Is it possible to travel in China without a guide, especially for first-time visitors? Is it safe?
An independent tour to China is totally workable. With our comprehensive information, hundreds of thousands of independent travelers have successfully taken budget tours to China from US, UK, Australia, Canada, France, Italy, Spain, German and many others. You can arrange the itinerary based on your own preferences and the convenient public transport can make your trip easy and efficient. China is one of the safest countries in the world, but you still need to avoid taking private cars or going to undeveloped sites.
Can you recommend top 3 independent tour itineraries?
B-101: Beijing - Xian - Shanghai
B-103: Beijing - Shanghai - Xian - Guilin - Yangshuo - Guangzhou - Hong Kong
B-106: Beijing - Xian - Lijiang - Kunming - Guilin - Yangshuo - Guilin
Are the above routes all self-guided? Can you help me book train tickets or flights?
You can travel on your own following any of our independent cheap tours to China, and we can book train tickets or flights, and do airport and train station pick-up for you with minimum service fee. If you want guided day trips, you can also feel free to contact us.
Which is more convenient for intercity travel, train or flight?
It is suggested you take a high speed train if the travel time is less than 5 or 6 hours, as the trains between major cities are frequently scheduled and the railway stations are usually in the downtown area with easy access. However, for a longer journey, a flight is more convenient to save you from the long-time fatigue you may experience on a train.
How far in advance should I book the tickets for trains, flights, or buses?
For train tickets, the answer is 'as early as possible', for there is usually a ticket shortage especially during holidays. If you book with an agency like us, you can submit the reservation once your travel date is decided; even if it is months or a year later. If you want to buy the tickets on your own, note that sales on the official website starts 30 days before the train's departure date, and at the railway stations 28 days before.
It is suggested that flight tickets are bought one month before when there is usually a discount. Generally, bus tickets are easy to buy at the bus station, so a reservation is not necessary.
How about the urban public transport? Which is better, subway or bus? Are taxis convenient and affordable?
Public bus is a common vehicle reaching every corner of the city. In big cities, subway is more convenient to avoid traffic jams and save time. Sometimes when there is no direct bus or subway to your destination, taxi is a wise and affordable choice – CNY8-15 for the first 2 or 3 kilometers and about CNY2 for each extra kilometer.
Is it easy to find a hotel or should I book in advance?
It is quite easy to find star-rated hotels, chain hotels, hostels, and inns in most cities. Even in some rural areas, you can find family hostels to spend the night. A reservation is not a must on ordinary days, but you can book one week in advance to ensure a room with satisfactory conditions. An early reservation is terribly necessary during holidays, especially the National Day Holiday from Oct. 1 to 7.
I cannot speak Chinese. Is it ok? Do Chinese people understand simple English?
It is ok for non-Chinese speakers. You can see English instructions at airports, train stations, subway stations, road signs, and scenic areas. Most young people in China can speak simple English. You can ask them for help if needed. Some translation apps can also be helpful.
How much does it cost to travel in China? Where can I exchange money? Is it common to pay by cash or credit card?
For a budget independent traveler, a daily cost of USD120-150 is needed to cover the expense of sightseeing, dining, transportation, and accommodation. It is suggested you exchange for CNY at Bank of China or airports as attractions, hotels, and restaurants in China don't accept foreign currency. You can withdraw cash either at the bank counters or ATM machines which have the same symbols as your card. Union Pay credit cards are widely used in China. In some large shopping malls in major cities, credit cards of Visa and MasterCard are acceptable.
Where are the best shopping places, for clothes, electronic devices, and specialties like silk?
Beside branded products in big department stores, it is also a good choice to go to shopping streets, such as Wangfujing Street in Beijing, and Nanjing Road in Shanghai. Guangzhou is a famous wholesale center for clothes, shoes, and bags; Yiwu has China's largest small commodity market; Shenzhen and Hong Kong are best places to buy electronic products; Hangzhou abounds with traditional Chinese silk products.