How you travel in China is a personal choice dictated by your desire for comfort and convenience as well as your budget and travel experience.
The China Guide caters mainly to those who want custom private tours or student groups. What makes us exceptional is our flexibility, western style service, highly trained carefully a high level of screenedguides, safe drivers, modern vehicles, genuine local cuisine and total lack of factory shopping stops. We also provide pri-tour service.
This is the most common type of tour we at The China Guide handle. You have your own private guide, vehicle and time moves at your pace. There are no hidden costs or factory shopping stops (where we get secret commissions). Our philosophy is to show you China as we would to our own family or friends. We are up front about the tour itinerary and we have no hidden agenda to cheat you. We visit only our favorite parts of the wall and recommend hotels we have scouted and prefer. If you are tired we can shift the schedule around, move something to tomorrow, or add in something extra if you have spare time. Meals are in quality local restaurants where you can discover the flavors of genuine Chinese cuisine. Your guide will order according to your tastes.
While we have many recommended itineraries on our web site most clients customize them to some degree. Our travel agents, a mixture of Chinese and westerners, are experienced at patiently working through all your needs and coming up with the ideal itinerary for you.
Low Cost Group Tours
The China Guide does not handle these types of tours, because they do not show you the view of China we want to give. While this is the most common type of tour due to low cost, guides are usually not good due to the pressure they have to make you shop, there are hidden costs such as tickets, food is poor and drinks or more food cost extra at meals. In general every corner possible is cut. You have daily “factory visits” where you are expected to buy overpriced souvenirs to make up for the low tour cost. The shop and tour company share the profits. Even if you want nothing you will be stuck there for an hour at a time due to the travel agencies contract with the factory. These types of tours are rushed and you often are reaching in your pocket to pay for extras. Since the guide is paid nothing and only makes money from the commissions of your shopping, you will be pressured to buy expensive things and if you don't your guide's unhappy attitude may well affect your tour.
While you can travel independently, you face a lot of time consuming hassles which you avoid if you have a tour with a guide. You will find language to be an issue, whether in a taxi, restaurant or finding your way on the street. If you have plenty of time and are backpacking your way around China on a tight budget, then get a copy of the Lonely Planet guidebook and have a wonderful travel experience. Many of us who work in the office have traveled in this style and we recommend it to those who are up for it. Just be prepared for the logistical "adventures" of getting train tickets, finding good hotels and getting from one place to another in a country where people only speak Chinese.
Independent Travel mixed with Tours
We have people traveling independently schedule tour segments with us. Commonly this includes Sleeping on the Great Wall, show tickets and Xi’an tours.