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Old 10 Sep 16, 05:53 PM  
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itsrachelhere
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Backpacking our way around China! (including Disneyland Shanghai) - Updated 21st September

Introductions

The cast for this trip will be myself (Rachel) and my lovely husband John. We have been married now for just over 7 years and have had a fair few adventures together. We are both happier outside built up areas, as these pictures probably show..!



Background

Before I grew accustomed to the delights of high quality accommodation and luxury travel, I was a proper backpacker. This has never quite left me as I am more likely still to be spotted with my backpack rather than a suitcase, unless on a really long trip. However 2016 is to be the year that I very much return to my backpacking past.

Although we are heading to China this trip can be very much blamed upon Disney. Firstly, ever since watching the 360 film in China I knew I wanted to go there some day Ė the scenery just looked absolutely amazing (in spite of the fact they donít have any seats in there, and all you want to do is rest your feet after a day hiking around Epcot) Secondly, Disney happened to announce they were to open Shanghai Disneyland and the incredible Tron rideÖ We also had loads of air miles plus a free upgrade voucher to use and so it made sense to use it on a proper long haul flight. It just had to happen!




This trip has been in the planning for months and months. I first booked the flights back in February, but we had been talking about it way before then, and John actually got me some guidebooks for Christmas. Now I am a pretty confident planner. I have backpacked round USA twice (including East to West coast by Greyhound), travelled round Costa Rica, volunteered in BrazilÖ but nothing has ever compared to the complexity of planning a trip to China. Itís less than two months to go and despite all this planning (I created a regular planning slot on Sunday evenings during which I have watched countless you tube videos) I have only got as far as working out our itinerary and hostels. I still feel like I have SOOOO much to work out which is a bit intense as work is going to be super-busy, John submits his final PhD thesis a few days before we goÖ oh and we are also in the process of selling/moving house. Gulp!

Edited at 09:18 PM. Reason: updating
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Old 10 Sep 16, 06:00 PM  
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itsrachelhere
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Overview of plans

Our basic itinerary now is pretty much planned out as I had to apply for our Visaís this weekend, which included supplying all our travel plans, confirmation of accommodation, etc Ė intense..! I will hopefully update with more detailed plans soon, but general plans are as follows

Overnight at Heathrow Airport
I have booked us into the Premier Inn on Bath Road which cost £48 for the night. I bet if I had got in there earlier I could have got it cheaper, but hey I am pleased to have got a bit of a discount. We have a basic double room. I imagine we will have breakfast there in the morning as our flights not until 1.30pm, but I will book that when we get to the hotel.



Flights from Heathrow Terminal 3
As I said before we cashed in a load of air miles to get these flights. I was pleasantly surprised at how straight forward it all was. We made use of a sale where I think it was something like a third off the air miles normally needed, and used a free upgrade voucher that I got through my Virgin AMEX card. We ended up using 56,000 miles between us and paid £500 each to get premium economy flights return to Shanghai. These should have been £900 each, so I am pretty happy with that saving as the miles are just from our credit card/virgin trains.

We will be flying on a 787 dreamliner, so hopefully with the fact itís a very new plane, plus having PE seats, it should be a good journey.



First stop: Shanghai
We arrive into Shanghai airport early the following day. From here we will no doubt get the Maglev into Shanghai itself. For those of you who arenít familiar with this, Maglevís are apparently the worlds fastest trains. This one apparently reaches speeds of up to 268mph, but other ones do go faster!



We are staying for two nights in Shanghai Soho International Hostel. I have opted for hostels for most of this trip for various reasons. A) Obviously itís cheaper! B) I find if you are backpacking that itís so helpful being in hostels as you can chat to other travellers and C) I get frustrated in hotels in not having a sofa to sit back on, and all the other comforts you are used to at home. I know itís not to everyones taste, but honestly some of the best places I have stayed by far have been hostels. We are however going to be sticking to private rooms. Here we are staying in a Business double room (I know business and hostel donít normally quite go togetherÖ) which features an ensuite bathroom, free toiletries, cable TV etc, so not terrible at £45 per night (it gets far cheaper though!).



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Old 10 Sep 16, 06:07 PM  
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Second stop: Beijing
From Shanghai we will be taking the bullet train up to Beijing which takes just under 5 hours to travel the 820 milesÖ!



We should arrive just after lunch where we will check into our hostel in Beijing Ė Red Lantern House. We are booked in here for 3 nights into a double room with ensuite for £30 a night.




We have a couple of definite plans here. One will be visiting the Great Wall of China (obviously an essential in China!) and the other will be catching up with a friend of Johnís who has been living in Beijing for a number of years now, so hopefully can show us some sites off the beaten track.



Third stop: Zhangjiajie National Forest Park
Our next stop has been a bit of a drama to work out transport wise. Apparently not many non-Chinese visitors go there, no one speaks English, and we will be visiting right at the end of the season so thereís less transport options. But it just looks too beautiful not to go to, so I have had to make it work. This is the place which supposedly inspired the floating mountains in Avatar, and it just looks STUNNING. I canít wait to see this in real life. We will be booking flights for this segment of the journey. I kind of wanted to avoid this as apparently internal flights are really unreliable and they often cancel flights, but there was no real way round itÖ We will just have to cross our fingers that all works out properlyÖ



We are booked into Destination Youth Hostel for three nights at just under £30 a night. This place is apparently right by the park entrance which will be handy as itís recommended you make an early start. We have a double room with a mountain view and even get slippers provided, apparently!



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Old 10 Sep 16, 06:13 PM  
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Fourth stop: Yangshao

From Zhangjiajie we will make our only sleeper train trip, to travel to Guilin and then onto Yangshao. This area is near the Li River and has again just stunning scenery.



I am hoping that this will be a bit more of a relaxed part of the trip. We can do things like go on bamboo boat rides, cycle along the river, and hopefully chill out on our balconyÖ Wait what?! Yes a hostel with a deluxe room, with mountain views and a balcony, all for just over £23 per night. Madness! We are stayed at Yanghshuo Travelling with Hostel (random name!) for three nights.





Fifth stop: Back to Shanghai
We will head back to Guilin and from there catch another high speed train back to Shanghai. This trip is going to be 9 hours long so itís going to be a reading our kindle/gazing out the window type day. Once back in Shanghai we have an overnight stay back at the original hostel, before heading to DISNEY!

After two weeks slumming it in hostels we will be going completely the opposite extreme and staying in Shanghai Disneyland Hotel in a Lake View room.



We have two nights here, so two full days in the park. Really excited about finishing off our trip in Disney. I havenít had much time to read up on Shanghai Disney, so thatís going to be a task for the next few weeks, to see if there are any ADRs we want to make and of course park strategies. Absolute priorities are the Tron ride and Pirates of the Caribbean because they just look amazing, plus the castle show which looks like Dreams (probably my favourite Disney show), but better! I am also overjoyed to see they have their own version of The Boathouse as I absolutely love the Orlando equivalent.



And thatís where it all ends. Our flight back to Heathrow leaves at something like 11.30am so it will be a relatively early start to get to the airport to check in for that. But maybe we will squeeze in some Mickey waffles before we go (I do hope they have Mickey waffles in Shanghai?!)
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Old 10 Sep 16, 09:02 PM  
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Beth_Disney
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Wow, what an amazing holiday. A mix of cities, beautiful scenery and Disney, perfect.

I'm off to price up flights to Shanghai...
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Old 10 Sep 16, 09:18 PM  
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Dissie
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Wow, what a fabulous itinerary. The 'hostels' look amazing. Wish I had your sense of adventure, looks like a brilliant trip. Can't wait for your trippie. Have an amazing time
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Old 12 Sep 16, 11:27 AM  
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itsrachelhere
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Originally Posted by Beth_Disney View Post
Wow, what an amazing holiday. A mix of cities, beautiful scenery and Disney, perfect.

I'm off to price up flights to Shanghai...
Haha, do it! I am really looking forward to it now. Initially it all seemed a bit stressful, but I have got my head round it more now .
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Old 12 Sep 16, 11:28 AM  
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itsrachelhere
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Originally Posted by Dissie View Post
Wow, what a fabulous itinerary. The 'hostels' look amazing. Wish I had your sense of adventure, looks like a brilliant trip. Can't wait for your trippie. Have an amazing time
Thank you . I know the hostels look great. I am sure there's some clever photography going on there to enhance their appearance, but considering what we are paying I think we will do very well.
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Old 17 Sep 16, 02:17 PM  
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wow sounds amazing...we are off to our second trip to china in just over a week. we're chilling this time staying just in Chengdu. have a fab time
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Old 19 Sep 16, 11:32 AM  
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itsrachelhere
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Originally Posted by fishfood View Post
wow sounds amazing...we are off to our second trip to china in just over a week. we're chilling this time staying just in Chengdu. have a fab time
Oh how fantastic! We were hoping to go to Chengdu in our original itinerary, but it quickly because apparent we weren't going to fit it in. We are thinking of another trip back sometime to visit there and Jiuzhaigou
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