Just returned from China with SmarTours

Old Oct 19th, 2010, 04:19 AM
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Due to the baggage weight restrictions I'm considering shipping things like souvenirs back. Does anybody have any experience shipping things back to the states. Thanks
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Old Oct 20th, 2010, 05:43 AM
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wcopel: re cruisecritic and small groups arranged ahead of time. Yes, that's exactly what we do on cruises (BIG fans of CC!) But this was different. We didn't meet the group (or hear from them) ahead of time. You could break away from the large group and do a separate activity on your own. A couple people went to a different show instead of the Chinese opera. Once a few of us were just too tired to visit a site we were heading to at 4pm, and the bus dropped us at the closest point to the hotel. The guide helped us call taxis from there. You always know where the guide is (to meet at the hotel at night, eg) and he has a cell phone.

riverhawk: Our group was on Korean Air and it was absolutely top-notch. esp the service. It was about 12 hours from LA to Seoul where we had a layover, then on to Shanghai. Some of the group the from east coast joined us in Seoul, and I think their NY flight was the same length, as it went over the pole. Coming home it was 10 hours from Seoul to LA.
Arriving in Shanghai, our guide was waiting for us and stayed with us from then on. He carried an orange flag and you can't miss him. The internal flights were on various Chinese air lines and all were just fine. Even the food was quite acceptable (I had the vegetarian and my husband had the seafood when it was available--the special meals usually, but not always, seem to be a better alternative.)
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Old Oct 20th, 2010, 05:50 AM
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you will find shipping costs to be generally outrageous
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Old Oct 20th, 2010, 07:48 AM
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They do have UPS, FEDEX and the sort but as rhkkmk says rates are about double. Check on their websites.

Shipping large items is another matter altogether, cheaper than you would think especially if you live near a port city.

Aloha!
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Old Oct 20th, 2010, 07:07 PM
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I checked their web site and it is outrageous. I checked Air China's baggage policy and they have a 11.0 lb/5kg wt. limit for carry on. For those who have traveled Air China how strict are they with carry on?
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Old Oct 20th, 2010, 08:37 PM
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In general, Chinese airlines don't weigh one's carryon. I have never seen it done. As long as you can handle it, you're fine.
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Old Oct 21st, 2010, 08:26 AM
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What some people did with purchases is ship them to our last stop, which was Hong Kong, because the internal flights were very restrictive on weights. The flight back to the US had generous allowances. (But we were on Korean Air.) I agree with the carry-ons -they were never weighed and 11.lb is a very skimpy allowance!
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Old Oct 21st, 2010, 08:35 AM
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I am very very packing challenged and with a 44 lb wt. limit I need all the help I can get. So please any of you experienced travelers any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. I am male going Nov. 8th Beijing for 4 days and Shanghai 4 days. Please help.
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Old Oct 21st, 2010, 09:54 AM
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wcopel,

If you will only be there for 8 days, depending on the weather all you really need is three pair of slacks, 4 shirts, jeans?, rain poncho,underwear and toiletries.
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Old Oct 22nd, 2010, 05:50 AM
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Take dark colors that can be mixed and matched and plan to wear the same things for more days than you normally would at home! I'd think one pair of jeans and one pair of slacks might be enough. Things are very casual in China, so there's no need to dress up at all (unless you have business meetings or something, then that's a different story.) Minimize the shoes...two pairs should be plenty. (I'd say one, but if you're walking a lot, it's good to rotate them.) Good luck!
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Old Oct 22nd, 2010, 07:09 PM
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Thank you for your reply JoyceM
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Old Oct 24th, 2010, 11:18 AM
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JoyceM,
We are going on the Smartour Beijing/Shanghai on November 30...there are tours offered, but I am afraid with a group tour we may not get to see all that we want. I was thinking about using Tour-Beijing to do some private tours. My question is about the caliber and scope of the Smartours day tours. Looking at the prices for the day tours Smart ours offers, we can book a private tour with Tour-Beijing for the same or less money.

Any feedback would be greatly appreciated, and thank you for the original post!
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Old Oct 26th, 2010, 04:19 AM
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Thanks guys for all of your feed back. I'd be interested in the feedback concerning the tours. I'm leaving Nov 8th for Beijing and Shanghai.I generally take the battery out of my cell phone when I travel. The costs are outrageous. Any suggestions on calling cards,pay as you go phone ect..Thanks guys.
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Old Oct 26th, 2010, 09:08 AM
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Wcopel
I called my cell provider, Verizon, and although the rates per minute are a bit steep, the rental and shipping to you is free. I don't plan on doing a lot of talking on the phone, just the check in with daughter in college...so I don't worry about her while I am on vacation (well...worry a bit less) I checked on line and there seem to be endless options...have a great trip...and we will want to hear ALL about it
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Old Oct 27th, 2010, 07:52 AM
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>>there are tours offered, but I am afraid with a group tour we may not get to see all that we want. I was thinking about using Tour-Beijing to do some private tours. My question is about the caliber and scope of the Smartours day tours. Looking at the prices for the day tours Smart ours offers, we can book a private tour with Tour-Beijing for the same or less money.

Riverhwawk:
At first I started to write that all our daytime excursions and evening activities were included, and if not, we'd have been tempted to do just what you're thinking of, as you'd probably have a much smaller group, pay less, and maybe customize the tour a bit.
Then I remembered a couple things: the tour of the Hutong area in Beijing was extra, about $50pp. We considered an independent walking tour of the area for a little less money, explored it a bit before the trip. In the end decided to go with the group. It included a pedicab ride through the area and lunch in the home of a local family. Our group of 44 was divided in half and we had separate guides and host families. It was nice not to have to walk! I'd say it was worth the extra money, but depends on what you want to do. As I noted initially, we didn't really get many chances to meet the "real people," and this was SORT OF one of them (in the sense that the locals answered all our curious questions and we saw their homes...I realize it's not the same as one-on-one with a local family. I know, I know.)
There was an evening excursion that included dinner and an acrobat show for $35pp. Most of our group attended it and really enjoyed it. We chose not to as we just needed some down time after a long day.
The last day, in Hong Kong, there was an optional boat ride through the floating fishing village. We were in little boats (about 10 of us in each, operated by a local woman--no commentary, just a half-hour trip.) It was $7.50pp and VERY interesting to see the variety of fishing/residential boats up close. Our whole group went there, but those who opted not to take the boat ride just walked around the area (amid skyscrapers) for the duration.
If you're looking at the excursion list, remind me what's on it and I'll be happy to give a critique! Hope this helps!
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Old Oct 27th, 2010, 05:26 PM
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JoyceM
Thank you so much for all of your information; your insight and advise has been very helpful and reassuring. I think we will go with Tour-Beijing; we can book a tour with a private guide for not much more than with the Smartour group tour. I feel a bit foolish booking tours on a group tour vacation, but I think (and hope!) we can customize our day tours to incorporate what is important to my husband and myself.
Thank you again JoyceM!

I will report my experience with Smartours and with Tour-Beijing when we return December 9th.

wcopel, I hope you will give a report on your trip to Beijing and Shanghai...it will be wonderful to hear all about your trip!
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Old Oct 27th, 2010, 08:10 PM
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Thx again, Patrick
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Old Oct 28th, 2010, 03:41 PM
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I just spoke with our local immunization nurse and I was advised to get the Hepatitis a&b Vaccine and to up date my tetanus shot. She also advised me to get a prescription for Cipro 6 500mg tablets to take along with Imodium if I have diarrhea for more then six hours. Did any body else do this?
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Old Oct 29th, 2010, 05:59 AM
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Yep Cipro= Gold
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Old Oct 29th, 2010, 08:52 AM
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When I first contacted the travel clinic here about three or four months before my trip to Asia, they said to wait until a few weeks before I was to go. So I did. Then when I got there they said I should have both Hep A and Hep B. The only thing is that it was now too late to get more than the first shot of each -- A is two shots, B is three! So I did just get the first shot of each series. But you should start those as early as possible -- since the full series takes something like 6 months!
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