Trouble w/CITS

Old Sep 15th, 2002, 09:56 PM
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Trouble w/CITS

I am trying to book a faily independent tour to china - for myself, mom and six kids -- I thought the peope at CITS (China Highlights) understood what I wanted -- but now I don't thing so.

You cannot it seems book a driver and car -- ONLY - they don't understand that --

You MUST pay for all your entrance fees in advance. I didn't want to be tied to something as maybe we wouldn't get to it because of my mother being older.

They can't seem to give you a guide w/out also giving you MEALS - no matter how many times you say you don't want meals included.

I'm very frustrated, and to top it off the agent I'm dealing with has been very very rude.

Is it really too time consuming to purchase your entrance fees when you get there??

Is it possible to book a driver and car - without a detailed itinerary.

Anyhow just venting
Old Sep 16th, 2002, 05:04 AM
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Welcome to the frustrating world of CITS. On another board recently, we replied to someone who said that going any other way than the "standard government way" was risky and illegal! Ha. So which way does one want it? Of course, if you buy a standard tour package, you get the meals and tickets. That's how they make their money. However, if you go with an "independent" operator, like us, all those problems are resolved. Some operators actually do what people ask for, are flexible, understand American tastes and desires, and can help you with whatever you want. Yes, we "flaunt" the rules, as someone told us recently, but we also please our customers. And we are here in China, so we know what we are saying. We travel based on our own experiences. Let us know if we can help your group.
JC Tours.
Old Sep 16th, 2002, 03:48 PM
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It is certainly possible to by entrance tickets when you arrive, hire guides on site, and arrange a driver on your own. I made an independent trip to China (my husband and I) and made all arrangements myself. You can either hire a driver/guide or you can arrange a taxi for the day (cheaper, but you may have communication problems). It really isnt' hard and it certainly isn't illegal to travel independently in China. I'd suggest doing a search on this forum for the cities you plan to visit. Also purchasing sevearl guide books (Lonely Planet, Fodors) etc. to aid in your planning. Traveling in China was MUCH easier than I expected, people we friendly and we always managed to get where we needed to be, get the information we needed, etc.

Old Sep 16th, 2002, 04:26 PM
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Agree with scigirl - you don't have to pre-book a car and driver through CITS or any other agency prior to your trip, especially if you're trying to keep your plans flexible. Once you're there, it's fairly easy to hire a car and driver either for a specific itinerary or by the day/hour. You can also hire a taxi (or 2 in your case) for the day which can often be cheaper than booking a car and driver thru a tour company or hotel. Depends on whether or not you need an English speaking guide or driver as the taxi drivers generally do not speak English.
Old Sep 16th, 2002, 07:13 PM
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Thanks so much for your reply's. I'm actually not too worried about arriving in Beijing without a driver and guide or hotel ..... in fact that is what I want. I just worry about the train tickets - we are taking alot of sleeper trains and I wanted to pre-buy those plus the cruise. Figured since CITS offeres private and a l carte travel help it would be easy. I have practically every guide book there is on china - and have done extensive internet research - I don't think putting the little pieces together in china would be that hard (guides/cars/hotels/entrance fees).

Now I have learned that there are very few travel agents and none that I know of that will do train ticket sales (advanced).

I'm travelling with my mother (and my six kids) and well --- the ideal of not knowing if we will make it to the places we want to would not sit very well with her - make her too nervous.

Truthfully right now I feel like I'm getting blackmailed almost into buying stuff I don't want to get stuff I do --
Old Sep 16th, 2002, 07:20 PM
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When I was in China (last year) you could only purchase train tickets 4 (?) days in advance. We took a trip and had to buy the outbound and return tickets separately due to this requirement. I don't think anyone (including CITS) can buy the tickets early. If you talk to your hotel concierge they should be able to get the tickets for you (for a fee) or write down what you need and you can go to the trainstation and make the purchase.
Old Sep 16th, 2002, 07:55 PM
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Thats interesting?? Is not what CITS told me -- they said they had booked the train tickets?? I worry that because we are a large group (8) it will be possible a bit difficult to get train tickets that are most coveted - such as the soft sleepers - together.

Will have to see what CITS says about the train tickets -- something to thing about

Thanks Again !!
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