Group tours are always an option, but often feature unwelcome shopping stops, leaving less time to enjoy the sights. Do your research, ask questions, and if the package price seems too high or low, be skeptical. The best source of information is on Fodor's forums (www.fodors.com), where many travelers share the good, the bad, and the ugly, like pressured tipping, frequent shopping stops, and low-quality food.
Beijing Discovery Tours. This American-Chinese company can arrange private tours of Beijing, the surrounding sights, and beyond. The company is extremely reliable and thorough. 800/306–1264; 130/1112–0229; www.beijingdiscoverytours.com.