China is the most incredible, rewarding, exhausting, mind-blowing and exhilarating country, but it’s vast and quite different to the Western world. It’s a thrilling country to visit and you can make your trip even better and easier for yourself if you hire a private guide.
A Private Tour Guide WILL Enhance Your Trip to China
Why Hire a Private Tour Guide Before You Go to China?
You might save a few pounds by waiting until you arrive in China to book your private tour guide BUT you’ll miss out on some of the most useful benefits of hiring a professional guide if you do!
1. Your Guide Meets You at Arrivals
When you land in China, exhausted after a long and tiring flight, the peace of mind you get from knowing that everything is taken care of for you from A-Z is such a relief. Imagine how you’ll feel, walking straight out of arrivals and finding your guide waving a board with your name on it. It’s blissful. And you won’t have to worry about finding your own way out of a massive Chinese airport either!!
2, Your Own Private Car
My favourite benefit of a private tour guide is that you don’t have to hang around and wait for other travellers once you’ve claimed your baggage. Nor do you have to schlepp miles to a coach, lugging your bags with you. Your guide whisks you off in a comfortable air-conditioned car, moments after you exit the baggage reclaim and customs area. It’s absolute heaven, especially if you’re visiting China when it’s hot, hot, hot.
In a private car, you also don’t have to sit next to or near someone who is less than fragrant after the international flight. We have all been there!
Thoughtful Little Extras
We were tired and dehydrated when we arrived in Beijing after a long international flight. We didn’t think to buy water at the airport, so it was a welcome surprise to find a supply of chilled mineral water waiting for us in the car, especially as the airport transfer to Beijing is about an hour. Every one of the China private tour guides we hired stocked the car with mineral water on long journeys!
You’ll find the quality of vehicles that private guides use a pleasant surprise. The cars we traveled in were almost new, immaculately clean and fully air-conditioned. The only teeny wrinkle is that some cars don’t have a huge boot (trunk). In Beijing, our driver struggled to get our hold cases and cabin bags into the boot. Our guide ended up with a cabin bag on his knees for the drive from the airport to the hotel.
The state regulates all Chinese tour guides who take a strict annual national tour guide certificate examination sponsored by China National Tourism Administration. You can be confident that tour guides in China are extremely knowledgeable! You’ll find them keen to share their wealth of knowledge with you and they love questions!
3. Guides Help You Check In at Your Hotel
Unless you’re staying in a big international hotel, you may find that the staff have a limited (sometimes non-existent) grasp of English. While it’s OK to communicate using a translator app (don’t forget that Google is blocked in China) it’s a huge relief to have your guide help you check in when you’ve arrived jet-lagged and brain fried from a punishing flight.
Our guides even came up to our rooms with us to check that we were 100% happy with them. They were passionate about making sure that every little thing was right for us.
4. Avoid the Queues
Pre-booked tickets are a godsend, particulary in peak season! They mean you get into historic and interesting sites with limited queueing time. All the time-consuming ‘navigating’ of ticket booths, entry gates and security is a breeze with a guide to help you through. You’ll also be free from worries like “am I in the right queue?” and “am I buying the right type of ticket?”.
5. Max Your Agenda
You’ll find you will fit much more into each day when you have a private guide than you would if you were on a large organised tour. Going to key attractions with a private guide means you won’t waste precious moments waiting around for other people to get on and off coaches!! Let’s face it – we’ve all been on that tour where some inconsiderate xxxxxxx holds the whole coach up…
There’s so much to see in China, it’s a pity not to squeeze every drop of experience out of every day while you’re in the country.
6. Complete Flexibility
One huge benefit of hiring a private tour guide in China is the flexibility it gives you to re-arrange or cancel elements of your schedule. It’s very liberating to have the schedule built around you.
China can be hard work and some tours are lengthy, so it’s worth thinking about building in rest days too. After long days in Beijing, Xi’an and Guilin, we managed to reorganise our activities in Yuangshuo with our guide’s help. On an exceptionally hot, humid day, neither of us relished the prospect of a long cycle ride in the countryside. We spoke to our guide and she arranged a relaxing Chinese painting class at no extra cost. We loved it and so did she!
Avoid The Obligatory Shop Tours
With a private guide, you can be frank and tell them that you don’t want to visit any shops, if that’s not your thing. With big group tours, the frogmarch through over-priced souvenir shops is almost inevitable, but it does eat into your sightseeing time. It’s refreshing to be able to cut all that crap out and focus on what you want to do!
7. Catch Every Word Your Guide Says
In a big tour groups (30+ people) it can be hard to hear everything your guide tells you, so you miss out on key information. With a private guide you’ll hear every word and you can ask all the questions you want. More importantly, you’re completely free to go at your own pace. You’ll get lots of information about historic and interesting sites without being overwhelmed with facts.
If you get tired, or if there are elements of a tour you find less interesting, you can work with your guide to skip these too.
8. Local Knowledge
It would be quite challenging to visit China for the first time without an English speaking guide. A guide’s expert knowledge will help you learn about local culture and find good places (and good things) to eat. They will help you to visit local street markets, browse for bargains and always feel 100% safe. Your guide will also help you to know when you need to take your passport with you and will let you know all about tipping protocol.
With the help of our China private tour guides, we navigated easily through four airports, two train stations and a cruise without a hitch. Our guides stayed with us, helping us through until we had checked in, and they made sure there were no problems. The airports and train stations were all enormous, crowded and busy, with limited signage in English, so this was exactly the help we needed. Without a guide, everything would have taken much longer and it would have been quite stressful.
Book Your Trip to China: Planning Tips and Money Saving Advice
The best way to find cheap flights is to check prices on Skyscanner or Momondo. I always check them first, because their search engines are reliable at finding the best deals available from all aound the world.
Book Your Accommodation
I’ve used most search sites over the years to book travel and accommodation. What I’ve found is that Booking.com unfailingly offers the cheapest rates for hotels, including some fabulous boutique ones. At first, I double checked their prices against a couple of other comparison sites, but I save the time now, because they always come up with the best deals.
Don’t Forget Your Travel Insurance
Travel insurance is your essential protection in case of illness, injury, theft, or cancellation on your trip. We’ve had to claim on travel insurance several times and we can report that it’s much easier and less stressful when your insurance company has top-notch customer service. Having shopped around at first, we use World Nomads for their great value and excellent service. Older family members (aged 70+) swear by Insure My Trip.
Looking For the Best Companies to Save Money With?
Check out our resources page to find the best companies to use when you travel!
It’s like a little black book – packed with companies we’ve used to save money when we travel. We think it will be helpful for you too!
If you have any questions, feel free to ask in the comments down below. We’d love to help you out!
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