China and Japan have always been on my list of countries to travel to, and after backpacking Europe last summer, I knew it was time to visit the Oriental.
Aside from watching Chinese movies, I honestly had no idea what to expect. The Far East had always been a mystery. Now, after spending 3 weeks in China and Japan, it’s not quite a mystery anymore!
When I originally set out to China and Japan I had a different route planned then the one I actually ended up taking. At first I was more interested in visiting smaller, traditional towns in China. However, as a solo, female traveler, who doesn’t speak a word of Chinese, (and after my experience in Guilin, China), I decided it was best to alter my route. Below is the route I took on my 3 week journey through China and Japan.
Day 0: Left for Hong Kong
Day 1-3: Hong Kong: 1.5 days; 2 nights
Day 3-4:Guilin: 1 night
Day 4-10 Yangshou: 6 days; 7 nights
Day 10-12 Shanghai: 1 day; 2 nights
Day 12-17: Beijing: 4.5 days; 5 nights
Day 17-20: Tokyo: 3.5 days; 4 nights
Day 21: Left Tokyo
My original route changed after arriving in Guilin. I got extremely lost one night trying to find the bus station to take me to Yangshou. I ended up having to stay in Guilin for the night. After having the horrible experience of wondering around an unlit, foreign, Chinese city, late at night, where barely any one speaks English, I decided to change my route. I did not want to go through that again.
Once I got to Yangshou, I fell in love (with the city), and my 2 day stay turned into one of the best weeks of my life. I then visited Shanghai. Saw the sights in a day. The city reminded me of London, but London is a much more exciting city. I was bored with Shanghai after a day, and decided to move on. I loved my stay in Beijing. Not just because of the sights or because I saw the Great Wall of China, but because of the hostel I stayed at. It was an awesome place to hang out. It had a great bar to meet people, very comfortable place, and I made great friends there. Definitely check out 365 inn if you go to Beijing.
The tickets from Beijing to Japan were around 400-500 USD so I had to use air miles, which left me with few options. I ended up only having about 4 days in Japan. That only gave me time to see Tokyo. I wanted to take the bullet train to Kyoto, but I’ll have to save that for another trip.
What I Wish I Would Have Known:
- You need at least 2 full days to see Hong Kong. I didn’t have time to see The Big Buddha on Macau Island. The chair lift to get to the Big Buddha provides you with great scenery, which is definitely a reason to go, just by itself.
- China is not like Europe. If you’re traveling alone as a female, it’s definitely harder to travel around than you may think. For example, when I finally did arrive at the bus station in Guilin, to try to get to Yangshou, there were absolutely no signs in English. Everything was in Chinese characters, and the people at the information desk didn’t speak English. If you don’t think you can handle situations like that, you may be better off traveling with a tour group through China, or at least travel with others.
- Tokyo is huge. There is a LOT to see, and a lot to DO. In 5 days, I only covered a small portion of the huge city. It can take 30-60 minutes just to get to another part of Tokyo by metro.
Happy Travel Planning!
Are you planning a trip to China or Japan?