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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hey internet!

I need some advice for travelling solo in China (and Japan, to a lesser extent) for at least a month this summer. I've just finished my final university exams and graduated so I haven't had much time to plan, and I'm going in 2 weeks! Eep! Fortunately my flights are being paid for by the company I'm teaching with so I have some leeway in terms of itinerary. So I thought, who better to ask about fun, flexible, spontaneous travel than my fellow ENFPs?

I'm teaching in Shanghai for a month, and then probably in Japan for a week or two and then China for a fortnight to a month. Mainly, I want to know if anyone has any good ideas for where to go in China for 2-4 weeks as a solo traveller, possibly in the region around Shanghai/Beijing or somewhere else easy to fly back from.

I'm into history, culture, the outdoors, adventure and thrills, and most particularly things well off of the beaten track. I'm vegetarian/flexi-vegan so while I enjoy food it's not a priority. I do also enjoy cities and nightlife - a friend has told me to go to Hong Kong but I'm not sure if it's worth breaking up my plans to do this, and also I think while travelling alone, bars and clubs would be less enjoyable. I'm more into really getting to know one area than flitting from place to place. So, as an example, canoeing down a river for a few days, stopping off at interesting, historical places on the way would be perfect. Oh, and fyi I don't speak any Chinese, yet. Oh and also obviously I'm on a bit of a budget, but don't mind slumming it.

Any other general advice is also really welcome, I'll be super grateful for anything. ENFPs activate!! Thanks in advance! :smile:
 

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Never been to China/Japan although I'm headed to Korea myself to teach this Autumn for a year. I've also traveled quite a bit and visited Vietnam and Thailand for a month each.

It's well worth just googling and youtubing this stuff, which I'm sure you're already doing- people make a living out of making travel blogs catering to all types of traveling tastes.

The way that I like to travel is to not plan it too much- I usually find I meet people in hostels, and sometimes you make friends very quickly in that type of situation, and that can change what you want to do. Often people you meet have their own plans which are incredibly interesting (e.g. in Australia I ended up tenting overnight randomly with people in a wallaby sanctuary spontaneously, etc.). Travel is just way better that way.

Although I will say... Most of the stuff ON the beaten track is popular for a reason usually, and personally I really would go do all that stuff. China and Japan aren't like Australia and Thailand- I doubt you will find too many locations overcrowded with.. Well you'll know what type of traveler I'm referring to if you understand my meaning.

One big thing I would do though is go search for those "famous yet niche" type restaurants in Japan. The food there is meant to be superb, and they supposedly have many hidey-hole restaurants serving varieties of amazing delicacies if you google and make a list of them. I'm 100% sure you can find some with a very cool rustic atmosphere, interesting alternative methods, etc.
 

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I'm quite similar to you in your traveling likes/dislikes. When I travelled solo in Beijing and other parts of China, I didn't plan too much, but I did seek out local advice and made local friends who gave me the best recommendations on where to go, how to get there the fastest and cheapest way, etc.

For example, I was recommended to visit a different part of the Great Wall that isn't swamped with tourists and would afford me better views + a more historic/genuine feeling. I took a public bus that the locals usually take instead of hopping on a tour and that itself was interesting to me as well.

Just try to reach out to English-speaking locals that you can find online. I found my friends through some obscure hobby forums... Lol
 

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Some boring practical advise from a rugged business traveller since 15 years.

I have spent a total of a year in China over the last decade in business travels and I have a few dont' and do's

Dont follow a local person, man or woman anywhere. Google "Tea house scam" for instance. This relates also to taxis. If someone approaches you at the airport and offer you taxi they will surely take you where you need to go but they will charge you 3-5 times the cost. If you go to the actual taxi-waiting line all you need is the adress in Chinese and you are good. If you are are a western-looking person you look rich to the locals. And China is riddled with different scams. The risks of being robbed or physically abused is very low in China. The criminals use scams instead.

One of the nicest times I have had in China is to go a temple in South China for an ancestor-rememberence day. I dont remember the name of it exactly. Families and friends gathered and had a nice dinner at the temple site. These kind of things I dont Think you can get to see unless you know a local or hire a guide or something.

For the touristy things you should probably consider the Summer Palace and/or the Forbidden City outside of Beijing. Or maybe the Great wall, I Think a good Place is Badaling 2 hours from Beijing. I took a full day trip from my hotel in a small bus. We were 12-14 people and during the day we visited The Great Wall, the Ming Burial valley, a Jade crafting factory and a Silk weavery. That is quite nice, and fairly inexpensive. If you want to buy silk or jade on the other hand you will have to prepare to open your wallet a bit:).

In the Shanghai area the Shanghai River is spectacular at night. It is a great view of the skyline of Shanghai. You will have to look hard for authentic Chinese places there because it is a major kosmopolitan city.

Try a hot pot restaurant, that is good and fun.

Try foot massage

Dont eat street food

Travel by high speed train, not by domestic flights

I would recommend you to find local people Before hand and make plans with them. Tell them what you are after, if not they might show you shopping malls :(. I am sure they will try to help. My chinese collegues are fantastic hosts and they like to show people chinese Culture.

Remember, in the eyes of chinese people, western people are barbarians. They had a civilization while we were wearing fur and living in primitive buildings. If you show that you are aware of their rich history they will respect a lot.

Some random things from me :)
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks guys, this is all really helpful stuff!

I guess I should say that I went to China with my family four years ago and saw most of the most famous touristy stuff across China, so this isn't a priority and what I'm now looking to do is see the country as a local does, as much as that's possible. I'm not looking to plan too much; I'm just looking for a starting point - like do I want to go to South China or stay near Shanghai, or do I want to book return flights from Beijing, Shanghai or Hong Kong. And that's gonna be on the basis of what province I'm going to explore.

But I guess that question is like saying 'hey I'm in Europe, what country do you think I should go to?' - as in kind of unanswerable. So apologies for the vague question but thanks for the super helpful advice! Seriously all your advice has been helpful so thanks!

@Vitamin I'd be curious to know what that part of the Great Wall was, if you remember? No worries if not, I may not end up going there! And thanks for the tip about finding friends on online forums.
 
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