China Travel Tips

Reflections on Travel in China

Monday, July 20, 2015

Travel Sickness and What To Do!

I have been to China 55 times over 26 years and only got sick one time.  I ate with some Farmers in the countryside but they were so nice and the husband had just retired that day from teaching.  I keep antibiotics with me at all times and was fine in 3 days.  Two things are common in most countries with the change of diet.  One is diarrhea and the other is constipation.  Chinese use MSG in most sauces and this can cause constipation so beware of eating too many foods with sauces in them.  The rule for not getting diarrhea is DO NOT DRINK TAP WATER...even in 5 star hotels.  Drink bottled water and it is available everywhere.  Do not buy bottled water at major sites from sellers.  Do Not eat at booths on the streets.  9 out of 10 times you will be o.k. but it is the 10th one that could land you in the hospital.  Travel adjustments are not only Time Change but also Diet Change which can take a few days too.   Take remedies with you but also ask your guide in an emergency to visit a local pharmacy.  Local remedies are often very good and natural.  For more information on illness and what to do about it contact me at  interlak@eskimo.com    My name is Dave and I am always glad to be able to help you whether you are a customer or not.  Below is my good friend Dr. Ho of Chinese Traditional Medicine Fame.  He is now retired in a small village and almost 90 years old.  He has researched natural medicine for many years with his father and now his son and daughter in law are taking over.  There is a wonderful museum that they built to visit in the village near the city of LiJiang.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Blog on my Web site Also Now

I  have been writing my blog now for 5 years and have now integrated it into my web site at
www.interlakechinatours.com   On the pull down menus you can see my blog there and has all my blogs from the past 5 years.  I go back and update the information on a regular basis as China changes from year to year.  For more specific information please feel free to contact me directly at my email address:   email:   interlak@eskimo.com   My name is Dave or better known as ChinaDave.  I will not press you to book a tour with me or put you on any spam list.  As I am now in my twilight years of life I enjoy sharing my 26 years experience in China during my month long 55 trips.  I do not take people on group tours to China but work with reliable partners in China.  I rather spend my time researching hotels, new sights and keeping informed on all the changes going on in China.  I try to do everything at least once so I have first hand reliable information.  My over 2,500 past customers have also given me their insights so the information I have is not just my own personal thoughts.  I look forward to hearing from you here in Seattle. 



Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Tipping in China

How much to tip, when to tip and who to tip are questions I receive all the time.  Tipping up until about 10 years ago was expressly forbidden. Signs were up at hotels  "No Tipping Allowed".  It was considered western bribery then.  Today that has changed as western customs have invaded China.
Tipping in hotels other than perhaps the bell boy for taking your luggage to your room but then only a small amount is necessary.  (can be done in Dollars if you do not have yuan on arrival)  There is a service charge of usually 15% already in your hotel cost.  It is the same in restaurants.  Most times if you leave a tip in a restaurant the server must give it to the manager or owner.  Tips of course are given to guides and drivers when you are on a tour.  Your tour operator can give you a suggestion on the amount.  Tips are given at the end of the tour in each city usually in an envelope from the hotel.  The guides and drivers will quickly put it away with a short thank you.  It may take a few generations to learn to accept tips for good service.  I think it is because the culture has for so long had bribes as a way of life and it is often still done with officials that you may have read about.  Culture changes take time. interlak@eskimo.com   My name is Dave and I will not  put you on any spam list or push you to do a tour with me. 

Taking a taxi no tip is expected but you round off the amount on the meter to the next yuan.  Be aware that taking a toll way from or to the airport, the toll is added to the cost on the meter.  You will find most taxi drivers honest.  At the airports do not take a taxi if someone asks you if you would like a taxi as they are very high priced and not legal.  There is a taxi line that goes quickly and the starter speaks English.  You need only know the hotel where you would like to be taken.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Western Food in China

Most tourists can only handle Chinese food for so many days on a tour and want some good western food.  Breakfasts in most hotels and I say most, have a wide selection of both Asian and Western food.  Western tourists have declined a bit in the last three years and Asian tourists because they now have money have become the #1 tourist in China.   So food at hotels, cruises and buffets everywhere is now much more Asian.   So selecting a good tour operator who knows China well is important for private tours.  Group tours is a different story with mostly Asian foods and

limited western food available. So it may be best to have several dinners on your own so you can select what you like.  Private tours take that into consideration.  Group Tours is what you see is what you get unfortunately.
As last resort there is always fast food but don't expect it to be the same as in the U.S.  KFC mostly is spicy chicken but good if you like it spicy.  McDonalds is the closest I have found to western McDonalds as a comparison.  There are other western  fast food restaurants but expect to have the menu reflect Asian tastes.  It is the same in the U.S. when we have Chinese food made to western tastes.  My Chinese friends who have come to Seattle can not believe what we call Chinese food which is very unlike theirs.  I often have to take them down to the Chinese district for dinner where it is closer to their likes.  You will not get dog, cat or donkey meat in Chinese restaurants unless you go to those that serve it.  Few do.  Same as in some southern states we serve exotic meats like alligator, snake and others.   Food can be a wonderful experience or delicate one depending on how adventurous you can be.  My first alligator I thought would be terrible but I love it now when I go south.   Food is an important part of the culture and you should at least try everything once to make your China tour a culture enrichment....at least my wife says so.  For more information on foods in China feel free to ask me....  interlak@eskimo.com   My name is Dave and I enjoy sharing my  knowledge of China from my 26 years of travel throughout the country. 

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Language Problems?

Yes, there is a bit of a language problem depending on what you are doing and where you go as well as how you go.  If you are on a tour your guide will speak English while on the tour.  The drivers seldom if ever speak English.  Taxi cab drivers almost never speak English.  At the train station few if any speak English.  The airport of course there are many connected with the airlines and airport that speak excellent English.  In most hotels, front desk people as well as some others speak English in the major hotels.  I myself after 26 years of travel in China found it much too difficult to learn Chinese with so many dialects.  Each area has its own dialect besides Mandarin which is spoken in most areas of the country with different accents.  I gave up years ago.  Shanghai people have a special dialect which most other Chinese do not understand as well as Sichuan people as examples.  They all try to speak Mandarin to communicate but again with different accents or some are unable to speak other than their own local language.  There are also 57 different minority peoples with sub cultures also with their own individual languages outside the large cities.  One tip I tell my clients is to have a map in your pocket if you get lost.  Take it out as if to study it and usually someone steps out of the crowd who speaks English and will help you.  If you wish to take a taxi some place, write out in English where you want to go and have someone in the hotel write it in Chinese so you can give it to the Taxi Driver.  Be sure to take a hotel card with you too so you will be able to get back to your hotel.  For more tips on language you are welcome to contact me with your questions at   interlak@eskimo.com   You won't be put on any mailing list or pushed to book a tour with us. 

Friday, June 12, 2015

Customs & Security Checks in China

First of all there is rarely a Customs check entering or leaving China unless you have something to declare.  You fill out a form on your international flight before you arrive so that you just give it to Security along with your passport check.  For internal flights it is similar to the U.S.  There is a security check to go through and the usual items that you do not pack in your carry-on or suitcase anything that is considered dangerous or not allowed.  You will see the list of things posted that are not allowed.  For some reason they will take away the hand sanitizers if you have them in your carry on luggage.  Better to put these items in your checked luggage.  Rules are enforced or sometimes not depending on the airport.  They limit the carry on luggage by size which is about the size of a thick brief case.  Not always enforced as you will see.  The weight limit for checked luggage per bag is 44 lbs.  If you are overweight you have a choice to pay a Fee which can be very high or remove something from your luggage to make weight.  If you choose to pay the Fee, you must go to a special desk or window to pay the fee and return to the check-in.  Best is to be below 44 lbs. rather than have to go through all that.   Leaving China again you will fill out a departure form and these days they do not seem to care how much you take out of the  country unless it is obvious.  For more information on Customs and Security feel free to contact me with your questions without any pressure to book a tour with me or receive any spam mail.  My friends call me ChinaDave   Contact me either by email or telephone.  Email:   interlak@eskimo.com   Tel. 206-368-9074   You will find me very helpful with any information on China or Tibet.  After 26 years I must have learned something!!

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