We are a retired couple from New York City who spent 28 days on our own throughout China. My husband and I are seasoned travelers and are not group travelers. We operate on the “stumble” theory where we take each day at a time and will change our plans at the drop of a hat. We started in Beijing and returned from Shanghai. We visited Beijing,Luoyang, Xian,Kunming,Dali,Lijiang, Guilin, Yangshuo, Hangzhou, Suzhou, and Shanghai. We planned our individual itinerary, air flights within China, hotels, train reservations, cultural events including ballet,acrobatic shows, restaurants, private tours with car and driver when needed,shopping adventures, minority villages, etc. We do not speak or read Chinese. My best suggestion for anyone traveling on his/her own is to use an iphone app which translates English to Chinese. THIS WAS THE BEST ADVICE I CAN OFFER. We used Trip Advisor extensively and the travel forum for China was uniquely valuable.
We truly enjoyed Xian. We had an excellent guide named Bryan who was charming, knowledgeable and spoke English superbly. He brought the history of China to life and gave us a great tour of Xian. He had an excellent driver who took us around.
Bryan’s e-mail address is:Bryanbaichen@yahoo.com.cn
We loved China as it is truly the country of ”today.” Yangshuo probably was the most interesting of all the provinces with respect to the beauty and diversity of the scenery. The scenery along the Li River and the visit to Ping’An which houses two minority tribes
were breathtaking. A minimum of four days would be perfect to take in all the sights. Two days in Yangshuo, one overnight in Ping'An and the Longii Rice fields and a half day in Guilin was just the right amount of time. We especially want to recommend a Tour Guide Tang Fengquiong , "Tours by Feng",whom we hired for four days. Feng comes from a family of farmers and has educationally moved up to the field of tour guiding. She speaks fluent English and is a native of Yangshuo and knows the area extensively. Her e-mail address is: Fengtang2000@yahoo.com. Her cell phone number is: 0086-13977350690 . We e-mailed back and forth and she answered promptly, She is a delightful young woman who took us to her village and invited us to lunch with her parents and family. There were many people who came to greet us as we were the “Oddity” westerners.
We traveled on bamboo rafts and other boats on various parts of the Li River which was not touristy. The Karst Mountains were so beautiful. We visited caves which were the most exotic that we ever had seen. ( We have traveled to Vietnam and Myanmar which also had exquisite caves). Feng took us to local markets where we saw live chickens, live frogs, ducks, live eels, etc. It was a visually incredible experience. The fruits were divine and fresh. My new favorite fruit was the Pommelo which was in abundance in the markets and along the roads. We went to Ping’An about two hours from Yangshuo which housed two interesting minority tribes. We stayed overnight at a hotel which was one of the highest on the mountain. The Longji Rice fields were absolutely beautiful although they had been already harvested. The weather in this area was moderate- about 70 degrees during the day and about 50’ degrees at night.
The driver Feng hired was excellent. He had a lovely clean car and was most accommodating. He was punctual as to picking us up as was Feng. We stayed at the Magnolia hotel in Yangshuo which was adequate and in a most convenient neighborhood. There was a woman named Song Lin who drew caricatures right outside the hotel at night and was an excellent artist. She made a portrait of my granddaughter from my iphone which was wonderful. She will be a rising star to watch for in China!