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I will have about 15-20 days in May to travel with my daughter (who will be 14). We are from Brazil and she has never been abroad, so I thought I would like to bring her to some place with unique sights.

I would like that this trip have a semi-backpacking feel (but avoiding cheap shared hostels). However I would like to keep day travelling to a minimum (train sleepers are fine though). Low budget cities are a big plus. Good sights around a major city, attractive to teens (short attention span, likes different stuff, places and museums, but easily bored).

Delhi seems to have some pretty nice culture and sights without much travel around. The route Beijing -> Xian (with some other destination) seems nice, but I'm not sure how travel friendly it is, maybe just staying in Beijing would be enough for two weeks.

I'm torn between Delhi and Beijing. Japan in my daughter's choice, but I think it might be too expensive and everything seems far away. I think the language barrier will be a plus. She will see the need for a second language (and maybe a third) and train a bit of her school English. I think she wants Japan mostly because she is into anime now, apart from that I don't really see her looking into Japanese culture.

Do you have any input on that?

closed as primarily opinion-based by fkraiem, motoDrizzt, David Richerby, Jan, Giorgio Jun 17 '17 at 14:08

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • Requirements: semi-backpack (backpack, but avoiding cheap shared hostels), no day traveling, good sights around a major city, low budget, attractive to teens (short attention span, likes different stuff, places and museums, but easily bored). I think those rule out Japan... I'm torn between Delhi and Beijing. – Luiz Borges Dec 5 '14 at 22:14
  • Hum... I think the language barrier will be a plus. She will see the need for a second language (and maybe a third) and train a bit of her school english. I think she wants Japan mostly because she is into Anime now, apart from that I don't really see her looking into japanese culture. – Luiz Borges Dec 5 '14 at 22:20
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    Since the objective here is to please her, I would let her choose the destination. ;) – JoErNanO Dec 6 '14 at 0:10
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    Regarding your comments about Japan above: The Greater Tokyo area (Tokyo, Yokohama, Kamakura, etc) offers just about everything you could want to see in Japan on a first visit. You don't have to leave the area (saving you on inter-city travel). Stay in a small hotel on the outskirts of Tokyo and take the JR into the city for cheap - this is more economical than staying downtown. This helps with expenses for Japan. For traditional Japan, go to Kamakura or Asakusa, for modern Japan go to Akihabara, Odaiba, or Shibuya/Harajuku. This will almost certainly hold your daughter's attention span! – Manmaru Dec 8 '14 at 1:40
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    I have been to Japan with my wife and children 2 times. My daughter was 11, 13 and will be 15 next year. She asked my every time when we would go back to Japan. It's the best best to travel with a daughter : safe, modern, easy to get around, a lot of fashion in Tokyo, shops, fascinating, different, great food (you can fallback on Italian food if she doesn't want to eat the delicious Japanese food anymore). – Christ-OFF Dec 17 '14 at 16:15
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Painting with broad brush strokes about some very large and varied countries here, but I'd go for Japan.

India I'd rule out due to the climate alone: March to May is the hot season, and it will be ferociously hot (40+ °C) in the Gangetic plains around Delhi. Of course you could head down south, but then the Taj will be off limits. And then there's the whole extreme poverty/extreme pollution/dodgy hygiene/high likelihood of getting sick angle that would make me advise against anybody travelling to India as their first destination. (Also, if you think the Taj Mahal can trump everything China has to offer, I'm... not really sure what to say.)

Japan, on the other hand, is a rather gentle introduction to Asia: sure, it's completely and totally different from other countries, but it's very safe, very clean, very easy to get around, etc. (Pretty much the polar opposite of India.) Even a teenager will never get bored in a big city like Tokyo. And thanks to 20 years of deflation and the ever-weakening yen, it's probably also a lot cheaper than you might think: you can survive reasonably comfortably on around 5000 yen (~US$40) per person per day, plus maybe a JR Pass (~$250/adult, $126/child) for traveling around. May is also a really nice time to travel, not too hot and not too cold, as long as you can avoid the Golden Week at the beginning. April would be better though if you want to see the cherry blossoms!

China would fall somewhere between the two: easier and safer than India, to be sure, but not so much as Japan, you still need to be careful with what you eat, who you trust, etc. The language barrier in China is also much higher than both Japan and India, especially if you go even slightly off the beaten track; your daughter will not get to practice her English very much, because the average Chinese person speaks no English at all.

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    Well, getting dysentery in India certainly was "memorable", but I suspect even Japan will be sufficiently different/challenging for someone with zero travel experience. – jpatokal Dec 5 '14 at 23:47
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    I downvoted purely because I strongly take offence to the words "extreme poverty/extreme pollution/dodgy hygiene/high likelihood of getting sick" not as a person but to those words – skv Dec 6 '14 at 3:40
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    @sky Which of those do you dispute? That's a fairly factual assessment, give en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poverty_in_India or en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Water_supply_and_sanitation_in_India a read if you doubt it. – jpatokal Dec 6 '14 at 4:40
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    @jpatokal you got my alias wrong so I did not see this until now. Statistics dont tell you the entire truth, especially about poverty where even with PPP things dont reveal the entire truth, read my answer to understand my take on water, moreover with enough bottled water being available to tourists, assuming that a tourist is exposed to the same risks is unfair and extreme pollution, well Delhi itself is becoming less polluted in the recent years, places outside Delhi would be extremely clean in terms of air pollution especially – skv Dec 6 '14 at 5:02
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    @jpatokal, if I included India, is because I do think that it could be the best. I already know beforehand of hygiene concerns, but I also know that india has one of the oldest cultures in the world and to my foreigner eye this culture seems more present than in the other countries, even after the British. I've been to Peru and Colombia in places where there is poverty (maybe not extreme as in downtown Delhi) and hygiene problems and we saw that troublesome reality along with the beauty of the country. As I said above, I think a challenge is important, and facing reality is a challenge. – Luiz Borges Dec 6 '14 at 10:16
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Disclaimer / qualifier: I live in Tokyo

Go to Japan. Any trip from Brazil to Asia is going to cost a lot, you may as well make the most of it.

Japan has no more or less in the tourist / culture / educational areas than China or India. It wins hands-down in the environment category.

  • tap water is drinkable anywhere (probably better than Brazil)
  • public transportation is available everywhere, runs on time, has doors on the trains (sorry India) and is only moderately expensive. The JR pass is excellent value if you take 3 long-haul trips.
  • no air pollution that you will notice (sorry China)
  • hotels are guaranteed to be clean and safe
  • the crime rate (outside of some small and well-known areas) is basically zero. The violent crime rate is zero anywhere you are likely to end up.
  • As a result, your 14yo daughter could wander around Tokyo all day without any concerns from you other than "be back for dinner"

May is a scheduling problem, but if you avoid the first week of May (search for "Golden Week") it will be fine. Hotels are back to normal occupancy (and prices) almost immediately after the holidays end.

  • I looked into the Golden week. My vacation plans will put me in Tokyo (if we choose Japan) around 3 or 4 of May. I understand tourist attractions will be packed those days, but what will I see (as a foreigner) of interest in Tokyo those days? I read somewhere about the carp streamers decorations and so on, is that something that "fills the eye" (I'm not sure if that expression translates wells to English)? – Luiz Borges Dec 6 '14 at 10:52
  • +1 on Paul's suggestion. India while interesting, might be a bit too much; China I would avoid from the language barrier alone, and Japan I would select because whoever that I know that has been there, can't stop talking about how awesome the place is. I personally want to visit it as well. As for attractions, try your hand at the owl cafe (site in japanese) here is a business insider article on the same cafe. – Burhan Khalid Dec 6 '14 at 14:55
  • Haven't you heard of India's rape problem? Tourists are not immune. I would specifically avoid taking any female anywhere near India. I have some Japanese friends and they are hands down the kindest and most respectful people I have ever met. They are great ambassadors of their country. – MikeM Dec 7 '14 at 10:13
  • Actually if you are in Tokyo during Golden Week, that will work to your benefit. Most people leave Tokyo during Golden Week, so if you spend that time (the first week of May) in Tokyo, you may get a Tokyo that is (slightly) less crowded than normal – Manmaru Dec 8 '14 at 1:33
  • @LuizBorges Tokyo is actually pretty good in the middle of Golden Week - everyone leaves for elsewhere. Avoid leaving major cities at the beginning of the week, avoid returning at the end, avoid highway transportation at all costs and you will likely be fine. I was in a 30km traffic jam last night, and that's an average Sunday. – Paul Dec 8 '14 at 2:20
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Visiting India?

The two other answers have been rather unwelcoming to India (one of them now deleted), and not just as an Indian, but as someone completely sold into the fact that travelling in India is extremely interesting and fun I would like to answer with a positive bias, strictly speaking I have no knowledge of the other two destinations so I am not competent to compare.

Delhi as a Hub

Your choice is spot on, without much travel (travel less than 500 kms) you have many destinations which can be a treat for a traveller, commutes by Air-conditioned Trains /Cars would make it even better. Agra, Jaipur, Kashmir Valley (though a bit far and if you read this and is convinced about safety) and Delhi itself would be a great experience. As everything around this place would be different, I guess it would keep your teenager engaged and interested in most things here.

Health

Food

One big warning in India, an Australian friend of mine who has travelled multiple times into India clearly identified that eating non-vegetarian food in India can be unsettling, now inferring that the entire country of India is dodgy because you did not understand this fact would be unfortunate, but at times can happen because of your diet habits. I have seen him safely travel through India eating vegetarian food and have no problems at all and have trouble within a couple of hours of eating non-vegetarian, it might just be him, but this is my personal experience. I mention this also because a few friends of mine who have travelled to Brazil and wanted to keep to a vegetarian menu had trouble and so this could be a factor for you.

Water

I believe as a civilisation used to using water in more ways than in the West, seeing water in some place won't make us feel it's unhygienic in itself. We have wet toilets, and cleaning floors with water is the most common method and so it may strike you as a major problem, and yes there are diseases that spread through water and hence you need to be careful, but if you understand the fact that we use water differently from the cultures which probably did not have sufficient water until about 500 years ago, you may be able to navigate your travel better.

Climate

Regarding climate, strictly speaking I Googled up the weather in your place (the location on your profile) and looks like 38 degree centigrade won't be something you have never seen in your life, so 40 or 42 may not be as unfriendly to you as to an average European.

The Language

The language aspect, I would say you will probably never find another destination where there is such diversity in language, while English and Hindi are widely spoken, if you travel enough within India, you will feel the diversity of the languages spoken and that could be deeply enriching for a teenager. While with English you can easily survive, you won't find the entirety of India to be totally English friendly.

Costs

I can be confident here, India would be the cheapest. Travel and accommodation would be very inexpensive here in India, even if you avoid the bottom 40% as being unsafe/undesirable. Fortunately there are enough review sites on the web and TripAdvisor ratings have actually even become an offline evidence in some hotels, just avoid the dodgy agents who would almost always overcharge a foreigner and book on the web after considering the reviews and you should be fine.

There is an interesting angle about poverty, an IT employee in India can get paid about $5 a day and live a comfortable life in many parts of India. Yes, I did not make a mistake about that number; at $10 a day, families live very comfortably here, the fact that you will pay income tax for anything over $11 a day is evidence to this. This is the reason things are cheap here, so the flip-side to low cost will always be local poverty (or seeming poverty).

Culture

Though there are no marked cultural festivals around the time you visit India, you will certainly see a stark difference in the culture here, some of our people still wear traditional clothes and go about their lives so very differently from the western world, I wouldn't be able to compare it to the other destinations here.

Personally if you ask me though, I would agree with JoErNanO,

Since the objective here is to please her, I would let her choose the destination. ;)

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    $5/day = Rs 300/day = Rs 9000/month (assuming 30 days work/month). Thats a car drivers salary, and you arent "comfortable" for most definitions of the word at that level. – Akash Dec 6 '14 at 8:18
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    Obviously you aren't used to living in parts of India where it is possible to live comfortably with that, the reason I added that income tax piece is for people like you who want a solid comparator, if buying and throwing smartphones away is what is "comfortable" yes it isnt possible, but its always a qualitative remark, care to add your city to your profile? or do you care to look at where I live? I am open to a chat about what 10K a month can do to you in the place where I live, all basic needs met and about 30% left for entertainment is what I meant by comfortable @JoErNanO Thanks – skv Dec 6 '14 at 9:34
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    While my opinion is India can be a challenge for a 14 y/o kid (Japan would be great!), I totally agree with your answer about India. Best thing about India is that you can actually spend any amount a day and your day can vary. $10/day is the "regular" Indian day but there are many options that cater the high-spending people. There are many rich people, even by EU standards in India. So don't imagine a country with all-poor people and unclean streets. The country is so diverse that you can experience almost anything there! – Ayesh K Dec 7 '14 at 3:06
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    Thank you for defending India. The other two answers are highly voted but they put down India too quickly and too harshly. While it is true that you need to be careful anywhere you go, if you go to the safest destination like Japan, where is the challenge in that? Besides, since the asker's daughter is only interested in anime she is not likely to enjoy the trip in Japan as she might get preoccupied with finding anime-related stuff rather than enjoying the Japanese culture which is much bigger than just anime. There will be no such problem in India. – ADTC Dec 7 '14 at 6:09
  • And the "Indian culture" is not just one culture but a huge collection of heavily varied cultures. There is a lot more travel to do in India than just going to one place like Delhi and saying you've been to India. You have to travel far and wide in the huge country to experience at least a few different cultures in India, especially noting how different they can be, before you can reasonably say you have experienced India. I'm from Kerala and as an example, you'll be taken aback by the verocious beef-eating here that goes against the stereotype that Indians revere bulls and cows as holy. ;) – ADTC Dec 7 '14 at 6:16

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