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is it worth having a tour guide for main attractions in beijing

Old Mar 15th, 2011, 02:34 AM
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is it worth having a tour guide for main attractions in beijing

Have five days in Beijing, wanting to visit all the main attractions, is it worthwhile getting a guide to show you through the Forbidden Palace, Tiannamen Square, and the Temple of Heaven. I feel happy about getting there but just wondered if you learn a lot more about the place having a guide show you around.
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Old Mar 15th, 2011, 09:21 AM
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I didn't use a guide for these places and don't believe they are necessary. As has been previously reported on this board, guides will not necessarily know more than you can learn through guidebooks.
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Old Mar 15th, 2011, 01:47 PM
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same as above
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Old Mar 15th, 2011, 02:06 PM
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bb, when will you be in Beijing?
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Old Mar 15th, 2011, 02:49 PM
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Take a good guidebook. Maybe use the audio guide for the Forbidden City.
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Old Mar 17th, 2011, 12:42 PM
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I liked the auto guide at the Forbidden City. For the rest, use a guidebook.

Do be careful, especially in T. Square of people who want to practice their English. It usually leads into a tea shop scam.
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Old Mar 21st, 2011, 10:10 PM
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Iowa
Whats a t-shop scam??
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Old Mar 22nd, 2011, 06:04 AM
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Tea house scam - Young people (mostly females) approach foreign tourist and say they'd love to chat and practice English. After a while, they suggest visiting a tea house or seeing a "tea ceremony". Tourists never ask price list and think tea is cheap. Bill comes and tourist find out they're just consumed thousand of dollars of "high-end" tea. Credit card company often can't help as the tourists did consume the tea and it's hard to prove that was NOT high-end tea leaves.

It's been around for years and can be in any big city. Still, plenty of tourists continue to fall for it:

http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/china...g-warning.html
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Old Mar 22nd, 2011, 01:45 PM
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Yeah, what rkkwan said!
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Old Mar 23rd, 2011, 12:24 PM
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Anywhere in the world one goes, there will always be people who want to separate your money from you whether thru a scam, theft, and worse-robbery. Always be cautious when traveling.
It's best to travel in a group and don't fall for any spiel on the streets of any big cities.
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Old Mar 23rd, 2011, 01:53 PM
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> It's best to travel in a group

I suspect that varies across people, places, and times. I am more attentive to my environment when I am alone than when I am with others. But there are times and places when I would think twice before venturing out alone (for example, in some urban cores of cities in the U.S. that empty out at night).
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Old Mar 23rd, 2011, 02:25 PM
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>>

I wouldn't go so far as to say that it's best to travel in a group. I went to China on my own and absolutely loved it. However, the tea house scam does catch a lot of people and if I hadn't read about it already I probably would have fallen for it. A couple girls my age talked to me and we strolled around the area for probably 30-60 minutes before anything about getting tea came up. I had a lot of fun talking to the two girls. A couple times when approached in a similar manner I talked until the topic of tea came up, but generally I just said no thank you and kept heading for my destination.

Being in a group would likely have prevented me from being approached for this scam, but being alone also led many people to approach me or speak to me where they likely wouldn't have if I was in a group. It's such an easy scam to avoid, why feel like you would need to be in a group?

There are of course places in every country where being alone is simply not safe, but I never felt unsafe on my trip to China.
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Old Mar 23rd, 2011, 02:50 PM
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> I never felt unsafe on my trip to China.

Ditto.
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Old Mar 23rd, 2011, 06:23 PM
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I didn't have any guides nor did I feel any need for them, and traveling alone worked just fine! The only bit where I got a tad frazzled was toting all my luggage and trying to find my train, but that was partly due to the temperatures being, oh, the near side of Hades.

The tea thing wasn't too big of a problem; I did choose to go to one "art exhibit" so that I could then fend off all of the offers to go to more! (I could have anyway, but hey, it's a part of current culture and at least you don't have to buy the "art".)
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Old Mar 30th, 2011, 07:57 PM
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I must be the odd person out here, because I LOVE to talk with guides in foreign countries. I always learn tidbits more than are in the guidebooks and, frankly, if I'd wanted only a Western Experience with a microphone in my ear, I'd have stayed home and watched the Travel Channel. I just spent a week in China with 2 businessmen who have been working in China for over 15 years and we used drivers/guides all the time. My hosts AND I learned a great deal. I'm a dedicated guidebook-aholic and although I read up as much as possible, it's never the same as hearing it from a local citizen. The cost is very reasonable (especially in China) and the rewards are great. You will sidestep the scams and learn so much more than with the state-approved audio-guides. We always invited our drivers/guides to eat with us and the casual conversation was an added bonus. Not to mention finding good food off the beaten path.
A WONderful guide for Beijing/Forbidden City is: David Yang
e-mail: [email protected]
phone: 1522748235

David is a delight - great English, knowledge and sense of humor.
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