Dun u think that the karst mountains in JPDEM foto looks stunning!Yangshuo is great n its so heavenly different after the hustle n bustle of Shanghai citylife.But on other hand a look at past history in Suzhu0 or Tongli might b very enticing too.,as Annie suggested.Hangzhou with a tale of the madam white snake brings to life with the spectacular west lake n feilafeng pagoda.Shanghai probably 3 days is good enuf for most pipol but for me there r endless things to do...here
good airfares? Where? I just paid over $4000 for the two of us.
We're flying to Chicago on our way across the US and then have another layover in San Francisco.
To answer your question, I've never been, but if time allows, I like to take in the best places in the most cities so that you get a good feeling for the country. (Like visiting Miami is different than visiting Boston and different than Seattle)
From what i have been reading Shanghai seems like an amazing city with amazing things to see and do, but Xi'an is a very old city and has so much history. I am so excited to go there. My daughter's Chinese teacher comes form Xi'an. I think a side trip to the Terra Cotta soldiers or to see all of the pagodas is a can't miss unless you plan to go to China again sometime.
Just an opinion, but I hope it helps you make a decision.
There are many naysayers about Shanghai among regular posters, but I am a promoter as you encounter a friendly modern city with some historic items from the past and a handful of day-trips on fast bullet trains to surrounding towns with very unique features.
Shanghai itself is worth two and one-half or three days. I have written many posts on the the parks, Old Shanghai, Pudong, etc. etc. By all mean, buy or borrow the DK Eyewitness Guide to Beijing & Shanghai immediately to preview the attractions in full color on each page.
OK, here is a list of some of the day-trip options:
1. A day at Suzhou, one of my favorites, the finest collection of Far Eastern gardens anywhere on this continent. You can spend all day taking taxis from garden to garden and never get bored. There is a tourist market, simulated boat ride on a canal (both not worth it IMHO), and many interesting places to eat.
2. Nanjing was the center of China history from 1850 to 1950, from the Taiping Rebellion to the exodus of the Republic to Taiwan and the founding of the People's Republic which moved the capital back to Beijing. In between, Nanjing was the seat of government after the Qing Dynasty ended, has a memorial and tomb of the man generally credited with freeing China from the Emperor, Sun Yat Sen. (More or less the "George Washington" of China.). A more sobering memorial is the one to the "Nanjing Massacre" during the Sino-Japanese war before WW II began.
3. Zhenjiang/Yangzhou are two cities on the Yangtze River, a bit east of Nanjing. You take the train to Zhenjiang, explore the old street and downtown area, and then take a taxi to Yangzhou. The latter has a huge park with "Little West Lake" reminiscent of Hangzhou and the real West Lake. The park needs a few more years of growth, but still is magnificent in late March for blooming plants, bulbs and trees and rides in several sizes of boats. Last year at this same time I had a great day there including outdoor lunch in the middle of the park outside a pavilion restaurant.
4. Hangzhou itself is the favorite retreat of Shanghainese with a large lake with many causeways and walkways around it. There are various sites (pagoda, temple, etc.), a tourist trinket street, and electric boats to take you from island to island in the beautiful lake park. Hangzhou is home to the world-famous Longjing tea, so if you are interested in the growing, picking and processing of excellent green tea, a visit to this village by taxi will be fun.
5. Tongli, perhaps the most famous of the water towns near Shanghai, used canals instead of roads for all transportation, whether locally or to Beijing via the Grand Canal. This town has been restored to the way it was centuries ago when Shanghai was a small village and these agricultural towns were the home to commerce. There are several of these in the lowlands of the Yangtze River delta.
You can see that Shanghai is far more than just "another modern city" as some dismiss it. As the center of finance and commerce for China, Shanghai is a fast growing world economic center. By all means get the DK guidebook before you make any final decisions. It also includes sections on many of the day trips.
You can also take an overnight train (to save time) to Beijing, enjoy a few days there, and return to Shanghai by night train. You will save two half days of travel time which results in another full day of touring in either city.
I do disagree somewhat with sbs. Shanghai is very westernised and in many ways it isn't what i'd call real china. It is china lite- which is the moniker that hong kong once had.
Why else would sbs say stay a few days
then day trip out? To me that reads as tacit approval of naysayers like me.
Anyway-- go and make up your own mind- for a first timer or even 5 or 6 times its a pretty amazing place!
Hi Skeggles my friend,
It really does not matter what the reason, the question is what about staying in Shanghai for a week. Yes, Shanghai is a great place for a week, as it is a fine base of operations so you do not have to pack, move, unpack every other day. Just stay in one place and take trips to places less than an hour away to see world-class sights.
I would be the first to agree that if you must stay inside Shanghai for a week, you would get bored unless you are a dedicated Shanghaiphile like I. Worse, there is far more diversity to China deserving your attention. That is why a stay based in Shanghai can demonstrate Chinese arts, gardens, parks, politics and water town culture.
Yes, sadly Shanghai as most cities is bulldozing its heritage, typical of a fast and dynamic economy. I miss sections of Old Shanghai, or even the old French Concession apartment houses built for foreigners in the late 1800s and early 1900s. They are making a great public relations effort right now to say the government is in favor of preservation, but the piles of brick rubble tell a different story.
Thanks for the advice. My friends have already been to Beijing, so that's off the list. I'll save that for another trip.
When I travel, I like to settle into a place rather than staying in a different hotel every couple nights. So a week in one location with a couple of day trips is ideal. I live in Chicago and although from one perspective you could say three days here is enough, you could also spend a very enjoyable week at a slower place.
Thanks to SoBeSparky - glad I went trawling back through old posts. This is a very informative one. I will arrive in Shanghai Friday 22nd April and am staying until May 1st - after reading a few posts I was worried this might be too long. Very glad to hear there are numerous day trips to take. I have a base at the Etour Mingtown hostel reserved.
Plus I really do enjoy wandering around the city at a leisurely pace taking in the feel of the place and getting to know the city. Could not imagine how one would get enough of a city like Shanghai over the course of 8 or 9 days. Although I can imagine the crowds wearing you down over time if you lived there. Really looking forward to it.