Since we are in China, and we do get around, some, we offer our impressions of various cities and suggest places to stay and things to do. The first trick to traveling in China is to use a Chinese travel agent to book both your flights and hotels because you will get a good discount (when in Rome...but, you're in China, so...). Because most of the websites are in Chinese and most of the phone services speak only Chinese, you can ask us to assist you, in your booking, by calling or emailing us. It is a new service that we are offering to help foreign travelers and business people get the right kind of room at the right price.
You get a double benefit as a foreign traveler, in China. First of all, hotels and restaurants pay their staff and pay for supplies in Yuan, not dollars, so they are priced like Western hotels and restaurants, but the Yuan is cheap in terms of dollars or Euros. The second benefit is that energy costs are subsidized, so trains, planes, buses and taxis are still cheap because of the subsidies. For example, a round trip airfare for a 1,000 mile (each way) trip might cost ¥1,000, which is about $US150. Most Chinese take trains and buses, even on long trips. Some of my foreign friends have also taken two-day train trips to the north, and they say that it is good way to meet people and to see the country (personally, I think they are just being cheap).
Although tips are not part of the culture or the expectations of staff, in some Western hotels and restaurants, they are expected, and I always leave money in the room at a hotel and at Western restaurants that we frequent. Always negotiate prices. All Chinese think that foreigners are rich. They know that ¥70 is just $10 to an American, but what they don't realize is that that $10 won't buy us dinner, in America, while ¥10 can buy them dinner, in China. As a result of their misunderstanding of the relativity of money (see "You're Missing the Point" and other analyses on our In Country Analysis page of the Website), I have had people try to charge me as much as 10 times the real price in Yuan.
I am a "natural local", which means the way that I like to travel is to act as though I have just moved to the area rather than being a tourist (although it is hard to convince people, here, that I am a local, but some still do believe me). I have already lived in over a dozen places, this century. My method is to tell local people that I am moving there (which I am, although it may be for as short as a week or a month), and ask them what there is to do around the area. You learn much more about a place, that way. People love to help you discover the inner secrets of their towns. I am also very friendly and say "hi" to everyone on the street (here, "hi" is "ni hao" or, in some parts of Guangdong province, "lei ho"). That always gives you a good barometer of the friendliness of the city: the more people who smile and say "hi" back to you is a good measure of friendliness. For example, in New York City, most people will look at you like you're crazy and pick up their pace, while about 85 percent of the people in Philadelphia will say "hi" back to you, and some will even be the first to say "hi". Montreal is about 75 percent, and Quebec City is even friendlier, even if your "Bon jour" shows that you are not a native French speaker. In most cities, in China, even tiny villages, people are so tickled that you can speak Chinese that they will smile and say "ni hao" ("lei ho") back to you and may even give you a thumbs up (Xi'an being a real exception to that rule of thumb). Try these simple methods, yourself, when traveling.
P.S. When you get a call in your hotel room, late at night, asking if you want a massage, it isn't really a massage that they are offering.
You can click on the city links, below to see our take and advice on various cities that we have visited, in China. Please, return to this part of the site, every now and then, to see what other sites and cities we add through our own personal experiences. We are just now working on this part of the site, and not all of our cities are finished for inclusions (about 13 total, initially, including Hong Kong). We are planning on trips to Kunming, in Yunan province, west of Guangdong province, and Yi Xing, the teapot capital of China, west of Shanghai, in Jiangsu province in the near future.
If you have any further questions about traveling or doing business, or if you would like us to help you with travel or business, in China, look around our website, email us, or give us a call.
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