ToTour or not to Tour
Replies: 29 - Last Post: Dec 20, 2012 7:38 AM Last Post By: drumbrake
Dec 6, 2012 4:57 AM
15I really appreciate everyone's input and ideas. I think if this was just for my wife and I, I would go with DIY and have a lot of fun doing so. But since these are not only relatives, but my in-laws (who I love dearly) I think the risk of DIY as opposed to reward of having fun with the planning and saving a bit of money probably head me toward using a tour. I will have my fun by directing us away from hotels that are poorly rated and toward activities that I think will work for our group. We are fortunate that most of us are in good physical shape, but my mother and father in-law who are in their 80s are well..in their 80's. Very sharp mentally and in good shape for 80, but probably not up for crowded sub-ways and long walks.
I really do appreciate all of the input and will still put many of the ideas into the trip, but I think I am taking the cowards way out this time.
Dec 6, 2012 5:27 AM
Dec 6, 2012 9:06 AM
17Hell, pure Hell
That was my thought too, when thinking about arranging a 20 day / 6 stop tour for 10 with the age range of the group. In addition to the tour company recommendation above in no. 14, you might also go to some of the other travel forum sites that cater to folks taking tours and do a search in their China section on custom tours. This topic appears to come up frequently and you'll find some other companies to check out. You can find Frommer's China forum here: http://www.frommers.com/community/forum.cfm/asia/china , Fodor's here: http://www.fodors.com/community/asia/china/ , and Tripadvisor: http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowForum-g294211-i642-China.html
Dec 6, 2012 9:59 AM
Dec 6, 2012 10:36 AM
19Having arranged some trips for family or friends when we were between 5 and 10 people, my experience is that things are a lot smoother when we don't always try to be all together all the time. We often split in smaller groups as different people have different interests, or some are tired or prefer to sit by the pool in the afternoon. Some want to get back early, others want to roam the streets at night. Hard to find a unique solution for all, especially with such a wide age range.
Dec 6, 2012 11:24 AM
Dec 6, 2012 12:04 PM
21Well then the choice is yours, and don't come blaming me one way or the other.... :)
If your wife is Asian like mine, and Chinese, let me tell you, we have been married 4 years, and I am still behind in the learning curve, I just don't think like Asians, they are wired very differently than Americans, but who I am to say my wiring is any better, in fact, if you keep the compliments flying their way, it can make things very smooth....
Dec 6, 2012 4:13 PM
22With a group of that size you should be able to get a tailor-made package at a good price. Guide/driver services are much better value than for individuals or couples.
Your planned inclusions are fine for a 3 week trip. Beijing, Chengdu and Guilin/Yangshuo are likely to be the highlights, so skew your days towards those destinations. That said, June is the wet season down south so you'll need some flexibility built into that section.
You'll need to think how to cope with the wide range of ages and, therefore, interests. You will probably want to allow the group to split up for some excursions.
Dec 7, 2012 7:05 AM
Dec 14, 2012 6:20 PM
24My wife and I travel together, I dislike tours. Being forced into tourist spots, hotels, rushed here and there etc. in the name of $$$$.
Tomorrow we head off for a month in South America, (Chile, Peru Argentina), doing some tourist stuff but getting in amongst the people, staying with the locals privately where we can so our dollar goes to them and not the tourism companies.
It has taken me 3 months to slowly put it all together which at times has been frustrating because of the language barrier, but mostly fun.
Tours are great for single women and older people, they may feel safer, although I am 60 but very active.
Just my $0.02 worth ;-)
Dec 18, 2012 7:48 AM
Dec 18, 2012 7:17 PM
26You can get the itinerary from a China Travel Agency based on your requirement.
Compare your price with theirs. And then decide what type of tour you will take.
I am familiar with Guilin. I hope the information below may be helpful to you.
June and July is best time to visit Guilin, it is not too hot .
Hotel in Guilin:
Luxury: Sheraton Hotel is located in the downtown, nor far away form the Elephant Trunk Hill(symbol of Guilin City) and Pedestrian Street, you could some cafe shops , bookstores and special restaurants around.
Comfortable: Guilin Bravo Hotel is located in Two-river and Four-Lake Scenic Area. You can take a walk in the area in the evening, very beautiful and relaxing.
Standard: Hotel Universal Guilin is located near the Liberation Bridge, some 500 meters away from Sheraton Hotel.
Hotel in Yangshuo:
New Century Hotel Yangshuo
Attractions: I recommend Li River Cruise, Elephant Trunk Hill, Reed Flute Cave and Fubo Hill, Yangshuo(countryside cycling, Yulong River bamboo Rafting, Impression Sanjie Lie ) and Longji( Terraced Fields).You can spend most of you time in Yangshuo, very relaxing.
Here is suggested tour plan in Guilin:
Day 1 arrived at Guilin. Stay over in Guilin. You can go to the pedestrian street or stroll around two-river and four-lake scenic areas.
Day 2 Take Li River Cruise. Arrive at Yangshuo, Stay overnight at Yangshuo. In your spare time, you can stroll around the west street, where you can find unique cafés, bars, restaurants and souvenir shops.
Day 3 Cycling in the countryside, on the route, you can see the big banyan trees with 1,400 years and moon hill. In the evening, watch the show Impression Sanjie Liu, in which more than 600 performers will present you with attractive show.
Stay overnight in Yangshuo.
Day 4 Drive back to Guilin City, Visit Elephant Trunk Hill, Reed Flute Cave, Fubo Hill. stay overnight at Guilin .
Day 5 Driver to Longji to admire the Terraced Field. Stay overnight at Guilin.
Day6 Take the flight to Hong Kong after the breakfast.
Let me know if you need further informaiton.
Dec 18, 2012 7:36 PM
27I have always stayed in hostels.......Mostly in dorms however I have tried out some family rooms and double rooms etc and found them to be very reasonable!! You get cheaper drinks in the bar, most dorms have entertainment for kids like pool tables and table tennis tables etc, have western toilets and the good thing about them is that most of the hostels speak a very good standard of English.......Now the best thing about hostels are the amount of tours that they provide!
For instance check in at a well known Chengdu hostel (Cough...Sims Cozy Guesthouse....Cough) and they run tours to the Pandas, Mountains near by, Leshan for the giant buddha, Sichuan Opera (Which you have to do in Chengdu) etc and they are very reasonable.....They also help you book onwards travel by charging a very tiny 20RMB fee for booking train tickets or bus tickets etc.........
Essentially staying in double rooms in hostels are a cheaper alternative to staying in the hotels and you meet other people that are doing the same thing as you and can get feedback on things and places if you don't mind mingling! Most hostels have a pretty decent menu so even if you decide to eat in at the hostel you will be fed well......They are close to supermarkets so you can get your western conveniences and generally I find hostels much more friendly! So have a look on Link Name and then read through some of the reviews to get an idea of what the place is like with photos and ratings as well......
There are some things that are very easy to organise by yourself though, the Terracotta Army for instance is a prime example of people spending money on expensive tours there when in fact if you just go to the train station you only have to pay for the bus (When you get on the bus) and then the entrance fee when you arrive.....You then have the option to purchase a tour guide or an audio guide or even no guide at all if you personally don't feel the need for one and it works out so much cheaper and all for the same experience!
Taxis will be a pain getting around especially as they are so cheap but you would probably have to split up into 2/3 groups with the Chinese speaking people letting the taxi drivers know where it is they want to go and then letting them wait for another taxi etc......Unless of course you manage to flag down a minivan which in Xian is pretty easy! Otherwise for Shanghai and Beijing use the metro!
Pretty much all of the popular tourist sites in Beijing are accessible just by taking the metro (Apart from the great wall) Which as I said before your hostel can arrange a tour there for you!
So relax a little, sometimes the planning stage is the fun part, the stressful part comes when you realise that the chicken you just put in your mouth wasn't chicken at all!!!
Dec 20, 2012 6:54 AM
thank you so much for all the practical advise for Guilin.
Dec 20, 2012 7:38 AM
29I'd advise skipping tours of Guilin and spending all the time in and around Yangshuo and the rice terraces instead. The sights in Guilin are nothing special compared to what you can see elsewhere.
In Yangshuo, the two older people could relax on the terrace of the hotel (I'm thinking Li River Retreat), while the kids hire a bike for a day. All pretty easy for a tour guide to arrange.
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