I have received a number of comments from people asking me how on earth do I plan my trip to new a city /village. To be completely honest with you, I just attempted to plan one city and and after planing a visit to one it became very repetitive.
There are 3 things I take into account:
If the place I want to visit fits these 3 criteria then we have a winner.
This is an obvious point. No point going to a place if there’s nothing to do!
Simply typing “Things to do in ____” into google usually works wonders.
I also heavily rely on Tripadvisor and my Lonely Planet book to find things to do. It’s also important to make sure that the infrastructure of the place you are going to is good enough for you to get to and from your accommodation.
Doesn’t matter what type of accommodation you are after. For me it’s hostels and so I’m straight onto the HostelWorld website to see if it has any decent good rate hostels. If you are looking for something more upperclass take a look at Tripadvisor. If I can only find a place that has 70% or below then I may very well not bother visiting the place. I feel that a very important part of the trip is having somewhere to stay that you enjoy coming back to after a long day of sight seeing or doing whatever. What’s also important is that the accommodation is in my price range. A bonus with using Hostelworld is that people can only review a hostel if they’ve booked through the Hostelworld website and payed the deposit, so you know you can trust the reviews.
We have to be able to get to the place and so it’s important it has some sort of infrastructure i.e. bus station, port, train station or airport. For large cities I am usually looking at either an airport or train station as these are the most convenient, however, what I have learnt is that for smaller places the airports are usually a good 1 or 2 hours drive away which is really frustrating and so I find trains are the best method and also the cheapest.
A website I simply cannot live without in china is ChinaTrainGuide. It gives me a full schedule of train times and also crucially displays travel time.
Once I’ve found either a reasonable flight or train I need to work out how to get from the airport or train station. Google has a hand in nearly every single country in the world. China is no exception. Using the public transport feature is really useful to work out how to get from one place to another.
I also find WikiTravel extremely helpful as airport buses are usually not displayed on google maps:
Make sure there is some kind of link. I love it when cities have subways as these are so efficient and get you to your accommodation quickly and hassle free.
Tip: Book a flight that arrives between the public transport opening times. Once in Shanghai I booked a flight that departed at 7am, however, I needed to get there at 5:30am to check in. The subway wasn’t open yet and so had to fork out £25 for a taxi! So very stressfull as I only noticed several hours before.
Warning: You also have to get away from this place. If you want to travel to another city and you have to go all the way back to the last city you came from then it might not be worth all that time wasted. Make sure you can get to your next destination from the city.