China Travel Tips

Reflections on Travel in China

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Yangtze River Cruise......or Not!

Clients often ask me if the cruise is worth going on or some question if it is good anymore since the dam is finished and some think Cruises are finished. The answer is the Yangtze River Cruise is better than ever. Take it from someone who has cruised 5 times on the Yangtze watching the changes and the progress of the dam. It is finished now and its GREAT. Here is a few things to consider. How much time do you have in China? The cruise takes four days out of a schedule minimum. It is very relaxing in the middle of a busy touring schedule but at the same time so many interesting things to see and do plus the meeting of so many people. Cabins are not large as these are River Boats but Suites can be ordered and little time is actually spent in your cabin with so many activities and things to do around and on top of the boats. Day excursions are included too. Be careful about Tour companies who do not list the boat Line or advise you of a very special price being offered. You do not want to book a boat such as the white one heading straight on. Cruises range from $250 to $1000 per person and up for suites which includes everything on the boat. You do not want to book one for $250 or you will be extremely unhappy. For recommendations on what lines to use, contact me at Interlake China Tours to China is my only business as a China Tour Operator located in Seattle with over 20years experience doing China Tours.

Monday, January 18, 2010

A Short Communications Lesson

There are a few things that are a bit different in English communications. One is that in the Chinese language there is no difference between HE AND SHE. So often you might here a woman described as He or a man described as She....although most likely "He" is used. Another example is: You may ask "We aren't going to the Great Wall today?" and the guide might answer simply "Yes". She or he really means. "Yes, we are not going to the Great Wall today". Speaking slowly and asking for clarification will be very helpful when conversing with Chinese people. The book above "Encountering the Chinese" is the best book I have found that describes many of the differences in our peoples and how to handle them properly without either losing face. Difficult to find sometimes, I have purchased a supply of these books available at $25 postage paid if you are not able to find it in your city. The book is divided into two parts. Part I is Advice for Americans interacting with the Chinese. Part II Advice for Americans living and Working in China describing every possible situation including gift giving and receiving. dress, Foreign teachers, being entertained and what is expected. I have found this book the most invaluable tool for myself personally with my relationships in China. You may order it by sending your check or money order for $25 to Interlake China Tours, Inc. P.O. Box 33652 Seattle, WA. 98133 China Tours is my business as a Tours to China Tour Operator for over 20 years of doing China and Tibet only.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Taking A Taxi in China

Taking a taxi is often better than taking a bus or subway. The cost in the large cities such as Beijing, Shanghai or Chongqing is not often more than just a few dollars within a 3 mile radius. First you call them a "taxi" and not a "cab". Our slag word for Taxi is more often not understood. Secondly, 99% of taxi drivers do not speak English. Take some cards from your hotel and keep them with you to show a driver when you want to go back to the hotel. In order to go some place, you advise the doorman at your hotel where you want to go OR write down where you want to go in English on a paper and have someone in the hotel write it in Chinese. If you want to hail a taxi on the street, cup your hand, raise it in the air and motion downward. Raising an index finger in China is like raising your cupped hand with all fingers except your middle finger folded down towards you...."you get the idea". Meters are built into the dashboard like a radio. No tipping is required, just round off to the next higher yuan when paying. You are expected to pay the tolls in addition to the fare such as toll roads coming in from airports. For more information on local transportation contact me at Tours to China is our business doing Tours to China and Tibet since 1992 as a China Tour Operator. Check out our packages and Custom Private Tours to China on our web site at

Friday, January 8, 2010

Sand Dunes at Crescent Lake in Dunhuang

For people from Seattle who are use to Green and Mountains, the Sand Dunes at Crescent Lake in Dunhuang on the Silk Road is a treat. Above my wife gives us the High Sign that she enjoyed climbing up the sand dunes although you can also take a camel too. Crescent Lake is below although very small now at the edge of the oasis is a great place to visit the desert. Dunhuang, a very small town in the desert, has the world famous Dunhuang Mogao Caves of precious Buddhist Art in over 700 caves. Next to Crescent Lake is an ancient Tea House for those who want to enjoy the scenery while others may want to climb the Dunes and take a sled down and slide to the bottom. Many take a camel caravan up the Dunes which is much easier than a horse and more comfortable....however I always suggest picking out a two hump one. Near by is the Silk Road Dunhuang Hotel in a desert style which serves breakfast on the roof overlooking the Dunes. Late August through September is the best time to visit the Silk Road for best weather. Early Spring is the second best time. Summers can be hot and winters very cold. Check our web site for Tours of China and our China Tour Packages. As a China Tour Operator we do China only and have for over 25 years. Private and Custom Tours are our specialty to China and Tibet.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Visiting a School in China

As a China Tour Operator I am often asked by clients if it is possible to visit a school. It is not always possible but in a few cases it may be arranged especially in the countryside where the children do not often get the chance to meet foreigners. Above my friend Mr. Li took me to his village in the countryside where we visited his Dairy farm, had lunch at the farm house and visited a local school that had just opened. Note the friendly and smiling faces of the children who were so happy to see us. Mr. Li was born in this village in a urban cave home and then moved to a clay brick home later. He was the first child in his village to attend the University in Xian. He now is the Sales Mgr. of a large Travel Service in Xian.
It is difficult to visit a school because of the disruptions it would cause if all tourists were allowed to visit. In large cities there is the Children's Palace which are schools for art, music, computer and other studies for AFTER school. There are also sports schools and we can make arrangements to visit these if done in advance. China Tours is our business specializing in custom private tours for individuals or groups that come to us with an agenda. We also have China Tour Packages on our web site at We have 21 years experience in doing Tours of China as a China Tour Operator. Silk Road and Tibet tours also.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Yangtze River Cruises

Some people have the mistaken idea that the Yangtze River Cruises are no more since the dam is finished. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Yangtze Cruise is BETTER than ever now and includes a tour of the new Dam with the largest locks in the world. The scenic Gorges have lost little of their beauty and the tour up the minor gorge is even better as it goes much further up into the valley. There are many cruise lines on the river however Victoria Cruises, an American owned cruise line with 9 very new boats, is the largest on the river with American standard of service and accommodations. I have sailed on the Victoria Line five times and loved every minute of it with great food, service and entertainment all included. Another line coming on strong with 4 beautiful new boats is Century Cruises of Chongqing. Remember when booking a get what you pay for. Once you are there...."it's too late" and there are some very poor Lines on the river as well. Yangtze River Cruises can be included in any customized tours of China or check our Yangtze River Tours out on our web site at Private Quality and Customized Tours to China only is our business and our only business since 1992. Check our China Tour Packages too

Monday, January 4, 2010

Wine and Alcohol Use in China

This is a strange subject to write on but interesting. I had a client complain when she returned home that her guide ignored her when she asked for some wine at dinner one night in Beijing. When asking about wine; you must clarify that you wish to have some GRAPE wine. Normal Chinese wine is understood to be like Mao Tye or as much as 72% alcohol. Like taking a shot of straight gin, vodka or whiskey. Their wine ranges from 34% to 72% alcohol and most western people do not like it. It is also expensive so the guide was trying to avoid an unpleasant experience for the client. A request by a foreigner should always be considered with a positive answer rather than a negative according to Chinese culture. Therefore vague answers usually mean "No". The guide didn't want the client to have to pay a large sum of money and then be unhappy with it so she avoided giving an answer that would not be positive. A savvy guide may have known what she wanted and would have tried to please her by requesting some grape wine although expensive too in China by our standards as much is imported. I love the sweet wines of Turpan grown on grapes in the desert areas but the wine industry in China has a long ways to go before it will approach international standards of quality but I am sure that is on the horizon as they gain experience and demand by the Chinese public.