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Should I visit China or Europe?
July 3, 2012 1:30 PM   Subscribe

Would you please help me decide where to go on vacation?

I have a two week vacation available in late September. I have a long list of places I would like to visit, but I have narrowed the choice to China or Eastern Europe.

I backpacked around Western Europe in college. Part of me thinks that maybe I should go for the novel cultural experience, but another part of me keeps being told Europe is the better value right now. I don't have a strong preference for one over the other.

I have my routes planned, and "Eastern Europe" for me would mean Czech Republic, Poland, and Russia. I would be very grateful for advice!

Thank you!
posted by jefficator to Travel & Transportation around Berlin, Germany (4 answers total)
 
Two weeks is not a lot for Poland, the Czech Republic, and Russia.

Then again, it's potentially also not a lot for China, depending on what we talk about when we talk about a trip to China.

If it were me, I'd come up with two different trips, not two different world regions. Say, for example, two weeks between Prague, Krakow, and St. Petersburg vs. two weeks in Beijing and Shanghai. Look at budget considerations, red tape (both Russia and China require visas), mode of travel, flight costs, activities you want to do, etc. and see what looks the best.
posted by Sara C. at 1:47 PM on July 3, 2012


Where were you planning on going in China? If you fly between cities, or find an overnight train, two weeks might not be too bad, but you mostly need a full week just for Beijing (if that's on your agenda). China is a huge country, especially compared with Europe. I loved southern China and Beijing - didn't care much for Shanghai.
posted by backwards guitar at 2:01 PM on July 3, 2012


Two weeks is fine for China (as long as you include the head and tail weekends also).

I don't know why you would think Europe is a better value - China is FAR cheaper. (I went there in October.) Half the expense is simply plane tickets - once you get past that, it's incredibly inexpensive.

Here are general pieces of advice I can give you if you do a China trip:

1) Plan it in advance. Have a friend who speaks Chinese call the hotels first and negotiate pricing. That is how you get the best value. In China, almost everything (hotels, tours, etc) is negotiable - but you have to negotiate when you have the upper hand, not when you're right at the hotel and have nowhere to go.

2) If you do not speak Mandarin or Cantonese, stick to large cities (Beijing, Shanghai, etc). Trust me, you do NOT want to get stuck in some out-of-the-way place in Hunan province with your wallet and phone stolen. Very bad things can happen. You want to stay in areas which are cosmopolitan enough to have a certain percentage of English speakers.

3) Don't drink the water. Stick to bottled water unless there is a special tap water lever (usually available at hotels that are 4+ stars) that says it's OK to drink.

4) Tell your doctor about the trip beforehand, so that he can vaccinate you against typhoid. Also, insist on getting antibiotics for your trip, just in case.

5) Get your visa approved WAY in advance. It takes quite a while for the embassy to get back to you sometimes.

I know all this may sound intimidating, but China is a LOT of fun and totally worth it. I would recommend it highly.
posted by wolfdreams01 at 2:04 PM on July 3, 2012


Gosh, in late September I would go to Iceland. Fewer people, a dusting of snow on the familiar landmarks, the open roads all to myself.

More Northern than Eastern, but hey that's my advice.
posted by seawallrunner at 8:47 PM on July 3, 2012


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