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Cheap China Tours

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Cheap China Tours

Hi, has anyone have any experience with cheap China tours currently on offer at many asian travel agents in melbourne?

Offers range from Aus$88 to $99 for 8 days touring about 4 places including Shanghai and include 5 star accomodation, food and coach travel (air fares extra).

I have heard that these tours are heavily subsidised by the tour operator hoping to earn from commissions from shopping stops. I have also heard that some operators turn nasty and cut out dinners if the tour group is not buying at the shopping stops.

Any feedback would be appreciated.


Tours of Jewish Shanghai
Historical & Heritage Tours, Cultural Tours, Private Tours, Sightseeing Tours
Travel China Guide - Shanghai Private One-Day Tour
City Tours, Multi-day Tours, Private Tours, Sightseeing Tours, Day Trips
Miami Beach, Florida
Destination Expert
for Shanghai Region
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6,546 posts
141 reviews
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1. Re: Cheap China Tours

What you hear is mostly correct. The hotels are classified by the operator as five-star or similar. Frequenly there are last minute substitutions of every aspect based on lower costs to the operator. The meals are family style, with pass-around platters of a set menu. Fine if you like their style of food and ingredients. Many say it is like cafeteria food, some good, some not so good.

As I like to say, "If it seems too good to be true, it is." You will see lots of add-ons, like tips, and other up-charges as you go. Once you give money to a tour operator, your chance of a refund is slim to none, so be careful. Cancellation penalties can eat up your money.

Traveling on your own, with independent guides in each city, is very do-able. It might cost a bit more up front, but you will have something tailored to your exact tastes and interests, not to the lowest common denominator of the tourist trail, seeing "tourist" China rather than the "real" China. Under Top Questions on the China Forum page, right-hand column, see the second question, "How do I cut costs..."

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2. Re: Cheap China Tours

Thanks SBS for your advice. Much appreciated.

Shanghai, China
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2,754 posts
26 reviews
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3. Re: Cheap China Tours

Wow...that reminded me of that 4d3n hongkong your including all air fare,hotel.etc. as results it turned that the tourists were locked into those commission shops...this is the news everybody here knows. I don't believe those so called cheap tours at all.

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4. Re: Cheap China Tours

Hmmmm.... two out of two replies in the negative! Anyone has anything good to say about this scheme....or is it a scam?????

Hong Kong, China
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8,156 posts
11 reviews
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5. Re: Cheap China Tours

It's the same the whole world over - yer gets wot yer pays fer. In this instance a lot of the insides of "factories" and their shops which charge inflated prices so they can afford to pay the commissions to the tour guides, drive by "visits" or 5 minute stops at places like Yu Gardens and the Forbidden City, cr*p food, and lots of hidden extra charges - compulsory "tips", fuel surcharges, supplementary charges for having hot water in your hotel room ... blah, blah, blah. I definitely rate these cheap tours as scams, but I've heard of some whose prime interest in life is shopping who do actually consider them value for money.

Calgary, Canada
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627 posts
25 reviews
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6. Re: Cheap China Tours

this sounds like the $99 8 day (it is actually 5 days only as 3 days are for flights) tour that i took last oct. it was for overseas chinese. i had taken the same tour from hk many years ago,but for a few dollars more. same itin, but hotels were not as good as this one.

if it is the same kind of tours, then it is really not bad at all. you spend 1/2 shopping, 1/2 tours. ots of time spent riding the bus too. hotels are good, meals ok. but for $99, you can't really ask for the moon.

there were no pressure to buy anything. but quite a few were in chiina for the fist time and there were shopping galore!!!

the local guide told us that it was that cheap because the govt (the tour was subsidized by the govt) wanted overseas chinese to see how china has changed. seeing is believing and quite a few in our group were shock to see the modern china. they did not expect that!!!

Edited: 08 February 2011, 20:22
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7. Re: Cheap China Tours

Thanks guys and girls.... i guess you only get what you pay for.....no free lunches....or in this case ...tours :)

San Francisco...
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8. Re: Cheap China Tours

I been to the tours to shanghai 6 night and 7 days. The local guide told us that " the tour was subsidized by goverments and no pressure to shopping" check out www.ctripdeals.com sorry in chinese Only. also for chinese oversea. 5 countries. us. au, ca. uk. nz. I went to the tours on may 27,2011

San Francisco
Destination Expert
for Guangzhou
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12,661 posts
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9. Re: Cheap China Tours

Here is some data on the tours.

The newest package is $19 for 8 days 6 nights, not including airfare, includes 5 stars hotels and meals. Not limited to Chinese, not open to residents of China, HKG, Taiwan.

Currently average daily volume is 1,600 persons, 70% from Australia, 20-30% from USA. The program started last year, has attracted 60,000 persons, tourism bureau’s original target was 50,000 tourists.

Subsidy from tourism bureau is $155 per head, travel agent commission is $20 per person. It has been a success, the total subsidies are less than the cost of an overseas advertising campaign.

The official rules require all complains must be answered within 24 hours and resolved within 72 hours. One daily shopping tour is included, no purchase requirement.

From a business perspective, whoever came up with the idea and executed the program should be promoted, it is a win-win for everyone, a brilliant paradigm shift concept, and how it is executed with so many parties involved is extremely impressive. The economic benefits is multiplied many times from airlines, taxi, shops, restaurants and everything each tourist touches. They should come up with same program for professional buyers like us, we pay for everything, not even a free post card, we spend 8 hours a day buying and we buy more than 100 busloads of tourists.

Edited: 22 September 2011, 18:35
10. Re: Cheap China Tours

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Edited: 22 September 2011, 23:40