China travel

Questions on how we spend our money and our time - consumer goods and services, home and vehicle, leisure and recreational activities
Post Reply
Topic Author
1year23
Posts: 43
Joined: Fri Apr 01, 2016 8:31 am

China travel

Post by 1year23 » Thu Apr 11, 2019 7:18 pm

I would like to travel to China this August with my 22 year old son. I know its not the best time to go but I am basing it on my son's schedule before he starts his new job after graduation. I am looking for a group tour that hits the highlights in Beijing and Shanghai on a 9 to 12 day tour. I am not really interested in the Yangtze river cruise. Does anyone have a suggestion for a tour company that both myself (61 year old) and my son would feel comfortable on? I am not looking for a bargain basement price as I would like the trip to be comfortable and well organized. Thanks

stan1
Posts: 7683
Joined: Mon Oct 08, 2007 4:35 pm

Re: China travel

Post by stan1 » Thu Apr 11, 2019 7:21 pm

May I ask if your family ancestry is Chinese? Mine is not but if yours is there are companies that attempt to arrange tours to the village your family came from. That might be meaningful to both of you.

Topic Author
1year23
Posts: 43
Joined: Fri Apr 01, 2016 8:31 am

Re: China travel

Post by 1year23 » Thu Apr 11, 2019 7:25 pm

No, I am not Asian.

quantAndHold
Posts: 3438
Joined: Thu Sep 17, 2015 10:39 pm

Re: China travel

Post by quantAndHold » Thu Apr 11, 2019 7:30 pm

Your best bet might be a private tour. Private tour companies will make all the hotel and transportation arrangements, and find you a local guide in every location. They usually start from some sort of standard itinerary, but if you have specific preferences, they can work with that. In Asia, pricing is competitive with group tours.

Sorry, I don’t have a specific company for China.

vu8
Posts: 361
Joined: Tue May 29, 2018 10:15 am
Location: Columbus, Ohio

Re: China travel

Post by vu8 » Thu Apr 11, 2019 7:37 pm

You can do a Beijing- Xian- Shanghai- Shenzhen- Hong Kong tour, that sounds like a hell lot of fun

User avatar
whodidntante
Posts: 6653
Joined: Thu Jan 21, 2016 11:11 pm
Location: outside the echo chamber

Re: China travel

Post by whodidntante » Thu Apr 11, 2019 7:43 pm

I really enjoyed my visit to China. But I abhor group tours, so I cannot answer your direct question. I did hire a driver but he was in no way a tour guide. This is cheaper than you might think and I found it more enjoyable. There are a few points I recommend knowing.

- I found that I had to pay for a lot of things in cash. I didn't limit myself to expensive restaurants and the hotel though. Those places will take a credit card.
- You need to know how to identify an official taxi.
- I felt very safe, even safer than in my home country.
- You cannot use the American tactic of polite, vague, middle of the road discourse to have an inert conversation when you don't want to discuss something like politics or religion. Just don't engage.
- The firewall blocks more than you might think. Don't assume you can access everything.

shiftleft
Posts: 55
Joined: Thu Mar 02, 2017 6:24 pm

Re: China travel

Post by shiftleft » Thu Apr 11, 2019 7:58 pm

1year23 wrote:
Thu Apr 11, 2019 7:18 pm
Does anyone have a suggestion for a tour company that both myself (61 year old) and my son would feel comfortable on? I am not looking for a bargain basement price as I would like the trip to be comfortable and well organized. Thanks
I took a trip to China a few years ago on ChinaSpree. www.chinaspree.com. It was pretty much all inclusive, with transportation from SFO or JFK. Hotels were great. Prices reasonable. Would highly recommend them.

Iparticipate
Posts: 1
Joined: Thu Apr 11, 2019 8:50 pm

Re: China travel

Post by Iparticipate » Thu Apr 11, 2019 8:56 pm

Have you checked Expedia.com for the tour group? The review there might be helpful. Regarding using cash, may want to have a capitalone debit card to get the local currency from ATMs. It doesn’t charge exchange fee.

random_walker_77
Posts: 830
Joined: Tue May 21, 2013 8:49 pm

Re: China travel

Post by random_walker_77 » Thu Apr 11, 2019 9:28 pm

We went on a self-guided trip about 12 years ago, but we also have a little conversational Mandarin. While a lot can change in a decade, I'd completely believe the comment above about crime being a negligible concern. Especially in Beijing -- it seems like there was at least one uniformed officer on every block. Traffic accidents are probably a much bigger threat, given the way people drive. Usual precautions would still apply -- wearing a money belt to thwart pickpockets couldn't hurt. Note that exchange rates are still favorable and US Dollars go a long way (median income in Beijing is < $20K http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/china/2016 ... 809813.htm)

When booking tours, in particular, check on whether the operator has a reputation for taking you to a lot of stores. Some (most?) of the cheaper tours involve a lot of time spent in overpriced gift shops, and I've heard speculation that the tour operators get kickbacks. Acquaintances have complained about a lot of the sightseeing time being wasted on gift shops.

Get a phone sim card when you get there and a prepaid data plan. Google translate works pretty well for chinese...

Consider a tour that runs through Chengdu (capital of Sichuan province) and visits the panda center there. Maybe not for everyone, but we thought it was great. We actually planned that as the highlight of our trip, and were so glad we didn't go with a tour operator. While we were there, we saw many tour groups quickly breeze through there, but we were able to stay and spend more time watching the Panda Nursery and the Panda "Kindergarten" area (it's even cuter than the name implies). Had we been on a tour, we would've only had a few seconds w/ the nursery and a few moments watching the young pandas, and that would've been really disappointing.

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_ ... chuan.html

If you're at all adventurous, I'd recommend trying to do it without a tour. Domestic flights in china are really inexpensive, and a travel agent can set all of those up for you. Given the relative strength of the dollar, you can probably even hire an interpreter/guide at reasonable cost... but between google translate and the concierge at a decent hotel, you probably wouldn't even need that. Just get the hotel staff to write down the places you want to go, and to hook you up with a taxi/driver

Westwing
Posts: 28
Joined: Sun Nov 18, 2018 9:43 pm

Re: China travel

Post by Westwing » Thu Apr 11, 2019 10:44 pm

There are many tours that can arrange for somewhat individual agendas and arrangements built specifically for what you want. Our family toured with a small adoption group on a return trip for our teenage daughters. Began in Beijing with normal tourist stuff (GW and TS) but gravitated to smaller neighborhoods with artwork, pearl purchases and incredible food choices all guided by a simple driver escort. Favorite part was taking the night train to Xian. Unbelievable city with history, Terra Cotta soldiers, etc. Can't miss that. After some orphanage visits, ended up in Shanghai. Wow, lots to do and see. Walking Nanjing Road is like being in Times Square. An amazing trip in store for you. Have also been to Hong Kong on a previous trip but didn't find it inviting. Might want to pass on it.

User avatar
Sandtrap
Posts: 8460
Joined: Sat Nov 26, 2016 6:32 pm
Location: Hawaii No Ka Oi , N. Arizona

Re: China travel

Post by Sandtrap » Thu Apr 11, 2019 10:59 pm

Wiki Bogleheads Wiki: Everything You Need to Know

darrvao777
Posts: 262
Joined: Wed Sep 10, 2014 1:34 pm

Re: China travel

Post by darrvao777 » Fri Apr 12, 2019 2:32 pm

Is it safe to travel there?

I hear these rumors about Chinese Americans potentially being served with exit bans and terrible traffic infrastructure safety issues?

Exaggerations?

WhiteMaxima
Posts: 2024
Joined: Thu May 19, 2016 5:04 pm

Re: China travel

Post by WhiteMaxima » Fri Apr 12, 2019 2:54 pm

Guided travel group. Don't buy anything if they take you shopping.

Faith20879
Posts: 638
Joined: Fri Mar 02, 2007 10:16 am

Re: China travel

Post by Faith20879 » Fri Apr 12, 2019 3:37 pm

We took a China trip with https://www.intertrips.com/

The tour was mostly inclusive, except a couple of dinners that we had to figure out for ourselves.

We had a different local guide at each city. The one in Beijing was very professional and straight up which we liked a lot. The one in Shanghai was all about "I can get you a cheap iPad (or whatever), just let me know." Everywhere we went, instead of telling the culture/history, he was busy taking down names of who wants what so he could bring in the merchandise the next day.

The most memorable part was about the process of gathering all the paperwork needed for visa application. Hubby and I each had to get a prof-of-employment letter from our Agency and in it, the HR needed to specifically say that we were traveling strictly for leisure. The intertrips.com also was required to provide a sponsorship sort of letter to prove that we were going with said company. The travel agent explained that Chinese do not like individual tourists roaming free or something like that.

I am surprised that some of the posters above actually did self-guided tours. We were told that they would not have granted us visa if we were not going with a "registered" travel company. Things must have changed a lot since we went. This was 2016.

quantAndHold
Posts: 3438
Joined: Thu Sep 17, 2015 10:39 pm

Re: China travel

Post by quantAndHold » Fri Apr 12, 2019 3:40 pm

darrvao777 wrote:
Fri Apr 12, 2019 2:32 pm
Is it safe to travel there?

I hear these rumors about Chinese Americans potentially being served with exit bans and terrible traffic infrastructure safety issues?

Exaggerations?
There have been issues where American citizens who were born in China or have family currently living in China have been held. It isn’t common, but it happens often enough that if I were in that situation, I would have the US embassy on speed dial. People not in that situation should not be affected by this.

Traffic is horrendous, but not less safe than many other places on earth that people travel to. Usually the traffic is so bad that nobody gets going fast enough to cause much harm. But it is the only place I’ve seen someone driving in reverse on a freeway. Multiple times.

There are infrastructure safety issues, but the risk you personally face that a bridge is going to fall down when your bus is driving over it is probably not much worse than you face in the US or Europe.

There are other dangers that are worse in the US. Violent crime rates are much lower in China, for example. All in all, you’re probably about as safe traveling in China as you are traveling in the US.

decapod10
Posts: 403
Joined: Thu Dec 28, 2017 6:46 pm

Re: China travel

Post by decapod10 » Fri Apr 12, 2019 5:59 pm

shiftleft wrote:
Thu Apr 11, 2019 7:58 pm
1year23 wrote:
Thu Apr 11, 2019 7:18 pm
Does anyone have a suggestion for a tour company that both myself (61 year old) and my son would feel comfortable on? I am not looking for a bargain basement price as I would like the trip to be comfortable and well organized. Thanks
I took a trip to China a few years ago on ChinaSpree. www.chinaspree.com. It was pretty much all inclusive, with transportation from SFO or JFK. Hotels were great. Prices reasonable. Would highly recommend them.
+1 for ChinaSpree. We did a tour with them and had a great time. It was a long time ago, but I think we did this tour:

https://www.chinaspree.com/US/USD/tour/ ... ID=2019003

User avatar
whodidntante
Posts: 6653
Joined: Thu Jan 21, 2016 11:11 pm
Location: outside the echo chamber

Re: China travel

Post by whodidntante » Fri Apr 12, 2019 6:25 pm

darrvao777 wrote:
Fri Apr 12, 2019 2:32 pm
Is it safe to travel there?

I hear these rumors about Chinese Americans potentially being served with exit bans and terrible traffic infrastructure safety issues?

Exaggerations?
This kind of thinking will lead you to vacation in Wisconsin. LOL. But yes, it's plenty safe if you don't insist on it being exactly the same as America, which it isn't. You are the foreigner. I highly recommend this youtube channel, made by a foreign person who chose to live in China for several years, and actually married a Chinese citizen.

https://www.youtube.com/user/serpentza

Bacchus01
Posts: 3182
Joined: Mon Dec 24, 2012 9:35 pm

Re: China travel

Post by Bacchus01 » Fri Apr 12, 2019 6:53 pm

darrvao777 wrote:
Fri Apr 12, 2019 2:32 pm
Is it safe to travel there?

I hear these rumors about Chinese Americans potentially being served with exit bans and terrible traffic infrastructure safety issues?

Exaggerations?
I travel to China frequently.

It is not only very safe, I would suggest safer than most major US cities, but Shanghai in particular is really developed and improved. Beijing is still nasty.

darrvao777
Posts: 262
Joined: Wed Sep 10, 2014 1:34 pm

Re: China travel

Post by darrvao777 » Fri Apr 12, 2019 9:12 pm

quantAndHold wrote:
Fri Apr 12, 2019 3:40 pm
darrvao777 wrote:
Fri Apr 12, 2019 2:32 pm
Is it safe to travel there?

I hear these rumors about Chinese Americans potentially being served with exit bans and terrible traffic infrastructure safety issues?

Exaggerations?
There have been issues where American citizens who were born in China or have family currently living in China have been held. It isn’t common, but it happens often enough that if I were in that situation, I would have the US embassy on speed dial. People not in that situation should not be affected by this.

Traffic is horrendous, but not less safe than many other places on earth that people travel to. Usually the traffic is so bad that nobody gets going fast enough to cause much harm. But it is the only place I’ve seen someone driving in reverse on a freeway. Multiple times.

There are infrastructure safety issues, but the risk you personally face that a bridge is going to fall down when your bus is driving over it is probably not much worse than you face in the US or Europe.

There are other dangers that are worse in the US. Violent crime rates are much lower in China, for example. All in all, you’re probably about as safe traveling in China as you are traveling in the US.
My brother and sister in law are facing this issue.

My brother is an American citizen. My sister in law was born in China but is now an American citizen with multiple family members living in China.

My sister in law plans to travel to China shortly with their two children. My brother has to stay and work and is unable to join them. He is freaking out about an exit ban (I keep reassuring them that they are both nobodies and not worth detaining ;) )

In that situation, my brother should call the US Embassy if anything were to happen? My sister in law should be carrying a phone with international data and calling and have the US Embassy on speed dial?

Pacific
Posts: 1321
Joined: Tue Mar 06, 2007 8:19 pm
Location: Lost in the middle of the Pacific

Re: China travel

Post by Pacific » Sat Apr 13, 2019 3:54 am

You might want to look at Tauck, but it is 16 days: https://www.tauck.com/tours/odyssey-in- ... cd=cep2019

We took a Tauck tour to Italy last year and it was outstanding (but still prefer Uniworld river cruises in most countries 'cause I hate packing and unpacking suitcases every couple of nights on the land tours).

quantAndHold
Posts: 3438
Joined: Thu Sep 17, 2015 10:39 pm

Re: China travel

Post by quantAndHold » Sat Apr 13, 2019 1:50 pm

darrvao777 wrote:
Fri Apr 12, 2019 9:12 pm
quantAndHold wrote:
Fri Apr 12, 2019 3:40 pm
darrvao777 wrote:
Fri Apr 12, 2019 2:32 pm
Is it safe to travel there?

I hear these rumors about Chinese Americans potentially being served with exit bans and terrible traffic infrastructure safety issues?

Exaggerations?
There have been issues where American citizens who were born in China or have family currently living in China have been held. It isn’t common, but it happens often enough that if I were in that situation, I would have the US embassy on speed dial. People not in that situation should not be affected by this.

Traffic is horrendous, but not less safe than many other places on earth that people travel to. Usually the traffic is so bad that nobody gets going fast enough to cause much harm. But it is the only place I’ve seen someone driving in reverse on a freeway. Multiple times.

There are infrastructure safety issues, but the risk you personally face that a bridge is going to fall down when your bus is driving over it is probably not much worse than you face in the US or Europe.

There are other dangers that are worse in the US. Violent crime rates are much lower in China, for example. All in all, you’re probably about as safe traveling in China as you are traveling in the US.
My brother and sister in law are facing this issue.

My brother is an American citizen. My sister in law was born in China but is now an American citizen with multiple family members living in China.

My sister in law plans to travel to China shortly with their two children. My brother has to stay and work and is unable to join them. He is freaking out about an exit ban (I keep reassuring them that they are both nobodies and not worth detaining ;) )

In that situation, my brother should call the US Embassy if anything were to happen? My sister in law should be carrying a phone with international data and calling and have the US Embassy on speed dial?
Odds are everyone will be just fine, because you are right. They’re nobodies.

Everyone in the family who is traveling should enroll in the US Embassy’s STEP program. And also carry the phone number of the US Embassy in Beijing.

When I went to China several years ago, I had a government job, and this is what they told me to do.

The only person I’ve known to be detained was a US college professor who, while he was in China, emailed a coworker back in the US about something work related. He did not know that the coworker was a Falun Dafa member. Oops. He got picked up at the airport on the way home. Fortunately, he was only held for a few hours.

Edit to add...in general, if you get in trouble in a foreign country, call the US Embassy there (or have a family member call for you). If you’re in trouble of your own making, they might not be all that helpful, but they want to know where their citizens are. And if it’s something like this that’s overtly political, they will be your best option for getting help.
Last edited by quantAndHold on Sat Apr 13, 2019 1:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.

darrvao777
Posts: 262
Joined: Wed Sep 10, 2014 1:34 pm

Re: China travel

Post by darrvao777 » Sat Apr 13, 2019 1:58 pm

quantAndHold wrote:
Sat Apr 13, 2019 1:50 pm
darrvao777 wrote:
Fri Apr 12, 2019 9:12 pm
quantAndHold wrote:
Fri Apr 12, 2019 3:40 pm
darrvao777 wrote:
Fri Apr 12, 2019 2:32 pm
Is it safe to travel there?

I hear these rumors about Chinese Americans potentially being served with exit bans and terrible traffic infrastructure safety issues?

Exaggerations?
There have been issues where American citizens who were born in China or have family currently living in China have been held. It isn’t common, but it happens often enough that if I were in that situation, I would have the US embassy on speed dial. People not in that situation should not be affected by this.

Traffic is horrendous, but not less safe than many other places on earth that people travel to. Usually the traffic is so bad that nobody gets going fast enough to cause much harm. But it is the only place I’ve seen someone driving in reverse on a freeway. Multiple times.

There are infrastructure safety issues, but the risk you personally face that a bridge is going to fall down when your bus is driving over it is probably not much worse than you face in the US or Europe.

There are other dangers that are worse in the US. Violent crime rates are much lower in China, for example. All in all, you’re probably about as safe traveling in China as you are traveling in the US.
My brother and sister in law are facing this issue.

My brother is an American citizen. My sister in law was born in China but is now an American citizen with multiple family members living in China.

My sister in law plans to travel to China shortly with their two children. My brother has to stay and work and is unable to join them. He is freaking out about an exit ban (I keep reassuring them that they are both nobodies and not worth detaining ;) )

In that situation, my brother should call the US Embassy if anything were to happen? My sister in law should be carrying a phone with international data and calling and have the US Embassy on speed dial?
Odds are everyone will be just fine, because you are right. They’re nobodies.

Everyone in the family who is traveling should enroll in the US Embassy’s STEP program. And also carry the phone number of the US Embassy in Beijing.

When I went to China several years ago, I had a government job, and this is what they told me to do.

The only person I’ve known to be detained was a US college professor who, while he was in China, emailed a coworker back in the US about something work related. He did not know that the coworker was a Falun Dafa member. Oops. He got picked up at the airport on the way home. Fortunately, he was only held for a few hours.
Thanks appreciate the info

User avatar
Sandtrap
Posts: 8460
Joined: Sat Nov 26, 2016 6:32 pm
Location: Hawaii No Ka Oi , N. Arizona

Re: China travel

Post by Sandtrap » Sat Apr 13, 2019 2:01 pm

decapod10 wrote:
Fri Apr 12, 2019 5:59 pm
shiftleft wrote:
Thu Apr 11, 2019 7:58 pm
1year23 wrote:
Thu Apr 11, 2019 7:18 pm
Does anyone have a suggestion for a tour company that both myself (61 year old) and my son would feel comfortable on? I am not looking for a bargain basement price as I would like the trip to be comfortable and well organized. Thanks
I took a trip to China a few years ago on ChinaSpree. www.chinaspree.com. It was pretty much all inclusive, with transportation from SFO or JFK. Hotels were great. Prices reasonable. Would highly recommend them.
+1 for ChinaSpree. We did a tour with them and had a great time. It was a long time ago, but I think we did this tour:

https://www.chinaspree.com/US/USD/tour/ ... ID=2019003
thanks for the info and links
also planning several trips to asia, china, etc.
mahalo
j :happy
Wiki Bogleheads Wiki: Everything You Need to Know

User avatar
Will do good
Posts: 871
Joined: Fri Feb 24, 2012 8:23 pm

Re: China travel

Post by Will do good » Sat Apr 13, 2019 2:01 pm

Try Gate 1 tours.

BuckyBadger
Posts: 1017
Joined: Tue Nov 01, 2011 11:28 am

Re: China travel

Post by BuckyBadger » Sun Apr 14, 2019 1:55 pm

I did a TON of research into our China vacation last year and it ended up being really great. A few things to consider:

A private tour is totally reasonably priced in my opinion. The really REALLY cheap ones are scams that just frog march you through shopping "opportunities," but there are very well priced tours that are decidedly not based around shopping. In fact, we had to explicitly request our guide to let us stop and shop at a few gift shops at the places we visited.

I'm comfortable visiting lots of places where i don't know the language, but not when i don't even understand the letters! We absolutely loved having someone there to help us with any issues we had as well as things like recommending restaurants and menu items and things to do on our off time!

Having a personal driver was AMAZING. Driving in China and even trying to cross the road was one of the most terrifying things I've ever done. Seriously.

We did an 8 night trip with 4 nights in Beijing, two nights in Xian, and 2 more nights in Beijing. We had a private tour guide and driver in both cities. First class tickets on the bullet train to and from Xian. Hotel accommodations (4 star, not 5 star, but certainly as good as anything I've stayed in in the states for 150 per night or so.) Breakfast included. Some lunches included. Some dinners. All entrance fees included. Suggested tipping was so low that i was surprised and doubled it.

The WHOLE trip excluding flights was something like 3200 for two people and it was an absolutely amazing time.

We did a company called China Tours. Chinatours.com

Let me know if you'd like any other information. We loved them!!


Post Reply