For travelers who are considering vacationing in China, a private tour, which can be booked through several tour companies, can be a great way to help navigate the country. While China has excellent infrastructure and a very good public transportation system, it can still be difficult to get around as a foreigner. Even in large international cities such as Shanghai and Beijing, most local Chinese people do not speak English. This can make it difficult to tell your taxi driver where to go, get on the correct bus, order meals at a restaurant, and communicate in other situations.
In addition, tourist infrastructure in more remote areas, such as Yellow Mountain, Guilin, and other natural attractions, are generally geared more toward Chinese tourists, who tend to travel in large tour groups, and even in popular tourist destinations it can be challenging to get around on your own. Having a private guide in China will go a long way toward making your trip easier and more enjoyable. In addition to giving you valuable information about the attractions you see, a private guide has an insider's perspective, helping you to order the local specialties at the best local restaurants, bringing you to hotels that are geared more towards foreigners, and giving you guidance about the best sights in China.
One of the tour companies in China that has garnered a solid reputation is China Odyssey Tours, a company specializing in private, English-speaking tours. Tourists who have traveled with them have been pleased by the flexibility and customization available on China Odyssey Tours. The company has several pre-planned itineraries available, which gather together the most popular attractions in China (such as Beijing, Shanghai, and Xian) on one tour. However, travelers can also add side trips and attractions that they wish to see, or plan their own customized itinerary in consultation with China Odyssey Tours' travel experts. This type of private tour is ideal for travelers who normally prefer to travel independently, as it gives you full control over what you want to see and do. The transportation, accommodation, and meals arranged by the tour guide are completely private, allowing you to change your plans and express your preferences as you travel. It is also an advantage to have a bilingual tour guide help you as you bargain and shop at local markets!
Although a private tour by one of the tour companies in China will cost a bit more than the mass-produced, one-size-fits-all group tours offered by many tour companies, it is really very affordable considering the flexibility and level of expertise offered by your tour guide. For example, customers have been quite surprised at the reasonable prices offered by China Odyssey Tours, which include local transportation and accommodation. A tour company is usually able to get better rates on foreigner-friendly hotels than you would be able to get yourself, which results in additional savings.
For travelers who want the flexibility of traveling independently in China, but who don't relish the hassle of making travel arrangements in a foreign country, the guidance of a private tour guide can be invaluable. From the time you are greeted at the airport by your guide, to the moment you get on the plane to leave China, you will be well taken care of by your private English-speaking China tour guide.