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Backpacking through china - anyone done it? watch

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    I would really love to go to china for a month or 2 next year, probably early in the year (jan/feb). I'd love to see as many sights as possible in china, so I think backpacking across the country would be the best solution, however I'm not too sure how that would actually work.

    When backpacking across a country, do you stay in pre-booked hostels for most of the time, and use public transport/walking to get you from A to B? How long do you generally stay in 1 hostel for?

    And experiences of going through china if anyone has done it would be great


    I went to China on my gap year and have been living in Beijing for the last year studying. On my gap year I started in the Southwestern province of Yunnan, the most ethnically diverse province in China and one of the most beautiful. There is a lot to do around there and you can easily spend a long time checking out tiger leaping gorge, lijiang, dali, shangri-la etc etc. The capital of Kunming is also a very pleasant city and apparently the cleanest in China!! The climate's also quite temperate down there so you can visit at any time of year really although it can get hot in the summer, like everywhere in China. I haven't been to the Southeast but there's a lot of beautiful scenery like Guilin and Yangshuo, Huangshan etc etc. There is also Xinjiang in the Northwest which is where the Muslim Uighur population in China reside. Absolutely beautiful. And of course there's always Tibet if you want to blow all your money in a few days!! In the North it is freezing in January and February, and drops well below minus, so I would reccommend staying in the South!

    China is a massive country and I could go on and on about all the different provinces, so you have to research for yourself what it is you personally want to see. As for hostels, you can find some when you arrive in a place or pre-book, whichever you want, maybe if you know you will be arriving late in a city then you can pre-book, but you will always find somewhere to stay. You will probably use public transport as well, although buses are difficult to use when you do not speak or read Chinese, although taxis are really very cheap. How long you stay in each hostel depends on how much you want to do in each place!! Most people will stay in each place a few nights, then move on somewhere else.

    It's quite important to know though that the level of English spoken in China is not like that in other countries, and outside major cities, except the very touristy places, it is almost non-existent, and sometimes when you are travelling, if you don't speak any Chinese it does make life difficult, although a guide book and pointing can always go a long way.

    I traveled through China last year, and although at the time I thought travel was difficult, compared to the middle east (where I am now) it was a breeze.

    Stewe seems to of written a lot, so I'll just say a few things to answer your questions. Please quote if you have more.

    Buy a Lonely Planet China guidebook (or Rough Guide as preference) BEFORE you enter the country. They are difficult to come by once there. Use this to plan your trip. I'd advise planning your entire trip in advance as China is very large and there is a ridiculous amount to see. You will end up getting lost and/or not seeing as much as you could if you don't plan in advance.

    Getting around the country itself is very easy. The train network (don't use buses) is one of the largest in the world, and is generally quite nice. Actually buying the ticket can be difficult at times (lack of English) but you will eventually get across where you want to go. In the big stations they have booths designed for foreigners. You can fly too if you want, although its more expensive and not recommended personally unless your in a rush.

    When your at a destination you will generally walk/use public transport to see sites. This generally means the subway or buses. Most services aren't in English so this can get confusing, but usually someone can help you out. If you want to see a site a little outside the city then you will take the train there and back. This is especially the case with Shanghai where there are numerous day trips you can take on the train.

    Hostels you will book when you arrive, and will generally be in the form of dormatories (or single rooms budget permitting). If you budget around £15-20 per day it will be dormatory accommodation. In terms of where to stay, I found there was a good network of recommendations between hostels. For example, I would stay in the Ming Town Hiker YH in Shanghai and they would have loads of leaflets for hostels all around China that they recommend (and have had reports from guests are good). This is the best way to find accommodation, since you will likely find that your guidebook is completely out of date - even if it was released the year you leave.

    You will stay in a hostel for as long as you like. It depends on the destination and what there is to see. Some places you may only stay for 2 nights, some places 5. This is always the case with traveling, and if you plan in advance what you want to see, you should know how long you need to stay in each place (and can stay longer if required).

    I did something similar!

    China is an amazing country, the Great Wall is stunning!

    All the hostels are pretty good too, and a lot more social than most countries. The overnight trains are cheap and pretty easy to get around, there really are lots of places to see but you have enough time!
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