NI HAO! 🇨🇳
It has been a super long time since I last shared my travel stories to everyone and now, I am back and making sure that I will not again miss to blog my most spontaneous trip so far. Who could have thought that I’ll be flying to China this year? Not even myself.
So in this blog, I’ll be sharing to you how this trip became so spontaneous and of course, how it went through.
Last March 28, I chatted with my friend when I saw his China photos on instagram. (Hello Irvin! Super thanks to you. This will not be possible without your tips!) Honestly, I don’t have any detailed travel idea about China except about the Great Wall because it’s part of my bucketlist. But I don’t have any plans of going to China anytime this year because of the “tough” visa application that I read from other blogs.
Well, I am sharing this blog with an intention to let you know on how easy breezy traveling to China is including the visa application for Filipinos.
After talking to my friend, I told May (my travel buddy in HK last 2017) that we’ll fly to China instead of going to our original destination for her birthday. I immediately booked our flights last first week of April. That’s basically less than a month from our intended travel date. Tell me I’m the luckiest or let’s just say our China trip is really bound to happen this year because I scored a Php 523 one way flight per person for a Cebu-Shanghai flight. Thanks to Cebu Pacific for opening this new route!!
Flight tickets? Check!
I immediately booked our hotels and researched about China visa application. Around 2nd week of April, I applied for my single entry tourist visa at the Consulate Office in Davao. I really hoped to have my passport back with a visa approved before the Holy Week (April 16) to have more time to prepare all the remaining items for the trip. To know more about how easy it is to apply for China visa, check it from this separate blog post I made.
Approved visa? Check!
2 weeks left before our travel date. We got so busy at work that we forgot to prepare all other things. Until we panicked when we saw that train tickets are almost sold out and we only have a week before we fly to China.
If you are planning to follow our itinerary, I suggest you prebook the following items below to have a lesser hassle trip: (* – Suggestion)
1. Wifi with VPN Access from local international wifi modem provider – *Flytpack
2. Bullet train tickets for your transfer from Shanghai to Beijing – *TravelChinaGuide
3. Disneyland Shanghai Tickets – *Disneyland Website or Klook
4. Forbidden City Tickets – *Klook
5. Great Wall Transportation and Tickets – *Klook
I highly recommend for you to prebook because you don’t know what will happen to you once you are already there. We booked ours a week before our departure date. Unluckily, we just knew that time that it was also holiday in China during our trip meaning it will be “peak season” that’s why the ticket are almost sold out. Also, we should expect more crowds than the usual because Chinese locals usually take vacations during these long holidays.
From our experience, we had a very challenging time booking our train tickets to Beijing. Initially, our preferred schedule was sold out after few hours of trying to book it then we were waitlisted for the recommended schedule by the ticketing agency. Again call me the luckiest, the following day I got an email from the agency that they got us our preferred schedule after some passengers gave up their seats. (Huhuhuhu! Thank God! If that didn’t happen, we could have taken our contingency plan – buy that expensive flight from Shanghai to Beijing.)
TRIVIA: We booked our Disneyland tickets few minutes before we take off from Cebu. Literally, around 2 minutes before take off. All online travel apps like Klook, kkday, Traveloka are already sold out for May 2 entry in Disneyland. Our back up plan initially was to buy on site similar to what we need in HK. Call me lucky again, but when we opened the Disneyland website there was a notice that due to peak season, they will not be selling tickets on May 2. With that, we rushingly bought tickets from their website with an expensive peak season rate. Whew!
Talk about spontaneity. Or should I say, unprepared! Anyway, all set!
Sharing to you our itinerary below:
The trip was just relaxed because we feel like we are already “Tita” that we don’t want to be immensely tired and rushing in all destinations similar to HK. We just made sure we will be going to the must-visit places. We didn’t take any risks this time while on the trip (because we took a lot prior to our trip haha). And, we know already how hard it is to communicate with the Chinese local in case we’ll encounter problems.
Shanghai is one of the progressive cities in the world. When I was there, I can totally agree after seeing and experiencing it. If ever I’ll be visiting China again, I would like to go back in Shanghai than in Beijing. Actually, there are a lot of things for you to see and to try in China though you may need an extra precaution and a bit more patience especially when talking to the locals. Only few locals understand English so you need to prepare your mobile translator.
How to go to Shanghai Downtown from Airport?
If you are arriving by daytime, it’s pretty much easy since you can just ride the train from Shanghai Pudong Airport Station going to the subway station nearest to your hotel. But since we arrived late at night, our only way was to take the Airport Midnight Bus. From the arrival area, look for the Airport Midnight Bus Terminal. Expect for a long queue on this and take note that the last bus will leave 45 minutes after the last flight’s arrival time. If you are arriving past midnight, I suggest you stay at the airport and wait till morning. The fare is only CNY 22.
Where to stay in Shanghai?
We stayed in Mingtown Nanjing Road Youth Hostel. Will definitely come back if ever I’ll be back in Shanghai. It’s definitely close to everything – metro station (East Nanjing), The Bund and of course, Nanjing Road.
Since it just recently opened last 2016, there are a lot of things that they will need to improve on. Personally, I would love to visit again HK Disneyland than in Shanghai. There are lesser entertainment/events in Shanghai unlike in HK. But if you’re goal is to visit all Disneyland in the world, make sure to try the Pirates of the Caribbean Sunken Ship when you’re in Shanghai.
The busy street of Shanghai where tourist usually flock and where shopping starts and ends.
The Bund is really the bomb! It’s a must-visit and you should not miss it. Can’t describe it more you need to see it for yourself.
Beijing is like an old city for me. The building architectures are not really modern. It’s not as busy compared to Shanghai. If you love history and the traditional China, then you should visit Beijing. It’s a bit cheaper than Shanghai, though shopping is not really a thing in Beijing. If you want shopping, then do it in Shanghai. But if you want to buy some local souvenirs and try local street food, try it in Beijing.
How to go to Beijing from Shanghai or vice versa?
Following our itinerary – if you are entering Shanghai and wanted to see the Great Wall of China, you have two easy options to go to Beijing : you can take the bullet train or take the plane. Either of which can be cheaper depending on the time you book your ticket. What we did since we have shorter preparation time, we opted to take the train since it was cheaper that time. The bullet train in China is the world’s fastest bullet train, next is Japan. We traveled approximately 1200km for only 4 hours. You just need to take note of your designated railway station since there are different stations but the most common are the ff: Shanghai, Shanghai Hongqaio, Beijing, Beijing South. Ours is Shanghai and Beijing South. All are accessible by subway.
You need to prebook your train tickets online and have it exchanged in the ticket office. Make sure to have it exchange before taking that long queues at the entrance of the railway station. The ticket office is on the right most corner of Shanghai railway station. It’s on a different building. It’s a little bit far for me because we took our luggages with us. It’s a walkable distance around 800m from the station entrance. The fare is CNY 85
Where to stay in Beijing?
We stayed at Citytel Inn. It’s a bit near Wangfujing Street and Wangfujing Train Station. It’s nice and clean but if there are other accommodation nearer the station and Wangfujing street then would like to check it out. Also, the price is a bit expensive.
GREAT WALL OF CHINA
You need to visit it for once in your life. They said, you haven’t been to China if you haven’t visited the Great Wall. Note that it is one of the 7 wonders of the world.
The busy street in Beijing. This is the equivalent of Nanjing Road in Shanghai.
QUANJUDE PEKING DUCK RESTAURANT
They said, you’ve never been to Beijing if you haven’t eaten a Peking Duck. If that’s the case, we haven’t miss that out. Despite the expensive, we got the signature set of Peking Duck in none other the famous Quanjude Restaurant in Wangfujing Branch.
THE FORBIDDEN CITY/PALACE MUSEUM
If you don’t want that long queues before you enter the Palace Museum, go here when it’s not peak season and when it’s weekday.
HOW MUCH DID WE SPEND IN CHINA?
Exchange rate we used: CNY 1 = PHP 8
I’m just leaving some few tips before you pack your luggages and go to China:
1. Bring face mask to protect your nose from possible air pollutants. When we arrived in Beijing, there were some cotton-like particles flying everywhere. It looked like snow but it wasn’t and it’s harmful for your nose.
2. Have your peso exchange to CNY in the Philippines. I haven’t seen that much money exchangers in Shanghai and Beijing even in the busy streets of Nanjing and Wangfujing.
3. Get wifi modem in PH if you’re planning to cross cities. Take the wifi kit with VPN Access so you can still Facebook, Youtube, IG and other social media sites while in China.
4. Be extra cautious of what you’re eating and drinking. Better drink from bottled water or refill your water from the hotel than drinking tap/service water from public areas.
5. Don’t forget to download your reliable offline language translator. I trust you – this will make your life easy in China.
Basically, that’s all!! I hope this blog will really help you when you plan to travel to China. In case you have questions, just send me an email or send me a message on my Facebook Page.