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group tour with good itinerary need suggestions

group tour with good itinerary need suggestions

Dec 14th, 2010, 06:21 PM
  #1  
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Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 183
group tour with good itinerary need suggestions

We are in the early planning stages of our October trip to China. Our first time, we are in our 50s, active and well traveled. Time constraints make it best to do a group tour. 10-14 days including travel time. Mid priced tour including airfare.

So many companies with different itineraries make it all very confusing. Beijing, Shanghai, Xian are on everyones list. We are not sure if the Yangtze Cruise is worth the time anymore. Would love to see more countryside and rural areas.

What areas should we make sure are on the itinerary? Please be specific with towns so that I can compare tours. It is overwhelming to a novice China trip planner.

I really appreciate any suggestions and recommendations. Thank you very much.
wlbox is offline  
Dec 14th, 2010, 07:27 PM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 25,420
Please read the many posts here on the problems with group travel in China, and the ease of traveling on your own. Ditto for posts on the Yangtze cruise, and trip reports. Then spend some time with a good guide book or two. Rural areas means the west and south, or very poor areas in the east, not so much around Beijing and Shanghai.
thursdaysd is offline  
Dec 14th, 2010, 08:07 PM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 7,689
My initial thoughts are these:

1. Don’t take a tour. It is not necessary, and going on your own will give you total flexibly to plan where your itin to suite yourself, and not the convenience of the tour agency. From your other posts, I see that you prefer to travel without a tour, and there is no reason to chance your preference for China. The PRC is not difficult to travel in at all, and there really is no need for a tour. If you want tour guides for certain sights or in certain cities, those can be arranged on an ad-hoc basis.

2. I think Beijing should be on every first-time tourist’s itin for China. It has a very large concentration of sights. Other than that, I don’t know that there are any “must do" places. I personally am not a fan of Shanghai, a huge, huge city with pollution and traffic issues. But I live in a pretty big Asian city myself (Hong Kong), so seeing the “new” China is not really high on my list. And you can see the “new” China in virtually every place you go (including Beijing). I personally would put in a vote for including Hong Kong on your itin, as it offers a lot to see and do. (And if you think it does not offer plenty of rural opportunities, you are reading the wrong guidebooks.) I also think Xian should be on a short list, again a lot to see and do esp if you like history. But other than that, I think you could do most anything, including considering places like Hainan Island which offers beaches and interior countryside areas which are almost completely untouristed. Or perhaps spend 2 days or so on one of the new sleek superfast trains to someplace like Tibet. Or the Dunhuang area on the “silk road”. The Xiamen area is relatively untouristed, and offers lots of countryside options and sights like the round houses (tolu) of the Hakkas.

3. I have not been to the Yangtze since they put in the dams, and the pictures I have seen of the results are not encouraging. That being said, a friend of mine went last year and thought it was really beautiful; of course she had nothing to compare it to as she had never been there before, but still I was pleasantly surprised to hear her views. It would be a toss-up to me as to whether to include a cruise on a relatively short trip. Places like Chongqing, where many cruises start, is just an enormous, polluted city (something like 30 million people live there).

4. Bear in mind that October 1-3 are public holidays in the PRC (National Day) and many people will have 3-7 days off during that time. It can be crowded at places like the Forbidden City over that time, esp October 1, 2 and 3. Transportation, esp on trains, can be booked. So if you can, you might want to schedule your trip for a bit later in October. The weather will also be a bit cooler then and should make travel very comfortable. (That being said, October 1 is also a holiday in Hong Kong, and there usually, but not always, are fireworks over the harbour on October 1 which are spectacular. So you might want to arrange to be in Hong Kong for October 1-3 and then travel on to the PRC afterwards, when crowds should be less. Hong Kong only celebrates on October 1 and otherwise does not have the crowd issues which you would find in a place like Beijing on October 1-3.)

5. I would say to keep reading guidebooks until you begin to form some likes and dislikes. You have plenty of time to make choices. As with travel to the US or Europe, the PRC is very large, and it can be hard to choose. The best advice I could give is not to try to do it all (which is my problem with tours). If you don’t think you want to go to any cities, then skip even Beijing. There is no right or wrong as far as I am concerned. The above are my preferences, they may not be yours.
Cicerone is offline  
Dec 14th, 2010, 09:15 PM
  #4  
 
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Travel time takes up 3 days, so even with 14 days, you're talking about 11 full days in China. Definitely not a Yangtze cruise with that limited amount of time. Beijing, Xian, add Guilin, then Shanghai is plenty for that 11 days. Don't do an itinerary that cramp too many places in that amount of time.
rkkwan is offline  
Dec 15th, 2010, 01:43 AM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
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Wow, it should be a tough work that I can't do,but I don't suggest Yangtze Cruise. For rural areas, Yunnan or suzhou is perfect-the water village, the minority village, Lijiang old town...I love all of them. Also the terracotta army in Xian is impressive. I am not interested in modern tours in China. I took a 15 days tour covering Beijing, Xian, Lijiang, Guilin, Longsheng, Yangshuo, Suzhou from a Chinese company last October. The website is beijingtoursguide.com, and I recommend Daniel for help and Herbie to be the guide, they were really kind to us. But rememember one thing, Chinese travel agencies usally arranged the factories tours for the customers because they can get commission if you buy things there and even if you don't buy anything, they can get commission from the factories too; moreover, the price with factory tours would be cheaper than that with none. So I suggest you ask for factory tours to lower the cost but better not buy things in the factories.
couple111 is offline  
Dec 15th, 2010, 03:31 AM
  #6  
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
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Suzhou is rural? I think we have a different definition of rural! It's a big town with 1 or 2 million in the urban area proper (depending on whose stats you believe), and several more million in the surrounding counties. Not that I don't think it's worth visiting, I do, but rural it isn't.
thursdaysd is offline  
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