China Travel Tips

Reflections on Travel in China

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Blogs Transferred to New Site

I have now added my Blog to my web site.  All 400+ blogs here have been transferred to my site so you can check that information too that has been all updated to current information.  Future Blog entries are being added to our web site blog.  If you have questions, contact me at   My Name is Dave and I enjoy sharing my 26 Years of Travel in China and Tibet.  You will not be added to any spam list or be pushed to buy a tour from me.  Happy Travels....   Dave from Seattle

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Time to Look at Booking Your Tour for 2016

The booking period that is most important in Touring China or Tibet starts here in November and extends through late May for the best results.  I have been planning tours for clients for 25 years.  Best results are had when planning and booking early.  Popular well located hotels often book up early.  Most important is the Yangtze River Cruise which often closes bookings on their most popular sailing dates by the end of February should be booked soon.  The prime tourist season is April/May and September/October.  Summer months are also busy for those who must take their vacations during that period.  Prices have been stable the past couple of years but have declined somewhat since the exchange rate with the U.S. dollar has increased this year.  This is a good year to tour China and Tibet and tourist numbers will shown a marked increase it is expected.   For more information on Touring China please go to   My blog is  also shown on the web site.   For any questions please contact us at    You will not be added to any spam list or have a sales pitch for booking with us.  My name is Dave and I am always glad to assist people in their touring plans or information on China without an expectation of your business.  You might want to check out our 50% OFF on a Yangtze River Cruise too!

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Shipping Purchases Home

In my 26 years of travel in China I have found many wonderful things to buy.  Most of them I have brought home on the plane with me including a 2.5 foot tall hand painted vase.  I have shipped a rug and a special embroidery home but that is all.  My experience with clients shipping purchases home as been good and some poor.  If the item gets broke in shipping you have a claim on it however you do not have the item that you purchased either.  Chinese are experts at packing purchases for travel.  I have brought home silk comforters, pottery, and antiques of many kinds without any breakage either in special packages or in my suitcase.  Rugs and artwork they usually have you sign the item some place on it so that when you receive it you know it is what you purchased.  If not sent by air, ship can often take up to 2 months so one needs to be patient.  I often have bought a second suitcase just for purchases that I have bought for family and friends for the Holidays.  They may be purchased at Bargain shopping booths for little money.  Ask your guide for help. 

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Kung Fu at the Shaolin Temple

Many people are interested in Kung Fu and I have had to go to the Shaolin Temple and see for myself if it is worth sending my clients to that location.  The Shaolin Temple home of KungFu is located between the cities of Luoyang and Zhengzhou in the countryside.  The photo here was taken with the #1 Shaolin monk.  I was the only foreigner watching the demonstrations.  The Monk needed a volunteer and of course all the Chinese tourists pushed me into it.  The Monk had a small bowl which they use for eating lunch or dinner.  He put it on his stomach muscle and challenged me to remove it.(only once had anyone ever been able to do it)  I saw his skin was moist from all the activity so I thought perhaps if I twist it rather than try to pull it off, it might work.  It did and I was able to remove it.  I thought the audience would cheer but the Monk Lost FACE and the audience remained quiet.  This is a culture thing of course.  After the demonstrations were over, the Monk came out and requested me to come up on the stage.  He then bowed to me and presented me with the bowl.  An act of humility.  I still have the bowl of course and it makes great memories for me.  The Temple is original but has become quite a tourist attraction for mostly Chinese people some Kung Fu followers from around the world. One can take lessons there if you like but the facilities are not deluxe.  In Beijing there is a Kung Fu Show which is more like an Opera if you do not have the time to go to the Shaolin Temple itself.  I send many people to Xian, then to Luoyang where the famous Longmen
Buddhist Caves are located along with the White Horse Temple built in the 1st century as the First
Buddhist Temple in China.  Called that because two months came from India on white horses with their religious books to establish the temple.  From there by car to the Shaolin Temple and then to Zhengzhou to catch a plane either to Beijing or other destination.  The old Jewish Settlement at Kaifeng is not far away too but little is left of the Jewish settlement other than a large Metal Pagoda and a more modern area to remember the Jewish settlement. 

Friday, July 31, 2015

Guides in China

If you are on a group or private guided tour you see China at its best.   Professional

 Guides add so much to a tour and often point out things that you wouldn't see just passing by.  An English speaking guide although they may speak excellent English must still deal with the many accents of English as well as tourists that English is a second language.  Be patient and speak slowly using common words and NO SLANG which is most common to us in the U.S.  It is impolite to ask a tourist to repeat a question that is difficult to understand.  The coastal major cities it is not much of a problem but once you go into the interior parts of China it can be a bit more difficult.  English is being taught in all the schools these days so it is becoming less of a problem.   Culture dictates that it is impolite to ask for something that is not possible.  A guide normally either tries to avoid answering it or gives you an indefinite answer.  That usually means NO.  A Guide needs to give a positive response to questions so if what you ask is not possible, you will often get a vague answer.  One couple wanted to visit Beijing University since it was on the way to the Summer Palace.  It requires a permit to visit which must be obtained in advance.  The guide not wanting to give a negative answer, said she would see if it is possible on the way back to the city.  The guide knows that the time is too short so that she wouldn't have had to say No to them that it couldn't be done.  This is Chinese Cultures differences from ours as one example.  I have a book available called  "Encountering the Chinese"   A Modern Country; An Ancient Culture.   It is required reading for college students who will be visiting China and need to know more about interacting with the Chinese.  It is difficult to find so I have copies available at $24.95 post paid.  If you would like a copy, please send a check made out to Interlake China Tours  and send it to  Interlake China Tours, P.O. Box 33652  Seattle, WA. 98133 along with your request.

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    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 8 years and have now integrated it into my web site at   On the pull down menus you can see my blog there and has all my blogs from the past 8 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:   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.   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 least my wife says so.  For more information on foods in China feel free to ask me....   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   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:   Tel. 206-368-9074   You will find me very helpful with any information on China or Tibet.  After 26 years I  have learned a lot first hand with my very curious mind.

 Click on the Photos for a Full Screen View

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Subject of Money

You should be aware of the money exchange situation in China before you go.  The exchange rate lately is  $1.00 = 6.21 Yuan in China.  There is a high service charge by the banks outside       of China if you want to exchange money before arriving in China.   Credit cards are not widely used except for hotels, factory and main department stores.  Many restaurants do not take credit cards either.  There are ATMs available in most larger cities but not in the rural areas.  Hotels in the cities will usually exchange dollars for yuan but not in the rural areas. The hotel exchange is a service to the guests and there is a very minor charge.  Banks also exchange dollars for yuan in most larger cities but again not in the rural areas.  Some banks also do not deal in exchange at all.   Cash is King as they say.  You will see most Chinese dealing in cash and often have large amounts of money with them when they go shopping.  I myself have my credit cards and debit cards along with taking a fair amount of cash.  If you have a Stock Broker, check with them if they offer a Debit card for your account.  Mine does and there are no charges for its use domestically or internationally.  Hotels have safes in the room in which you set the combination and can keep your valuables during the day when you are out sightseeing.  While many things you will find are inexpensive you will also find many things on a par with the U.S. or HIGHER.   My Chinese friend from Chengdu recently spent a year in the U.S.  When she went home she could not believe how prices had increased so much since she had been gone.  For more information on MONEY, feel free to email me with your questions.  You will not be pressured to book a  tour with us nor will you be put on an email list for spam.   My name is Dave and can be reached at

 China as you will find is a country of wide contrasts.
Click on the photos for full screen viewing

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Best Times to Tour China

A question I am often asked is what is the best time to travel in China.   Weather of course is important for most people.  Spring months of late March and April are good times to tour for most of the country although expect more rain especially in southern China.  May can be good but can also be warm and humid in the south.   Summer months of June, July and August are generally warm and a bit humid however there are good places to tour in the mountains such as Sichuan and other provinces.  Otherwise expect temperatures above 85 with high humidity in most areas.   Fall months over all are the best months.  September and October are the most comfortable but also most popular.   The Silk Road in the far northwest is best in April and then again in mid August through early October.  Summers can be extremely hot and winters very cold.   Perhaps the times to avoid travel in China is during National  holidays of May 1st and Oct. 1st when people have a whole week off.  Transportation is quite full and hotels and restaurant prices are at their highest unless you book much in advance.  Spring Festival which is the Chinese New Year changes each year and can be from late January to late February period.  People have a full week off here too and it is the custom to return to your parents home for that period.  Transportation can be very difficult unless booked months in advance through a tour operator or travel agent.  I have avoided that time myself as everything is very crowded.  For my clients I try to plan their tours to avoid these periods during the year for their comfort and cost.  Winter is a good time to tour IF you do not mind the cold weather.  Snow is rare and sights are all but empty of tourists.   For more information on times to travel in China please feel free to contact me at    My name is Dave and you will not have any sales pitch or follow up with spam mail. 

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Parks of China

For people interested in nature and parks there are many throughout China each with their own attraction.   Juizhaigou  National Park in Sichuan province remains my favorite as it has been kept very pristine and only allows 5,000 people per day into the park.  The park nestled into the remote mountains is shaped like a wishbone so that you go up one side in the mourning and the other side in the afternoon.  What I especially like about it is that it gives you so many options.  Throughout the park are wooden walkways in order to keep the park pristine and natural.  There are many stations in the park short distances apart with natural gas green buses running very often that leave no exhaust.  You may get on and off as you please or can walk or hike as far as you want between stations. Very clean toilets that are self cleaning are also available everywhere.  The park was started back in the 1970's and was started with keeping it pristine and natural from the start.  The pools of water are natural with their color from minerals in the ground.   There are many flights from Chengdu to Juizhaigou and several good hotels to choose from.  However you should contact a tour operator in advance to make sure you have tickets to get into the park.  The Park is extremely busy during the fall  months of September and October when the leaves are turning.  Oct. 1st is a National Holiday and Chinese have one week off so the park is booked full much in advance.  Prices are the highest at that time also.  For more information on Juizhaigou check the internet or also contact me for more specific information.  My name is Dave and you can contact me at

              Click on the Photo for a Full Screen View

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Hotels in China

When it comes to booking hotels in China I highly recommend that  you choose an agency or tour operator that KNOWS China well.  Actually the best is to have a Tour Operator like myself  :-)  who knows China very well and inspects hotels on a regular basis for the past 26 years.  Nothing worse than trying to plan your own tour and booking hotels and then being greatly disappointed in your hotel.  Fake reviews and claims are common on the internet.  Location is one of the things you  should consider most.  Being located out in the suburbs or poor locations to save a few $$ is not wise.  You will spend much of your time and money (taxis) going to the sights.  Your tour operator who knows China well, knows these areas and best value hotels.  For instance:  Wangfujing area in Beijing is the best.  Good hotels there but some to avoid too.  In Shanghai you need to be close to the Nanjing Road Mall.  Some well known hotels are across the river in Pudong and you will be taking a taxi every time you want to go some place and back.  Boutique hotels are becoming more common but also high prices especially for best locations.  Traditional style hotels are in demand and many are available with modern conveniences however prices are usually a bit higher also.  Hotels in China usually come with a large buffet breakfast included in the hotel cost.  If not listed as "included" the cost can often be $15 to $25 per person extra.  There is also a service charge of normally 15% added or included too as there are no tips in the hotels other than perhaps a bell boy.  The city tax is also included.  If none of these costs are listed as included, the quoted low cost on the internet can often be a surprise when you check out.  One former client wanted a hotel in Xian and he said it could be booked for $85 a night.  I knew the hotel well and had consulted with them.  That $85 room located in an older building on the first floor facing the inside is indeed $85 for a single.  No breakfast, service charge, tax etc. was quoted.  The room on check out then is $137. per night.  One should know there is usually 5 level of prices in each hotel depending on the room size and amendments.
For more information on hotels, please feel free to email me at   My name is Dave and I will not try to sell you a tour if you are only interested on more hotel information.

Monday, April 13, 2015

A Bit More Humor!

People who read my blog seemed to like my last story on Humor in China so here is a bit more.  I was in the back country of rural China with my guide and driver.  We stopped at an outside cafĂ© for lunch.  No western dishes but had a Chicken Soup that sounded good.  We ordered it and when it came the driver spooned through it and then got up and was yelling at the cook.  I asked my guide what the problem was and he shyly said, "The Driver said the cook left the best parts out and was cheating us".  Knowing China well, I asked what the best parts were that they left out..  He said,
"the feet, head and guts".  The cook left those out because he knew I was a foreigner and would not like those parts in the soup.  You will never get such food on any tour so do not worry about that.  Chinese food in China is the best.  Another time in Western China in a  remote small town there was only one restaurant for foreigners.  I asked to go to a local restaurant just to see what one was like and what they served.  Again with a guide and driver they had one menu in English.  Camel's Paw was the first item on the menu and I knew I was in trouble.  I ordered egg soup which I like and told the guide to ask the driver what he would like not wanting to leave him out.  He wanted Donkey and Noodles!  One taste and I learned quickly that I didn't like Donkey!  :-)   I have a thousand stories that I could tell but thought readers would enjoy these two on food.  You will never get these things on a tour unless of course you ask for them! Below you see a normal lunch.  Second one is a photo of me who likes to eat well with two waitresses in the countryside.  Third is a photo of my wife and I having a deluxe dinner in Chongqing.  Last photo is of friends who are celebrating their birthdays just like us with a birthday cake.  The assortment of food in China is unlimited and extremely good.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

A Bit of Humor for You.

I have travelled all over China for the past 26 years.  There is always something to discover in China no matter where you go.  I have many friends in China and one day my friends wanted to take me to a new Temple that had just been built.  It was a large round building with 4 entrances.  Inside as you can see are many Buddhas below.

.  The object is to walk into any door you please and either turn left or right.  You then start counting Buddhas until you come to the one that matches your AGE.  We all had to laugh a bit since the photo above with the chubby Buddha resembles my build very closely.   I love to eat good food.  I have always said that China is not only extremely interesting, it is also very fun as you never know what you will find next.   Another time we were in the mountains and came upon men working and tearing down a 700 year old temple to make room for some construction.  They had a small fire going and had been taking down some of the wooden parts and burning them.  I rescued a wooden carved Monk about 12 inches high that had come from the temple and now have it home in a glass case with a small glass of water to keep it from deteriorating further.  As I said, you never know what you will find in China and I have many stories to tell of my travels too many to ever write them all down.   I hope I will be able to plan a special tour to your specific interests too.  Check out my web site at

Monday, April 6, 2015

Ciqikou Old Town Near Chongqing

Many people take the Yangtze River Cruise which starts up stream at Chongqing and cruises down to YiChang.  Most Group Tours arrive in Chongqing in the late afternoon in time for dinner and boarding of the boats.  Chongqing although a very large city has it's special places to visit if you arrive the night before the next day evening sailings or are just passing through Chongqing.  One of the special places I like my clients to visit is Ciqikou Ancient Town which was first built between the years 960 and 1279 only 17 kms. from central Chongqing.  The narrow walking alleys have no cars and you will find so many interesting sights of everyday Chinese living besides older homes such as the Zhong Family Courtyard home. Its owner Zhong Yanting worked for Empress Dowager Cixi who lived between 1835 and 1908.  Zhong was in charge of procuring rare treasures for the Empress which explains the compound being constructed on a very lavish scale.   Baolun Temple, Wenchang Taoist Temple, and the Imperial Academy are just a few of the other sights besides the old shops and traditional homes of the local inhabitants.  If you will be staying overnight in Chongqing, I like the 4 star Hongyadong Hotel which overlooks the river having wonderful roof top gardens to enjoy.  There are many restaurants within the complex nearby along with shops and many snacks and hand made candy being made.  If you are having a private custom tour (that's what I do) be sure that if you are taking a Yangtze River Cruise that you include a day in Chongqing before leaving.   Check out our web site at  Our 26th year of doingTours to China and Tibet. 

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Which International Airline Should I Choose?

There are several airlines to choose from when planning a trip to China.  You should do the research to check and see which airline fits your wants and needs.  Price is a factor but shouldn't always be first on your list.  Comfort and time of departure and arrival need to be considered also.  A Direct flight or flight that has a stop or plane change should be on your list.  A flight from Seattle to Beijing is listed with one airline very cheap.  I checked it out and it goes from Seattle to Chicago and then to Beijing.  Cheap but 22 hours of flying time and changing planes, going through an additional Security check etc. etc.  Is it worth the savings?   Maybe if time and comfort are not on your list.  I have represented Hainan Airlines from China as a wholesale tour operator since they arrived in Seattle several years ago. They fly from Seattle to Beijing in just 11 hours arriving in the late afternoon in time for dinner. They are owned by a corporation in China rather than the government.  Their service is tops with great food and an excellent Business class that rivals other airlines first class.  They fly the latest Boeing 787s. with seats that make into beds in Business class.   I have flown with them often and always appreciate their attention to details and comfort.  Hainan now has direct non-stop flights from Boston, Chicago, Seattle and now San Jose and a Seattle/Shanghai direct flights.  There are  connecting flights from many other cities at code share prices too.  For more information and costs please contact us by email:   We can do your complete tour from home and back with our 25 years experience in China and Tibet.  Check out our web site at :   Our BBB rating of A+ is the best rating so you can always be sure you are in Good Hands.   My friends call me ChinaDave and I will be glad to help you with any plans or questions on travel to China.       Email:

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Yunnan Province a Must Visit

Yunnan province in south China is one of my favorite places to visit.  Just north of Viet Nam, Laos and Burma, Yunnan has two distinct climates.  In the North are mountains and in the south there are semi-tropical forests.  In the middle is Kunming known as the Spring City because of its altitude and cooler weather during the summer at 5,000 feet. In the north  is LiJiang, Dali, Zhongdian, the Leaping Tiger Gorge and other remote spots like Lugu Lake famous for the beautiful lake surrounded by mountains occupied by the Muoso people who seldom if ever marry.  Most people go to Kunming to see the Stone Forest which is about two hours by car and a wonderful site to see which is one of the most unusual in the world.  In the south the city of Jinghong in the Xishuangbanna area has the only airport or is two days by bus from Kunming.  This area has many minority peoples living here with their own language, dress and culture. You may visit several of these minority villages to see how they live and work.  One group the men retire after marrying and the women do all the work.  Another live in stilted houses with two entrances; one for the women and one for the men.  Learning the customs of each group is interesting and makes for good photography.  This area also has beautiful parks that were once the research areas for tropical plants before the revolution.  There is also the Wild Elephant Preserve in the jungle which you may visit not far from Jinghong.  A walk way above the canopy of the forest/jungle makes it easy to tour with a cable car to bring you back.
Tourists usually spend about 4 days in the southern part of Yunnan and about 4 days in the north.
For more information on touring China contact me at   email:   My friends call me ChinaDave and I have travelled all over China for the past 26 years.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Visiting Shanghai

Most tours visit Shanghai but usually only for one day as an entrance or exit city to China.  I use to think of Shanghai only as a large big city like Hong Kong or New York.  However my opinion has changed in the last few years.  Yes it is large and very busy but also exciting.  The best museum in the country is located in Shanghai.  The Yu Garden area is #1 in China along with the oldest Tea House on the Crooked bridge leading into the Yu Garden.  The Tall  Pearl of the Orient T.V. tower has the greatest view over Shanghai at the top.  Often overlooked is the fantastic Museum in the base of the tower of the early 1900's designed like walking down an  old street in Shanghai during that period.  The Jade Buddha Temple, the old French Concession area, famous Shanghai Acrobats, Nanjing Road Mall, and a cruise on the river running through Shanghai are just a few of the sights worth seeing.  The MagLev train from Pudong Airport takes only 7 minutes to get to the city and at speeds of up to 285 mph.  The new fast trains also are located in Shanghai and can go to Beijing in less than 5 hours now leaving every half hour or less.   Exciting is one word I use to describe Shanghai but many other places to visit and see are also there besides the excellent food of the city.
For more information on Shanghai please feel free to contact me at  My friends call me ChinaDave and I have a wealth of information accumulated over 25 years of travel all over China during my 50+ trips working with my Chinese associate partners.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Why Tour China?

I have been traveling China for over 25 years.  The first time I went with a friend who had business there in 1989.  We went to Beijing, Xian and Chengdu.  I saw a 3rd. World country at the time; but as a business person also saw a country posed for great growth.  Wanting to go back and watch this growth besides being interested in the culture, I started a small business selling Goose Down and Feathers from Chinese suppliers to our largest producer of feather products in the U.S. right here in my home town of Seattle.  That venture allowed me to visit some of the remote parts of rural China where people lived and worked the same way for centuries.  Some still do using water buffalo to pull the plows and hand rice processing equipment.  Over the years I watched the tremendous growth in the cities with  sometimes a 100 or more cranes being used while they constructed large buildings and apartment houses.  I have seen them go from our 1940's style trains to the ultra modern trains of today with speeds up to 200 mph.  The over 50+ variety of cultures through out China each with their own customs and dress adds to the experience of visiting this ancient culture.  Ancient artifacts, museums, temples and sights such as the  Forbidden City, Terra Cotta Warriors and of course the Great Wall plus so many others add to the fantastic sights of China.  I have visited areas where they had never seen people from the outside world, had no t.v., electricity,  or running water.  Some of these places still exist.  In order to continue going to China to explore the country, with the help of Chinese Associate partners I started Interlake China Tours, Inc. of  Seattle in 1992.  Since then I have made over 50+ trips to China working with local contacts helping them develop their tourism industry.  It has been extremely rewarding and I look forward to each and every trip still seeing sights that I have missed.  I have shared the sights of China & Tibet with over 2,500  people doing private customized tours for individuals or small groups with special interests.  My wife and I travel to other countries during the off season and enjoy many other cultures but China still remains my favorite with so much that is different from one area of the country to another.   I hope I can share some of China planned just for you and your own interests.  My web site is:   My friends call me ChinaDave and you can contract me direct at   email:


Thursday, March 12, 2015


The Yangtze River cruise is the best known cruise in China which is a 4 day experience you will not forget.  However there is another river cruise that perhaps is not as well known.  It is a One day cruise down the Li River with some of the most spectacular scenery in China.  After a visit to Guilin with so many things to see, the cruise is one day down to the town of Yangshuo.  The scenery includes the hay stack like hills all along the river which in ancient times was actually the bottom of the ocean.  You will see farmers along the narrow river working their farms with water buffalo and fishermen fishing from their small bamboo rafts.   Once arriving in Yangshuo there are many things to do and sights worth seeing.  Hiking and Biking area available here as well as bamboo rafting.  Lots of great shopping too.  If you wish to have a cooking lesson there are full or half day cooking lessons available.  If that wasn't enough, there is one of the best shows in China each night on the river.  Over 900 local people are involved with animals, rafts, music and lights with the background of the hay stack like hills.  The Producer also did the Opening Ceremony for the Beijing Olympics so it is very professional and very worth seeing.   For more information on the Li River Cruise contact us at
Email:   Our web site is   We are just starting our 26th year in doing Tours to China and Tibet.  Our Experience and BBB rating of A+ insures your security and great tour always being in Good Hands.


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.