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China - is this tour worth my time?

Travel Forums Asia China - is this tour worth my time?

Last Post This thread is marked as being about China
1. Posted by roel_ (Budding Member 5 posts) 11y Star this if you like it!


I'll be travelling north-east China from half august to half september. I want to have (some) things arranged before I get there, especially because I expect major language problems. However all the tour operators that I can find online seem to be very commercial. I got one to propese an itinerary for me that fits within my schedule and location requirements (it has to fit in with some business obligations) but she won't give me a price until I agree on the exact itinerary. This is scaring me off, because my grandmother used to say 'if you have to ask, you can't afford it' and that's usually true Wink

Anyway, she (that is the tour operator, not my grandmother) proposed:
Shanghai - 2 days
Suzshou - 1 day
Zhouzhuang - 3 days
Beijing - 3 days
Chengde - 2 days
Train to Pingyao - 1 day in Pingyao
Train to Xian - 2 days
Fly to Lhasa
Bus to Rikaza
Fly to Chengdu and from there to Guilin
Couple of days in Guilin & surrounding villages, fly back to Shanghai, and home

Now I've read (on this forum and elsewhere) that for example Xian and Guilin are very touristic. I don't want to be driven around and let loose every couple of hours like a wagon of kettle, but I'm finding it hard to assess if this trip will give me any contact with the 'real' China or merely the facade for tourists. Any comments / ideas / links? If there are any Chinese tour operator on this board who can make me an offer for this tour or another one, feel free to contact me privately. Thanks.

2. Posted by yobea (Budding Member 8 posts) 11y Star this if you like it!

hey, i am a chinese guy from Liuzhou Guangxi,a city near Guilin! but not a tour operator!i think i can give your some information about it!I have travelled a lot cities aroud China!So as a native,here is my suggestion:

Shanghai - 3 days
Train or bus to Suzhou - 2 day(i don't think 1 day is enough for even me to touch the unique culture there)
Bus to Zhouzhuang - 1 day(It is a small town near Suzhou )
Bus to Hangzhou- 2 days(a beautiful city you can't miss it)
Fly to Beijing - 3 days
Train to Pingyao - 1 day (in Shangxi province)
Train to Xian - 2 days
Train or Fly to Jiuzhaigou-1 day
Train or Fly to Lhasa-2 days
Fly to Chengdu-1 day
Fly or Train to Guilin-3 days(the villages aroud are pretty good!)
then Fly to guangzhou(Hongkong is also a nice place!) or shanghai,back home!

May these be helpful for you!It will worth your time in China!
When you in Guilin Guangxi,i'd like to show you aroud as a friend for free!

Any questions,just contact me,My icq:-snip-

[ Edit: Sorry, no personal contact details in the forum please. Use MC instead.... ]

3. Posted by beckysh (Budding Member 20 posts) 11y Star this if you like it!

Actually i found that no destination in your itinerary is in north-east China. I think your schedule will be very tight if you want to travel so many places in 1 month. If I were you, I would choose several destinations which I want to visit most, and then really make a very good planning. It's not realistic to gain a superficial understanding of China through cursory observation.

It is no reason that you spend 3 days in Zhouzhuang, which is just a small town and pretty touristic and crowded. It's not worthy that you only visit Lhasa in Tibet. People usually will spend at least 1 week and visit other attractions in Tibet.

If you still want to visit all the destinations below, I think the best route should be: Shanghai-Suzhou (or Hangzhou)- Shanghai- Beijing- Xian-Chengdu-Lhasa-Chengdu-Guilin-Shanghai.

By the way, it will be very hot in Shanghai and Beijing in August, so please be prepared.

Wish you a happy journey in China!

4. Posted by raincity (Budding Member 8 posts) 11y Star this if you like it!

I agree with beckysh, going to Lhasa for only a day or two would be very, very expensive, and probably not worth it. While it is possible to spend a few days in some places and come away with a good overview of the regions you were in, Lhasa (and Tibet in general) doesn't really work like that.

Ask yourself if you value a tour that may be restrictive, and almost always a bit more pricey, or would you rather do it yourself, give yourself more time, but see a few less places. If you have 3-4 days in a city (especially one as big as Beijing or Shanghai) you could easily book a day tour somewhere with the money you save skipping the massive tour.

Lastly, pre-booked tours in China are sometimes hit and miss. Unless they are based/planned in Europe or North America, or maybe out of Hong Kong, you run the risk of being taken advantage of (especially when they want you to commit without knowing the price first!).

5. Posted by roel_ (Budding Member 5 posts) 11y Star this if you like it!

Thanks everybody for the replies. I did indeed find the flyover to Tibet a bit strange since it's so far out of the route, and it's one more reason why I'm suspecting the tour agency is trying to squeeze some more money out of me. I've mailed them and told them to plan an extra day in Chengdu and another one in Shanghai, and to space the rest of the time saved out over the rest of the trip so that we have enough time to eg rent a bike and ride around in the countryside or visit the local markets.

beckysh: well ok maybe 'central/east china' would have been more accurate, if you left out the Tibet part ;)

yobea: I'll contact you, maybe we can meet, that would be great.

Post 6 was removed by a moderator
7. Posted by jza80 (Full Member 54 posts) 11y Star this if you like it!

Xian and Guilin are very touristic. I think two days would be enough for you in Xian if you're doing the touristic approach.
Day 1: Terracotta Warriors, Qin Shihuang's tomb, Li Shan
Day 2: Tour of the city

You won't be able to experience much of China aside from seeing touristy places. Just don't expect too much. The food in Xian is pretty good, hopefully, you'll make your way to the muslim quarter at night for some authentic Xian dishes!

Your trip overall looks like a rush job, it depends on what you want to see or do. Feel free to message me if you have questions!

8. Posted by yobea (Budding Member 8 posts) 11y Star this if you like it!

:):)It is my pleasure!I am looking forward to meeting you!That would be great!Wish you a nice trip!And my email is:-snip-

[ Edit: Sorry, no email addresses please... use MC instead ]