From stunning natural landscapes to the Great Wall of China to pandas in the wild, China is a magical destination. Part time traveler Anita Sāne shares tips for solo travel in China in this week’s Women Who Travel Solo.
How did you get started traveling?
I enjoyed spending holidays together with me ex-boyfriend in different places of Europe. After separation I decided that I can continue traveling solo and made my first solo trip to Paris in 2005.
Why did you decide to take a solo trip to China?
In general I am not a group traveler type at all. I always think that it is better to travel alone than not to travel at all. When planning my solo trip, I learn a lot about the destination and can pick the places I am really interested in.
Tell us about your experience with solo travel in China.
China is not an easy destination for the solo travel because of language barrier. I have been there three times two weeks each, twice solo and once together with my work colleague. China is huge to describe shortly.
The first trip was Shanghai-Suzhou-Hong Kong-Guilin-Lee river- Yangshou- Longji Rice Terraces, Shanghai. The second with my travel mate Shanghai, including visiting Expo-Kunming-Shangrila-Tiger Leaping gorge-Lijiang-Dali-Kunming-Shanghai, the third trip was Chongqing-Chengdu- Jiuzhaigou-Xian- Mt. Huashan-Beijing. I especially like nature and landscapes of China.
What recommendations do you have for solo travelers in China?
First of all I did very careful travel planning using all the available internet resources in English. In addition to that I looked for the expat communities living in China. You can find their names and emails there and they may answer the questions you cannot find the information about in any other way.
Here are some other tips for traveling solo in China that I followed:
- Prepare the names of the places you are going to in advance in Chinese.
- Use the English speaking staff at the hotel you stay at. Just be careful and do not believe everything, for example, that there is no public transportation available to the place you want to go. With the high population in China it is not true 99% of time and some just want to earn a commission from your taxi.
- For certain destinations, when public transport seems too complicated and no English tours are available, join the Chinese speaking tour group instead. In most cases few people in the group will speak some English, if not just stay with the group and you will still see everything. By the way Chinese speaking tours can be much cheaper than the English ones.
- Use cheap local tours with shopping included. They still cover the sights and shopping is not taking so big part of the time. Pricewise it is a very reasonable option. I used that to see the Great Wall of China from Beijing.
- Use local English speaking guides for the most difficult parts of the trip. You can find the information about them on the internet. When asking them questions about their services you can understand their level of service and make your choice. I did it twice and was satisfied with the result.
What was the best part of your solo trip to China?
Beautiful landscapes in different parts of China. Pandas, of course.
What was the worst part of the trip?
I felt most uneasy when nobody understood English and I had to make my best guess where to go. Still it worked most of the time.
Do you have anything else to add to inspire women solo travelers?
You will learn much about yourself and your destination while traveling solo!
About Anita Sāne
Anita is a career woman from Latvia. She is a part time traveler, and has traveled mostly solo for more than 10 years, becoming an expert in travel planning. She started her travel blog thesanetravel.com recently to share the experiences of her solo travels and money saving tips for travel throughout Europe, Asia and Oceania. She is also in love with travel photography and has documented her travels for many years. It is her belief that one picture is worth more than one thousand words.
Women Who Travel Solo
Women Who Travel Solo is a weekly column that shares the stories of women’s solo travel adventures in hopes of spreading the message that traveling alone is not only safe, but wildly rewarding. Inspire other women to travel solo by sharing your story with Something In Her Ramblings. Email Lauren at firstname.lastname@example.org.