Private guides & drivers in China

May 15th, 2015, 08:55 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 11,763
Private guides & drivers in China

A friend is planning a trip for 3 to China & I told her I'd seen some great trip reports & recommendations for personal guides & drivers here over the years.

Realizing how totally open-ended & vague this is ... I'm hoping some of you " Old China Hands" might kindly share your tips, please.

The travellers are Australian, active, well travelled seniors & interested in a more individual, slower paced trip than offered by group tours. This is their first trip to mainland China.

Thanks very much anticipation.
Bokhara2 is offline  
May 17th, 2015, 05:34 AM
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My tip would be to do without guides and invest in some guidebooks. You can arrange drivers more cheaply in country, either through a hotel or by negotiating with taxis. There are some excellent trip reports here from people who have traveled independently in China - use the "view by country" option and look for TRs.
thursdaysd is offline  
May 17th, 2015, 08:30 PM
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Your question is very general and hard to answer specifically.
Some people travel on their own, some use guides and some join tours. Nothing wrong with any of these options. It really depends on your travel style. But it is not as hard for an independent traveler as many believe. So getting a guide is not a requirement but may enhance your experience.
JPDeM is offline  
May 18th, 2015, 07:41 AM
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One of the problems with guides in China is that they have been taught a lot of propaganda about Chinese history, so your guidebook will be more accurate than the guide.
Kathie is offline  
May 18th, 2015, 01:40 PM
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Thanks all.

I'm not the traveller in this instance, and the preference for having a guide & driver in various places is to simplify transport and add aspects to my friends' experience that can be gained by travelling with a local.

They may take small group, special interest tours in some locations, but are not interested in a structured tour for the duration of their trip.

Their preference is to travel at their own pace & see the things they have identified from their research - plus others this a guide may suggest as fitting with their areas of interest.

Whilst wishing to travel independently, they don't want the hassle of dealing with luggage etc and feel a driver & car would alleviate this.

We're aware of guides' desire to endorse their government etc & this is the same in a number of countries.

I realise it's an open ended question and will come back with some itinerary details, so that perhaps people who have used guides in those locations might kindly share their experience & recommendations, please.

Thanks agsin
Bokhara2 is offline  
May 18th, 2015, 01:58 PM
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"We're aware of guides' desire to endorse their government etc & this is the same in a number of countries."

More so in China. Also, they will have to be very firm to avoid shopping ops.
thursdaysd is offline  
May 18th, 2015, 02:58 PM
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Don't worry Thursdaysyd - these people are very good at making their wishes known!

They are also smart, worldly & diplomatic enough to sift & handle those conversations with aplomb.
Bokhara2 is offline  
May 18th, 2015, 03:31 PM
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Ah, good. I hope they have a wonderful trip!
Kathie is offline  
May 21st, 2015, 10:25 AM
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 1,160
We are going in June. I have planned a mix of on our own days and days with guides, with the emphasis on the former. I have arranged some transportation in advance, realizing I am paying a premium. I can report back if we have any positive or negative recommendations to give on guides/drivers.
eastave is offline  
May 21st, 2015, 07:45 PM
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Thanks so much eastave. That's exactly what I was hoping for - some recommendations ( or otherwise) from people who had used guides & drivers.

Hope you have a great trip
Bokhara2 is offline  
May 31st, 2015, 07:04 PM
Join Date: Oct 2012
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For part of our trip, we arranged for a car, driver, and guide through silk-road, on a route that I devised. The guide was phenomenal. No guidebook could have possibly provided us the insight we received.

I made my own plane reservations, and we were by ourselves in Beijing and Shanghai. But the route we took (8 nights) would have been arduous on our own and would have taken a good deal more time than we had.

Even then, we were on our own for meals during the 8 night trip, and we ate at places where there was no English spoken or written - though this was by choice. In some cases we actually had to go out of our way to find places with no sign of English.
shelemm is offline  
Jun 2nd, 2015, 09:05 PM
Join Date: Jan 2004
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We were in Bejing last October. I had been their before but my Partner had not, nor had he been to Asia. I knew that he would be more comfortable with a guide so I hired one and planned some independent days as well.
We enjoyed our guide, Maggie, so much, that we asked her to be with us an extra day. She paced our time to our wishes and took us to inexpensive local places to eat, used taxis and public transportation and spoke excellent English.

Her email is [email protected]

Should you contact her, tell her Leslie and Richard frim the U.S. send regards. She may not remember me, but I bet she'll remember Richard!
iamles is offline  
Jun 6th, 2015, 07:51 PM
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As others have said, there can be some decided advantages to visiting China without a car and driver. It really depends on what the travelers most want to see and experience.
kja is offline  

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