May 13, 2015

Introduction to taking a tour of China

I am generally an independent traveler.  I rarely travel with groups except when they include other professional travel writers.  For my 9-day Triangle Tour of China with Palace Travel, the group consisted of 11 people—5 couples and 1 couple with a teenager.  It was a perfect size.

group with Palace Travel, in front of gate to Forbidden City, Beijing, China
my group in front of gate to Forbidden City in Beijing

     What I really liked about the tour

●the itinerary.  It hit the main UNESCO sites in just 9 days, and ran from a Saturday to a Sunday so that only 1 week of time needed to be taken off work.  It would have been nice to visit more areas and stay longer—there are other tours for that--but the extra time wasn’t an option for me then.
●the tour bus.  I would call it a mini-bus.  It had plenty of room, big windows, and was easy in and out.  I really dislike smaller vans. 
●the hand-holding.  I know I would not like to visit China my first time on my own.  A tour is a must. 
●the exercise.  I expected a tour of China to be exhausting.  So much is crammed into each day that I would fall exhausted into a deep sleep each night. 
●the price.  I think the price for the air, hotels, admissions, guide, bus, and most meals is a real bargain. 

     Advantages to taking an organized tour

●The must-see tourist attractions are seen efficiently and with minimal hassle.  No waiting for buses, no standing in line for tickets, no trying to figure things out in a foreign language.  Someone else does all the grunt work.
●Hotels are all pre-selected and feature comforting amenities.  I adored the buffet breakfasts, which included plenty of fresh fruit as well as dim sum and other local delicacies but also American bacon-and-eggs and made-to-order omelette options. 
●A guide/”local friend” shows you around, teaches you how to bargain, and reminds you to be careful of pickpockets.  The guide fills you in on history and traditions and provides insight into their country.  Ours answered questions that allowed us a glimpse into their daily life.  Tour guides must get relicensed each year and so do keep up on changes and provide current information.

Our hard-working guides made our trip memorable:

tour guide Mark at Forbidden City in Beijing, China
well-spoken and knowledgeable Mark, at Forbidden City
in Beijing

tour guide Henry at The Bund in Shanghai, China
techie and hip Henry, at The Bund in Shanghai

tour guide Jackie at the Terracotta Warriors in Xi'an
stand-up comedian and entertainer Jackie, at the Terracotta Warriors
in Xi’an

I will be blogging about this China trip over the next few months.  Please join me as I recall the adventure.  We will begin in Beijing.

Things to do in Beijing. 

Best souvenirs of China.

Travel articles to inspire and help you plan some spectacular local and foreign getaways. 

images ©2015 Carole Terwilliger Meyers  

1 comment:

  1. Hi Carole,
    Your tour guides do look hip and fun, an important aspect of enjoying the tour, I believe. Teaching you how to bargain seems a great benefit, too.


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