Passplanet's Tours : China's Suggested Itineraries !

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Passplanet's Tours is an idea that I developed while in Central America in 2001 and was hoping to run by myself around March 2003.  My life however took a completely new way recently and here I am now (november 2002) with a lovely wife, a cute little boy and a new business in Geneva.  All this within less than a year!  Needless to say, it's unlikely that I can find the time for such a tour in the near future... My apologies to those who expressed their interest.

I will however leave the  suggested itineraries for China online.  This is the tour that I was basically trying to set up.  Who knows, maybe someone with a deep understanding of the backpacking needs will one day be interested to run it ?   Do not hesitate then to contact me. The last person who contacted me (a girl from Singapore living in HK)  had the motivation but clearly not the knowledges required...  You need both!

People interested for the tour may also keep contacting me at under the healine "China Tours".  I will keep them informed about the latest developments...  I will be back in China one day...

The itineraries could be as follows. Variations are of course possible (incl. during the trip) and I am open to any idea & suggestions...

The costs are estimations only, based on Passplanet's files and increased by 20%. They include : transports, entrance fees to all major attractions, accommodations in sharing Dbl (when available) and food in local restaurants (US$2.5 per day). They do not include the Hong Kong related expenses (in particular the transport to HK) nor the Chinese visa. The costs are however likely to be much smaller if group discounts, dorm instead of room, skipping of some attractions, etc. You manage your budget as you wish !


2 weeks in South China :

Hong Kong a few The City of Life, an extraordinary world of contrast.  The meeting point for the tour, 3 days before leaving
KCR, 30mn The fastest & safest way to reach the border Early morning departure during the week
Shenzhen transit A shopping Center for HK people during WE Visa arranged in HK for less around US$17
L Bus, 2h A comfortable ride in a modern bus From this point, comfort will decrease...
Guangzhou day visit A chaotic modern city with a few sights incl. a huge market  Not everybody like it but all must see it !
N Train, 10h 1 A relatively comfortable (sleeper) or uncomfortable (seat) ride Buying train tickets in Guangzhou is always fun...
Changsha transit
Buses, 2.5h A series of rides in local buses
Shaoshan 1 The birth's place of Mao in a lovely countryside setting This pilgrim place is best avoided at WE
Bus, 2.5h
Changsha transit
N Train, 14h 1 A longer train ride, followed by local buses Sleepers reserved the previous day
Wulingyuan 2 +3,000 sandstone pillars and peaks stretching over 26,000 ha  One of the most beautiful place in China
Train, 9h A day in a very local train ! A rough yet lovely ride
Sanjiang 2 Charming Dong minorities villages full of characters A relaxation paradise !
Bus, 3h
Longsheng 2 The famous Dragon's Backbone Rice Terraces  ! Another amazing natural sight & lots of walking around
L Bus, 3h Luxury or standard bus, the choice is yours...
Guilin transit The big, modern and expensive sister of Yangshuo   There are some sights but Yangshuo is nicer
Bus, 1h15
Yangshuo 5 The backpackers' paradise of China ! End of the first part : rest a bit in amazing surroundings
Bus, 1h15 From Yangshuo, possibility to go back to Shenzhen by sleeper bus (15 hours), then Hong Kong

Estimated Backpacking Costs for the two weeks : US$200 all included (incl transport back to HK)
Add. Passplanet Fee : US$100 (10 people minimum to leave)


Add. 3 weeks in South & Center China :

Guilin transit
N Train, 18h 1 A long  train ride Sleepers bought in advance
Kunming 2 A relaxed provincial capital with the "Stone Forest" Modern yet pleasant
Bus, 6-11h Sleeper or luxury, your choice ! Big time difference depending on the buses
Dali 2 A minority village by a big lake Now quite touristy, it is still worth a walk around
Bus, 3h
Lijiang 2 The charming "little Venice of Orient" Another backpackers' paradise !
Bus, 2h
Tiger L.G. 1 A great trek in one of the world's most beautiful gorge For active backpackers only...
Bus, 3h Back via another route
Lijiang 1
Bus, 10h A superb ride with rice terraces' scenery Very rough but little choice...
Jinjiang Basically, a train station ! Not likely to be able to get a sleeper here...
N Train, 12h 1 A long hard seat experience by night... A lot of souvenirs in perspective...
Emeishan 2 A Buddhist pilgrim mountain for trekkers Bus up & possibly walk down...
Bus, 1h
Leshan 1 The biggest Buddha in the world and a lot of smaller ones A relaxed little town
 L Bus, 3h 
Chengdu 2 A nice provincial capital with a couple of sights incl. pandas ! Modern & busy yet pleasant
N Train, 11h
Chongqing day visit An hilly city by two rivers, incl the Yangzi Sometimes irritating but certainly interesting
L Bus, 5h From Chongqing, possibility to take a boat down the Yangzi ("three gorges") to Yichang, a bus to Wuhan, a train to Guangzhou, a bus to Shenzhen and the KCR back to HK. 

Estimated Backpacking Costs for the 5 weeks : US$500 (all included (incl. 3rd class boat trip & trpt back to HK)
Add. Passplanet Fee : US$140


Add. 1 month in Central & North China :

Chengdu 1 One last comfortable evening...
Bus, 11h
Songpan 4 A small minority town used as a base for beautiful horse trekking Start snowballs fights at above 5,000 meters...
L Bus, 4h
Jiuzhaigou 3 According to the propaganda, the "best scenery under the sky" Touristy (Chinese) & expensive but beautiful
Bus, 2h
Songpan 1
Buses, 6h A long ride as long stop  Beautiful grassland scenery
Zoige 1 A small and dull Tibetan town Unfortunately an obligatory stop over
Bus, 2.5h A bus full of Tibetan See them throw away "wind horses papers"
Langmusi 2 A small Tibetan village nestled in a beautiful mountainous valley This place is Tibet made easy
Bus, 6h
Xiahe 2 A stretched town w. 3 distinctive areas : Chinese, Muslim & Tibetan The famous Labrang Monastery is the highlight
Bus, 5h A great ride w. snow peaks and canyons
Tongren 1 A fairly laid-back small multi-minorities town Few people stop here hence the interest
Bus, 4h
Xining 1 A growing town with markets and the Ta'er Monastery  Admire butter sculptures
Bus, 12h Another long day ride Road likely to have been improved
Zhangye A fairly relaxed town with the biggest indoor lying Buddha in China A nice stop over
N Bus, 12h 1 A long rather uncomfortable night ride Your first experience of a sleeping bus on the silk road...
Dunhuang 2 An oasis w. magnificent desert scenery and the Mogao Caves For scenery or culture, this place is a treat !
N Train, 13h 1 Back in the train !
Lanzhou The world's most air-polluted city on earth Don't worry : we won't stay long...
N Train, 14h 1 Second night on a train !
Xi'an 2 A former capital full of historical sights  The Army of Terracotta warriors is of course the highlight
Bus or Train, 3h30 Train or bus, you decide !
Huashan 2 A superb Buddhist mountains area with a lot of stairs Very hard way up but lift available for people tired
 N Train, 14h  1
Beijing 4 The Capital and its attractions : Great Wall, Forbidden City,... A lot of things to do & see...
N Train, 7h 1 From Beijing, possibility to take a flight back home or a long train ride to Guangzhou, then HK.  Possibility to start your adventure from there as well, with the following itineraries...

Estimated Backpacking Costs for the 9 weeks : US$960 all included except transport from Beijing
Add. Passplanet Fee : US$190


Add. 10 days in North China :

Datong 1 A black coal city with the marvelous Yungang Caves The most impressive Buddhist caves in China
Bus, 6h An early morning bus
Wutaishan 2 A small village in a valley surrounded by mountains and temples Peaceful outside of WE only...
Bus, 3h30
Taiyuan transit The third most polluted city in the world No reason to longer...
Train, 2h
Pingyao 1 A charming old city, founded in the 14th century This is where Zhang Yimou's "Raise the Red Lantern" was filmed...
N Train, 12h 1
Luoyang day visit A relaxed town w. shops, greenery and more caves Worth a look but probably not a stay...
Bus, 2h
Shaolin 3 The Kung Fu capital of China plus great scenery Very charming once the tourists away...
Bus, 3h30
Zhengzhou transit A big town with nothing to do but shop
Bus, 2h
Kaifeng 1 A friendly market town with a few old streets & sights See a statue with 1000 arms & an iron pagoda...
Bus, 7h From Kaifeng, possibility to go back to Zhengzhou to take a train back to Beijing or Guangzhou (then Hong Kong)

Estimated Backpacking Costs for the 10 weeks : US$1090 all included except transport from Zhengzhou
Add. Passplanet Fee : US$200


Add. 2 weeks on the East Coast of China :

Taishan 2 The most popular sacred mountain of China A lot of stairs to a great panorama...
Bus, 2 h
Qufu day visit The Confucius Capital of the world Too touristy to stay too long...
N Train, 8h 1
Nanjing 1 A lively former capital with a couple of historical sights Sun Yatsen Mausoleum & War Museum...
Train, 3h30
Suzhou 1 The "Venice of the East"  or the "Garden City" The most famous gardens of China
N Boat, 12h 1
Hangzhou 1 The most famous lake of all China and some of its best gardens Lovely walks around the lake
Train, 2h30
Shanghai 1 The economic & dynamic capital of China This is where the East adopt & readapt the West
N Boat, 12h 1
Putuoshan 447 2 An island full of charm, temples & monks Yes, there are beaches as well !
Boat, 1h
Ningbo 445 transit A bustling city
L Bus, 1h30 Y35
Shaoxing 442 1 The City of the 500 bridges A bit exaggerated but an atmospheric place
Buses, ?
Huangshan 2 The famous Yellow Mountain Mountainous landscapes, bamboo forests, waterfalls,...
N Train, 10h 1
Nanchang day visit The "poor person's Beijing" Little to see but not unpleasant
N Train, 14h 1
Shenzhen transit Last opportunity for shopping at China's prices
KCR, 30mn
Hong Kong a few days Back to "civilization"... Last opportunity for shopping at HK's prices

Estimated Backpacking Costs for the 3 months : US$1450
Add. Passplanet Fee : US$250