Post # 1
I’m organizing a trip to China and I’ve found that tour groups are the best way to travel and sightsee. If you’ve gone this route, which tour group did you use?
Also, did you plan ahead and get innoculations from your doctor?
Post # 3
ooh! ooh! pick me!
I live in China. 🙂
Okay, tour groups totally depend on what kind of experience you want to have. Most tour groups that I’ve been a part of or seen tend to have a quantity-over-quality mentality. Each site that you see will be somewhat rushed, as everyone has to move together. If you’re just interested in hitting up the major sites and getting outta dodge, this is a great way to go. Also, the tour guides typically speak English and can offer a bit of historical/cultural info along the way (and it’s usually even relatively accurate, if generalized/stereotyped). *Make sure your tour groups are for foreigners, as these operate very differently than tour groups for nationals.*
But if you don’t speak any of the language (Cantonese in the far south, Mandarin in most of the rest of the country, with the exclusion of the far West), a tour group will certainly be the simplest route.
When I travel personally, I tend to book local hotels that don’t cater to foreigners (better rates and usually better service), eat at hole-in-the-wall restaurants (the best food in China, IMHO), and travel by train, bus and foot. But I speak a fair amount of Mandarin and have a lot of experience traveling abroad.
I have not had any particular shots, immunizations or innoculations because of living there, although I would recommend making sure you’re up to date on your Hepatitus series and Tetanus shots before traveling to any developing world nation.
http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/18902.htm for more info on China 🙂
and if you haven’t started your visa process yet, or are not living in a city with a Chinese consulate, can I recommend my favorite Visa service to you as well? They’ve been extremely helpful to me over the years and are very easy to work with. http://mychinavisa.com/tourist.html
Post # 4
Where do you live right now? Is there a big Chinatown nearby? Hit one of the travel agencies in Chinatown and you will get amazing travel tour packages to China. Most times when my family goes home they tend to get their airfare from travel agencies. You really can not beat their prices.
The best option though (if there’s anyway you can swing it) is to book a tour package leaving from HK. Depending on where you are going in China most times there will be a layover in HK anyway. So you can book a direct flight to HK then become a part of a tour group from there.
If you don’t speak the language your best bet is to go with a tour group for the translator aspect. If you were to learn any language I would learn Mandarin. Every single region in China has their own dialect but Mandarin is the common language, it’s taught in school so almost any native you encounter will speak Mandarin.
And to be honest they have been teaching English in schools now at a younger level so you should be ok in terms of the language aspect. Just find teenagers and they should have good enough “broken English” to understand you.
And oh definitely get your visas and shots.
Post # 5
Oh shoooot! I didn’t realize we needed visas! Ok, I’ll add those costs to our budget. Thanks for the tip.
As for sightseeing, I’ve been told that most of the day is wasted while standing in line for entry. Apparently if you travel with a tour group, you have the ability to bystep the lines. Is that true? I’m no stranger to standing in line at say, Disneyland. Are the lines at the Chinese tourist spots even worse?
Also, I will go to my local Chinatown and hit up some travel agents. Thanks!
Post # 6
I didn’t want to misinform you so I double checked just to be sure. This is taken from the US Travel Website. Note that this portion is for US Citizens.
ENTRY/EXIT REQUIREMENTS: A valid passport and visa are required to enter and exit China. The visa must have been obtained from a Chinese embassy or consulate before traveling to China. A U.S. citizen arriving without a valid passport and the appropriate Chinese visa will not be permitted to enter China and will be subject to a fine and immediate deportation at the traveler’s expense. Travelers should not rely on Chinese host organizations claiming to be able to arrange their visas upon arrival. Chinese authorities have recently tightened their visa issuance policy, in some cases requiring personal interviews of U.S. citizens. Although a bilateral United States-China agreement provides for issuance of multiple-entry visas with validity of up to one year for tourists and business visitors, Chinese consulates often limit visas to only one entry.
As for lines I think ti depends on what you are planning on doing? If you are going to Forbidden Palace that is a whole day trip all by itself. Not just because of the line but because it’s so HUGE! I would assume Great Wall would be a whole day trip in and of itself as well. But I would think it’s safe to say anything touristy as in any other place lines are going to be long.
By The Way. I can say that getting a Visa INTO the US has been extremely difficult from China and a long process. I would assume though that getting into China would be easier. But just to be safe I would get it ASAP if you know for sure you will be going.