Make sure you keep your receipts for any form of deposit because without it, there’s a good chance you won’t get your money back.
Make sure you sus out the prices of hostels on hostelworld.com or hostelbookers.com as there can be significant differences between the online price and the price over the counter. For example, Dragon Town hostel in Chengdu has beds for 35 yuan on hostelworld.com but if you rock up, the price on the board is 80 yuan.
Never bargain for something if you don’t plan on buying it. Always have a price in mind of how much you are willing to pay for it and then start bargaining by offering them something ridiculously lower than your set price. Initially act interested but then you must back off and act disinterested due to the high price they offer. Walking away helps especially if other stores sell the same item nearby. Persistence pays off. Furthermore, if you don’t look Chinese, their initially asking price will be much more than the usual asking price, this even applies to street food.
Avoid public holidays if possible as not only will transportation be difficult, the prices of accommodation usually increases. Make sure you buy your train or bus tickets the moment they become available even if it means lining up for 2 hours, standing for 2hrs is much better than ending up with a standing ticket for a 50hr journey from Chengdu to Tulpan. Also if possible, book your accommodation in advance during public holidays. Hard sleepers are great and if your like me who hates taking their shoes on and off and climbing up and down ladders all the time, go for the lower bunk, its only 15 yuan difference from the top bunk.
In China, the moment a bus or train arrives, you’ll have people storming in from left right and center so make sure you well braced and ready to storm or else you’ll end up waiting for the next one.
Make sure you always carry packs of tissues around with you because many restaurants don’t offer napkins. Another reason is that toilets tend not to have toilet paper. One time I went to the toilet to do some damage and by the time I dropped the kids off, I realised that there was no toilet paper. Thank god I had a pack of tissues on me or else who knows what I’d do.
In Guangzhou, always wear your backpack as a frontpack as theft and bag slashing is common. Don’t feel stupid if they don’t understand your Cantonese when you ask for directions, most of the population in Guangzhou are from other districts and only about a third actually speak Cantonese.
In Guilin, if you are a tightarse, you can actually see Elephant Hill from the outside of the park looking between the trees. The Reed Flute Cave is extremely expensive for what you see (90 yuan) and if you’ve been to a cave before, this is the same apart from having multicoloured lights.
In Yangshuo, if you decide to rent a bike, a single speed is sufficient as there is no need for front, rear, handlebar and saddle suspension. Make sure you rent out a bamboo raft and cruise alot the Li River. The best way is to hook up with 3 other people, take the bus to Xingping and get on the raft there. It should only cost 100 yuan in total from Xingping to some other nearby town for about an hour and thats enough because thats the most beautiful part of the Li River.
If you’re going to Dazhai, leave your huge pack in Guilin if you plan to return and just bring a pack. When you arrive at the bus station let the old ladies carry your bag as they they only have this opportunity to make money twice a month. Also make sure you stay about 3/4 of the way up the mountain as you’ll be close to the first two checkpoints and it’s less touristy. If you get the chance, make sure you do the 5 hr hike to Ping’an village and stay overnight.
In Beijing, the subway is your best friend as it costs 2 yuan for a one way trip to any station on the map. I stayed near Qianmen, front gate and found it to be really convenient as it was close to the subway and Tiananmen Square so I’d recommend it. In terms of the Great Wall, Badaling is the most touristy section and closest. It is also very restored so if you want to check out unrestored sections of wall, check out the Jingshanling to Simatai hike. It’s well worth it. Round up a few mates and catch the bus to Miyun from Dongzimen station and once you arrive, bargain hard for a black taxi. For the tourist attractions, go early to avoid crowds. Also remember the 80:20 rule where 80% of people will be in 20% of the places so there’s always quiet areas off the main path. Don’t stay at Leo’s Hostel as mosquitos there are out of control.
If you decide to stay overnight at the foot of Huashan, arrive during the day to find cheap accommodation. There is also accommodation on each of the peaks. You can definitely do Huanshan in a day. If you don’t want to see the sunrise, you can start at 7AM and take the cable car up, see all the peaks and come down via the cable car by 3PM. However if you would like to not pay the 180 yuan admission, 40 yuan return shuttle bus and 150 return cable car, you can start walking via the long way at 6PM the day before and you’ll arrive at the East Peak to see the sunrise.
In Xi’an, best to arrive early for the warriors. There’s heaps of different small eats to try out at the Muslim Quarters although it’s best to avoid the sit down restaurants because they are expensive and food is very ordinary. If you have a sweet tooth like me, stock up on the peanut slaps and walnut crumbles, it’ll be the best 12 yuan you’ve ever spent. Finally, don’t stay at Jano’s Backpackers because its like living in a dungeon in the basement with no windows, smoky computer room, open showers and is mosquito infected.
In all parts of Sichuan, make sure you clarify whether they are saying 4 or 10 because one sounds like the other.
In Chengdu, make sure you visit the pandas nice and early as they stop eating and just blob after 9:30AM. It has so much food so try all the food the place has to offer and don’t be afraid to try spicy food because its very different from the spice you’re probably used to. Its more of a numbing the tongue kind and not the Crazy Wings, lips 3D and throbbing, watery eyes, snot running, burning internal organs type. Emei Shan is monkey heaven so make sure you have everything secured or else you won’t get them back. Le Shan has a huge buddah and if you into buddahs then go check it out, otherwise if you’re like me and get the ceebs when it comes to giant buudahs, save yourself 200 yuan and spend the day doing something better.
For Jiuzhaigou, unless your cash strapped or a serious photographer, 1 day is enough to get the idea. During peak season they don’t offer two day passes so one thing you could do despite it not being permitted is to arrange to stay inside the parks at one of the villages. Heaps of people do it and both the entry and bus tickets aren’t checked once you’re inside. Don’t bring cup noodles in because unless you want to eat your noodles soaked in cold bottled water, there’s no free hot water. To get off the beaten track, avoid the bus route as there are board walks on the opposite side of the lakes where you can get some peace and quiet.
Never trust lockers. Last night I accidentally opened someone else’s locker with my key. That’s security for ya.
Make sure you bring your student card even if it’s expired or something that resembles a student card as either they don’t check it properly or they just can’t read english and you’ll be eligle for half price tickets at the various tourist attractions.
They use the Australian style and the two straight pins style power plugs in China however if your plug doesn’t have the third pin, the earth pin, many powerboards won’t accept it for safety hence bring a Aus to two straight pin converter.
Posted by Wordmobi