My wife and I are hoping to travel to Jinan at the end of May/beginning of June in 2015. We have a few questions.
1. Right now the flights to Jinan from NYC are pretty expensive, and it's much cheaper to fly to Beijing. We thought about taking the high speed train to Jinan from Beijing, but my guide book recommends buying train tickets several days in advance. Is this necessary at that time of year, or will we be able to get tickets on the spot, after transferring from airport to train station? Or do we need to buy our train tickets in advance? If that's the case, is there a way to buy train tickets online from the USA in advance?
2. We have several places we would like to visit throughout the province, including Qindao. We normally find a driver on trips such as these. Should we book a driver for the length of our stay, or will we be able to find drivers day-to-day? In such cases, is it possible to do a stayover at more distant sites (e.g. Qindao) with said driver?
3. Can anyone recommend a driver/guide for a 5-6 day stay in Jinan with day trips in the surrounding areas? English-speaking would be great, but not vital if the destinations are clear. I plan to bring easy-to-read printouts with our destinations' names in 普通話 / 普通话 Pǔtōnghuà.
Many thanks for any help you can provide. Cheers.