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China (other Asian countries too) and 'factory' outlets

Travel Forums Asia China (other Asian countries too) and 'factory' outlets

1. Posted by SirGaw (Budding Member 31 posts) 4w Star this if you like it!

Hi all,

Two years ago my wife and I did a cheap package tour to parts of China - basically 4 destinations - and the trip lasted about 12 days. I'm not sure I'd like to tackle China as an independent traveler.

About a week before we left I got an e mail that said we could not skip any part of the tour and if we did the, the remaining part of our trip would be cancelled and no refund given. In effect we'd be just dumped where we stood.

The itinerary for that holiday did specify that we would be visiting a number of 'factory outlets' in Beijing and Xi'an. We were spared the agony in Shanghai and around Guilin. All up there were at least 6 outlets we visited and some took longer than visiting some of the highlights - eg Great Wall of China. A rough estimate and I think it was equivalent to a full day just 'wasted'.

We were told by one of the tour guides that it was a requirement by the Chinese Government that foreigners 'had' to visit these outlets. From our bit of 'sniffing around' the prices for the goods in these outlets was about double what we got for the same items elsewhere. The traditional Chinese medicine centre in Beijing was nothing short of a scam and included a 'professor' going around our group and through an interpreter giving a full diagnosis of our various aliments after a consultation lasting about 20 seconds. Needless to say VERY expensive medicines in glittering packaging were offered.

OK a couple of questions please:
1. Is it true that the Chinese Govt (tourism body) demands we visit these outlets.
2. Are there any reputable tour companies operating to/in China that don't include outlets.

Thanks

David

2. Posted by Borisborough (Moderator 1017 posts) 4w Star this if you like it!

Quoting SirGaw

1. Is it true that the Chinese Govt (tourism body) demands we visit these outlets.
2. Are there any reputable tour companies operating to/in China that don't include outlets.

I've been to Beijng twice with a tour group for football competitions and I've also toured around China for a couple of weeks independently.

On the two ocassions with a tour group, we were taken to a tea ceremony where we were offered leaf tea at expensive (for China) prices and to a pottery shop where again we were expected to buy their wares. All these were only about an hour each and reasonably interesting. But I'm very stubborn and didn't spend one yuan in any of these places.

When we went independently, we did use our hostel to arrange a day at the Great Wall at Mutianyu. The lunch was at a restaurant with an adjoining pottery shop where we were encouraged to visit before the meal; it was a ninety second visit.

It seems that any arranged tour trip, either an entire holiday or just a day trip, includes some sort of shopping experience - the tour company most likely gets some sort of commission. My guess is that it's not a government directive, just a way that the tour company can make more money out of tourists. But it really is reasonably easy for a foreign traveller to tour round China independently now and avoid all these distractions.

I hope your 'shopping experiences' didn't mar your trip to China too much.