What should we do for two weeks in China?
September 28, 2010 2:58 PM   Subscribe

My boyfriend and I will be visiting my dad in China for two weeks at the end of October, beginning of November. I've been twice before (my dad has lived there for the past 12 years), but this will be my boyfriend's first time. We'd like a good mix of city and rural areas, and are tentatively planning four days in Shanghai, four in Beijing, four in Guilin, and four in Yunnan. However, we're open to other suggestions, so what do you think? Too much time in one place, not enough in another? Is there another must-see area? What should we do while we're in those places? Any ideas are welcome!
posted by odayoday to Travel & Transportation around China (7 answers total)
Xinjiang was amazing when I visited it in the summer of '07, but security conditions there may have changed since then. It's also a gigantic region so it takes a lot of time to get across it and see everything.

Guilin city itself doesn't have anything to see, but it is a good base if you want to see the Longji rice terraces (龙脊梯田) which are worth a visit. For the karst scenery you will want to head down to Yangshuo, just south of Guilin. You could easily spend 3-4 days just hiking and cycling around there.

I almost think 4 days in Shanghai might be a bit much but there is a lot to see in the area, like Suzhou/Hangzhou/West Lake.

How will you get between all those places, by plane?
posted by pravit at 3:26 PM on September 28, 2010

Response by poster: Yes, we'll be flying between the areas, and my dad lives in Shanghai, so we're going to be recovering from jet lag there as well (I figure we'll have to take it easy the first couple of days).
posted by odayoday at 3:36 PM on September 28, 2010

That sounds like not a bad mix. I'd normally suggest less time in Shanghai, but you're doing the jet lag / culture shock day there, plus Expo will still be on, which I think would be awesome and cool.

Second everything pravit says about Guilin/Yangshuo/Longji. Amazing place to visit. Four days isn't unreasonably short or long. It'll leave you wanting more, as the showbiz saying goes.

Beijing in four days is a bit of a stretch. Great Wall is one day, Summer Palace is one day, Tienanmen/Forbidden City is one day. So three days are mandatory, really. Plus there's the Temple of Heaven, plus there's night markets and going for Peking Duck and everything else, plus the airport transfer and so on.

I usually assume a day with a flight is essentially a lost day, and you've got four of them on a two week trip. I may consider trimming back one location. Although that's only a maybe, I don't think you've picked out a totally unrealistic itinerary.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 6:26 PM on September 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

Doesn't look too bad. I came in to say what pravit said about Guilin, so consider that nthed. Shanghai didn't do all that much for me, but if you're visiting family, you should be fine.

Where in Yunnan are you going? Lijiang and Dali were both quite nice. Didn't care for Kunming all that much.

Where are you staying? In Dali, I stayed at Jade Emu and was quite happy with it. City Walls in Beijing was also quite nice. They're both hostels, although they have private rooms - so I'm not sure if that's what you're looking for. Mama Naxi's in Lijiang was worth it for the dinner she serves, but the rooms weren't outstanding.
posted by backwards guitar at 7:02 PM on September 28, 2010

This is doable, but I think it sounds kind of exhausting. Yunnan is one of my favorite places in the world, but I might considering saving it for the next trip. Kunming isn't an amazing city, and most of the great things about Yunnan require a good bit of time on a bus or plane. You could do Yunnan + Sichuan + Xi'an next time if you think there might be one.

The extra time will make it a lot easier to see Beijing at a less than frenetic place and give you a chance to really get out of the city and hike/bike around the countryside, maybe take a river cruise in Yangshuo/Guilin.
posted by bluejayk at 12:11 AM on September 29, 2010

For Yunnan: Lijiang is 24 hours, tops. It's a chinese tourist dystopia. It'll be quiet at that time of year, but after you see one yak jerky stand, the next 100 will be trying. Also, there's not much good food in Lijiang. Dali is really calm and should be relatively warm. There are small communities around the Erhai lake that are great for chillin' out and seeing what 'dirt road' china looks like. Kunming is a crap chinese city like 1000 others, but the Stone Monkey Forest is awesome.

Shanghai -- 4 days is pushing it (unless you're rushing to see the end of the Expo), but you've got family here, so they'll know what to do. This city is just a giant pile of money. We could do a MeFi Meetup -- there's a few MeFites about, I think.

Xinjiang, Qinghai, Xizang (aka Tibet) and inner Mongolia are basically no-go/really hard to go by late october. I mean, you can get to the cities, but the fun parts aren't in the cities, and by late october the weather is pretty harsh.

Guilin will be beautiful. Like change your life, fall in love with the middle kingdom beautiful.
posted by markovitch at 4:32 AM on September 29, 2010

Response by poster: So, what I'm hearing is to maybe cut out a day from Shanghai and add to Beijing, and spend more time in Guilin, possibly cutting out Yunnan. What are some specific things to see and do in the Guilin area?

I'm not sure where we're staying because my dad is making the arrangements, but I'll send him the recommendations!

Also, we were planning to spend a day going to see the terra cotta warriors. I'm a bit torn on this because although I know that they're one of those things that you have to see while in China, I've seen them before and while their creation was certainly impressive, I wasn't that into it (I feel awful admitting that, but there you go). I don't want to cheat my boyfriend out of the experience which I know many enjoy, but as I said, when I did it I was kind of underwhelmed, and might have preferred using that day to see other more scenic sorts of things.
posted by odayoday at 8:29 AM on September 29, 2010

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