My Chinese Itenirary
Three Weeks in China: My Itinerary
I’ve decided to have a busy and intensive trip to China as I wanted to experience many different places. Relaxing during that holiday was not on my agenda. Not knowing if I would ever come back there, I didn’t want to have any regrets. I’ve put a big effort to make up my itinerary and it worked perfectly. You can see below how my 23-days holiday looked like. Please note it’s not a comprehensive trip plan with all the details, but rather an idea what’s possible and how much you can experience in such period of time.
Three Days in Hong Kong
I landed in Hong Kong to spend the first three days there. Among many attractions you can choose from, I can recommend a trip to the Victoria Hill to enjoy amazing panoramic city views from the deck, having a drink in the Ozone bar in one of the tallest buildings for a free views in the evening, having a cruise from Kowloon, wandering around the Old Town central district, Mong Kok or Soho (street art!) and visiting one of many local markets (e.g. Fa Yuen Street Market or Ladies Market). That’s the way I like to experience such cities; wandering, getting lost, discovering interesting corners instead of taking organised guided trips and see the same places as everyone else.
Hong Kong is a truly remarkable place but what blown me away there is a food: from delicious street food in Mong Kok, through very affordable Michelin star restaurants to random street food markets and hipster hangouts. Dim sums, variety of aromaatic dumplings, baos, noodles, matcha ice cream, shaved ice cream, egg waffles, tofu puddings, almond milk soup, sea food, mango and pomelo sagos… you name it, they have it! I admit, Hong Kong definitely was the best city in Asia I’ve ever visited regarding to food.
Four Days in Guilin
Next step was to start a long journey to Guilin, that included border checkpoints in Hong Kong and Shenzen, fast train to Guilin North Railway Station and a cruise boat to Yángshuò. Cruise on a famous Li River around karst mountains was supposed to be the highlight of my trip. It was nice, but to be honest stays in Yángshuò and Guilin were much better! Why? Because of amazing views of the whole area, not only the river. Also, a possibility to hike (spectacular views from Laozhai Shan Mountain!) or having a full day bicycle trip, visiting ancient villages (do not miss Xingping!) and countless view points. Yángshuò is a very patricular, colorful and noisy city like no other. I also had a bamboo boats rafting on Yùlóng River, which was very commercial and turistic experience, but still it was quite fun.
Two Days in Longji
Then I took a shuttle bus at Guilin Railway Station to Dazhai village to visit Longji Rice Terraces. Undoubtedly walking around rice terraces is an unforgettable experience and must be on everyone’s bucket list! I would, however, love to see them again in another season, especially during rainy months. After Longji I had to go back again to Guilin to catch a train to another magnificent place. But before that I visited Daxu ancient village. Full of character and relatively free of crowds. It used to be a busy market town and somewhat important local financial centre.
Three Days in Zhangjiajie National Forest Park
This enormous national park is a paradise for nature lovers and people who like trekking. The entry is valid for three days and I think it’s enough to explore it as long as you don’t mind getting early in the morning. The park is crowded and busy but if only you go off the main path and away from lifts and cable cars, it becomes very quiet. The majority of Chinese tourist seem to go to places like this only to see the landscape from the main viewing point or to experience a walk on expensive glass bridges or terraces. This is such a waste, considering the beautiful nature paths spreading beyond these tourist traps.
Another nearby attraction is the magnificent Tianmen Mountain and the surranding scenic area. Unfortunately, a terrible weather didn’t allow to see much more than a fog around me. This was such a disappointment, especially after really long queing for a cable car, but thankfully on the next day I was already on the way to Shanghai.
One Day in Shanghai
That was another long journey, as I decided to take a longer trip by train instead of plane. Arriving to such exiting place as Shainghai made me forget about all inconveniences. Shanghai is a very cosmopolitan and modern city. The main attraction is obviously 468 m high The Oriental Pearl TV Tower with a panoramic view from the top (the highest floor is not recommended, as it’s a tourist trap). I have to mention the Ice Cream Shop close to the entrance of the Tower with over 100 flavours! It’s worth to walk along the Huangpu River/The Bund for incredible skyline of the city with all the skyscrapers. Old Town is also worth visiting. It’s possible to take a sunset cruise too, but I didn’t have enough time for that, as one day is definitely not enough for Shanghai.
Four Days in Yellow Mountain Scenic Area
Huansgshan City is a destination for visitors who want to see another natural wonder in China: the Yellow Mountain Scenic Area also known as Huangshan Mountain. Probably one of the most beautiful mountains I’ve ever seen! I split my time there between these tremendous mountains and rock formations, surrounding villages (Hong and Hongcun) and Huangshan City itself, as it’s famous because of its Tunxi Ancient Street.
After Huangshan I had three extra days to use as an emergency in case of accidents, delays or transportation issues. This was not necessary, so I decided to get an extra trip to Datong to see Yungang Grottoes. This was the best idea ever! I can easily call Yungang Grottoes a hidden gem, quiet, accessible and a beautiful place with mind-blowing temples and gigantic Buddha statues carved inside a mountain. Highly recommended!
Four Days in Beijing
I came by fast train to my final destination, China’s capitol. No surprises here, as I decided to see most famous spots such as Tiananmen Square, Forbidden City, Temple of Heaven, Summer Place, Jingshan Park, Houghai Lake, Donghuamen Market… The biggest disappointment were hutongs, which apparently lost its past charm and unique character and went commercial. Among nices surprises I can count a unique 798 Art Zone and Slow Boat Brewery with good choice of local non-pasteraized beers.
Beijing is a place to see in China due to the history and relevance to Chinese people, but comparing to everything else it’s… very touristy and overpriced. Just casual and kinda boring after a while. Perpahps if you start your holiday in Beijing, you would feel differently, but personally I was disappointed.
The Great Wall of China in Jinshanling
Thankfully, I reserved a day in Beijing to see The Great Wall of China. After hours of struggling to decide which part of the Wall to visit, I’ve somehow chosen Jinshanling. Again, such a great decision, despite of about 3 hours spent on a bus! In this place you can experience both parts of the wall renewed for tourists as well as its original, untouched parts slightly damaged by the nature and time. Different towers and plenty of bends. The walk on the wall is a mix of an easy stroll and a steep trekking that will make you sweat. Jinshanling is highly recommended if you want to have a one day excursion to The Great Wall of China from Beijing in a relatively crowds free area, surrounded by beautiful mountain views.
That’s it! I wouldn’t change too much in my itinerary. I was able to see everything as planned and had a great time! No place was a mistake. However now I would decrease my time in Beijing, which was the only disappointment for me during the whole trip. In my opinion two days in Beijing is enough. Instead I would use more days in much more interesting Hong Kong or even Shanghai.
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