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Any Advice re: Beijing/Suzhou/Shanghai in Mar 2013?

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Toronto
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Any Advice re: Beijing/Suzhou/Shanghai in Mar 2013?

I am planning a trip in March for 10 days to visit our son in Suzhou. I have 3 questions:

1) Our plan is to stay in Beijing for 3 days (can't travel all the way to China without seeing the Great Wall at least) and Shanghai for 2 days. The rest of the time will be spent in Suzhou. We will either fly into Beijing and leave from Shanghai or vice versa. For those of you who know China, is there an advantage to seeing either Beijing or Shanghai first? I'd consider making the decision even if it's just for superior ease of departure from either city to the airport via transit.

2) Another question is about advice I've read on TA regarding not booking a hotel for more than a day to give you the option to either leave if it's not what you expected or bargain for a reduction in the posted rate. As a Canadian, this sounds mental to me. Any advice?

3) Any suggestions for avoiding MSG? I have a severe allergy (epi-pen required) and I've found one B&B in Beijing that advertises gluten and MSG-free food prepared on site. Everything else I've read suggests having "No MSG" written in Chinese characters to show at restaurants. I've also read that MSG in North America and MSG in China is not the same. Any advice?

Thanks in advance to anyone who can reply to any of these questions and offer advice. It's going to be an amazing trip but it's pretty humbling to see how very inexperienced I am, preparing to travel to China vs. my previous travels.

Cheers!

Sherbrooke, Canada
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1. Re: Any Advice re: Beijing/Suzhou/Shanghai in Mar 2013?

1. Both sequences are fine. Shanghai and Suzhou are close to each other, so it depends if you want to start or end your trip with a visit to your son. Both Beijing and Shanghai are big international cities that are easy to navigate.

2. I also don't agree with this. You can always leave if you do not like the place but they won't give you a better rate all of the sudden. I assume you will be staying in large hotel chains. Clerks at the front desk of the Sheraton won't buy your strategy.

3. This is a tough one. Even if you ask them in Chinese and insist, there is no guarantee that the staff in the kitchen will bother not putting any. Cooking at home or going to western restaurants are a safe solution. If you find a restaurant that prides itself of not using MSG that should be reasonable safer.

Toronto
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2. Re: Any Advice re: Beijing/Suzhou/Shanghai in Mar 2013?

Thanks for the quick response and your advice.

I think we will start in Beijing if neither city has a distinct advantage for airport access for when we are flying home. I'm glad to hear you don't endorse the "book no more than one night" advice. I really couldn't imagine pulling that one off!

Our plan at this point is to stay in the B&B in Beijing that advertises MSG free food. For Suzhou, my son's mandarin tutor has offered to help locate a decent place for us and I hope she can help out re: safe food choices as well.... otherwise I suspect I'll be living on plain steamed rice, fruit and sweets :0) If it is really difficult to find MSG food in China, I suspect it would be best for us to book a self-catering accommodation in Shanghai and prepare food from scratch then.

Thanks again for your reply.

Sherbrooke, Canada
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3. Re: Any Advice re: Beijing/Suzhou/Shanghai in Mar 2013?

If you don't eat Chinese food, meaning western food, you'll be fine as well.

Shanghai, China
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4. Re: Any Advice re: Beijing/Suzhou/Shanghai in Mar 2013?

as in your case better to fly into Beijing and departs from shanghai.Suzhou is very near to shanghai and with the g train it is only about half hour away.

as for hotel booking it won't cost you less if you book last minute. go through some booking websites for best rate but some has conditions attached.

as you are highly allergic better to eat at your hotel or reputable restaurants and inform the staff about your requirement.

5. Re: Any Advice re: Beijing/Suzhou/Shanghai in Mar 2013?

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