China Travel Tips

Reflections on Travel in China

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Biking in China

Many people ask me to include some time for biking in China when I plan their tours. 15 years ago I could recommend many places to bike especially in the cities. However today with the large number of cars (1000 cars added EACH DAY in Beijing alone) the streets are becoming very crowded and perhaps dangerous. Today I recommend smaller cities or countryside villages to go biking. Above you see me with a bike in the countryside near Yangshuo village outside of Guilin. This is a prime area to go biking because of the flat terrain amongst the hills and the interesting countryside. As of this writing a bike can be rented for about $1.50 per day here. Mountain bikes can also be rented for a little more. Local guides can take you out through interesting places and act as translaters or you can go out on your own too. For those that do not read Chinese, my t-shirt reads "I Have No Money"! It gives everyone one a laugh and keeps the "sellers" at bay or at least distracts them from stopping me. There are many other biking and hiking places to visit in China when you are taking a Tour to China. See my website at and register to be updated with my blog as well. I will be leaving on my 49th trip to China this October going to Sichuan province to see how the progress is coming on putting the earthquake area back together and the Panda Preserve that was destroyed.

Hotels in China

Many people who have not been to China often ask for small local hotels like pictured above. There are some available but not a lot. Many of the hotels especially in the larger cities are like the modern hotel shown above. I do know of many hotels like the local small hotels in many areas which we can book. Although quaint and small, the prices are sometimes as high as many 3 or 4 star hotels since they have limited rooms and are much desired. New hotels in the Chinese style are now being built but with many more rooms and with all the modern conveniences too. The hotel above is in a small village in Sichuan province that I stayed in two years ago. Modern western facilities or ancient facilities your choice. No breakfast so we had to go out to breakfast. This is the court yard and is over 600 years old having been rebuilt several times and was once the home of a rich merchant. In the last 15 years many new hotels have been built in recognizable names in order to take care of the very large increase in foreign tourism. It is often fun to try different style hotels at 3,4 or 5 star levels. Often 2 star hotels or less are not up to similar western standards. For more information on hotels and Private and Custom Tours to China, see my web site at

Luggage Tips in China

A new policy was issued May 1, 2008 in China for luggage limits on air travel within the country. Checked luggage should not exceed 44 lbs per bag. Carry on luggage is limited to 2 pieces for first class and 1 piece for coach class. The weight not to exceed 11 lbs. Size limit is about the size of a good size brief case. Alcohol of any kind is not allowed in carry on baggage and must be in your checked baggage. Many other regulations are the same as in the U.S. such as sharp instruments, liguids etc. Checked luggaged should be lockable and have a luggage tag on it. Be aware that unusual luggage tags often can be taken by luggage handlers to add to their collections. A simple standard luggage tag should be used. The new rules became necessary when many passengers were trying to take a great excess of bags onto the planes because of the 44 lb. limit. Excess luggage can be checked however the penalties are very high and in some cases exceeds the cost of a passenger ticket.
You will see domestic passengers removing things from their checked luggage in order to meet the weight limits and to avoid high penalties. For more information on Travel in China sign up to receive my updates here in my Blog. My 20 years experience in Travel in China and doing Tours to China for the past 15 years will be helpful in planning your Tour to China. Check out my web site at

Monday, August 11, 2008


If you saw the Opening Ceremony of The Olympics, you saw the best of the best in Chinese celebrations. When you go to China and want to see some of the same but in much smaller shows, there are a few. I have seen the best and the worst. For an outside great show, IMPRESSION Sanjie Liu at Yangshuo outside of Guilin is my pick for the best so far. It is held at night on the Li River with over 1000 local people and animals. The producer of this show did the Olympics show as well as the movie "Crouching Tiger; Hidden Dragon" which launched his international career. The photo above is from the Naxi Show in LiJiang showing Naxi culture and a Dongba known for their artisic talents of music and dance. This Donga at the Dongba Palace Show is in his mid 80's and still performs 7 nights a week. The Legend of Kungfu is another show in Beijing that is an excellent Stage Show. Another one not to be missed is the Tang Dynasty Show in Xian which is all dance, music and colorful costumes. The one show however I tell people not to miss is the world famous Shanghai Acrobats in Shanghai. There are three different shows each with its own specialty including the Circus which is not a real circus but named because of the round building. Unfortunately what Chinese are usually noted for is the Peking Opera; but the Chinese people do not care for it and only tourists attend and is usually a disappointment to many. Let my private and custom "Tours to China" which I have been doing for over 15 years plan a trip just for you to include the many wonderful sights and performances in China.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Tipping in China

Tipping is a question I get asked often. Tipping in China prior to 1990 was all but forbidden. In fact there were signs in hotels that read "No Tipping Allowed". This was because it was thought of as western bribery. Today tipping is not often used except in certain circumstances. For Private Tours please contact me for the most up to date tipping information at . For Group tours just use the Tour Operator's suggestions. In restaurants the service charge is included in the cost of the meal and no tipping is necessary. If you do leave a tip they are required to give it to the owner. In hotels there is already a 15% service charge including in the cost of the hotel. The only tip would be to the bell hop who takes your luggage to the room and then a minimum amount of $1 per suitcase. A taxi driver makes a very good living and usually you just need to round off the meter to the nearest yuan. No tipping is necessary or expected. I plan private tours to China and Tibet so please check out my web site at  Let my 25 years of experience in China plan your tour of a life time to China planned for your individual interests. Tours to China is all I do. Ask for my reference list of former clients who do not mind being contacted either about their tours or my services.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Tibetan Home in China

My wife and I traveled in Sichuan province to the remote areas which are inhabited by Tibetan people. Most people do not realize that most Tibetan people live outside of Tibet. The people we visited are deep in the mountains outside of Chengdu near the small town of Danba. The photo above is typical of a Tibetan house highly decorated to reflect their culture. Note that in this remote area they have t.v. and use the satellite dish to get excellent reception from the outside world. This family has two kitchens and two living rooms plus accommodations for up to 20 people. At 9000 feet above sea level it gets cold here during the long winter months. This family takes in tourists like a Bed and Breakfast but can include all meals and time to enjoy their family and see their culture and every day living. It is a great area for hiking and the weather is best during the summer months into late September. You won't see a lot of foreign tourists if any. If you are interested in touring this area, see my web site at Look at the Ecological Package Tours. My specialty is custom tours so tours can be arranged to fit your interests, needs and the amount of time you have available. Tours to China is all I do and have been doing them for clients all over the world for 15 years. Let my 20 years experience of travel through China put together a tour for your special interests. You might as well see what you are interested in rather than a standard tour of general interests.