I am visiting China for 2 weeks in November/December. I noticed your posts on traveling with Children and thought I would ask questions from an expert.
We are bringing our 1 year old daughter. We are planning on going to Beijing and (guilin or Hangzhou or Shanghai or Xian or…), Guangzhou and Hong Kong.
Do you have any recommendations of how to arrange kid friendly travel from abroad and how to make sure that things are good for our baby?
I thought I would ask because I noticed that you moved to a different hotel in Yangshuo because of Yifan and thought if you have any advice, it would be great to hear it.
certainly understand if you don’t get back to me
With a 2 year old kid, I certainly understand the desire to travel safely with a kid. I am not an expert on this – I just traveled with Yifan several time to Henan, and Guilin, but let me try my my best to list some items.
If budget allows, definitely choose better hotels. Although many people complained that 5-star hotels in China is not consistent with international five star standard, especially those 5-star outside Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou, they are still by far the best hotel to stay, especially when kids travel with you. As you may know from our Yangshuo trip, Wendy and I once booked a youth hotel, but at last minute, switched to the Green Lotus hotel – a five star there.
Although most parents are very flexible from motel, youth hotel, to 5-star hotels, kids are not. I have to admit that many local small hotels are very good, and kid friendly, there is no good way to predict the experience before you go. There are many good online travel forums offering reviews (like ctrip.com in Chinese), but it takes considerable time to read all of the conflicting messages there. To trade time with money, you can simply choose a better hotel.
It is for sure not as interesting as going to a local smaller hotel, but it is the cost we have to pay to take the responsibility of parenting.
BTW, my best experience about hotel is a “luxury room” at 10 RMB (1.5 USD) per night in Wenchang.
On the Road
By air! Definitely by air. There are shorter trips like Shanghai to Hangzhou, or Suzhou, train is preferred, but for most of the trip with a kid as small as 1 year old, choose airplane.
The time on road is a factor, I think the bigger factor is the train station, and bus station. I would try to avoid bringing Yifan to train station – nightmare in many cities at peak time (National holiday in Oct, New Year, and Spring Festival). Staying overnight on train is not fun with kid.
Well. This can be most troublesome, but for a kid like 1 year old, you can always bring some milk, and things he/she like. Eating in five-star hotels, or nice local restaurants should be OK, but be prepared on the environment change – the water, for example, and avoid spicy food – many places in China offer non-spicy food according to local standard, but they ARE really spicy!
Anything else my readers want to add to travel with a 1 year kid in China?