - which has more to offer in terms of natural beauty and places of historical interest? We are an American family of 4 (2 boys aged 4 and 8). Thank you.

Arlington, Virginia
Level Contributor
732 posts
5 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: China or Japan

Have you visited Asia before? I've been to both China and Japan, and while China has a lot to offer in terms of history, it's very different culture than what we're used to. Haggling is to be expected, air pollution is bad in many cities, taxi drivers may or may not take you to your destination, and people are extremely aggressive. Japan is the total opposite, people are amazingly well-mannered, there is no haggling (and no tipping!) and they are very open to Westerners. It's also a very child friendly country. A lot of history was wiped out in World War II but Kyoto and Nara have maintained a lot of their history. There are also many beautiful places in Japan, you may want to explore the mountainous areas of Hakone or Nikko which are easy to get to from Tokyo.

Hong Kong, China
Destination Expert
for Hong Kong, Osaka
Level Contributor
49,766 posts
130 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: China or Japan

I don't think this question can be answered in a fair manner actually as it's down to your own preference. You are likely to get pro-China answers in the China forums, and pro-Japanese answers in the Japan forums.

From a scenery perspective, China, being the larger country, probably has more stunning sites. Historically speaking and architecturally speaking, it also has a lot of treasures.

However, what mjw mentioned above is true as well. Japan would be the easier country to visit. You wouldn't have to worry about aggressive people. Japanese locals will likely be more helpful than Chinese. The transport and infrastructure are much better than China.

Kootenays, British...
Level Contributor
405 posts
66 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: China or Japan

Your question is like: which is a better place to visit the US or Mexico? Depends on your tastes and interests. I prefer Japan but the next guy may prefer China.

Tokyo, Japan
Level Contributor
23,903 posts
120 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: China or Japan

Both China and Japan should be an interesting destination. That holds true for both the Chinese and the Japanese. The nature, culture, history, food, and way of life of the two countries is very different - as much as UK and Russia are different. It all depends on what you're interested in.

Kanazawa, Japan
Level Contributor
825 posts
23 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: China or Japan

With small children, I would go to the country that is less hassle to travel in overall - in this case, Japan easily. Also you can take them to Tokyo Disney Resort once they get tired of sightseeing. It's safer, far cleaner, and everything works with legendary levels of efficiency. Much less hassle all around, especially if you're new to Asia.

China would probably win out in terms of natural beauty, but it's a huge country and getting to these places is much more of a hassle. Historical sites? China probably has better-preserved villages (for now) but again, access is not as easy. Japan has nothing like the Forbidden City, but then again it's still got a massive amount anyway - just in smaller, more intimate scales. With the possible exception of the Todaiji in Nara.

Jakarta, Indonesia
Level Contributor
237 posts
468 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: China or Japan

I would agree with Kagakiwi on the basis that you are new to Asia and that you're traveling with small children. Go to Japan first and save the trip to China for later.

Chicago, IL
Level Contributor
18 posts
62 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: China or Japan

Thank you all for your input. Yes, I am reading up on both countries but this kind of compare/ contrast from people who have been there really helps.

Aoyama Dori and San...
Level Contributor
9,424 posts
25 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: China or Japan

I like both destinations but with small kids I think Japan is probably better.

Miami
Level Contributor
23 posts
42 reviews
Save Reply
9. Re: China or Japan

I have been to many cities in China and I think it is an amazing country full of wonderful places and history to discover, and yes I will agree with the other posts that is full of challenges because is so completely different from what we are used to here in the US, beginning with the constant haggling you have to do in order to buy anything, but at the same time I believe that that's what makes it so interesting and fascinating, if you want to experience a completely different culture and also expose your children to those experiences. I will be going to Japan for the first time next month, probably then I will be able to give a better comparison of the two countries but for now I can say that China is fascinating.

Munich, Germany
Level Contributor
3,689 posts
6 reviews
Save Reply
10. Re: China or Japan

Don't go to China if you can help it. Although I've met many people who were friendly, I've also made some very bad experiences, such as "quickly" wanting to find a taxi to get back to my hotel, and they just wouldn't take me. You don't know why, either, because they didn't speak any English except for "NO!"

You must be extremely careful. For instance, when I came back to Beijing from North Korea, this old man with a cane took my luggage, carrying it and not pretending to notice it had wheels. He "helped" get me a taxi. He then asked for money, and he wanted 5 Yuan, not 1 Yuan.

The taxi driver then pretended not to understand that I wanted the meter turned on, and turned on the radio instead. (He understood just fine that I wanted the radio turned off, though.) He then asked for 100 Yuan for taking me to my hotel. I didn't know exactly what the price was supposed to be, but I knew it wasn't 100 Yuan. I pretended I had the money in my luggage, gave him 50 Yuan (which was about 4 times the amount I should have paid), and he was satisfied. I am not and will complain about him once I've found out how. I have his taxi number, pretending to take a photo of the skyline and holding my camera a little too low.

These are the kind of experiences I'm talking about. ... I'd like to visit North Korea again in two or three year, but I definitely do not look forward to returning to Beijing, where the trip starts. And if I go there again, I'll pre-arrange transfer from the airport etc. I've really come to dislike Beijing.

Edited: 28 August 2012, 09:15