China Travel On Your Own
Traveling in China on your own can be a very rewarding experience and for some, the only way to experience what the real China is all about. It really boils down to your individual travel style and circumstances.
Do-it-yourself China Travel is for you and your family if:
Traveling on your own in the bigger cities like Beijing, Shanghai and Xian is relatively easy as the infrastructure is there to cater to visitors. Once you go further away from the major centers it might be a bit more challenging and the level of English spoken there also decreases. But you also find that the people are warmer and eager to lend a hand. Just go with the flow and keep your cool! Everything works out in the end.
To get around, taxis are convenient and cheap. In Beijing and Shanghai, the subway systems are excellent and a good way to avoid the traffic jams.
If you are flexible in terms of time and itinerary, you can certainly get better deals specially in domestic transportation (flight and train tickets) when you book directly once you are in China. This option might not be recommendable if you are traveling with a relatively larger group or are trying to cover many different places in a relatively short period of time.
By all means avoid traveling during the main holiday periods in China, during Chinese New Year in January/February, at the beginning of May (the labor Day holidays) and end of September/beginning of October --the National Day holidays.
This is when all Chinese are traveling visiting family and friends and there will be no good deals in trains or planes, or any mode of transportation whatsoever if you can even get it!
Also, major tourist sights will be mega crowded during holiday times, with Chinese New Year holiday being an exception as many will be visiting relatives rather than sightseeing.
What I mean by "avoid traveling during these periods" is exactly that, avoid having to take a plane or train or travel to another city, NOT avoid China altogether during these periods. Chinese Festivals, specially the Spring Festival, are a great time to be in China to experience the colorful celebrations, fireworks, customs, etc. it is just very difficult to get around during these periods!
China Independent Travel Planning Resources...
A good travel guide is a must. I recommend the Lonely Planet China Guides. If you travel a lot on your own,
you are probably familiar with LP publications. Here you will find bus schedules, recommended routes, and lots of
practical information such as where to buy kites, etc.
Most guides or sections of the books can be downloaded on PDF format, so you can "pick and mix" chapters according to your destinations.
Click here for more on the Lonely Planet China Guides
For Train Schedules try...Another good resource to plan your itinerary is http://trains.china.org.cn Here you find China train time-tables with a convenient Search option for major cities in China. This is not a booking agent and the itineraries, prices and timetables are for reference only. Use them as guidelines to plan your route and keep in mind that schedules and ticket prices change often and sometimes without much notice.
To Book China Domestic Flights check out...
To check out fares or book China domestic flights, take a look at Ctrip.com.
They are the leading flight ticketing service in China and a major player in online travel in China.
Prices are quoted in Renminbi, the local currency, you can pay with Credit Card and have an e-ticket issued.
China Travel Guide: Plan Your Trip to China a Step by Step Guide |
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