China Travel Tips

Reflections on Travel in China

Monday, February 16, 2015

Quality China Tours for 25 Years

We are going into our 26th year of doing Tours to China and Tibet.  Over 2,500 people have enjoyed travel to China with us from many countries all over the world.  We specialize in Custom Private Tours for Individuals or Groups that come to us with a special interest or needs.  My 25 years of travel throughout China and Tibet working with my Chinese associate partners and their many travel services has given me a great deal of insights into China.  I have watched and experienced China from an undeveloped country to a modern world state in just these 25 years.  There is still much of Old China present to enjoy along side modern China with it's fast trains and ultra modern airports and sky scrapers.  Remote villages following the old culture is still there to enjoy making China one of the most visited countries for tourists in the world.    The Yangtze River is one of the longest and most beautiful rivers in the world with cruise ships sailing between the tall cliffs and sights along the river.  Of course visiting the largest Dam in the world is also part of it.  This year to introduce the U.S. Market to the 5 Star luxury, Century Cruise Line, we are featuring a 50% Off price for all cruises booked by April 15th when combined with a 10+ day China tour.  Prices start at $398 per person.  After April 15th the price will be $795.  High season space  (April/May and Sept./Oct.) is limited at this time so bookings need to be made soon.  For more information contact us at    Century Cruise Line web site is:  Click on the British flag for English.   I sincerely hope we can do a tour for you to your budget and interests.

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Friday, February 13, 2015

Suzhou City of Parks, Gardens and More

Suzhou a city just a short train ride from Shanghai is known for its Classic Gardens and Parks.  Over  80 Classic Gardens which date back hundreds of years is considered the #1 Garden City in China.  The Humble Administrator's Garden is #1 in China.  Others to see with limited time are the Lingering Garden,  Master of the Nets from the 12th century and the Lion's Grove Garden to name a few.  I do Garden Tours of China and of course Suzhou is in the itinerary for sure.  Many people go to see the well known sights of China but a definite stop should be Suzhou for a day or more.  I like to send people through the lake country visiting small old villages before arriving in Suzhou which gives people a view of rural life in China.  The Grand Canal passes through Suzhou and worth the time to take a short boat ride through the back neighborhoods of Suzhou not seen from the streets.  A great walking street is Pinjiang Lu Lane along the Canal with local houses, cafes, shops and of course Tea Houses. Tiger Hill Park is one of the famous  parks where you will see the 7 story tall Cloud Rock Pagoda built in the 10th.Century.  During the tourist season a show is put on in the park with over 100 participants in colorful dress.  Suzhou is also one of the centers for Silk with  27 factories with a history of over 4,000 years.  You may visit the #1 Silk Factory to see how silk is made as well as shopping for factory samples from all factories in one location..  Suzhou has one of the most fascinating museums in China with living attractions and art which is a must for museum lovers. 
Close to Shanghai, it is worth an extra day or two to visit Suzhou if you have a Free Day available on your Group Tour to China or if taking a Custom Private Tour, ask your Tour Operator to include Suzhou in your itinerary.  To end the day or evening one of my favorite Tea Houses is the QianTang Cha Ren with many old antiques, wonderful choices of tea and snacks.  For more information you may contact me at:   26 Years of doing Tours of China!

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Wednesday, January 28, 2015

China Questions Answered!

I have been a tour operator to China for 25 years and now semi-retired but still am doing customized private tours.  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 that often changes as well as government regulations and visa requirements.
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.  You might enjoy my photo album with over 900 photos too.

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.