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Questions about our Silk Road tour

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We have finalized our itinerary of our Silk Road tour to China and will take off very soon. I am travelling with my husband and my adult daughter; we will be going to Lanzhou - Xiahe – Tongren - Xining - Zhangye - Jiayuguan - Dunhuang - Turpan - Urumqi in a 14-day private tour with one local tour guide and a driver in each of the city. We will take a high speed train from Xining to Zhangye, also from Dunhuang to Turpan. I still have some questions and hope that the Fodor’s community will give me answers and pointers.

1. How much money to bring? How much should we tip the tour guide and the driver on a daily basis? We will have different local guides and drivers in different cities. Also, our tour will not include any dinners. For the cities in our itinerary, do we need to pay cash? How much in average should we prepare to bring for 14 dinners?

2. When we are in Xiahe, we will visit a Tibetan family. What kind of a gift should we give them? I would prefer to bring something light weight.

3. Since we will take 2 domestic flights inside China, and it is indicated that the hand luggage should not exceed 11 pounds, which is kind of impossible; does anyone know if the airlines actually weigh the hand luggage?

4. We are flying into Beijing and then take a flight to Lanzhou. Should we get a phone SIM card in Beijing or Lanzhou? We are using T-Mobile; does anyone have any experience of using T-Mobile without domestic SIM card in the Silk Road cities? Any possibilities of using the Internet in those cities?

5. Some of our friends of friends had been to the Silk Road more than 12 years ago and had horror stories about toilets (or lack of toilets). My husband said that the situation must have been changed. Is he right or should I and my daughter be worried?

Thank you folks!

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