Many first time travelers to China want to know how to make the most of their multi-day China tour. It’s an important consideration. A China tour is no small undertaking. Between booking arrangements, traveling vast distances to get there, the extreme contrast in culture and food, and language differences, it’s easy to feel a little overwhelmed. This is why we have prepared for you, with help from our local China tour guides, a multi-day China tour checklist.
Multi-day China tour checklist
Want to avoid the confusion and create a beautiful travel memory? Follow these seven tips and discover how to make the most of your upcoming multi-day China tour.
#1 Look for flexibility: in bookings, travel schedules and food (Create travel memories on the go)
Joining a small tour group in China is fun. Tour activities are planned, organized and paid for in advance. The great benefit is, you’ll always have a clear direction of where you’re going and what you’re doing.
But what about flexibility? The last thing you want to feel is you’re on a school excursion with no opportunity to explore.
The best multi-day tours offer a combination of both: structure and flexibility.
Say you arrive in Guilin, and on the way, you read about the beautiful Longji Rice Terraces. Spontaneously, you ask your guide if it’s possible to swap out a day in Guilin with a side trip to Longji.
The best companies will make it happen. They’ll also ensure you have ample time on tour to explore on your own and eat the food you want.
China is a mecca for both domestic and international tourists and there is big business being made by companies who bring busloads of visitors to their doors, working to a very strict time and destination schedule.
If you’re looking for a real experience of China, look for tours that provide flexibility and structure. Even consider booking a private tour for your own group of friends or family. Private tours offer maximum flexibility around scheduling and allow you to choose your own adventure.
# 2 Make sure your hotel base is the city heart (More time for real experiences)
Time is always a premium on tours – see as much as possible, make every minute count. So, you don’t want to be on the bullet train out of Beijing without having ticked all your highlight boxes.
This scenario is entirely possible if your hotel base is anywhere other than the city center. As a function of its size, population, and the number of people moving around, travel times – even within the city – can suck up huge amounts of time.
The trick to getting around this is booking multi-day tours with centrally located hotels. While many tour operators say their hotels are ‘downtown’, it’s wise to check if they really are. Hotels located 45 minutes to an hour from major sites cuts into precious time that could be used for seeing sites, not just traveling to see them. It all adds up to more experience.
#3 Avoid commission-based shopping tours (See real China instead)
If your interest in travel is in having real experiences, choose a no commission-based shopping tour. The guides and drivers working for these companies rely on the income from commissions they generate by bringing tourists to certain stores and warehouses.
The good news is the best China tour companies pay their guides and drivers well above what they’d make if they were only relying on commissions. Providing this certainty around income means they can focus on what’s most important – providing travelers with a real experience of China.
How do you know if the tour you’re booking is a commission-based shopping tour? Just ask! Your travel company should be able to explain their approach to working with their local guides, drivers and tour operators. Anything with commission-based shopping stops is best given a wide berth.
#4 Have access to help when you need it (Hello, English speaking guide!)
A first-time trip to China can be daunting, not least because culture is unfamiliar and language is a challenge. A multi-day tour with an English-speaking guide is the ideal solution.
With English now widely and well-spoken in China, especially in its big cities, a world of problems can be solved by your local guide. More than someone who points out the important information about emperors, dynasties, and artifacts, the best guides will jump in to help with any and every need.
Available on speed dial 24/7? Definitely.
Lost phone? No problem. Let’s find it.
Book a tour add on? Love to. Consider it done.
Want an experience of real local food? Fantastic! Let’s order and eat.
Bilingual travel guides in China can really make your trip a more deeply memorable experience. After all, it’s the people we meet through travel that help us create beautiful travel memories, isn’t it?
For a first time multi-day trip to China, invest in a tour where your guide takes care of you, every step of the Great Wall and beyond.
#5 Mix it up (Code for: balance big cities with beautiful landscapes)
A China initiate could be forgiven for thinking there are only big cities dotting the country, but nothing could be further from the truth.
China is a richly diverse land and nowhere is this more evident than in its landscapes: the towering karst pillars of Zhangjiajie (think Avatar), idyllic Li River, desert-scapes of Dunhuang along the Silk Road, and the icy forever views from Lhasa in Tibet, together and individually make for great travel memories.
As China’s cities have morphed into mirror images of typical Western metropoles, it’s great to balance city-busy with inspiring landscapes, so mix it up.
And if your tour is focused in the cities, why not ask if you can add on a side trip to one of China’s more exotic destinations?
#6 No early take-offs (Switch off your alarm clock)
You’ve worked hard to take time off for your China tour, so why would you want to travel and set the alarm clock for ‘0 dark hundred’?
The best China tours have sensible travel schedules. Why? Because they want you to relax and enjoy your trip. Imagine arriving home from your China multi-day tour more exhausted than when you left. No thanks.
Tour schedules with sensible start times, including for inter-city flights, means you get maximum experience, minimum hassle while on tour.
#7 Book your China multi-day tour with people who know China (Seriously)
We’ve already said that China is a big place – and it is. So how do you make the most of every destination and your travel time? Book a China tour with people who know China. No brainer, right?
Any time spent traveling is precious, so it’s wise to look for tours that have been designed our tours to optimize every moment you’re on the road. Savvy companies with tour design in their DNA will know:
- The best sites to see and when
- The ideal way to travel
- How you can experience the real China
It’s true that technology today means most things can be organized online and via email, but if you really want to talk to a real person before you arrive, find a tour company offering that facility. Every tour starts with a conversation, but it should end with a beautiful travel memory.
ChinaTours.com offers private and small group tours all across China, choose from our best China tours including the likes of the Great Wall of China Tours, Yangtze River Cruises, and tours designed specifically for families. Other popular tours include Hong Kong Tours, Tibet Tours, and tours of Taiwan.