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Do It Yourself/No taxi Tour in China?

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I am planning an eight-week tour of China for this fall. So I have read several trip reports in this forum, and they almost always mention car-with-driver, taxi, and/or tour guide. I know it is convenient and it ensures everything important is covered, but I am wondering how difficult it would be to tour the country without depending on taxis or tour guides.
Local people have to be able to visit Yellow Mountain, Hanging Temple, etc. without having own cars or tour guides. How difficult would it be if one tries to depend on public transportation? What would be the most difficult part in this case? I have not checked all the places yet, but I think I can find places to stay through Hotel.com. I will have China data service to connect my iPhone to the internet. I do not think I will visit the cities or places not mentioned in this forum. Any suggestions or comments are appreciated.

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