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matteo

1 week visit to Shanghai - Suzhou - Hangzhou

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matteo

Hi all, 

 

I'm planning to spend one week at Easter travelling to Shanghai; I will also be visiting Suzhou and Hangzhou as two good friends of mine live there.

I'd just like to get some general advice about what you reckon is really worth seeing in the area, and the best accomodation options. 

Are hotels the best option, or is there something more similar to B&B or Airbnb that can give you more of a local flavour?

Any suggestion or comment will be very welcome!

ps I will obviously ask my friend's opinion as well, but I kinda want another point of view as I'm sure they will not be very objective

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889

When you stay in a private place you and your host have to register with the PSB. This can be a real hassle for a short stay, so better look at hotels. Run through the major booking sites for something in your price range, then ask here for help selecting from a few places that look good to you.

 

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NinjaTurtle

Visit Longhua Temple in southwest Shanghai. Take subway line 12 to Longhua Station. (Be sure sure to sample the noodles in the restaurant in the back of the temple, and pet the cat that hangs out just outside the restaurant entrance.)

 

Youth Hostels are good. They are reasonably priced and you can get private rooms. I recommend the Phoenix Youth Hostel in Shanghai near People’s Square.

 

There are some gardens in Suzhou that people recommend, although I have not personally visited them.

 

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mungouk

Expect huge crowds at the weekend in Suzhou and Hangzhou, or even better visit places like the Suzhou gardens as soon as they open on a weekday (not 1 hour before closing time or they will still be full of coach parties).

 

the old canal area in Suzhou is nice for a stroll and there are plenty of places to eat and drink.

 

you can travel easily between the cities on the bullet trains 高铁 but you will need to buy tickets in advance before they sell out. I used http://www.china-diy-travel.com/ who also have useful videos on YouTube explaining how to collect your tickets and find your way around major stations. 

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NinjaTurtle

The private rooms at the Phoenix Youth Hostel in Shanghai are usually sold out on Fridays and Saturdays. It is possible to get reservations for these days, but they need to be made well in advance. (Bunk beds in a common room are also available in a pinch, in true youth hostel style.)

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matteo

Thanks everyone for your advice!

at the moment I booked an airBnb in Hangzhou very close to 西湖, and I'm looking for something in Shanghai, I think in the proximity of People's square/ 南京路, as I heard it is a convenient spot for tourism. I'll give a look to hostels as well!

As 889 mentioned, being hosted is a pain because of police registration so unfortunately not an option. 

 

Btw, I had a look at visa requirements and they ask for an "An invitation letter issued by a relevant entity or individual in China", do any of you know what that means?

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NinjaTurtle

Matteo,

 

Are you planning on going on a tourist visa? I know that China does NOT easily grant tourist visas to just anyone. An American can just show up at an airport in Japan and automatically get a 90-day visa. Not so in China.

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mungouk
10 hours ago, matteo said:

being hosted is a pain because of police registration

 

You'll still have to register with the police when staying in an Airbnb though... hopefully the owner will know how it works.

 

Please let us know how this works out for you, as there seems to be a lack of information out there on Airbnb in PRC.

 

Have a great trip!

 

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889

I strongly suspect "how it works" is that your host will insist, "Registration, what registration? No need to register!" Leaving you in a bad spot if there's a crackdown one day.

 

 

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mungouk
11 hours ago, matteo said:

"An invitation letter issued by a relevant entity or individual in China"

 

This doesn't apply to a tourist visa, unless you're going to be staying with private individuals. 

 

For an L visa you should just need copies of your hotel bookings, plane tickets and the details of your itinerary, as well as copy of passport and any previous China visas, and proof of residency entitlement if you're applying from outside your own country.

 

If the country you're applying from has an online service via visaforchina.org then you can fill in the application form online, and it will only prompt you for the relevant bits. Then you download a PDF and print it out, sign it, and take it to the visaforchina office.

 

For more info see https://www.travelchinaguide.com/embassy/visa/tourist.htm  

 

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matteo

Cheers all for pointing these issues out. 

 

Re registering with police when staying in Airbnb: I'll double check with my host, but it looks like Airbnb as of lately has an agreement with the government, so that registration is done "automatically" as in hotels. See this conversation if you are interested (read comments  to current

dates) https://community.withairbnb.com/t5/Help/Registering-with-local-police-in-China/td-p/548823

I'll let you know how it actually goes :D I'm not too worried about it though cause I see that many hosts on Airbnb are geared towards foreigners and have lots of positive reviews.

 

8 hours ago, mungouk said:

This doesn't apply to a tourist visa, unless you're going to be staying with private individuals. 

Thanks mate, just came to this same conclusion but your confirmation makes me feel better!:)

 

 

 

 

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mungouk

That's a useful link @matteo but following the thread does seem to suggest that it's not automatic after all ... the "automatic" bit seems to be that Airbnb have to hand over guest and host information to the govt on demand (presumably like in everything else in PRC).

 

The final post suggests contacting the host ahead of booking, which is good practice on Airbnb anyway.  If I got a response saying something like "yes I've done it before, I have all the docs and will meet you at PSB to register" then that would inspire confidence I think.

 

 

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889

Agree. Nothing in that link suggests you can forget about registration when using Airbnb in China.

 

 

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Dawei3

Following Ninjaturtle's comment, the subways in Shanghai are an excellent way to get around.  They are inexpensive & very well organized.  The trains have electronic maps so you always know where you are.       

 

At the ticket machines, you just tap on English and you can buy your ticket with English commands.  On the subway, everything is announced in English and Chinese (and their English is more clear than the English on subways in New York or Washington😁)  

 

The bullet trains are a great way to go between the cities.  However, if you buy the tickets at the station, you'll need cash (unless you can pay via wechat).  I was surprised at Beijing's main rail station, they wouldn't take credit cards.  Some on-line services do accept credit cards, but I didn't use one, so I can't give you a recommendation.  Some hotels will buy tickets for you, but they charge a significant mark up.  You'll need your passport when buying a ticket.  

 

If you take a cab, be careful.  Last October, the 2 times I took a cab in Shanghai, both drivers tried to take me to the wrong place.  One kept asking "do you want to go to the airport?" despite he knew which hotel i was going to (and my Chinese is good enough to handle this).  Even when we arrived at the hotel, he asked me again and then the hotel attendant asked me about going to the airport.  I never said airport to him or any word even like airport to the driver, other than to say I wasn't going there.  I think he was just wishing that I needed a long cab ride (I was far from the airport).  

 

The 2nd driver was the worst:  Because of the experience above, I had the hotel attendant make sure he knew where to go and I told him in Chinese as well.  The route to the office was very clear.  However, leaving the hotel's lot, he went the opposite direction and kept going, despite my protestations.  Fortunately, we hit traffic and for the 1st time in my life, I had to get out of a cab.  Luckily, I had no luggage in the trunk, so I could escape.  I think the cab drivers are really feeling the impact of Didi (like uber) and are desperate to make money.  Also, most cab drivers don't speak even a word of English.  

 

 

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