Although they can be cheaper, Chinese package tours tend to be noisy, crowded, and aimed at getting you to buy junk. In Southwest China's larger cities, hotels are the most convenient places to make transportation arrangements. In travel hot spots such as Yangshuo, Lijiang, and Dali there are plenty of English-speaking travel agents.

China Minority Travel. One of the oldest travel agencies in Southwest China, China Minority Travel offers tours exploring virtually every corner of Southwest China. From Y1800 for 2–4 people.

WildChina Travel. This company specializes in unique itineraries in Yunnan, Guizhou, and Guangxi, and can create journeys tailored to specific interests. Prices vary greatly depending on number of days, destination, and options. About $3,000 per person for a 10-day custom tour with driver is a good estimate. Oriental Place, 9 Dongfang Dong Lu, Room 801, Chaoyang, Beijing, Beijing, 100027. 010/6465–6602; From Y2100.

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