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Traveling to China with kids



 
 
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  #1  
Old January 6th, 2005, 04:09 PM
Dennis McCrohan
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Default Traveling to China with kids

Hi-

I'm looking for some net.wisdom on traveling to China with my wife and
two kids (8 and 11). My wife has been looking at some of the
package-tours that you can buy here in the States. From the description
of these, it looks like you would spend most of your time in 5-star
Western hotels (Hyatt, et al), eating western meals, riding around in
tour busses with a bunch of other Americans (and I'm guessing that most
of them would be, ahh, "mature"), and basically running from one
tourist-trap to the next. And that after the first day or so my kids
would be bored and tired of it. And we mostly eat Cambodian, Thai, and
Viet food, not hamburgers, so McDonanld's is not considered a treat in
my family.

My wife is ethnic Chinese, speaks some Mandarian (in addition to her
parent's dialect), and our kids have been taking Mandarian classes for
several years. So I'm thinking that we would be better off with a tour
designed with children in mind (nothing like having other kids to talk
to/play with during long bus/plane rides) or just putting a package
together ourselves and hiring a private guide. I'd still like to stay in
higher class hotels (yes, I know about the Chinese attitude about
bathrooms) but other than that I'd rather eat in local restaraunts
(assuming food safety isn't an issue) and do things that would be of
more interest to the kids (say visiting an amusement park, or a school)
rather than trouping thru the 17th Imperial bedroom of the day.

Anyway, I'd be interested in feedback on all this, particularly from
folks who have taken their own school-age children to China.

Thanks,

-dm


  #2  
Old January 6th, 2005, 05:07 PM
Bob Myers
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Posts: n/a
Default


"Dennis McCrohan" wrote in message
...
Hi-

I'm looking for some net.wisdom on traveling to China with my wife and
two kids (8 and 11).


Are you thinking more specifically than just "China"? Asking
about "traveling to China" is, of course, somewhat like asking
about "traveling to North America" - the question covers too
much territory to be really addressed well in short order. Some
parts of China, and especially Shanghai and Hong Kong, I could
definitely see as a family destination. (I haven't personally been to
Beijing yet, so I can't say much about that.) Other parts, though,
I can't imagine that the kids would find interesting. Also, are
you planning on any other stops in the region before or after
China?

My wife has been looking at some of the
package-tours that you can buy here in the States. From the description
of these, it looks like you would spend most of your time in 5-star
Western hotels (Hyatt, et al), eating western meals, riding around in
tour busses with a bunch of other Americans (and I'm guessing that most
of them would be, ahh, "mature"), and basically running from one
tourist-trap to the next.


And THOSE do sound like you're looking at places like
Shanghai or Hong Kong. Both cities have everything you
mentioned, from the Western hotels and restaurants to the
well-established tourist traps. However, both cities also have
far more to offer the visitor who is willing to ditch the package
tour, or at least to go out on their own in addition to such a
tour. Of the two, just for a place to start, I would have to say
that Hong Kong would probably be of more interest to the
kids than Shanghai, unless the kids are unusually (for their
ages) interested in seeing places or items of cultural or historical
interest.

I should also note that I'm not saying any of this from the perspective
of someone who has actually taken kids to any Asian destination;
my experiences in the Far East are from numerous business trips
there. But I can at least think about these things with regard to
how I think my own daughter (now 13) might look at them.

Bob M.


  #3  
Old January 6th, 2005, 05:46 PM
Spehro Pefhany
external usenet poster
 
Posts: n/a
Default

On Thu, 06 Jan 2005 07:09:01 -0800, the renowned Dennis McCrohan
wrote:

Hi-

I'm looking for some net.wisdom on traveling to China with my wife and
two kids (8 and 11). My wife has been looking at some of the
package-tours that you can buy here in the States. From the description
of these, it looks like you would spend most of your time in 5-star
Western hotels (Hyatt, et al), eating western meals, riding around in
tour busses with a bunch of other Americans (and I'm guessing that most
of them would be, ahh, "mature"), and basically running from one
tourist-trap to the next. And that after the first day or so my kids
would be bored and tired of it. And we mostly eat Cambodian, Thai, and
Viet food, not hamburgers, so McDonanld's is not considered a treat in
my family.

My wife is ethnic Chinese, speaks some Mandarian (in addition to her
parent's dialect), and our kids have been taking Mandarian classes for
several years. So I'm thinking that we would be better off with a tour
designed with children in mind (nothing like having other kids to talk
to/play with during long bus/plane rides) or just putting a package
together ourselves and hiring a private guide. I'd still like to stay in
higher class hotels (yes, I know about the Chinese attitude about
bathrooms) but other than that I'd rather eat in local restaraunts
(assuming food safety isn't an issue) and do things that would be of
more interest to the kids (say visiting an amusement park, or a school)
rather than trouping thru the 17th Imperial bedroom of the day.

Anyway, I'd be interested in feedback on all this, particularly from
folks who have taken their own school-age children to China.

Thanks,

-dm


Talk to me after March break, if that's not too late for you. ;-)


Best regards,
Spehro Pefhany
--
"it's the network..." "The Journey is the reward"
Info for manufacturers: http://www.trexon.com
Embedded software/hardware/analog Info for designers: http://www.speff.com
  #4  
Old January 6th, 2005, 05:46 PM
Spehro Pefhany
external usenet poster
 
Posts: n/a
Default

On Thu, 06 Jan 2005 07:09:01 -0800, the renowned Dennis McCrohan
wrote:

Hi-

I'm looking for some net.wisdom on traveling to China with my wife and
two kids (8 and 11). My wife has been looking at some of the
package-tours that you can buy here in the States. From the description
of these, it looks like you would spend most of your time in 5-star
Western hotels (Hyatt, et al), eating western meals, riding around in
tour busses with a bunch of other Americans (and I'm guessing that most
of them would be, ahh, "mature"), and basically running from one
tourist-trap to the next. And that after the first day or so my kids
would be bored and tired of it. And we mostly eat Cambodian, Thai, and
Viet food, not hamburgers, so McDonanld's is not considered a treat in
my family.

My wife is ethnic Chinese, speaks some Mandarian (in addition to her
parent's dialect), and our kids have been taking Mandarian classes for
several years. So I'm thinking that we would be better off with a tour
designed with children in mind (nothing like having other kids to talk
to/play with during long bus/plane rides) or just putting a package
together ourselves and hiring a private guide. I'd still like to stay in
higher class hotels (yes, I know about the Chinese attitude about
bathrooms) but other than that I'd rather eat in local restaraunts
(assuming food safety isn't an issue) and do things that would be of
more interest to the kids (say visiting an amusement park, or a school)
rather than trouping thru the 17th Imperial bedroom of the day.

Anyway, I'd be interested in feedback on all this, particularly from
folks who have taken their own school-age children to China.

Thanks,

-dm


Talk to me after March break, if that's not too late for you. ;-)


Best regards,
Spehro Pefhany
--
"it's the network..." "The Journey is the reward"
Info for manufacturers: http://www.trexon.com
Embedded software/hardware/analog Info for designers: http://www.speff.com
  #5  
Old January 6th, 2005, 06:14 PM
Dennis McCrohan
external usenet poster
 
Posts: n/a
Default

Bob Myers wrote:

"Dennis McCrohan" wrote in message
...
Hi-

I'm looking for some net.wisdom on traveling to China with my wife and
two kids (8 and 11).


Are you thinking more specifically than just "China"? Asking
about "traveling to China" is, of course, somewhat like asking
about "traveling to North America" - the question covers too
much territory to be really addressed well in short order. Some
parts of China, and especially Shanghai and Hong Kong, I could
definitely see as a family destination. (I haven't personally been to
Beijing yet, so I can't say much about that.) Other parts, though,
I can't imagine that the kids would find interesting. Also, are
you planning on any other stops in the region before or after
China?


We would be just going to China. The "usual" destinations of most of the
pre-packaged tours are Bejing, Xian, Shanghai.

But I think we are still pretty open at this time. As I hinted, I'm less
concerned about seeing particular sites than an overall experience that would
be good for our kids.

-dm


  #6  
Old January 6th, 2005, 06:18 PM
[email protected]
external usenet poster
 
Posts: n/a
Default

HangZhou seems to provide some nice scenic spots for family travels,
though when I was there, there were many couples spending their
honeymoon or at least shooting their wedding photos there.

One of the weirdest experiences I had there is when I about to land
there. The scenery outside seems to be surreal, it looked as if I was
looking at a bunch of toy houses at a toy town.


I would also recommend BeiJing, considering that it's the capital and
there are a lot of interesting spots there.

I don't know though if your kids might like BeiJing, but hey, at least
your kids can later on brag to their friends about them already visited
the Great Wall, TianMen Square, Summer's Palace, and so on. The Ming
Tombs is definetly NOT recommended for kids, it probably will bore your
kids to death, unless they want to brag to their friends that they have
visited the tombs.


I don't know if ShangHai and Hong Kong would be suited for kids. There
might some interesting places there though.

For example, Hong Kong has a nice Science museum and also as Space
museum where kids can play. There's also a nice ocean themed park at
the southern part of Hong Kong island. And of course, Hong Kong the
future home of Asia Disneyland, which I think will open sometime in
2006.

And of course, ShangHai got the only commercially operated MagLev in
the world. Again, something to brag to their friends that they travel
around 400 km/h at a levitated train.


For your wife, if she likes Jade and Silk, I recommend visiting the
Bona Jade store at BeiJing and the silk factories at SuZhou.



Best time to travel in China is at autumn, in other words, wait around
a year.

  #7  
Old January 6th, 2005, 06:18 PM
[email protected]
external usenet poster
 
Posts: n/a
Default

HangZhou seems to provide some nice scenic spots for family travels,
though when I was there, there were many couples spending their
honeymoon or at least shooting their wedding photos there.

One of the weirdest experiences I had there is when I about to land
there. The scenery outside seems to be surreal, it looked as if I was
looking at a bunch of toy houses at a toy town.


I would also recommend BeiJing, considering that it's the capital and
there are a lot of interesting spots there.

I don't know though if your kids might like BeiJing, but hey, at least
your kids can later on brag to their friends about them already visited
the Great Wall, TianMen Square, Summer's Palace, and so on. The Ming
Tombs is definetly NOT recommended for kids, it probably will bore your
kids to death, unless they want to brag to their friends that they have
visited the tombs.


I don't know if ShangHai and Hong Kong would be suited for kids. There
might some interesting places there though.

For example, Hong Kong has a nice Science museum and also as Space
museum where kids can play. There's also a nice ocean themed park at
the southern part of Hong Kong island. And of course, Hong Kong the
future home of Asia Disneyland, which I think will open sometime in
2006.

And of course, ShangHai got the only commercially operated MagLev in
the world. Again, something to brag to their friends that they travel
around 400 km/h at a levitated train.


For your wife, if she likes Jade and Silk, I recommend visiting the
Bona Jade store at BeiJing and the silk factories at SuZhou.



Best time to travel in China is at autumn, in other words, wait around
a year.

  #8  
Old January 6th, 2005, 06:37 PM
Spehro Pefhany
external usenet poster
 
Posts: n/a
Default

On Thu, 06 Jan 2005 09:14:40 -0800, the renowned Dennis McCrohan
wrote:

We would be just going to China. The "usual" destinations of most of the
pre-packaged tours are Bejing, Xian, Shanghai.

But I think we are still pretty open at this time. As I hinted, I'm less
concerned about seeing particular sites than an overall experience that would
be good for our kids.

-dm


I suggest an overnight train trip or two, preferably both in hard
sleeper and soft sleeper class. And some tours aimed at the locals
(for example, in Guilin).


Best regards,
Spehro Pefhany
--
"it's the network..." "The Journey is the reward"
Info for manufacturers: http://www.trexon.com
Embedded software/hardware/analog Info for designers: http://www.speff.com
  #9  
Old January 6th, 2005, 06:37 PM
Spehro Pefhany
external usenet poster
 
Posts: n/a
Default

On Thu, 06 Jan 2005 09:14:40 -0800, the renowned Dennis McCrohan
wrote:

We would be just going to China. The "usual" destinations of most of the
pre-packaged tours are Bejing, Xian, Shanghai.

But I think we are still pretty open at this time. As I hinted, I'm less
concerned about seeing particular sites than an overall experience that would
be good for our kids.

-dm


I suggest an overnight train trip or two, preferably both in hard
sleeper and soft sleeper class. And some tours aimed at the locals
(for example, in Guilin).


Best regards,
Spehro Pefhany
--
"it's the network..." "The Journey is the reward"
Info for manufacturers: http://www.trexon.com
Embedded software/hardware/analog Info for designers: http://www.speff.com
  #10  
Old January 6th, 2005, 06:44 PM
Peter Neville-Hadley
external usenet poster
 
Posts: n/a
Default

Dennis McCrohan wrote:

My wife has been looking at some of the
package-tours that you can buy here in the States. From the description
of these, it looks like you would spend most of your time in 5-star
Western hotels (Hyatt, et al), eating western meals, riding around in
tour busses with a bunch of other Americans (and I'm guessing that most
of them would be, ahh, "mature"), and basically running from one
tourist-trap to the next.


A remarkably accurate description of much of China touring, except that
you omitted mandatory shopping stops galore with massive overcharging
and large kick-backs to the guides, poor food due to restaurants being
chosen by the guides according to how big a kick-back they get which of
course reduces quality to you still further, lots of pressure to tip in
a country where there is no tipping, etc.

My wife is ethnic Chinese, speaks some Mandarian (in addition to her
parent's dialect), and our kids have been taking Mandarian classes for
several years. So I'm thinking that we would be better off with a tour
designed with children in mind (nothing like having other kids to talk
to/play with during long bus/plane rides)


Such tours are rare, although Pacific Delight does one for families. But
you still have the same tourist trap itinerary, problems with
kick-backs, absurd advice to bring US$1 notes, shopping stops, etc.

or just putting a package
together ourselves and hiring a private guide.


Or...

Just going to China and doing it yourself as you go, saving a great deal
of money over tour charges, and having the flexibility to stay as long
as you like in any spot you visit that appeals to the children, as well
as to stay longer in one town if that's working out well, and to alter
your itinerary in general according to what you hear on the way.

Even non-Mandarin speakers can do this without much difficulty. For
Mandarin speakers it's easy. For most of the year in most of China
there's a vast oversupply of hotel accommodation and the best rates
(typically 30% to 50% off published) are available by bargaining at the
counter. Similarly much flying is done on a walk-up basis, and booking a
couple of days ahead through an agent will, with little difficulty other
than asking for a cheaper rate, gain similar discounts on domestic
airfares over those available by booking in advance from overseas.

I'd still like to stay in
higher class hotels (yes, I know about the Chinese attitude about
bathrooms)


If you want to stay in Western brand-name hotels, in most cases you'll
find they now guarantee their best rates are available on their
websites. This fluctuate frequently according to demand, however, and
you're better to book just before leaving (if you much book at all),
unless there's one particular hotel you absolutely must be in. But few
hotels in China are like that. You can also consider Chinese-run
up-market hotels, which deliver vague imitations of high-class
accommodation, for published prices similar to those of the foreign
brand names, but for half the price over the counter.

But there are plenty of perfectly acceptable hotel rooms with perfectly
acceptable bathrooms right down to two-star level, if recently opened. A
new three-star is often as good if not better than an old four-star.
Away from the big cities a night in a perfectly acceptable Chinese
four-star can often be $30-40, if bargained at the counter.

but other than that I'd rather eat in local restaraunts
(assuming food safety isn't an issue)


It's not. Simply avoid the cold dishes at the front of the menu, and
stick to things which are freshly cooked and hot.

and do things that would be of
more interest to the kids (say visiting an amusement park, or a school)
rather than trouping thru the 17th Imperial bedroom of the day.


Again, amusement parks (which can be pretty horrendous, however) are not
on mainstream itineraries, and you'll need to travel independently in
order to visit them. There are other pleasures between the historical
and the manufactured likely to please children, though. Zoos should be
avoided, but the Milu Deer Park just south of Beijing is well-run and
designed to appeal to children, for instance.

Anyway, I'd be interested in feedback on all this, particularly from
folks who have taken their own school-age children to China.


The single biggest issue is one of hygiene. It must be absolutely clear
to children arriving from particularly hygienic conditions that they
must keep their fingers out of their mouths, and wash their hands (or
use wipes) very carefully before eating. Otherwise stomach problems are
guaranteed.

Peter N-H
http://members.shaw.ca/pnhpublic/China.html
http://list3.xianzai.com/mailman/listinfo/oriental-list
 




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