Just back from Beijing and Hong Kong

Aug 11th, 2004, 07:45 AM
  #1  
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Just back from Beijing and Hong Kong

We just came back from Beijing and Hong Kong and it was fabulous. We stayed at the Peninsula Palace in Bejing... only $150 a nite including a great buffet breakfast. Its only a 20 minute walk to Tiennamin Square and the Forbidden City. We hired a driver to take us to the Great Wall and he suggested Mitaynau (sp) which was almost empty mid week. We also asked if he could take us to a small village on the way back and not only did that but found an elderly farmer who invited us into his house!! The drivers name is Robinson Li and he was previously recommended on here and I couldnt be more pleased. We ended up using him for 2 days as well as airport duty and he exceeded our expectations. You can find him on the web. We had no trouble finding our way around however they certainally stare at foreigners.

Hong Kong was a theme park! What a city. The transportation system was amazing and i could have spent many more days in that fascenating city. We broke the budget to stay at the Intercontinental Hotel in Kowloon with a room facing the Harbor (its been a dream of mine). It was pricy but a great location.

Anyway this page was a great resource for us and I'd like to repay the favor. If anyone has any specific questions feel free to email me at [email protected] and ill try to help.

fromMA is offline  
Aug 12th, 2004, 07:54 AM
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I am going to Beijing and Hong Kong next month. In Beijing the first two nights I am staying in a Youth Hostel, after that I will decide when I have looked around a little. But as I am on my own it is often nice to be in a Youth Hostel.

How did you get to Hong Kong? did you go via elsewhere or just fly direct?

Also, how long did you stay in each place?

I am on restricted time, but have always dreamed of going to HK.
travelalone is offline  
Aug 12th, 2004, 08:32 AM
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Glad you enjoyed HK, fromMA. A harbour-view room at the IC is certainly an extravagance: years from now, though, you'll likely remember that room and that view, and you face will have a broad smile every time you see a news clip or movie from Hong Kong that features that unforgettable sight. So while the cost is high, the value is every bit as high. (Well, for me at least, and I'm from MA, too.)
DonTopaz is offline  
May 29th, 2005, 05:38 PM
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Very disappointed in Robinson Li. I booked him over the phone to take us to the Great Wall. We wanted an English speaking guide or driver to explain a few things before we arrived. I called again the morning of at 7 a.m. to confirm. AT 8 a.m. there was a non-English speaking driver at our hotel. I spoke with Li over the phone and he gave me some excuse about having to go to court that day! and that the price was still $100 U.S.! I was outraged as I had decided to pay that price because we wanted an English speaking driver! Every time we asked the driver a question he didn't understand. I CANNOT recommend this man. I did ask the driver how many drivers Robinson Li had. He mentioned 3, therefore if you decide to go with is guy make sure you say you don't want anyone else up front, if he can't oblige forget it! It was very frustrating!
Wanda1 is offline  
May 31st, 2005, 02:57 AM
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If you have a tour package all the transport is arranged for you in advance. There are shopping tours that can be at an extra cost. The tour representatives will arrange any extra tours.
LucyHo is offline  
Jun 8th, 2005, 07:43 AM
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I've been reading that the HK Intercontinental is doing some renovations. Does anyone know about status of this?

I'm still trying to decide where to stay in Hong Kong for October. It's between HK Intercontinental and the Penninsula. Thoughts?

thx.....Matthew
travlermb is offline  
Jun 9th, 2005, 02:11 PM
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We're facing the same question. I e-mailed the Intercontinental to ask about the renovations. I like the idea of being right on the water. We stayed at the Park Hyatt in Sydney and loved the waterfront location. We're going in September, so if you go before then, please post with info!
Marija is online now  
Jun 9th, 2005, 02:21 PM
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I have not stayed at either hotel but most people on this post would go for the Intercontinental because the view is likely to be better. If you were to book the Pen you would need to specify that you want a room on a higher floor with a view. The view from the lower rooms can be obscured. However it is in a very handy position. Cheers!
Peteralan is offline  
Jun 10th, 2005, 12:22 AM
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I personally preferred Peninsula because it is nicer. Even though Intercon is right by the water, you can also get great sea view room at the Peninsula. Also, Peninsula is right by the subway station and closer to shopping. For Intercon, have to walk 10 to 15 minutes to subway or the ferry station.
robertmmm is offline  
Jun 10th, 2005, 10:43 AM
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Glad you liked the Peninsula Palace! I've stayed there several times and probably would not stay anywhere else from now on.

What did you think of the Intercontinental in HK, perhaps in relation to the Pen in terms of value for the money and room/hotel amenities?
Lia is offline  
Jun 12th, 2005, 07:04 AM
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Sure, the Pennisula in HK is nice....if you can afford to spend an arm and a leg, and then some!...to stay there!!
BigJim is offline  
Jun 13th, 2005, 11:35 AM
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Yes, the Pen in HK is soo... much more expensive than the one in Beijing (which is why I haven't stayed there).

Besides, there are so many nice hotels in HK that one does not really have to spend a lot to stay in a decent place.
Lia is offline  
Jun 21st, 2005, 02:27 PM
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CAUTION: I just got back from Beijing and on the advice of all the comments on this forum hired Robinson Li to drive myself and a couple friends around Beijing.

I paid a premium price of 1200 RMB for the day for what I was led to believe would be him driving. This is a premium since you can easily get a driver for 12 hours for 800 to 1,000 RMB. Hertz offered me one for 1,000 RMB with English driver.

Mr. Li did not show up but sent a driver who was nice but spoke no English. I had to pick up my friends at the train station but the driver must of thought I said plane so he took us halfway to the airport before I realized where we were going - this cost us over 1 hour delay.

The driver was constantly on the phone to Mr. Li (who apparently was in a meeting and could not make it!) trying to find places in Beijing that we wanted to visit.

I expressed my displeasure to Mr. Li (http://www.beijingtaxi.com/) and he responded by saying he fired the driver and would offer me a free day trip to compensate. I doubt this is true - but give feel free to give it a try.

Just thought I would warn any potential users of this service to ensure that they get what they pay for!

...Bernie ([email protected])
bernie_warren is offline  
Jun 21st, 2005, 06:26 PM
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CITS set me up with a driver for a day (Great Wall) for 500RMB (~$60) and I believed it was still too much. We (my girlfriend and I) had a guide for around 100 RMB a day. So 600 RMB for one day of driving and English tour. The guide was a college grad student and extremely sincere and did not try to push any unnecessary shopping on us. Her English name is Ally if you can make requests, not sure. This was during the weeklong May holiday. I seriously thought 500 was too much because I didn't bargain at all, I'm sure it was.

Having destinations written down in Chinese (not pinyin!) is a good way to avoid communication mistakes.
jimdrew is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2005, 05:39 AM
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Bernie,

Sorry your experience was less than stellar.

We are going with Mr Li in August and I think you have to be really specific with him as to you want HIM and no one else.

He is having dinner with us the night before we go to the Great Wall with him and I am in constant contact with him and he knows he is OUR driver.

I think the constant contact has really helped. I know Lindsay and fromMA have had really stellar experiences with him, so again, so sorry for your displeasure.
tripgirl is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2005, 07:03 PM
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i guess I feel I should put my 2 cents in.
I agree with tripgirl that the best thing to do (whenever you hire services in a foreign country....especially one that is new to the service economy)is to make sure they know exactly what you expect. We happened to hit it off with Robinson Li and he did more for us than we expected. We knew from the start that he was only a driver and not a tour guide.

It's unfortunate when people dont have the same positive experience, especially when I'm the one who praised his services. I guess the lesson is to determine all the things that are important and non negotiable and make sure all parties are on the same page.
fromMA is offline  
Sep 26th, 2005, 04:51 PM
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Disappointed in Robinson Li. I contracted ahead of time for him to do 2 airport pickups, Great Wall (drop off at Jinshanling, pick up at Simatai) and a full day Summer Palace / Lama Temple / Hutong tour. I never once met him! He sent a non-English speaking driver for everything. On the plus side, the driver he sent was always on-time and drove safely.

I wasn't looking for a tour guide, but I did expect to be able to communicate at least where and when to meet at the beginning and end of tour days. No such luck. Also be aware that the only thing included in those tours is the driver - all admission fees, the hutong rickshaw driver, a tourist trap tea tasting you're dropped off at, etc. are on you.

My advice: if you contract with Robinson Li, make certain you are going to get Robinson Li. Negotiate a discounted rate ahead of time if he sends anyone else.
consul10t is offline  
Sep 26th, 2005, 05:06 PM
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So sorry your experience was less than expected.

See my trip report: Wake up and Smell the service: Tripgirls Fab time in Asia.

I contacted Mr Li. almost a year in advance as soon as I knew we were going to China.

Constant and I mean constant reminders that we were to spend our time with him we exchanged.

I know that might sound over the top and why would anyone have to work so hard to make sure they were taken care of the way they wanted, but with Mr. Li it paid off.

I just chalk it up to having to communicate with him on a constant basis the key to our successs with him.

But please try not to "bad" mouth him too much; there are many of us who have used him and were delighted.

Again, so sorry for your experience.

tripgirl is offline  
Sep 27th, 2005, 05:56 AM
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tripgirl - can you provide a link to your trip report, please? I couldn't find it. thanks
suzanne97 is offline  
Sep 27th, 2005, 03:17 PM
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I'm uncomfortable with terms like "only $150" a nite" (sic) and the idea of paying anything like RMB1200 (about US$150) for a day's drive in Beijing. Labour and most other costs in China are a small fraction of those in the West, and these prices are anything but a bargain - to pick up on BigJim's description, an arm, both legs and maybe a kidney too. US$150 is more than a month's wages for many, many people in China's cities, so some people are doing very nicely indeed out of foreign tourists' ignorance of local cost structures and reluctance to negotiate. As Americans say, "do the math"!

stevedrew is closer to the mark. We took an all-day tour, a decent lunch included, to the Wall and Ming Tombs, and the price was RMB320 (US$39) for the two of us. I should add that because we were staying in a Chinese-owned 3* hotel we got the price charged to the locals - foreigners staying at expensive Western-style hotels paid almost twice as much. OK, it wasn't a personalised tour, and we had a couple of obligatory shopping stops along the way, but overall it was well-organised and had an English-speaking guide - something that would seem to be problematic when hiring overpriced private guides.
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