China Travel Tips

Reflections on Travel in China

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

China Questions Answered!

I have been a tour operator to China for 25 years and now semi-retired..  I have sent over 2,500 people to my Chinese partners who are responsible for their tours.  I do the planning with the experience of travel throughout China during my 55 trips in 25 years.  I do not lead tours but work with local travel services all over China keeping personally in touch with the many changes in China.  I inspect hotels, teach classes in their University Guide schools advising them on what western people are interested in.   I have sailed on the Yangtze River cruises 8 times watching the development of the famous Yangtze River Dam.  There is little I have not done in all these years which has been so interesting learning and seeing everything possible working 7 days a week and usually spending a month with each trip.  My Blog here I started about 5 years ago and has been read by over 56,000  people.  I go back and up date each entry with the latest information as China is changing so fast.  Just last week the Government is now requiring us to provide passport picture pages for all train reservations.  I wrote about buying train tickets earlier which can be difficult at times. This is my 365th post for my blog and most of the photos I have taken myself.   I write everything I can think of that may be of interest to anyone either going on a tour or is planning on taking a tour of China or Tibet.  What I would like is some input from people who read blogs and especially mine what information they would like me to write about.  Your input is important to me.  Sometimes I am too close to the subject matter and overlook some information that people might want to know for their plans.  Blogs are often better than travel books as we can update information.
Please email me at:  for information you would like me to write about.
You will not be added to any spam list and not hear back from me unless you ask me.  I am getting ready to fully retire in the next couple years and I have a wealth of information in my head and in my office just on China and Tibet.  I love sharing this information to help people not only for their own planning but to understand Chinese Culture and Chinese People.  (continue below the photos)

 I do have a book called  "Encountering the Chinese" which is a must for anyone who will be visiting directly with Chinese people during their activities in China.  The Book is  $24.95 Post Paid if you would like a copy. Mail a check for $24.95 to Interlake China Tours, Inc.  P.O. Box 33652   Seattle, WA. 98133          My friends call me  "ChinaDave" and I look forward to hearing from you.

Friday, January 23, 2015

The Forbidden City in Beijing

This is a bird's eye view of the Forbidden City in Beijing.  The Last Emperor to occupy the city was in the early 1900's.  It now of course is a wonderful museum.   If you are going to China either in a group tour or a private tour that includes the Forbidden City, make sure you rent or find a copy of the movie, "The Last Emperor".   The movie was shot on location in the Forbidden City and you will see how people lived in the city at that time.  Most tours go through it in about 1.5 to 2 hours to get a general overview of it.  If you are on such a tour and interested in spending more time there as well as having some free time you may want to go back on your own.  There are several museums within the City such as the Clock Museum and artifacts from past Emperors.  It is one of the most popular sights in Beijing so plan on going early in the morning.  I was allowed to go in about 1/2 hour before it opened to take photographs without the crowds of people.  I found I wasn't the only one that had special privileges as there were others there that prevented me from taking photos without people in them.  The Government has done a wonderful job of restoring the City and kept it pristine as it really is a Treasure of the Country, probably being the most recognized site in China.
For more information please feel free to contact me at   

Monday, January 5, 2015

City Parks in China

Many tourists overlook beautiful parks in China.  As you can see by these photos the parks are not only restful but often have many activities going on.  Here you see an orchestra practicing, people playing board games and a woman meditating.  I have often heard choral groups singing which are usually clubs that get together on weekends in the park to sing.  Parks are a great place to meet Chinese  people as many people speak some English.  If  you have children or teenagers along it can also be a wonderful experience for them to join in with Chinese children playing games of all kinds.  Chinese parks have wonderful plants and shrubs along with beautiful trees well landscaped.  I was in Shanghai one spring and noticed that a large section of about 4 blocks had been torn down and I assumed a new building would be built there. I came back in the late Fall and discovered that they had brought in large trees, shrubs and flowers and landscaped the whole area into a lovely park in the central area of the city.  Chinese always do things in a big way and seemingly overnight sometimes.
During any free time you have while touring it would be worthwhile to visit city parks and your guide can offer you suggestions.  In the mornings you will find many local people doing their morning exercises which consist of many different kinds including social dancing.  It is always possible to join in with them too.  There are often larger parks on the outside of the cities to visit which offer hiking opportunities and natural beauty.  For more information on City Parks and National Parks, you can email me at   My name is Dave and I am always happy to share information that I have gathered in my 50+ trips to China in 25 Years.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Ugar Family on the Silk Road

The Silk Road is kind of like the Last Frontier of China in the far Northwest part of the country.  For many years it was almost ignored by Tourists for not having good accommodations.  Today that has all changed with new hotels, the fast trains, historical sights of all kinds and of course the diversity of having several different cultures.  The main culture are the Ugars now mixed with many other cultures from near by countries.  The family of Ugars pictured here are just north of Urumqi which is the largest city in northwest China.  Once you leave the city, you go back hundreds of years as many Ugars and others live like their ancestors did centuries ago.  You will find them very friendly although few speak English.  That is why it is good to have a Ugar guide who speaks their local dialect and language.  The beauty of the Silk Road which extends from Xian to the border of western China  has much to offer in sights, history and culture besides the beauty of mountains and desert.  We have several private packaged tours of this wonderful area that include desert as well as mountain areas.  See our web site at and click on Packaged Tours and then Silk Road Tours for examples.  We also do customized private tours to your specific interests too.

Hand Embroidery in China

Although these pieces look like beautiful paintings, they are actually hand made embroidery.  This is just a small sample which you can find in museum like stores in many parts of the country.  The three at the top came from one of the museum shops in Chengdu.  The bottom one I purchased in a small village outside of LiJiang in the mountains north of Kunming.  The woman took 3.5 months to do it and it was her own design.  I have several others in our home.  Hand made embroidery has been made usually by women in the countryside to bring money in for the family.  In past days one could find these beautiful pieces very inexpensive.  My wife  found some antique pieces in a remote village where the family was selling items from their mother who had passed.  One was from the mid 1800's.  One needs to be very careful when purchasing embroidery as many are now made by computer in work shops these days.  Close examination will tell you which are hand made and which are machine made.  If they are very cheap, you can realize that they are probably machine made.  Silk threads of many colors often hand dyed are used to embroider the shading and with light on them they will come almost live.   Private customized tours can take you to these places without pressure to buy so that you may admire the work and yes if interested you can also purchase them.  For more information, please contact me at   My name is Dave.


Thursday, December 18, 2014

50% OFF on a Deluxe Yangtze River Cruise

The Century River Cruise 50% OFF promotion is going very well with bookings for the high season of April/May and Sept/Oct. ahead of expectations.  Century Cruises is entering the U.S. market and we can offer 50% Off on the cruise with bookings through April 15th.  Cruise must be taken by  October 31st.   I am offering this to all clients who book a minimum 10 day tour of  China. This makes a 14 day tour complete with your cruise on the luxury boats of Century Cruises.  You can view their web site at   Click on the British flag for English.   The cruise includes the up close inspection and tour of the largest dam in the world as well as the fantastic scenery of cruising through the 3 Gorges.  Off boat excursions are included each day with all meals.  There is entertainment each evening along with various presentations of interest.  All cabins face the outside of the ship and you have your own private balcony.  Cabins are large with large screen t.v.s and luxury bathrooms.  Prices start as low as $398. a person dbl.occ.  Contact us by email for more details at:    
                Click on the photo for a full screen view!