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Simon_CH

1 month visit to China - HK, Guangzhou, Kunming, Chengdu, Shanghai & Ningo - how to ?

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Simon_CH

Hi everyone

I am visiting China for a month between 20.01.10 and 18.02.10! My plan is to visit all the Universities I am currently interested in staying next summer for one year. I want to visit the cities, campus, a bit of sightseeing, but most time will be spent trying to figure out how it would be to stay there for 1 year. Now here's the info:

Arrival: 20.01.10 in Hong Kong

Departure: 18.01.10 from Hong Kong

Cities to visit: Hong Kong->Guangzhou, Kunming, Chengdu, Shanghai->Ningbo.

Now please help me figure out a good travel plan, as I need to take lots of domestic flights! :)

My plan at the moment (without having a clue really) is the following:

Stay in Hong Kong for 4-5 days

-->travel by boat/bus/train from Hong Kong to Guangzhou <--- info appreciated

Stay in Guangzhou for 2-3 days

-->fly to Kunming

Stay in Kunming and area for 4-5 days

-->take a train/bus to Chengdu

Stay in Chengdu for 2-3 days

-->fly to Shanghai

Stay in Shanghai for 2-3 days

--> take a bus/train to Ningbo

Stay in Ningbo for 2-3 days

-->return to Shanghai

--->fly to Hong Kong

Stay for 2 days

-->fly back to Switzerland

That's just a really rough plan, and I'm sure you guys have plenty of great ideas how to improve it!

Cheers for any suggestion,

Simon

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abcdefg

Fly Kunming to Chengdu. Flights are fast, plentiful, and cheap. It's a long trip by bus or train. Your time can be better spent unless you just crave the experience of slogging around China in the slow lane.

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Simon_CH

Haha, thanks! Typical beginners mistake I guess... "ah, that's not so far... just a few inches on the map... let's take a bus"... :mrgreen:

How would you proceed with the domestic flights ? Book them all in advance or keep my freedom and book locally ? I don't mind if it's just 100usd difference overall, but wouldn't want to pay double for that luxury.

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abcdefg
How would you proceed with the domestic flights ? Book them all in advance or keep my freedom and book locally ?

I would book each leg of the trip sequentially. It's very difficult to do all in advance at one time from somewhere outside China at least in part because some of the regional air carriers don't show up as options on the large international on-line booking sites.

"ah, that's not so far... just a few inches on the map... let's take a bus".

Train and bus routes between Kunming and Chengdu must traverse mountains, which adds considerably to the required time, especially for the train. Last time I checked, the train took about 22 hours, wheras flying only takes about an hour.

Edited by abcdefg

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roddy

However, I do think an overnight hard sleeper train ride should be on the itinerary somewhere - they're fun, you meet people, sit around watching China slide past the window, and you save the cost of a hotel. Looking at your plan Kunming to Chengdu seems the most viable place to do that. Shanghai to Hong Kong would also be an option, although that's a lot less proletarian route - it'll be all laptops and Subway sandwiches, not cards and sunflower seeds.

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Simon_CH

Hm.. sounds fun roddy, I have already done some hardcore 20+ hours trainrides in India and loved it. But does the overnight train have proper sleepers ? I don't need anything fancy, mind you, but a bit of sleep never hurt! :mrgreen:

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rob07
It's very difficult to do all in advance at one time from somewhere outside China at least in part because some of the regional air carriers don't show up as options on the large international on-line booking sites.

www.elong.net is a NASDAQ listed English language on-line airline and hotel booking portal for Chinese domestic flights and hotels. (www.elong.com is the Chinese language version). It is excellent and very easy to use outside of China. Flights can get a bit more expensive if you book them late but certainly not double and they can also get cheaper. You'll probably find you like some of the places more than others, so if I was you I wouldn't sacrifice flexibility by booking flights in advance.

Note that you can't book flights to and from Hong Kong on elong as these count as international flights. However, Shenzhen Airport is only about half an hour away from Hong Kong Airport and you can fly pretty much anywhere in China from Shenzhen.

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Simon_CH

Thanks rob,

You're right, flying to HK is more expensive too, so I will fly to Shenzhen!

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wushijiao

Although I live in HK and think it is great, I think it might be a better use of your time to only do HK for 1-3 days (enough to get over jet lag and see many things), and use those extra 2-3 days in Yunnan or Sichuan. Those places have tons of cool things to see and do, and the pace is laid back- and better suited to having a less tight schedule. Also, there's probably no better way to improve your conversation skills than by traveling, and from that point of view, the more time you have in the Mainland, the better. But, that's just my fifty cents. :D

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Simon_CH

Yeah, I guess you're right, and I also don't consider going to Hong Kong next year for the exchange year, but I have a friend there who's been urging me to visit Hong Kong, so I can't just visit her for 1-2 days and then be off to the mainland! :mrgreen:

And I'll need some time to recover from my hangovers that are sure to come when visiting this friend... :)

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abcdefg

rob07 is right that http://www.elong.net is a good source of domestic flight information for China. But I've found it clumsy to actually book through them because of complicated credit card processing procedures. I usually check schedules on their website and then just buy the ticket at a travel agent when I'm doing it anywhere on the mailand.

As to the train between Kunming and Chengdu, it's not a bad ride, though much of it is at night which limits the sightseeing possibilities. Sleepers are available. I also think the train is more fun if you are traveling with a friend than doing it solo, but you might feel differently about that.

Shenzhen is an excellent airline hub and certainly much cheaper than Hong Kong for domestic China flights. But I think the easiest way for you to get from Hong Kong to Guangzhou is to take the bus. Takes about 2 hours. Your Hong Kong friend can show you how to do that once you get there. No need to pre-arrange. Train and ferry are other options for that short trip.

Edited by abcdefg

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jbradfor
travel by boat/bus/train from Hong Kong to Guangzhou <--- info appreciated

Any particular reason for not flying for this leg? Again, flights are quicker, so unless you want the experience, it would give you more time for your other activities. [And, based on your other comments, I'd rather fly with a hangover than take a bus! At least it would be over sooner....]

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abcdefg

I'm not sure whether flights even exist from Hong Kong to Guangzhou because the two cities are so close together. Only takes about two hours by bus, train, or ferry. Furthermore the bus is really easy to negotiate even with severely limited Chinese.

Edit: E-Long does show flights. They take about one hour and cost a lot (about 1,000 RMB.)

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jbradfor

You're right, it is closer than I thought. First hit on google: http://www.sinohotelguide.com/cantonfair/information/train.html less than 2 hours by train. Leaves from central Kowloon Station, depending on where you're staying it's probably faster to take the train than to get to the airport, let alone the time for the flight.

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Simon_CH

Thanks for all the hints, quite a bit of information coming together here!

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dillon1530

Hi,

I'm afraid I don't have a lot of practical advice on the travel and transportation front, but had some thoughts about the trip overall. If you're specifically trying to figure out where to spend a year abroad, I recommend cutting down the number of places you visit on this trip - try and get a real feel for each place instead. Why not visit Shanghai and Ningbo (a really lovely little city - my husband lived and studied there for 2 years after college and loved it), Hong Kong, where your friend lives, and then Kunming and a more rural part of Yunan Province (gorgeous).

I'm curious - since you're interested in coming to China to learn Mandarin why are there no northern cities like Beijing, Harbin, or Dalian on your itinerary since that's where the most "standard" Mandarin is spoken? Also, are you looking for a major city or a smaller one in which to spend your year abroad? That would make a big difference in terms of where you choose to visit. Best of luck!

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ocrtech

Try travelzen.com instead of ctrip for airline tickets. They don't have a credit card surcharge and accept credit cards issued outside China. Also, flights get cheaper as you approach the travel day - as long as they don't sell out :) Ctrip is good for hotel reservations since in most cases they reserve the room but don't require a deposit.

When I did my trip this past summer it seemed like the tickets were cheapest 3 days before the flight. The only tickets we purchased in advance were the ones into and out of China. All the city-to-city ones we bought just before we left that particular city. The flexibility was nice to have and the discounts obtained were substantial.

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Simon_CH

Thanks a lot, that is a very good suggestion. I'd love not having to prebook everything in advance and keep a bit of freedom!

Why am I not going to the North ? Well, first of all we don't have a partner school in Beijing, and I don't really want to go to Dalian (too cold for me)

edit: I currently have 4 favourites where we have partner Universities:

-Guangzhou (very good Uni)

-Kunming (nice city it seems)

-Chengdu (very good Uni)

-Ningbo (excellent Uni)

So I am going to Shanghai and Hong Kong for travel and visit reasons, the rest of the cities to explore Uni and life there.

Regards,

Simon

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