Tour guides needed?

Old May 31st, 2007, 10:30 AM
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Tour guides needed?

Are tour guides needed for travel in China? My husband and I have booked our tickets for July and are now starting to plan our itinerary. We'll be spending 1 week in Beijing and will have 2 additional weeks to travel in China afterwards. Ideally, we'd like to spend some time in more rural areas as we'll be in the city for the first week. Are tour guides essential? If so, any recommendations on who to contact?
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Old May 31st, 2007, 01:13 PM
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No, tour guides are not essential if you are reasonably adventurous. What you need are good guidebooks (with place names in Chinese characters), and a good phrasebook, also with characters rather than pinyin.
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Old Jun 1st, 2007, 03:14 PM
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I don't think you need guides for the most part. If you are both reasonably fit ans as you say you are keen on spending time in the hinterlands you might consider horse trekking from songpan (Sichuan). This was easily one of my highlights in China.
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Old Jun 2nd, 2007, 06:21 PM
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check ekscrunchy`s trip report,you can get more informations about Beijing and Shanghai.
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Old Jun 3rd, 2007, 09:08 AM
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We were there last year on a college sponsored trip. It was wonderful, but I would not have done it without a guide. If you are interested I can give you the name of the person we used. She was awesome, young, very bright, charming and extremely knowledgeable. [email protected]
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Old Jun 11th, 2007, 09:19 AM
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I just returned from 17 days in Beijing/Yangshou/Shanghai (also one overnight in Xian and Tongli).
Due to time contraints I hired a tour guide and car several times.
In all but one case - the guide/car was quite helpful. However, to tour Suzhou and Tongli I had a very poor guide (who was not actually a professional guide and wanted to be paid up front and knew less about the sites than I did)and a driver who spent most of the day getting lost and asking directions!). If you hire a guide I suggest you make sure it it a PROFESSIONAL guide (who does not have to pay to get into the sites) and an experienced driver.
Have a great time!
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Old Jun 11th, 2007, 12:43 PM
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I wouldn't think of taking a trip to a place like China without using the services of a native tour guide.

In my experience, using a guide, even in a place where language is not a problem, allows you to see and do things that you wouldn't know to do on your own, or even with a tour group.

In a place like China, where language problems can still be daunting, I think it's even more important to find a good guide who comes highly recommended. (See ekscrunchy's "Just back from 21 days in..." for some ideas.)

Guides and cars/drivers are very affordable and we'll be using one for several days on our upcoming trip to Beijing in July.
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Old Jun 11th, 2007, 07:44 PM
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Tour guides are not absolutely necessary, but you'll enjoy yourselves a whole lot more and waste a lot less time if you use professional guides and drivers.

We (my wife and I) just got back from 15 days in China and we had a guide and driver at each stop. We had a wonderful trip and were very happy we had an English speaking guide with us every day. We had enough adventures by ourselves in the evenings. Here's the link to my web page about this trip:
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Old Jun 13th, 2007, 09:43 AM
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I'm thinking about hiring guides for some of the cities we'll be visiting after Beijing so that we get the most our of our travel.

Would you recommend hiring guides before your trip starts or through the hotel once you arrive at your destination? I'm currently looking at China Connection and Pacific Delights tours.
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Old Jun 13th, 2007, 10:37 AM
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If you receive good recommendations I would book the guides in advance. For one thing, you will often pay much more going through the hotel.. But if you do not have a recommendation for a particular city you can use the hotel guides as back up. I agree that while you can certainly go on your own, a good guide does add a lot to the experience...
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Old Aug 22nd, 2007, 08:09 PM
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It is not so easy to travel china without a guide, but you can used guide in different city for one or two days, the third day you can do it your own.
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