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avoid tourist traps in Huangshan
Nov 16, 2007 14:48
  • KNKNKN
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Hi,
I am planning a trip with my husband next year for China. We have done Singapore and Malaysia on our own, and are quite comfortable backpacking, staying in hostels, and doing a combination of self guided tours and hiring local guides if necessary etc. My plan so far is: (for about 3 weeks)
Shanghai (3 days) - Huangzhou( 1 day) - Huangshan and vicinity (3 days at least 1 night on summit) - Beijing( 5 - 6 days) - Xian (3 - 4 days)

After doing some research, I feel quite comfortable travelling on our own in bigger cities. The only place that I am worried about is Huangshan. I have read horror stories about being cheated by local guides in Huangshan, being denied for hotel accomodation on the summit after booking and paying for them, being overcharged by local people in Tunxi, trouble with transportation from Tunxi to Tangkou etc.

1.What should I do to avoid getting into tourist traps ?
2. Should I join a tour ?
3. Any good tours from Shanghai to Huangshan? However, I prefer the flexibility of travelling on our own.
4. any reliable accomodation (budget) and booking agency in Huangshan city?
5. I have read some excellent reviews through Hostelworld.com, how reliable are those reviews? Any possibilities of scams etc?
I might sound a little paranoid, but just want to be on the safe side. Would appreicate you experts out there sharing your experience.
Thanks very much!!
Nov 17, 2007 03:56
#1  
  • ELLYSE
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1) By not joining a tour.
2) No.
4) I've helped myself, my own friends and other travellers to book. No bad experiences so far.
Nov 17, 2007 05:50
#2  
  • CHINANA
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1. avoid AT ALL COST Chinese holidays (1st week oct, 1st week may and 20/01 to about 20.02; not too good in 07 and 08 either)
2. check the weather before booking accom. for the night up there. If it is going to rain buckets (as it happened to me) forget it! you can't see 10m ahead.
3. hotels are very expensive (for China that is) at the top (400 to 1200 + yuans). Dorms (100 to 150 yuans: probably negotiable down to 80?) are EXTREMELY basic: no shower (at all) not even close by. 7 beds in 15sq metres, but if the weather is ok, it is probably bearable for one night.
If you are going to spend the night take the bare minimum with you up there: there is a long walk uphill from the cable car and you'd have to take a porter if you have a lot of stuff and they charge a lot of money (for China) 80 yuans.
Accom. is probably far cheaper with a tour but I have no experience. It might be worthwhile checking out the local CITS in Tunxi. They organise some small tours for foreigners. They are not very cheap but they are reliable and.... they speak English
If you are in the area I'd recommend you try to see these villages from the Ming dinasty which are absolutely gorgeous: Hongcun, Xidi, Nanping (on UNESCO world heritage list)
apart from that I can't help you much. I believe it is very beautiful if the weather is ok. I'll have to go back one day...
Hope this helps a bit
Have a god trip. China is a very beautiful country (do not underestimate difficulties in communication if you don't speak Chinese, though)
chinana
Nov 19, 2007 12:51
#3  
  • KNKNKN
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Hi Ellyse,
I read a lot of your posts in various forums and found them very very helpful.

If we do the suggested route by you in one of the other forums,

"I would suggest that you go up by the Taiping cable car, do the West Sea Canyon in the direction of Paiyunting --> Baiyun Hotel, stay overnight at Baiyun Hotel, then come down on foot via the western steps. Up to you to see as much/little as you can/want of the eastern steps before leaving the summit area totally"

1. how much walking in total is required and how streneous will it be (concerned about our fitness level, reasonaby fit, but find walking up steps for several hrs very scary ) - might consider training before coming to Huangshan.

2. if we stay in Tunxi for the first night after coming from Shanghai, and bus in the following morning from Tunxi to Taiping, (approx total of 2 hrs), will we have to wait somewhere around 2 to 3 hrs for the cable car? Will it be better to stay closer to the Mountain for one night so as to beat the rush?

3. I also would like to see Hangzhou. Will the following itinerary be efficient:

Shanghai- bus to Hangzhou -stay 1 or 2 nights in Hangzhou (depending on what time we get to Hangzhou), bus from Hangzhou to Tunxi - we don't want to be too rushed - so plan to stay 2 or 3 nights in Tunxi and 1 night on summit. I am hoping to be sure of good weather before going up Huangshan in one of those few days and have hostel in Tunxi book hotel on summit for us. How much time in advance do we need for hotel booking on summit
( I rather stay an extra night in Tunxi for good weather on summit as it is much cheaper in Tunxi ) --overnight train to Beijing .

Thanks very much!

Nov 19, 2007 14:12
#4  
  • ELLYSE
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1) The West Sea Canyon is about 5 hours. Half of it is going down and the other half is going up. Basically it starts in the summit area and you descend to the bottom of the gorge before coming up again. The Western steps take another about 4-6 hours to descend, depending on whether you do Heavenly Capital Peak or not.
2) Why would you need to stay at Tunxi after arriving there from Shanghai? Are you not taking the overnight train? Or, do you mean you'll be arriving by bus via Hangzhou? The waiting time for Taiping cable car would depend on what day and time you'll be visiting Huangshan.
3) It's pretty difficult to predict weather up in the summit area. There's actually no real need to stay multiple nights in Tunxi, unless you're exploring the Hui-style villages in the vicinity. The most expensive night to stay in the summit area would be Saturday, followed by Friday, so try to stay away from those 2. Also, almost every hotel and guesthouse in the summit area (there're many more options than listed in most guidebooks -- look at http://thorntree.lonelyplanet.com/messagepost.cfm?postaction=reply&catid=19&threadid=1339750&messid=11726063 for more details) have dorms with/without ensuite. These are quite a bit cheaper than private rooms (which're the only ones advertised on websites) and are a good way to save on accommodation costs.
Any more queries please email me directly at yahoo.com|ellyse99 and put "TravelChinaGuide" and your own username (eg KNKNKN) in the subject line so that I know who you are, thanks.
Mar 24, 2008 09:35
#5  
GUEST65476 i like to visit shanghai after huangshan, which one better.....train to shanghai or bus??
Mar 25, 2008 12:53
#6  
  • ELLYSE
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Personally I prefer overnight sleeper train. Bus isn't too bad a choice if you don't mind wasting half a day on the journey.
Jun 25, 2008 00:18
#7  
GUEST20592 Hi, leaving for Huang shan tonight. The weather in most of China is very rainy, and I have read that the mountain gets the most rainfall in Anhui! Any tips about what to pack for the weather (I read no umbrellas)? Anyone stayed in and can recommend a hotel on the summit? Also, are the hot springs worth a visit? Any info would be greatly appreciated. Thank you so much
Jul 13, 2008 19:56
#8  
  • ELLYSE
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Disposable (or non-disposable, up to you) rain poncho instead of umbrella. Or raincoat.
My usual hotel recommendations are Baiyun Hotel, Guangmingding Shanzhuang and Xihai Hotel.
Don't bother with the hot springs.
Jun 17, 2009 08:12
#9  
GUESTMOHUA Dear Ellyse,

I find your inputs very forthright and to the point.
My husband and I have made the following plans and
we have a few questions on them. We shall appreciate
it very much if you can advise.

"Arrive at 9 pm at Tunxi and stay the night at Huangshan
Travellers Home Town. Start early and reach Taiping, go up
via Taiping cable car, check in a hotel, go out
for a day hike through west sea canyon. Next day
come down via western route, catch a bus to
Hangzhou and catch a 21:50 flight from Hangzhou."

1. Is this feasible ?

2. What time shall we start from the summit to
make it to Hangzhou in time ?

3. We were thinking of Paiyunlou hotel
because on the map, it looked like close to the
point where Taiping Cable car goes. But, if
we have to start hiking early next morning, which
hotel would you recommend to save time in hiking the
western route ?
Would it be possible for you to arrange for an
accommodation for us at the peak, please?

4. If it is raining hard and we decide to
skip the western route, what are the other options?

5. If we come down again by Taiping cable car, can we catch
a bus from Taiping to Hangzhou or do we have
to use the eastern cable car and shuttle to Tangkou ?

Thanks very much!
Jun 22, 2009 00:56
#10  
  • ELLYSE
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Are you flying to Huangshan?
1) No, I don't think so. You'll not be in time to catch that flight out from Hangzhou, unless you're extremely good hikers.
2) For a 2150 flight, you'll need to be at Hangzhou airport at 1950 (or latest by 2050) to check-in and go through security. It takes about 1 hour from downtown Hangzhou to Hangzhou airport. Assuming you could splurge on a taxi, you'll need to arrive in Hangzhou no later than 1900. I would allow 3 hours for the bus Tunxi -- Hangzhou, so you'll need to leave Tunxi by 1600. Since it takes about 1-1.5 hours to get from Tangkou to Tunxi, then you'd need to be at Tangkou hopefully by 1430. Allow another 15-30 mins for the bus from the bottom of Western Steps to Tangkou, you'll need to be at the bottom of Western Steps by 1400. I would usually allow about 6-7 hours on foot from Paiyunlou Hotel to the bottom of Western Steps... you do the math. And, these timings are assuming that everything goes like clockwork and don't get lost along the way!
3) Paiyunlou Hotel would be fine. Yes, I would be able to help you arrange accommodation in the peak area. However I would need to wire the entire sum of money in order to guarantee the reservation, so I'd need you to send me the money via PayPal, Western Union or bank transfer (I have a bank account with Industrial and Commercial Bank of China), which one would work best for you?
4) Then just come down via cable car, whichever one you prefer.
5) If you come down via Taiping cable car (why would you?) then you'll have the problem of finding transport from the bottom of the cable car to Taiping town. From Taiping town you could then catch a bus (1.5 hours journey time) to Tunxi, where you could find buses back to Hangzhou. I think there's also a direct bus for Taiping -- Hangzhou, but it departs very early in the morning so it would be of no use to you.
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