Monday, December 29, 2008

Dali and Congshan Mountain Tips

Dali

Attractions:
*Cycling around Erhai lake, walking around town, visiting markets and villages around town.

Cycling Dali- good place to rent bikes for 5 rmb/day. really nice people that can book bus/train tickets and organize tours of any type. manager's name is Lee. if you desire to hire a car it will cost 260rmb for up to 6 people, this is a good price. www.cyclingdali.com

Accommodation:
Friends Guest House- the area is not great but is very close to south gate. shower not great but other rooms may be better. 50 rmb/double en-suite with western toilet. www.friendsdali.com

Jade Emu- the manager's name is Dave Shaw (australian). nice and new place with wi-fi, kitchen that can be used, a little pricier than other places and also an 8 minute walk or so from the western gate. www.jade-emu.com

Food:
No. 88 Bakery- delicious german-owned bakery, 13 rmb breakfast, great coffee and cakes, on Bo-ai road very close to Cycle Dali, sandwiches delicious, fresh bread...yum!
Tibet Cafe- good sandwiches, free internet if you buy something. also has rooms not sure the quality or price. on foreigner street.

Congshan (Mountains)

Accommodation:

Higherland Inn- nice room, nice (shared) shower with western toilet. 70 rmb/double. located in the hills above dali (Congshan). great view of dali and some nice hikes that can be done from here. 2 or 3 nights would be great. small place so should book ahead, offers family style meals which are slightly overpriced (25 rmb) but fresh, healthy, and not so oily. owner is pretty nice lady. breakfast good, notable is the porridge.www.higherland.com

Food:
Pine Haven Cafe- just below the stairs to Higher Land is a small cafe with good fresh sandwiches and juices, if you're staying on the mountain it's a great lunch option.

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Dali and Congshan

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Shangri-la (Zhongdian) Tips

Dragon Cloud Guest house- need to cross courtyard to get to shared bathroom, squat toilet only, beds are reasonable
30 rmb/dorm

Tibetan Restaurant- good, but expensive

Noah Cafe- good for steak

miscellaneous: street food in the main plaza is good and cheap; try the baba breads and skewered meat and veggies

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Shangri-La

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Tiger Leaping Gorge Tips

Naxi Guest House- good lunch, cheap, 5 rmb/dish.

Tea Horse Guest House- nice view

Halfway House- good food, great view, clean room and shared bath for 20 rmb/dorm

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Tiger Leaping Gorge

Friday, December 19, 2008

Lijiang Tips

This town is very picturesque (UNESCO) but there isn't much to do there.

Mama naxi guest house- there are 3 houses, very popular place to stay. family style dinner- delicious for 10 rmb per person.
double room shared bath 40 rmb. from here it is easy to begin Tiger Leaping Gorge. bus to Qiatou (beginning of trek) 20 rmb/person. btw, one day is plenty to see Lijiang's old town.

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Lijiang

Monday, December 15, 2008

Emei Shan Tips

The Mountain- 3 methods of going up the mountain:
1-Pilgrim style=walking
2-Chinese tourist style=taking the bus to the top for an afternoon
3-Compromise, some of the way with a bus, some of the way walking

*if you want to hike, we recommend going up and down in 3 days.

Bus to midway stop 40 rmb, bus to top 70 rmb, bus from top coming down 30 rmb. chairlift to peak from top 50 rmb.

Accomodation in hotel on top is 400 rmb. On the way up the mountain there is cheaper accommodation for about 50 rmb a bed in selected temples; these are very very basic.

**please be aware the this is not a dirt path, but STEPS, all the way up

In Town:
Teddy Bear Hostel- rooms stuffy, not very clean, food not good. (but, it is right at the entrance to the park...)
25 rmb/dorm

"Vegetarian Restaurant"- lit up by neon lights you cross a small bridge over water to get here, just across and up a little from teddy bear. try the sichuan eggplant and anything else. very nice atmosphere.not a vegetarian restaurant but still called so...

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Emei Shan

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Chengdu Tips

Panda Research Center- not to be missed!!! go early in the morning (before 8), later pandas will be asleep. taxi to Sim's 30 rmb each way.

Sim's cozy garden hostel-very nice hostel, friendly, clean, helpful travel desk
location on the first ring road is not great for the downtown, but is close to the Panda research center. the restaurant is very good and sitting areas are nice.highly recommended. dorms are 10 beds with bathroom and shower in the room 30 rmb/dorm
www.gogosc.com

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Chengdu 1
Chengdu 2

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Xian Tips

Terracotta soldiers- no tour necessary, from south gate take bus 603 to the train station. from there bus 306, a green tourist bus, takes you there all the way. the video in the tourist information center (near the ticket stand) is quite informative for some background info. before you enter. tip- don't research the place beforehand, it will be a lot more impressive if you haven't already seen pictures of the place

Big Goose Pagoda- the park around it is very nice. the pagoda was closed for construction when we were there, making the entrance not very worthwhile, so ask before you enter. To get there take bus 609 from south gate.

Xiangzimen youth hostel- beds ok, showers ok, cleanliness was so-so, western toilet, but not clean. 40 rmb/dorm. can be booked on hostelworld.com
**note that we looked at several other hostels and they were all worse than this one, so even though we can't really recommend it, it might be your best bet...

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Xian 1
Xian 2

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Pingyao Tips

In Pingyao the main attraction is that you are in a walled city and there are many traditional, preserved buildings (the city used to be a banking center). Entrance ticket is for 2 days and includes many buildings inside the old city. 120 rmb/60 student

Zhengjia hostelclean, new (less than 1 yr), ok shower, western toilet, very friendly. highly recommended.they also have a hotel that looked nice.
can be booked online pingyaohostel.com 25 rmb/dorm

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Pingyao 1
Pingyao 2

Monday, December 1, 2008

Datong Tips

CITS Tour-CITS has a mini office right at the train station. getting to the yungang caves/hanging monastery requires a driver, so the tour provides just that. 100 rmb, no need to book ahead. the night train from beijing will arrive around 7am and joining that day's tour is no problem. the attractions can be done as a day tour with two night trains.

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Datong