Might be traveling to China.....HELP!

  1. Hi Ladies and Gentlemen,

    Well here is the story, my husband has to go to Suzhou, China for his work - end of Oct. I'm thinking of going with him with our son 3 1/2 yr. and possibly my sister (we are working on the visa and passport stuff).

    My questions are a little all over the place. We looked at the travel books, searched online, but still a little lost. The books are great to highlight the attractions, etc. but I need a true to life account.

    First, has anyone been to China, in particular the Suzhou/Shanghi area and what are we to expect in terms of:
    • cost, food, ease of getting around?
    • Is China/Suzhou area a place/area that I could go around with my son myself if my sister can't go with us?
    • Are the people friendly, do many speak english?
    • What is the average cost per day without hotel (food, attractions, water, etc.) since my husbands company will be picking up the all his costs.
    • What is public transporation like?
    • Anyone been to the Great Wall? What to expect in that region???
    ANY information you can give would be SO helpful!!!!;) ;)
  2. My boss went to China last year. She didn't feel the people were particularly friendly-they weren't rude as much as they were very abrupt. As she didn't speak Chinese (and of course couldn't read the characters) she had a very difficult time getting around. If you don't speak Chinese, you may want to find a tour group to join to see all the sights.
  3. My sister has been to China a couple of times on holiday, and is planning to visit Yunnan soon. I'll ask for her feedback tomorrow.

    As jillybean says, it's advisable to join a tour group if you wish to take in some sightseeing.
  4. Hi! I travel to China (Beijing and Shanghai) about once per quarter for business and love it every time I visit! Here are some answers to your questions; please feel free to PM me if you'd like more info. Happy to help!:flowers:

    • cost, food, ease of getting around? To check conversion rates, go to XE.com - The World's Favorite Currency and Foreign Exchange FX Site or figure about 1 US dollar ~ 8 RMB. If you're in the city areas, cost will be more expensive than in the rural areas, but it is much easier to get around. Taxis or walking are your best bet to get around. However, even in large cities the huge majority of taxi drivers do not speak English, so have your hotel write out where you're going. Also, bring a card from the hotel (usually the taxi stand guys have these) with the name of your hotel written in Mandarin to get you back there. For Shanghai, the subway is easy and seems safe during the daytime, but either go with someone who speaks Mandarin or bring a detailed guidebook. Buses always seem really packed and I bet it would be much more difficult to determine stops, etc. without an English speaker to help you.
    I highly recommend hiring an English-speaking guide to take you around for sightseeing. My company has booked several guides for me through agencies and perhaps your husband's company can do the same. The guides usually have drivers for the local sightseeing trips so it's very easy getting around.

    • Is China/Suzhou area a place/area that I could go around with my son myself if my sister can't go with us? Sorry, don't know the Suzhou area. If you're in Shanghai, yes. In Shanghai, there is a walkway along the river called The Bund. It's a nice walk - seeing the huge German architecture (yes, really!) along one side and the groovy space-age Oriental Pearl TV Tower on the other side of the river - an area called the Pudong.

    • Are the people friendly, do many speak english? People in businesses, hotels, restaurants are pleasant but like in most big cities people don't normally stop on the street to chat with you, but that's not rude, KWIM? English is not widely spoken outside of business and Western hotels so if you need directions, stopping someone on the street may not work. Go to a hotel or larger looking restaurant for assistance. Your husband's colleagues are likely to include his family in at least one dinner or outing and they will likely be very friendly and inquire about you, your family, etc.

    • What is the average cost per day without hotel (food, attractions, water, etc.) since my husbands company will be picking up the all his costs. It's hard to say, since you'll need to factor in his hotel costs (assuming his company is making reservations?). Meal costs vary, depending on restaurants but if it's a MN (multi-national) type chain - like Starbucks - expect to pay prices that are fairly equivalent to US prices. So a latte is around US$3-4. Taxi costs vary depending on distance. Sorry I can't be of more help but maybe your guidebooks can provide sample costs?
    • What is public transporation like? See above. Buses in Shanghai are crowded and language could hinder you greatly. With the subway, bring English maps and plan out your trip before you go.
    • Anyone been to the Great Wall? What to expect in that region??? I've been to the Great Wall outside of Beijing - it's really cool to walk on and nice to see some of the countryside. A flight to BJ from SH is about 2-3 hours. The GW does not extend to Shanghai, so this would be a very long trip for you if you are in Shanghai.
    PM me if you'd like more info...
  5. Fodors.com is a great website for travel. It answers lots of questions too! Enjoy your time overseas.
  6. Been to China couple of times and have been to Suzhou once. All these times the people there were quite friendly. However, aside from business districts, hotels, tourists areas, and big cities, you may have some challenge in the language exchange. University graduate would have no problem talking to you in English, but the older generation and the young ones may not. It's definitely advisable to join a local tour first. However, make sure you find a traveling agency that deals with tours FOR people from out of the country as those are the tours with the best price, best food, and best service.

    Another option you can try is start planning your tour when you're still in the U.S.. Simply go to any Chinese traveling agencies in the U.S. and look up the brochures. You don't have to restrict yourself to only traveling in Suzhou, there're plenty of neighboring provinces worth checking out. They often have packages that cover that. Chinese traveling agencies in the U.S. have lots of awesome packages and the tour guides ALL speak English and can find you good bargains in China should you choose to do some shopping as well. Btw, Suzhou has EXCELLENT silk!!!

  7. Thank you all for this information!! I really appreciate it. Hopefully, we will be able to go with my husband for his trip. We are still a little unsure. I was also wondering did anyone need to get shots for the trip (TB, etc.)??
  8. Yeah, they are "trying" to be more polite since the Olympics are around the corner, but my DH just came back from there and he got mixed vibes from the locals as well.:yucky:

    Advice: be careful. These folks will overcharge you for taxi rides!! Also, watch your bags, watch your belongings. I would much rather go to Japan-- cleaner place and nicer people (who carry REAL bags).

    Oh, and one more thing that goes without explanation: watch what you eat!!
  9. Guys, I think it's true of traveling to ANY city as a tourist to ensure to watch your belongings and ensure you are being treated fairly for taxi rides, etc.

    Heck, I have friends from other countries who have been ripped off by NYC taxi drivers, so let's not pick on one country, KWIM?

    For food, I'd generally recommend staying away from outdoor food vendors and stick to restaurants. If you dine with Chinese hosts, they will be sure to ask your preferences (meat, fish, veggie, spicy, mild, etc.) and will order accordingly.

    Also, for immunizations, it's always good to have your shots up to date, even if you don't travel. You can check online on the CDC's website - it's a great resource: Travelers' Health | CDC
  10. I'm sure I'm not the only one who finds that comment slightly offensive and racist.

    China is a great place to visit. Just be sure to go with a tour guide. I went with a tour group and it made everything so easy. You won't have to worry about transportation, where to go, and where to eat. All the restaurants that they take you to will be "safe."

    As far as costs go, everything will be pretty cheap. Having a tour guide will be helpful too if you want to buy things and you have to haggle. Don't worry about looking cheap. Everyone does it.

    The Great Wall is exhausting. When you go, wear comfortable shoes. I'll also warm you that it's very crowded and it tends to smell bad in a few areas. Unfortunately, people sometimes urinate on the wall because there's nowhere else to go. If you're going to make the hike, don't carry a lot and watch where you step.

    Feel free to ask if you have any more questions. I went to China for three weeks last year.
  11. Also, be careful when buying bottled drinks or ice-cream from independent vendors in tourist areas. Some of them refill bottles so check the seal before you pay for anything.
  12. Just a sidenote before I answer your questions: I'm always very interested that many visitors have found the Chinese "unfriendly." The Chinese really do pride themselves on being polite, just as most Asian cultures do. However, will they treat you like royalty because you're a westerner? No. I find that a lot of my friends have gone to China with the expectation that the Chinese will be in awe of this visitor from America. This is not the case.

    cost, food, ease of getting around?
    It's very easy to get around via taxi, which is also inexpensive. The cost of food varies wildly: you could get a fabulous meal for one American dollar, or you can go to an international five star restaurant.

    Is China/Suzhou area a place/area that I could go around with my son myself if my sister can't go with us?
    I'm not super familiar with Suzhou, but it's a safe place. Crime in China is taken so seriously that there's very little in terms of serious offenses, like kidnapping and murder. They will literally send the person to jail, put a bullet through his head and charge his family for the cost of the bullet. Trust me, you and your son will be safe.

    Are the people friendly, do many speak english?
    The people are no more or less friendly than Americans. More people in China speak English as a second-language than there are native English-speakers in America. English is mandatory in schools, so most people you meet in big cities will speak at least some English.

    What is the average cost per day without hotel (food, attractions, water, etc.) since my husbands company will be picking up the all his costs.
    This really depends on what kind of lifestyle you want in China. It's easy to get by on very little.

    What is public transporation like?
    I personally wouldn't recommend public transportation because it can be confusing. In Suzhou, taxis should be crawling around everywhere, and the average ride will cost you around two American dollars.

    Anyone been to the Great Wall? What to expect in that region???
    The Great Wall is a must see! It's about an hour away from Beijing. I would recommend going with a tour group on a bus, or else asking your hotel to give you a chauffered car for the day (which will cost about $100 American). Of course, have your walking shoes on and a sense of adventure. It's truly a wonder and can't be missed. I can't remember the name of the part I went to but there are two main sections visitors can go to: one is very, very touristy, and one is farther out and not so frequented. I would recommend the latter section of the Great Wall.
  13. lol! Are you kidding? And who are "the locals" of which you speak? China is an enormous nation: the people in big cities are no more or less rude than New Yorkers. Vuittonhammie, you have no idea how ridiculous you sound, do you?
  14. I second that.
  15. OMG! I seem to be stepping on everyone's toes today!! :crybaby: I post my opinions and have been called horrible things--and as a minority to be stated as making a racist comment!! I am very sorry. :wtf: I know you can't see me through the computer, but that side comment really stung, and I think we should all be given the chance to say our opinions here without being stung!
    Gosh, please don't think I am a hater. There are a lot of nice people on this forum, and its sooo hard to have an opinion without "offending" anyone! Again, sorry. :crybaby: Everyone is so snippity today! :confused1: