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Comments from independent travellers on results of making travel arrangements in China

Comments from independent travellers on results of making travel arrangements in China

Sep 8th, 2004, 10:13 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 392
Comments from independent travellers on results of making travel arrangements in China

This forum provided helpful information for our first trip to China last year (a small group tour of 10). We are thinking of a second trip on our own, and I would like to hear from travellers who made their own travel arrangements within China with respect to hotels, flights, tours, $savings, and so on. Of interest would be comments by travellers who do not speak the language and who are not seasoned travellers in China.

Did you save by doing this?

michi is offline  
Sep 9th, 2004, 06:04 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 530
Our family of 4 traveled to Beijing, Xian and Shanghai earlier this year. We had never been there before and none of us speak Mandarin or any other Chinese dialect.
I made all the arrangements myself for 2 reasons....first, to control the cost and and second, because we really prefer NOT doing anything with groups. We like to be in control of our own schedule, since it gives us more flexibiity while traveling.

Would I do it again? In a heartbeat! I think we definitely saved money over using a package tour, all the arrangements worked according to plan, we got to do exactly the things we wanted to do, and my family says it's the best trip we ever did.
To plan the trip, I used a combination of recommendations from friends, advice from this message board and MANY hours of research on various websites. I used FF points for the tickets and booked all the hotels on the web.

I strongly believe that the key to planning your own successful trip is DO THE HOMEWORK before you go. That way, even if you get hit with a surprise or two while on the trip, you are prepared to deal with it, with the least amount of hassle.

If you have questions on specific cities, hotels, etc. post them here and you will get great information.
Good luck!
Lindsey is offline  
Sep 13th, 2004, 02:31 PM
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Posts: 392
Interesting. Thanks.

Did you arrange any flights internally (while you were in China?) or approach hotels for what some on this forum say are better prices than web prices? Or did you pretty well arrange everything before you left.

Did you hire any guides or did you do it all yourself? I expect the cities you visited (from my experience) are good cities to do it on your own.

Thanks for your comments.

michi is offline  
Sep 13th, 2004, 03:16 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 2,319
My husband and I (both in our late 60's)spent 4 weeks in China and 10 days on a TransSiberian train trip in May-June. We made NO reservations for either hotels or airlines or train travel before leaving and had absolutely no problems getting our flights or hotels "on the spot". We did make train trip arrangements while we were in HongKong. We speak no foreign languages with the exception of a little Italian learned when we lived in Sicily many years ago. I'm still amazed at how effortless it was to travel in China! Just do your homework.
JaneB is online now  
Sep 13th, 2004, 04:15 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 530
We booked everything in advance, since we were on a tight schedule and did not have any time to spare.
This included internal flights (we used United FF points to get Air China tickets for the internal legs), hotels and guides.
For more details on the guides and hotels we used, see my post titled "Just back from Beijing, Xian and Shangahi." All the details are there.
Lindsey is offline  
Sep 20th, 2004, 03:57 AM
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Posts: 392
Thanks all for comments.
michi is offline  
Sep 21st, 2004, 01:24 AM
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 7
Just spent a week in HK and Beijing on my own. Didn't plan anything ahead, found flights and hotels as I went along. I found it really really easy. The subway was easy in HK and Beijing to save money and time getting around. The only thing I found slightly difficult was finding the right buses in Beijing to take me where I wanted to go at times.

Saved a load of money by using the Travel Service at the Far East Youth Hostel for a minibus pick up and drop off to go see the Great Wall from Jinshanling to Simatai, my hotel quoted 600 RMB the Youth Hostel service was 90 and you didn't have to be staying there. Could have done it even cheaper using public buses etc.
travelalone is offline  
Sep 21st, 2004, 03:35 AM
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 144
Just went to Beijing and Hong Kong on our own. We went the "middle route". We booked our hotels and air in advance but nothing else. We found it nice to have somewhere to go to when we arrived and we wanted to stay at a 5 star hotel- we chose the Pennisula- they guarantee its the lowest price on the web (whether it's true or not I don't know).

Other than that, we did everything ourselves once we arrived. Our hotel constantly tried to arrange a taxi or car for the entire day but we politely declined. We asked them to make some dinner reservations and to right down everywhere we wanted to go. The most expensive taxi we took was less than $2 from one end of the city to the other. Taxi's were our preferred means of transport in the city since it was so cheap and easy if you have written down where you are going. Also took the subway a few times and the bus to the great wall for 90 cents verses the $80 we were quoted for a car by our hotel. No problem in the restaurants we choose (we usually picked from Frommers so we knew they had English or pictures).

Overall, I would definitely do it this way again. We don't like group tours at all- but we did struggle in deciding to do it ourselves since we were nervous about it. However, I used this board to plan and it was great! Also, we saved a significant amount of money from a tour and saw many places a tour would never take you!
Punkyl44 is offline  
Sep 21st, 2004, 04:11 AM
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Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 392
I'm glad to hear that things worked out well for you travellers. Since we have already been on the major tourist route (Beijing, Shanghai, Xian and so on) we are thinking of less travelled routes like Yunnan Province.

Has anyone made reservations in China for travel outside the main tourist destinations but within China?

michi is offline  
Sep 21st, 2004, 12:35 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 33
I hear that you have luggage limitations (weight and size) on the internal flights in China. Did you have any problems with that? I think the limit is 44 lbs per person on checked in luggage
Danie is offline  
Oct 9th, 2004, 05:21 AM
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Posts: 392
We made three flights within china and never had a problem although we were careful and you have to be prepared to pay extra if you're over. it does happen.
michi is offline  
Oct 9th, 2004, 06:21 AM
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 150
I concur with Lindsay's posts. I did extensive research, we travelled without a tour group and I have no misgivings. Considering it was our first Asia trip and were more familliar with Europe, we had no real problems communicating or finding our way...in fact it made the trip that much more memorable. Actually I ended up using Lindsay's recommendations for the Beijing hotel and driver and she was right on target.
fromMA is offline  

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