Friday, February 2, 2007

Where to go in China?

Our plan is to spend three weeks in China, flying into Beijing and out of Shanghai, and going to Xi'an somewhere along the line. We're really looking forward to a week or so in both Beijing and Shanghai, but I have a few concerns:
  1. It'll be mid-winter, and I hear that it's bloody cold!
  2. The travel times between these three cities is significant, though we plan to take sleeper trains.
  3. I'm concerned about where, and how long, to stay in Xi'an. We're obviously going to visit the monumental tomb of Qin Shi Huang, but I gather that the city of Xi'an itself might be just a big concrete smokey disappointment.
If you have ever been to China, or are living there, please feel free to correct my views which are mostly based on reading and not very well informed. Is our selection of cities a reasonable one? Would we be better off making adjustments or wholesale changes? Any and all advice is very welcome.


liulianxiaoyu said...

I do not have many suggestions. When are you coming to China?

Shanghai is wet and cold in winter, but not that cold. If you come to Shanghai, you could stay in Hangzhou for a couple of days which is beautiful and is very near to Shanghai(only 1 hour by train).

In China, I do not think Winter is a good season for trip.

Maybe, you could go to Sanya(三亚) or Xiang ge li la" 香格里拉" of Hainan Province, which is beautiful and always in spring.

I have a friend from America who has ever stayed in Shanghai, Hangzhou and Beijing. I may ask him for some suggestions later.

Brendan Lawlor said...

Hi there liulianxiaoyu,
We'll be there for the first three weeks of 2008. I agree that Winter does not seem to be the ideal time for going to China, but if we are to include China in our trip, then it has to be at the start.
This is interesting and useful advice. I'll read up about these cities.


liulianxiaoyu said...

sorry, I made a mistake. Xianggelila is in Yunnan(云南) Province.

In addition, many foreigners like to go to Lasa(拉萨)of Xizang(西藏). Sanya is very popular for trip in China. Jiuzhaigou(九寨沟) of Sichuan(四川 ) province and Zhouzhuang(周庄) of Suzhou(苏州) City of Jiangsu(江苏) province are also popular. here is a link on Zhouzhuang:
here is a link (sorry, it is a chinese link)on Jiuzhaigou:

I am not sure if it is helpful.If I find more later, I will let you know.

Brendan Lawlor said...

That certainly is useful information. Again, thanks a million liulianxiaoyu.

I think we are limited in how far West we can travel. We only have 3 weeks, and I don't want to spend too much time on the train (it wouldn't be fair for the kids either).

Xi'an was as far as we were ready to go, and even then with some concerns that the city itself might not be too interesting.

Jason S said...

At the risk of offended people who love Xi'an, when I was there, it wasn't really all that cool.
Don't get me wrong, it wasn't bad, and the city wall and warriors were really interesting, but as far as a MUST see place, I just don't know.
I think if you can fit in, do it up, but not going wouldn't be a huge loss if you're already going to so many other wonderful places.

I also agree with liulianxiaoyu about Hangzhou. When you're around Shanghai, spend a day in Hangzhou and a day in Suzhou if you can. They're both cool and so close to Shanghai.

Either way, you'll have a blast I'm sure. Have fun!

Brendan Lawlor said...

I'm having a rethink about our 21 days in China. I'm concerned about spending too much time in cities and not seeing enough nature. The tips about Hangzhou and Suzhou are particularly good, and I'm inclined to set things up so that we have at least 8 days based around Shanghai.

But the seed of another idea has planted itself - to push a little further east, into Sichuan. It seems that from Chengdu there is much natural beauty to be seen (and lots of fantastic cuisine to be sampled!). And the journey from Chengdu to Shanghai, while being very long, would take us past the Three Gorges. My only concern, as usual, is the weather. The Irishman won't have any trouble with the cold, but I'm concerned that my Mediterranean wife and half-Sardinian daughters will have more difficulty. I guess we can wrap up well, but I wonder if the transport systems timetables are at the mercy of the weather?

>>john m said...

Hi Brendan, I can recommend Lhasa, Gyantse (definitely), Ganden, Kashgar (or Kashi), Dunhuang (the caves of). They can be a bit, eh, difficult to get to. Urumqui to Kashgar is 3 days by bus but well worth it. Also worth a shot in W. China would be Turfan (didnt make it there) or the Bogda Shan mountains (long blinking required to miss seeing the open cast coal mines, but a beautiful spot once you get into the mountains)..

Brendan Lawlor said...

Hmmmmmm. I think we might wait for the girls to get a bit older before we get so brave. Middle of winter and all that. But if you think you can convince my missus to stay on a bus for 3 days, then feel free to try ;-)

liulianxiaoyu said...

Hi Brendan, I help my American friend to find some beautiful places in Suzhou of Jiangsu Province today, here are some websites for your reference:

乌镇(Wu1 zhen4):


同里(tong2 li3): only Chinese version, no English version, sorry.

白马涧(bai2 ma3 jian4):

苏州西山: only has Chinese version, no English version.

苏州西山农家乐:   only has Chinese version, no English version (website)


If you come to Suzhou, maybe, it is helpful.

Brendan Lawlor said...

Too cool. We will be definitely be checking out Suzhou. Thanks liulianxiaoyu.

liulianxiaoyu said...

You are welcome. :)