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In Beijing: Grand Hyatt or Peninsula Palace?

In Beijing: Grand Hyatt or Peninsula Palace?

Mar 12th, 2004, 12:08 PM
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 82
The Grand Hyatt wants 400rmb for a driver to meet you at the airport (with sign) and drive to the hotel. Peter's $10 translates to 80-some rmb.

A guide might be useful for getting you from place to place with less fuss and for translating. There's an obvious cost v. convenience issue here. I wouldn't rely on guides for information.

How do you reserve internal flights in China without using CITS or the like? I'd hate to walk up and find a flight is full.

As a data point, CITS wants 50rmb per person for each of lunch and dinner if you sign up for an individualized tour. I wonder what one gets for that.

For a trip to Beijing, we're planning to stay in the Grand Hyatt - club room with view of the Forbidden City.
richarddd is offline  
Mar 12th, 2004, 03:28 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,778
Picking up on points in the last two posts:

Taxis at the airport are well-organised (except for the tendency of Chinese to try and jump the queue). The rank is straight ahead as you leave departures, and signposted in English. There are two lines of cabs, and a marshall to direct you to them. Tell him the name of your hotel and he'll tell the driver in Chinese (but it's a good idea to print out the Chinese name from the Web site or have a guide book with it in, just in case.) The cabs come in Y1.6 and Y2 per km varieties at the airport (the cheaper cabs are not allowed to wait here), and you can insist on the Y1.6 if you wish. There's a Y10 toll on the expressway which the driver will pay and you add to the fare at the end. Ignore all drivers and touts who approach you in the arrivals lounge and go straight to the rank. Make sure you see the meter go down, which should not happen until you actually move off. If you don't see this happen, then make the driver reset it. There should be a supervision card with the driver's photo clearly displayed on the dashboard. Point meaningfully to it and note the phone number and license number if you encounter any difficulties. It's unlikely you will, but if it's going to happen anywhere in Beijing it will be on the airport run. However, hassles usually occur when trips are shorter and the driver has been waiting a long time to pick up a fare. City centre hotels are fine. After 15km the km rate will jump by 50% (which it shouldn't in this case, but there's no point in arguing about it), but the bill should still be no more than around Y80 or so. Pay what's on the meter, and do not tip.

On flights, you just go to any agent, of which there are hundreds. Any agent except CITS, although better one not inside your hotel or very near it (although some of those are alright, too). Just go a day or two or three before you want to fly, and whatever ever price you are offered, ask for a discount. Rates from agents are usually cheaper than those from the airline itself. Certain limited blocks of seats are always sold at cheaper prices, and booking early increases your chances. If you're not pushed for time, then always try two or three agents. I just took a short flight for which two agents denied it was possible to get any discount, because there was only one airline doing the route. Nevertheless, the third gave me about 20% off.

On food, Y50 in China should get you an astonishingly high quality banquet, but on a tour it certainly won't do anything of the kind. CITS only takes you to restaurants which will pay kick-backs and so much of that cash ends up in its pocket not yours. At modest but clean and friendly restaurants across China two can eat for well under that figure unless deliberately chosing obscure specialiaties which are anyway rarely found pleasing by the Western palate.

Peter N-H
PeterN_H is offline  
Mar 12th, 2004, 06:22 PM
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 82
>>On flights, you just go to any agent, of which there are hundreds.>>

How would someone outside China who wants to have his itinerary set in advance book flights?
richarddd is offline  
Mar 12th, 2004, 08:58 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,778
By using one of the many rip-off Web sites, such as flychina or ctrip, although I hesitate to mention them.

Completely unnecessary, and definitely not recommended, although if you can read and use the Chinese versions of these sites you won't do so badly (but not as well as in person).

Alternative would be to get a recommendation for a Beijing agent with some English speakers, and do it over the phone. I've found Airtans, next to the Jianguo Hotel in Jianguo Men Wai to be reliable and cheap, and there's one woman there with reasonable English. +86 10 6595 2255. You'll be able to ask for, and get, discounts on flights from Beijing, but may not do quite as well with other flights around China as you would booking them locally. Nevertheless you'll probably get the best published fare by booking in advance this way. Whether they'll take a credit card number over the phone, or will just make reservations for you, I couldn't say.

Peter N-H
PeterN_H is offline  
Mar 13th, 2004, 04:00 AM
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 82
A correspondent in Shanghai thought ctrip's air pricing was reasonable. It's usable even if you don't read Chinese.

For the first flight I tried (Shanghai-Huangshan), flychina ($96, about Y800) was almost double ctrip (Y460). CITS and ctrip list the same prices for everything I've checked.

On some routes (mainly routes with competition), ctrip lists discount flights that are about half the cost of undiscounted.
richarddd is offline  
Mar 15th, 2004, 08:11 PM
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 144
I had not realized that Peter N-H wrote the Frommers China guides! Went out to B&N tonight in LA and picked up the Beijing one since we will be spending our six nights in China in Beijing.

Thanks Peter for all the good advice! I am looking forward to going through the book to plan out our trip!
Punkyl44 is offline  

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