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Need Recommendations for Beijing Tour Company

Need Recommendations for Beijing Tour Company

Jan 1st, 2009, 09:02 AM
  #1  
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Need Recommendations for Beijing Tour Company

I am traveling solo, I will be arriving in Beijing at the very end of March 2009. I will be there over 3 nights prior to boarding for a 16 day cruise. I am looking for a reputable tour company to package together airport/port transfer and sightseeing in Beijing and possible hotel. I do not have a hotel booked as of yet.

hpeabody is offline  
Jan 1st, 2009, 09:37 AM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
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I can recommend an individual who we used as a private guide in Beijing and others have used. She met us at the airport with a car, took us all over Beijing. She was very reasonable. Here name is Catherine Lu and she can be reached by e-mail at [email protected]
patandhank is online now  
Jan 1st, 2009, 10:44 AM
  #3  
 
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Unfortunately there are no 'reputable' tour companies in Beijing as we understand it, and the private operators sometimes mentioned here (and who may not even be officially licensed) should be treated with great caution. There are a lot of very sweet people about, but usually a large number of pitfalls attached to using their services, which are mostly dedicated to helping themselves and not you, although this may well not be apparently to the casual visitor who then goes on to recommend them in all good faith. In general the only ones capable of making arrangements across multiple jurisdictions (Beijing and Tianjin in this case) are the big national organisations such as CTS and CITS, who are amongst the most rapacious of all.

See this earlier discussion (and many others if you use the search box at the top of the page):

http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...7&tid=35169441

Getting from the port at Tanggu to Beijing is a matter of simply getting a taxi to Tanggu Station and then boarding the fastest train in the world directly to Beijing South station, where again there's a well organised taxi rank to take you wherever you like. If you take the taxi from the port all the way into Tianjin Station you'll find these trains leaving several times an hour. Ticketing is straightforward including do-it-yourself via English-language touch screens. You'll just need to have some Chinese cash (available from ATMs at the station).

As you leave Beijing any ordinary taxi will take you to the airport on the meter, which will cost a great deal less than if you try to use a hired car. Some of the better hotels also run shuttles free for guests, or will organise a hotel car for you for typically five to six times the taxi rate, or more (you can do it in a stretch Rolls-Royce or BMW from The Peninsula, for instance).

Getting around is mostly simply a matter of jumping in a taxi and showing the characters for your destination (written down by hotel staff or found in your guide book) to the driver. Most taxis journeys around town come to US$3 or less, and there's a subway system, much of it brand new, that moves a great deal more quickly given Beijing's sclerotic traffic, and costs only about US$0.30 per journey. Materials you bring with you to read will be far more accurate and reliable than anything told you by guides.

Despite all this you may well simply wish to see if you can arrange for the whole trip to be covered by one company, but be aware that this will be very expensive compared to real local prices, and you should certainly not let that company or individual guide anywhere near your hotel booking or to take you shopping.

If you're planning to stay at a well-known foreign name hotel you'll find the cheapest prices on its own website. For Chinese hotels the best prices are always available over the counter, but for an idea of what you might pay, and what's available see www.ctrip.com, although be warned the hotel descriptions are highly misleading.

Plenty more advice available here.

Peter N-H
PeterN_H is offline  
Jan 1st, 2009, 11:12 AM
  #4  
 
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Remember that your hotel can provide airport transfer services. I can understand that you feel more comfortable with a guide if this is your first time. But you certainly can book the hotels yourself--how much are you looking to spend per night? Do you need/want a luxury hotel?

I went alone at the same time of year as you will be visiting. I had a guide for a couple of days and on the others, I found it easy to get around with taxis. I really liked having the guide more for company and for convenience of a private car than for the actual guiding services.

I speak no Chinese, by the way.

ekscrunchy is offline  
Jan 2nd, 2009, 07:17 AM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 246
I made a trip to Mongolia in 2008, and spent three wonderful days in Beijing with a guide.

We were making the trip to Mongolia through Nomadic Expeditions and they customized a trip extension in Beijing. They took care of everything....Picked us up at the airport, we had our own personal driver, and they took us everywhere. We had a itenerary prior to the trip, but we were able to make changes once we were there - basically anything we decided to do.

Our guide Stephanie was wonderful, she was Chinese, and spoke almost perfect English.

I'm not sure if the tour in Beijing was Nomadic Expeditions or a sister company they had in Beijing. I would highly recommend getting in touch with them.

www.nomadicexpeditions.com

SavTrav is offline  
Jan 2nd, 2009, 08:14 AM
  #6  
 
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Almost all travel in China arranged through foreign travel companies is simply sub-contracted to the same Chinese ground handlers that you can contract directly yourself--again principally two or three vaguely state-owned monoliths who actually have national networks. Very few foreign companies indeed have their own employees in China, and all contracting through a foreign entity means is that it is charged what you would be charged, but adds its own overhead and a profit margin to the price.

There is some merit in going through this route insofar as if you are not given what you booked who will be able to seek redress under the trading laws of your own country, but it comes at a price. It will not improve the accuracy or quality of the information your guides give you, and it will not save you from likely problems with shopping if you choose to involve the guides in that.

Peter N-H
PeterN_H is offline  
Jan 2nd, 2009, 08:33 AM
  #7  
 
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And now the less hasty grammatically correct version:

Almost all travel in China arranged through foreign travel companies is simply sub-contracted to the same Chinese ground handlers that you can contract directly yourself--again principally two or three vaguely state-owned monoliths who actually have national networks. Very few foreign companies indeed have their own employees in China, and those contracting the same Chinese companies you could contract yourself are charged what you would be charged, but then add own overhead and profit margin to the price.

There is some merit in going through this route insofar as if you are not given what you booked you will be able to seek redress under the trading laws of your own country, but this security comes at a price. It will not improve the accuracy or quality of the information your guides give you, and it will not save you from likely problems with shopping if you choose to involve the guides in that.

Peter N-H
PeterN_H is offline  
Jan 2nd, 2009, 11:24 AM
  #8  
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Thank you all for the replies so far. I do appreciate your input very much
hpeabody is offline  
Jan 2nd, 2009, 03:05 PM
  #9  
 
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Just FYI - Catherine is officially licensed. She was required to show her license in order to get into some of the sites we visited and she wore it at all times.
patandhank is online now  
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