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Josep asked

Viability and tips for a two-week trip to China.

Hi all!

I am planning a two week trip to China with my girlfriend for August this year. I want to make the trip by free and I wanted to ask you a couple of initial questions to start preparing it. The main question would be the route ... I had originally thought about flying back and forth to Beijing and the route would be more or less:

Spend a couple of days in Beijing to see the city and take a trip to the great wall. From Beijing, take a flight to Zhangjiajie and spend a couple of days seeing the natural parks there. From there go to spend a night in Fenghuang. From Fenghuang go to spend a few days in Guilin to do the excursions on the river and the fields. And from Guilin back to Beijing to catch the flight back to Spain.

Do you think it's a good route? Do you recommend me to change it or do you think I'm leaving basic things? I know that China is huge and has many beautiful sites and that I will be missing a lot but with a trip of two weeks I can not do much more. Any advice will be very grateful, as well as tips on how to move around the country. Do you recommend using English-speaking local guides for individual tours?

Thank you very much in advance and greetings,

Josep

China   Beijing   Zhangjiajie   Fenghuang   Guilin

4 Answers
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answered by
Naomi
Hi Josep, 
So you want to visit 5 places in 2 weeks - that's probably doable but I guess would be a bit tight schedule because the 3 last cities Zhangjiajie, Fenghuang and Guilin are quite distant from each other, and there are small cities on the way that you need to travel between. You will need to carefully arrange your transportation to get between those places. 
For efficiency and a better knowledge of Chinese rich history, I would recommend having a private tour guide whenever you go especially at the Great Wall, for example. Keep in mind that the Great Wall is out of Beijing, and it takes about 1-1.5 h by car to get there. I would spend 3 days in Beijing to explore the city downtown and plan another 1 day for the Great Wall. Go to the Wall on a non-rainy and non-foggy day. 
Also, Beijing airport is also far from the city downtown - about 1 -1.5 h drive depending on traffic. We used a private driver both for the Great Wall and the airport transfer in Beijing and twice in Guangzhou. 
With 4 days in Beijing, you will have more time for the rest of your trip. Spend a couple of days in Zhangjiajie - sounds good. From Zhangjiajie to Fenghuang, you can take a bus that takes about 4 h, or you can also arrange a private car, which will be faster up to 3 h. 
From Fenghuang to Guilin, there is no direct public transportation but you can use the bus + taxi + train, going from Fenghuang to Jishou - Liujiang - and then Guilin. Take a bus from Fenghuang North Bus Station to Jishou North Bus Station (1-1.5 h), then walk to Jishou railway station to catch a night train to Liujiang. From Liujiang railway station get a taxi to Liuzhou Railway Station. From there take a train to Guilin. Try to get the train or bus tickets in advance, especially train tickets.
For Zhangjiajie, Fenghuang and Guilin route, many travel companies that arrange tours, if you don't want to navigate by public transportation on your own. Have a good trip!

Comments (1)

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Josep
Hello Naomi, Thank you very much for your response and for all the information! Yes ... it's a hard and tired trip, but I can not wait to see many things when I go to a country like that. The truth is that since I asked the question I changed my idea a bit ... now I thought about something similar but adding some more day to the trip, going to Xi'an on the way between Beijing and Zhangjiajie and then going to Gulin to Hong Kong and from there go straight back to Spain. Yes, 4 days in Beijing is the right thing to do, I am seeing that it is a city with many things to see. Oh and thank you very much for the information of the trains! I hope I do not go crazy if I decide to take that type of transport and then there I have no way to communicate ... With time the trip will be perfected and all your help is very grateful :)
 
 
 
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answered first by
Claudia from New York City
Hi Josep,
That sounds like a great itinerary. 
There's a daily flight from Beijing to Zhangjiajie . It's around 3 hours to get there. When you get to Zhangjiajie, you can hire a private guide for tours in Zhangjiajie and transfer to Fenghuang (3 hour road trip from Zhangjiajie, to Fenghuang). While in Fenghuang you can hire another private guide/driver to take you to Guilin/Yangshuo area. Viator.com has a private trip (7 hours) from Zhangjiajie to Fenghuang with a stopover in Hongjiang .
To answer your question about whether to hire a private English-speaking guide, that would depend on your budget. I would hire a guide to see and learn more about the places of interest. As for the itinerary, it looks great, but I would fly from Guilin to Hong Kong or Guilin to Shanghai instead of going back to Beijing. Or fly to Xi'an from Guilin to see the Terracotta Warrior before flying to Beijing or Hong Kong for your flight home to Spain.

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Josep
Hi Claudia, Thank you very much for your response and for all the information! I did not know about the option of private transport for such long distances, and the truth is that it can be a very good option, especially not to go crazy in the public transport changes there without knowing anything of Chinese. The truth is that since I asked the question I changed my idea a bit ... now I thought about something similar but adding some more day to the trip, going to Xi'an on the way between Beijing and Zhangjiajie and then going to Gulin to Hong Kong and from there go straight back to Spain. With time the trip will be perfected and all your help is very grateful :)
 
 
 

Mentioned in this answer:

VIEW DETAILED MAP
  1. Beijing (city)
  2. Zhangjiajie (city)
  3. Fenghuang (attraction)
  4. Guilin (city)
  5. Hongjiang (attraction)
  6. Xi'an (city)
  7. Hong Kong (city)
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answered by
Megan from Monterey County
Two years ago, my dad and I went to China for 2 weeks.  We flew from San Francisco to Xi'an for 4 days, flew to Beijing for 5 days, and took the train to Hangzhou for 1 night and to Shanghai for 4 days, then flew home from there. Two days in Suzhou was on our itinerary between Hangzhou and Shanghai, but we cut it out once we were in Beijing and realized it was all too much to see in 2 weeks. I hired 3 guides and the only one I can recommend was Brian Bai in Xi'an.  I pre-planned everything we were going to see (national museums and top sights) each day by geographical areas in each city to make the most of our time in an efficient way and it was hectic, but what made it exhausting was almost everywhere we went, we waited in long queues and communication for instruction and direction was difficult... and we're Chinese (Americans).  Cantonese though, not Mandarin.  
Check airfares to Beijing and home from Guangzhou or Hong Kong, which would be closer to Guilin, rather than flying all the way back to Beijing. Good luck and safe travels!
     

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answered by
Laura from Buenos Aires
Hi Josep, 
I think you will need 3 days in Beijing to get used to the time difference and go to the great wall and other places. I recomend forbbiden city and summer palace for sure, but also Beijing fun near Qianmen st., there is a Muji Hotel to locate yourself, Sanlitum, 798 Art District, Houhai lake and the streets nearby, and dont miss the hutongs. I have been there twice and I enjoyed very much the modern parts of the city.
I think 2 full days in Guilin are ok to see the city and the Li river.
And I would not miss Shanghai if you can, it is incredible.
Have o good trip!
 

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Josep
Hello Laura, Thank you very much for your response and for all the information! Yes, 4 days in Beijing is the right thing to do, I am seeing that it is a city with many things to see. And thanks for the recommendation of the streets, it's always good to know things like that. Right now I was thinking of going from Guillin to Hong Kong and from there to fly to Spain, Shanghai is not very good for me but I have heard that it is a spectacular city ... With time the trip will be perfected and all your help is very grateful :)
 

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Laura
Hong Kong is wonderful too, good choice!
 
 
 
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