I’m in need of everyone’s expertise yet again. My mom and dad are coming to China (again! It’s mom’s fourth and dad’s second trip) and I’d love to take them somewhere new and nice. None of us has been to Xi’an and it is kind of embarrassing to live in China and to not have seen the Terracotta army. Then again, I’m slightly against travelling to big tourist destinations and sharing attractions with huge crowds… Who’s been to Xi’an? Who thinks it’s worth a visit? Who doesn’t?
Another place I would love to visit is Jiuzhaigou in Sichuan. It looks stunning on the photos I’ve seen. And it’s in Sichuan, a province I’ve yet to visit, if nothing else, just to eat some of that amazing food. But is it too far away for a 3 day trip? Could we go somewhere else in Sichuan?
Then there’s also Xiamen…. But maybe there’s not that much to see…
What do you guys recommend?
Sichuan was easily my favourite place in China. However, the good stuff is further west, which is not exactly accessible for a three-day trip. I've been to Xiamen as well, and compared to Xi'an, there's really not much to do. Xi'an's got a lot of history, and you could easily spend a day just wandering the walled city exploring historic neighbourhoods and sampling food off the street. Definitely worth it for a three-day trip. Below are my posts from when I was there a couple of years ago:
We have just been to Xiamen and while it's not an action packed place, it's nice and different and beachy and for us, it was WARM and SUNNY!!
The downtown area is cute and there are some ok beaches. If it's warm, you could probably hire bikes and ride around (if your parents are able - you can hire tri-bikes) and go swimming or fly kites at the beach and relax. You have to visit Gulangyu Island (Piano Island). It's a concession island about a 10 minute ferry ride from Xiamen. You can spend the day exploring there and you can also do a day trip to visit the Hakka Tulou's in Fujian Province. We really enjoyed the fresh ocean seafood (as opposed to Suzhou river fish - blergh!). There's a great night food market too.
I haven't been to XI'an or Sichuan province yet, but will get there by the end of the month!
Xi'an would be wonderful for your parents to see the iconic terracotta warriors. The actual area that is on display is enormous. You can also go and visit the families still living in caves outside city. When we went, we hired a guide to drive us around the city and his grandparents still lived in the caves and welcomed visitors. It was very interesting. Jiuzhaigou was, of course, beautiful and another good choice as well. I think your hiking needs would be met going here. I guess what it comes down to is do you want a nature trip or a city trip.
I took my wife and her parents to Xi'an a few years ago, and it was one of our favorite places in China among all the places we've visited. Is it touristy? Absolutely. But is it popular for a reason? Definitely! With regards to the terracotta warriors, we read about them, and the tour we joined even took us to a factory where they make life-sized replicas BEFORE we went to the tomb, but in my opinion, any expectations you have about the tomb will be exceeded once you see them in person. So I think it's definitely worth a visit.
The other spot in Sichuan that is probably our favorite place is the "The Southern Sichuan Bamboo Sea Scenic Spot & Historical Site", also called (蜀南竹海) Shunan Bamboo Sea. It has gorgeous scenery, nice hotels that are surrounded by bamboo, and restaurants that serve a variety of bamboo dishes. Of course, when we went, due to a weird coincidence, it was closed to visitors, and so we were the only ones staying in the hotel and among the very very few tourists that were in this park, so we were able to enjoy some very quiet time in the bamboo sea by ourselves. I think it'd be a lovely place for a morning run.
Sichuan sounds like a great idea, since you've never been there and there are so many attractions. How about Wolong panda reserve? You can sign up as a "volunteer" and play with baby pandas. My mom really wanted to do that when she came to visit me in Beijing last spring, but I was sick and so she had to stay and take care of me instead. (Sorry, Mom!)
You've probably already thought of Emei Shan and Du Fu's thatched cottage.
Of course B.'s point about Xi'an is well taken. And I've always wanted to visit Xiamen myself, so that sounds tempting too.
Wherever you go, I hope you have a great time showing your parents around!
hmmm Xian is a place I would definitely like to visit the next time I go to China, I don't like spicy food so i don't think Sichuan is for me, I know people from Xiamen and they always talk very highly about there hometown and the food. But have you thought about going to Nanjing? I really enjoyed my time there
Xian is great ... you'd love the Muslim Quarter with all the wonderful food to try and the atmosphere is wonderful. It really is a beautiful city, the walls are fun to ride around and although the warriors are very touristy, they are quite amazing to see.
Hey you guys, THANKS HEAPS for all of your travel stories, tips and advices, you guys ROCK! The place I'd like to visit the most is Jiuzhaogou (and yes, as BKopelic pointed out -I would love to satisfy my hiking and nature needs!) but maybe there isn't enough time for such a trip. Apparently you cannot fly directly from Shanghai, so I would have to go via Chengdu.. let's see, I'll have to talk to mom and dad too. But like flyingfish said, there are plenty of other places to visit in Sichuan too.
Then there is Xi'an that a lot of you recommend. I am def gonna read up on travel stories from B, cheers for that. Maybe Xi'an would be easier as it is closer and easier to get to.
Sarah -I've already been in Nanjing. I liked it, but I want to see something new.
Huge crowds of people or not, the terracotta army is a must see. Very impressive. The small army was kind of interesting too. And the city of Xi'an is very beautiful and has a lot of history, like B said. I liked it a lot.
Definately Jiuzhaigou! I've seen a lot of photos taken by Chinese, Asian and Western tourists from that area. Many seem to travel there. It really looks amazing. Little bit like Turkish Pamukkale. There seem to be mountains, special crystal clear lakes with turquoise water and waterfalls. Maybe autumn looks the best with colorful leaves everywhere or the early winter when there is snow.
Juizhaiguo is definitly hard if you have only three days. I you want to do it you will only go for Juizhaiguo and thats a shame because Sichuan has to offer so much. I think you can enjoy Chengdu and its sites for those three days. I recommend a trip to Mnt. Emei tho, rahter than Juizhaiguo. Or save your time for Sichuan later. Sichuan is a province where the sphere is very laidback, no need to rush to visit sights.
Sidenote on Wolong: It is closed untill May i think. because of the earthquake '08. The panda's have been transfered to Ya'an Bi Feng Xia. Definitly worth checking. Ya'an is a beautiful city. But maybe not so much for tourist although in the night its beautiful.
If you are looking for an unforgettable outdoors experience, I’d recommend Yangshuo. It is a small city near Guilin and it is a great place to visit for a couple days. There are many activities such as: Bamboo rafting, kayaking, biking and even a natural hot springs. The town is a lot of fun too; it has cobblestone streets full of interesting shopping and a wide variety of restaurants. I enjoyed all of these things but the best was simply looking up and seeing the strange and breathtaking mountains of the area surrounding you in everything you do.
All three are cool, though I've only been Xiamen for a short time. I spent most of that trip around the tulou in the countryside. Jiuzhaigou is the best trip I ever took--but be prepared for some awful bus rides, especially if you take one from Chengdu up to Songpan and on to Huanglong/Jiuzhaigou. The bus may be painful, but it was worth it (don't know if your parents would up for that, I know my parents wouldn't be).
What about Lijiang. The old city is perfect for strolling and there are plenty of things to see outside the city. The airport has a direct flight from Shenzhen.
Xi'an is strongly recommended.
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