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Advice appreciated re China tour.

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Apr 25th, 2011, 09:34 AM
  #1
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Join Date: Apr 2011
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Advice appreciated re China tour.

Hello,

I would greatly appreciate any advice that can be offered for my forthcoming trip to China in July/August.

I will be travelling with three adults and four children between the ages of 8 and 12. Due to travelling with children, we had thought of booking a private tour, however, the cost that came back from the tour agent was significantly higher than we had ancipated. They had also included what seems like every single tour in Beijing. I was also able to find a much lower rate on the Internet for the same hotel they suggested.

We have therefore decided to do away with the services of the tour guide/travel agent and shall be embarking on the trip ourselves. I wanted opinions on whether this is mad or not. My husband has been to Shanghai about 6 times on business so does have some knowledge of China, though he does not speak Mandorin.

I also wanted advice on the following itininary, this is what we have put together as what we would like to see. Can someone tell me if it would work logistically, as the tour guide was not sure about the Yichang to Guilin sector.

Beijing 3 days ( the tour guide suggested an Acrobatic show at Chaoyang theatre, Peking duck dinner at Dadong restaurant, Forbidden city and Tian'anmen Sq. Drum tower show and visit local family. Houlai lake, Mutianyu Great Wall, Olympic village, tea ceremony, Kung Fu show Temple of Heaven.

Xian 1.5 days
From Xian we would go to Chongqing to board for the Yangze cruise to Yichang.

From Yichang we would then like to go to Guilin and from there to Shanghai for two days.

Any advice also, about travelling in China with kids would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.
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Apr 25th, 2011, 09:49 AM
  #2
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
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If you do a search here you'll find several trip reports from people who have traveled successfully in China on their own, without any Mandarin!

Rather than listening to the tour guide, spend some time reading guidebooks and decide what YOU want to see. For picking sights I like the books with lots of photos like Insight, Fodor's Exploring, Eyewitness, Knopf. For logistics I use Lonely Planet, although you could also look at Odyssey, Moon, Rough Guides.

After reading guidebooks you might reconsider the Yangtze cruise (less exciting since the Three Gorges Dam) and Guilin (very touristy).
thursdaysd is online now  
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Apr 25th, 2011, 09:56 AM
  #3
kja
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
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Thursdaysd is giving you some great advice. I'll add Frommer's guidebook to her list. I found it good for logistics (along with some of the others) and great for foods.
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Apr 25th, 2011, 10:30 AM
  #4
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
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If you still want to use a travel agent, find one who will work with you and listen to what you want.If it's a private tour then you should dicatate the itinerary and tours..Friends liked US based www.explorient.com and used them last fall.
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Apr 25th, 2011, 02:03 PM
  #5
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
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There is no direct flight from Yichang to Guilin. You can connect, but that adds to time and costs (plane tickets are priced and sold as separate legs, except for direct flights with stops).

One way to do your itinerary is to switch around the Yangtze cruise. There is one direct flight Xian to Yichang every Tuesday, Thursday and Sat. Go up stream and then fly from Chongqing to Guilin. Not saying you have to do this, just one option.
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Apr 25th, 2011, 03:47 PM
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The upstream boats are usually cheaper but you have to spend an extra night on the boat. The cruise is pretty dull and since a lot of time is spent onboard the boat (tiny cabins), I think the kids would get bored. We were.
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Apr 26th, 2011, 12:51 AM
  #7
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Join Date: Apr 2011
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Thank you all, I do have the DK witness book which I have been reading. After more reading on the forums and book, we have decided now not to do the cruise and will spend more time in Yanshou where we can bike and raft. We will also add an extra day in Beijing so we can go hiking to the great wall. Any more suggestions are greatly appreciated. Thanks
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Apr 26th, 2011, 05:34 AM
  #8
 
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In Beijing, you might consider seeing the Lama Temple or, if terribly crowded, the Confucian Temple/Imperial Academy very nearby.

If you are going to see a signature acrobatic show in Shanghai, you could drop the Beijing show in favor of it although with four children, you may want to go once in each city.

I don't know what the drum tower show is. Is that bundled with "visit local family" and Houhai Lake? Perhaps it is a pedicab tour in the Back Lakes area with a visit to a hutong home. When you are in that Back Lakes area, the children will likely enjoy going out on the lake in rented pedal boats.

What is the tea ceremony? Is that at Prince Gong's Palace perhaps?

The Summer Palace is also glorious. You can go by taxi, subway or boat. There are more boating opportunities on the lake there.
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