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Private tour vs Group tour in China

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Private tour vs Group tour in China

Most of the highly recommended tours in BJS seems to be private tours but I was wondering with a private tour, would we still have to stand in line to get in to see the sites vs group tours which I heard there's no wait? Can anyone who was recently in BJS recommend a reliable private tour or a group tour to help us decide. Thanks for your time in replying.

Sherbrooke, Canada
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1. Re: Private tour vs Group tour in China

I am not aware that tours cut the line. In any case if I think of the main attractions in Beijing, the only line I can think of are to lines to buy the tickets.

Dublin, California
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2. Re: Private tour vs Group tour in China

Sometimes group tours have a different line to get into attractions. Group tour guides will also buy tickets for the group. In Beijing I can't think of any attraction that requires a long wait to get in.

Miami Beach, Florida
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3. Re: Private tour vs Group tour in China

I would never give up the many advantages of a private (independent) tour versus a group tour for a five minutes of waiting here and there.

Get a highly recommended (here at TA or elsewhere) guide and you can time your visits to your interests and have all your questions asked, and hopefully answered. Ever get in a group tour when one or two people kept engaging the guide in discussions and you and other tourgoers felt you got short shrift?

I think on a very busy day, May 1, it took about that, 5 minutes, to get the Forbidden City tickets.

New York City, New...
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4. Re: Private tour vs Group tour in China

sgtoca, when I was there 2 weeks ago, I had a private guide . The only time I saw a group tour went in ahead was that they already had the tickets. Otherwise, I saw a window that says " group tours" where they could buy their tickets presumably a bit faster since there were less people queuing to buy group tickets than individual ones. Nonetheless, it did not take my guide very long to buy our tickets.

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5. Re: Private tour vs Group tour in China

I have traveled in China on some (one day) group tours, with a private guide and independently.

Of the three I like group tours the least: they MIGHT save a bit of time and a bit of money but they do so at the expense of rushing you from place to place, regardless of your individual interests, so as to leave adequate time to take you 'their' shops - the ones that pay them to bring you there - to shop for things you neither want nor can afford.

Private guides will take you where you want to go, when you can go, and stay with you for as long as you wish. Of course you will pay more - typically something like RMB 350 ($50.00) per day in Beijing - for a private guide.

Independent travel is to be preferred IF:

1. You have a very good guide book;

2. You can count on some support from your hotel concierge;

3. You have at least a smattering of the language; and

4. You have a bit of a sense of adventure.

On balance, for most trips, a private guide is my choice if only, for the solo traveler, to have some pleasant company. But, on several trips to Shanghai, I have never hired a guide and I think I have seen and done more than most visitors without any hardship at all.

Westport, CT
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6. Re: Private tour vs Group tour in China

We were just in Beijing and used Travel China Guide (we did the 2day, but there are other options). They provided a guide and a driver, made all the arrangements, including tickets and meals, but we were the only family on the trip. We waited 2-3 moments in a couple of places while our guide bought ticket, but then were waived through at the gate because he had a tourguide pass (i.e., we bypassed the lines). I thought the price was very reasonable (we added up the cost of the meals and admission and an estimate of our travel costs). I would highly recommend. Good luck.

7. Re: Private tour vs Group tour in China

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Removed on: 05 September 2011, 04:35
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8. Re: Private tour vs Group tour in China

Now there is a new way to travel: self-help. It's gainning momentum, especially in my hometown. I don't know what it likes in other cities, but here in Lanzhou, some orgnizations limit the group members. And offers vehicles, guides, hotels or local tents, you can choose to let the orgnization arrange them or not, and you can raise your needs.

Many tourists enjoy it very much for the freedom and unique experience. But the main shortcoming is that this way cost more.

Melbourne, Australia
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for Beijing, Lijiang
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9. Re: Private tour vs Group tour in China

Hi sgtoca, Where are you planning to go in China?

It really depends on how independant you want to be. If you haven't got the time to organise things then group tour. If you have the time to do a bit of research then independant or semi independant is the way to go.

Where you mention lining up for tickets with a group tour ( who may get thru quicker - debatable ) you will also be stuck with the group & have to stick to their timings. I.E: Great Wall opens at 8am. Most independant tourists get there on opening when it is quiet. Tour groups arrive on mass mid morning when the place is heaving. Independant tourists leave before lunch & have the rest of the day in Beijng - group tourists are still on the wall at the busiest time. That's just one example.

A great option, which wont cost you more, is to get a private guide. You will have them one on one ( not share them with 20 others on the bus). They can give you a lot of help with shopping, eating and getting around.

There are guides recomended on the China forum in most major places in China.


London, United...
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10. Re: Private tour vs Group tour in China

I agree with Annie that with bit of research you can hire the guide or go independently. I travelled solo, with lot of research and help from this forum, I did Beijing independently apart from the great wall which I went with school bus. I had wicked time :)

You can look at my blogs with pictures



Edited: 05 September 2011, 11:36