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side trips from Shanghai

York, England
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side trips from Shanghai

Would like to visit Suzhou and Hangzhou from Shangai - is it possible to do this independently?

London
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31. Re: side trips from Shanghai

I took the over night train, never again!! It was far from the romantic, wonderful journey i envisioned. Yes it's safe, but it's just a bloody nightmare. The trains that do that route are a bit old now, and if you take a soft sleeper it's pot luck as to who you'll be sharing your cabin with. They'll be at least three people in there with you, and i say at least because kids and infants go free if they share bedding and of course friends stopping by for a chat, to smoke, drink, play cards...

For me, it was a pointless experience. Looking at the countryside gets old after 20 minutes, and most of the time you're travelling in the dark so there's nothing to look at anyway. It's noisy, smelly, and just a bit strange. I've traveled on trains in other Asian countries and it's been a completely different experience, but here no one particularly cares about what you're doing, if your bunk mates can see you sleeping, they don't care, they'll continue to talk loudly, smoke, slam the door every time they go for a wander.

I'm all for experiencing different cultures, but trains that aren't G trains should be steered clear of i think! Especially when flights are just as economical and a lot more user friendly.

For small tours, check out what CITS have, they're a huge tour operator over here, usually have something for everyone, private tours, small group tours or umbrella and coach tours. http://www.cits.net/china-tours/

When you're in Xi'an, i had a great time cycling around the city wall, it's huge! And you might find a private tour not that expensive, then you have the flexibility to do what you want to do, not stop off in every gift shop masquerading as a museum!!

Ayrshire
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32. Re: side trips from Shanghai

Thank you so much, that was just the sort of information I had been looking for. I have since checked cost of flights and it seems a much better options both in terms of time and cost.

Sydney, New South...
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33. Re: side trips from Shanghai

I've personally enjoyed all my overnight train experiences except one where I opted for a cheaper soft-seat from Beijing to Shanghai.. I just can't sleep sitting up.. lol.. so that was my mistake. My preferred choice these days is actually the hard sleeper, which isn't hard at all.. it's just not as soft as the soft sleeper. Flying is always the better option for time and sometimes also for cost.. but taking a train is quite good too.

In all the times I've done soft-sleeper I have had none of the experiences that bed_bug84 had.. maybe I am just used to it and didn't really notice. The hard sleeper is a bit weird for first-timers I admit.. but the bed is comfortable enough (by Chinese standards.. that is, most Chinese beds are very firm to begin with) and I had no trouble sleeping there.. in fact I found it easier to sleep there. Also the train conductor will usually wake you up when your stop is getting nearby. If you do try a hard-sleeper.. get the bottom bunk.. people will climb up to their bunks above you of course but at least you can store your stuff directly under your bed (always making sure you store valuables in a bag near your head or under your pillow, in your pockets etc)

Ayrshire
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34. Re: side trips from Shanghai

Thank you for taking the time to respond it is all helping to give me a clearer picture. I am now having to make a choice between Xi'an or Beijing any thoughts?

35. Re: side trips from Shanghai

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