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Bejing and Shanghai

Cruiser Too

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Any China experts out there ???

We have an opportunity to spend a week in Bejing and another week in Shanghai.

Would not speaking Chinese, be a BIG problem ?
We traveled to many locations (Thailand, Greece, Portugal, Malaysia, etc.) without being able to speak "the language", yet managed to tour and enjoy ourselves.

Would staying in the cities of Bejing and Shanghai limit our touring activities ?

Thank You !
 

myip

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I would recommend you stay IN the cities and join local English speaking tours. Hotel will have maps in English but most taxi driver (99%) doesn't speak English. You can always point a pictures as to where you want to go ie: Forbidden Cities., the taxi driver will take you there. Forget about using local buses, it is too complicated. Be aware folks that will charge you higher price because you don't speak Chinese.
 
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MaryH

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China typically have different prices for foreigner and for locals, sometimes a 3rd price in between for oversea chinese. It is common practice since the average salary is still somewhat low there and foreigner is seen to have a lot of money to spent.

Outside large cities you would have difficulty finding English speakers and even in large cities, you would not find it widely available.

Don't compare it with Malaysia where English is one of the official langauges since there are 4 different ethnic groups nor Thailand where it make a lot of money of tourists. Think more in line of Japan.. When I was in Osaka earlier in the year for Expo, a lot of Expo exhibitions and the city of Nagoya are primarily Japanese only...
 

Jya-Ning

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Doug.Kaya said:
Would staying in the cities of Bejing and Shanghai limit our touring activities ?
Bejing is more culture. If this is the first time you go to Chian, one week probably not enough there. Shanghai is more business like. A lot of shopping, high rise, morden building, bar type of area. You will find more English speaking person in Shanghai. You may also want to try to find some local guide to tour you around.

Jya-Ning
 

Cruiser Too

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Jya-Ning said:
Bejing is more culture. If this is the first time you go to Chian, one week probably not enough there. Shanghai is more business like. A lot of shopping, high rise, morden building, bar type of area. You will find more English speaking person in Shanghai. You may also want to try to find some local guide to tour you around.
Hello Jya-Ning :)

Thank you for your reply !
I checked the internet and found several travel agencies offer tours in both cities.
They pick-up and drop-off at the hotels.
But a lot of time will be spent stopping at all the different hotels. :(

A local-guide sounds like a good idea !!! :)
  • Where can we find a local-guide, who speaks good English ?
  • Approximately, how much does a local-guide charge, compared to an organized tour ?
  • Do local-guides have their own cars ?

Thank You !!!!
 

MaryH

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I would think very few independent local guides would have cars and those who does would be fairly expansive. I have friends working in Beijing and Shanghai and they said that rental car can be up to $100 per day.

When I got a private guide with car in Malaysia to see the Raffasia, it cost me I think about $100 and I would expect China to be similar or more expansive than that.
 

Jya-Ning

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100 sounds in the ball park if you go through the travel group and is not Chinese

I believe you don't read Chinese. Otherwise, there are several sites you can go there and do search

try this link
http://travel.sina.com.cn/north_beijing/web_english/index.htm.

or http://www.elong.net/

or phone these numbers (in China, 010 is cellular) These are three different travel agents that provides guide (all in Bejing). I did not use anyone of them though

1) 010-66081166、66095419
2) 010-67795432 67796113 87773724 87773972 67767614 67716462
3) 68330006/68330007

Since I know none of the company, make sure you think a way to protect your right, not just pay them in advance and never get sevice. Better insist pay them when they show up.

If you know any coworker is from China, ask him if he know someone that speak Eng, and can be local guide. I speak Chinese, so never really think to find one speak English.

Jya-Ning
 

Cruiser Too

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MaryH said:
I would think very few independent local guides would have cars and those who does would be fairly expansive...... When I got a private guide with car in Malaysia to see the Raffasia, it cost me I think about $100....
Yikes !!!

We hired a private guide (and car) in Chiang-Mai and Chiang-Rai in Thailand.
He had a 7-passenger van.

We paid around $37 per day and he was very prompt and friendly.
We would pay him at the end of each day and tell him what time to pick us up the following morning.

He would be there 15-minutes early !!!!

We could easily have paid more but... I "shopped" around quite a bit, before selecting him.
 
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Jya-Ning

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Doug

The English site is real lousy. It is 25 for 4 hr. 50 for 8 hr. In Chinese site, there is also a price for car (including driver, who can also do some guide, but don't know if the driver can speak English) The price is depended on how many people, and where it to. For 1-3 people, it is 50 (4 hr inside city) to 180. For 4-8 people, it is 60 to 220.

RCI has Asia site (http://www.rci-asia.com/), it also give out a link http://www.cnta.com/lyen/index.asp If you select travel service then Beijing. All the phone is Beijing's number (same as the one I post before). That page does not indicates if the guider speaks English. I will assume it does. The phone number I found all list they have guide for international traveler. If you really want to call in advance to make sure, you better buy a phone card (perfer from a Asia store), it will be much cheaper than if you use your home phone's long distance carrier.

I checked with my travel agent, he suggests you can call them after you arrive Beijing. That way, you can also compare to the one hotel offered.

Jya-Ning
 
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LisaH

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Doug,

I'll call my friend in Shanghai and find some tour info for you. I have one of those phone cards Jya-Ning mentioned. :)
 

JudyS

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Doug.Kaya said:
Any China experts out there ???

We have an opportunity to spend a week in Bejing and another week in Shanghai.

Would not speaking Chinese, be a BIG problem ?
We traveled to many locations (Thailand, Greece, Portugal, Malaysia, etc.) without being able to speak "the language", yet managed to tour and enjoy ourselves.

Would staying in the cities of Bejing and Shanghai limit our touring activities ?

Thank You !
I spent two weeks in Beijing a few years ago. The first week was an academic conference; the second week, I wandered around on my own, sightseeing. I don't speak Chinese and had a good time even though I found very few people who spoke much English. There is a ton of things to see in Beijing. The only time I left the city was to see the Great Wall. I made the mistake of taking a local bus, and did I get lost! I should have gone with a tour company instead. Inside the city, touring on my own was no problem. I took cabs everywhere; they were very cheap, at least back then. I sometimes managed to say where I wanted to go, or I pointed on a map. If you stay at a western-style hotel, a hotel employee may be able to write down your destination for you.

It looks like II now has at least one timeshare in Beijing.
 

asp

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We just came back from Shanghai, and had no problem with English or Taxis.
We had the hotel write the name of where we were going in Chinese before we left, and took a hotel business card with us for the return trip. a 10- 15 minute taxi ride cost around $1.50 to $2.00

We carried two pocket English Canadian phrase books, and did lots of pointing. Bargaining was all done on a calculator - no mistaking those numbers!

No problem with English in restaurants or tourist sites.

We walked all over the central area of Shanghai, along the Bund, down side streets, and even a few alleys, without incident. But be prepared for some pretty raw smells and sights.

Shopping in the market was hectic - with a lot of shouting. But, we found a "guide" who got a cut on what we bought - he sort of "picked us up" at the entrance. The guy - great English, great sales person - took us to market stalls that had what we wanted. Saved us a lot of time and frustration - we had looked in a lot of places for certain children's clothing. We expect we paid a little more, but it was still very cheap - when we offered him a gratuity, he said he got paid from where we shopped.

We had shopped in Suzhou with an escorted group, and later with Chinese Canadians, and know that we were paying in the right ballpark.

Absolutely a fascinating place - it may be a dictatorship, but it sure isn't socialistic! Capitalism at its best and worst!

the best shopping I have seen anywhere in the world - even my husband had fun shopping..
 

MaryH

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Jya-Ning

I have not been to China yet. The info are from friends who live there but they are a French and Chinese American couple. I was looking to schedule a trip earlier in the year and that was what they told me for ballpark if I hire a guide with car for a day since they had hosted a number of friends already.
 
S

Sydney

Hi Doug, you'll have a blast.

Haven't been to Shanghai but we went to Beijing end of 2003 when we also visited Vietnam and Hong Kong. There is heaps to do in Beijing that you really should stay in the city. No one speaks English unless they're in the tourism industry so get your hotel name and address written down in Chinese for catching taxis.

We did a tour of the Great Wall, Ming Tombs, a jade factory and a herbal institute. The last two are just shopping and commision opportunites. Lunch was included and the price was very reasonable. The first part of the trip involves picking people up at their various hotels but we didn't find that too bad. I'm sorry that I don't recall the company we went with - even did an internet search for you hoping to come across the same company again. However, the hotels will have the very same tours as well as various direct outlets in the capital. Just take a walk anywhere and you'll run into one eventually.

Yes, in China, it is common practice to charge one price for nationals and another for tourists, e.g. the Forbidden City has a price structure like this. If you like kites and visit Tiananmen Square, be sure to get some. They are amazing and fly so well. My husband loves kites. We enjoy flying the kites we bought then even now.

We also stayed and did everything in the city except for the Great Wall tour. There is so much to see and do. You'll run out of time. There's the Summer Palace as well, not to mention some of the markets where you can purchase very good quality yet cheap clothes.

We were surprised how many cars were on the roads in Beijing, and bicycles. It is a very busy city!

I came across this site, ChinaTour, just now, not sure how good it is but it seems to have lots of info.
 
S

Sydney

OK, I found it after looking back on receipts.

We booked the day tour with Asia Travel which charged us US$30 for the whole day, per adult. As I said earlier, it included the Great Wall, Ming Tombs, Jade factory, and Chinese herbal medicine institute as well as lunch. We found the Jade factory and Chinese Herbal medicine place very interesting even though we didn't buy anything. A word of warning, try not to use the restaurant toilets while on tour. It is quite disgusting. In fact I got so sick seeing it's condition that I threw up. :eek:
 

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You will have a good time!

I was born and raised in Beijing, and I think you will have a good time there. There is just so much to do! I don't know when are you planning to go there, but usually winter and summer are not the best time in my opinion because of the weather.

Not many people speak English there, but with the Olympics in 2008, I think the taxi drivers were required to take their English lessons, but I doubt the effectiveness of that. So a phrase book or bi-lingual tour book of some sort will be good to have. Normally, you will have better luck with the younger generations, since English is the required course in middle school. But people usually understand more written English than actually speaking it.

For shopping, I suggest you avoid the places where the tours take you. There is a local market call HongQiao, outside the Temple of Heaven in Beijing, that offers good souvieners and unique Chinese stuff. I shop there every time I went back to Beijing. You have to bargain hard, but that's part of the fun, isn't it? To asp's point, bargaining was all done on a calculator.

As far as Shanghai is concerned, I don't think you will need the whole week there in the city. But if you can take some tour to the neighboring city like Suzhou and some little villages, it will be interesting. (I still have to do that myself :)

Another thought about hiring a local tour guide is to find a local colleage student. They will be more than happy to get an opportunity to practice their English and make some money at the same time, should not be very expensive. I remember myself as a tour guide while in my colleage days :) Most likely you will take a cab with your guide, but they can also take you to experience the city, by bus, subways or maybe even rent a bike if the weather is not too bad.

If you haven't already, I would recommend you to get one of those Lonely Planet tour book on Beijing and Shanghai. (I hope they have a Shanghai one.) They are really good. I remember taking my English speaking friends touring around the city who had this guide and I have to say, it is really good. Even for a local like me, I get to see and learn interesting things I would not have done without it.

Enjoy your trip!
 
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Cruiser Too

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Holy Toledo !!!

Haven't been on TUG for just a few days and was pleasantly surprised by the many, many, helpful responses ! :)

So... a hearty "Do-Jay" and "Sher-Sher-Nay " to:
MULTIZ321, Jya-Ning, LisaH, JudyS, Asp, Sydney, Spottie, etc. etc.

Will print (and digest) everyone's contributions !

Found this travel agency that is located close to me:
http://www.chinafocustravel.com/

The site has a lot of helpful info like Visa requirements, etc. etc.

Doug
 
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S

Sydney

Phoneticly, you would say dor jair (Cantonese) and Share Share Neer (Mandarine). :)
 

Cruiser Too

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Sydney said:
Phoneticly, you would say dor jair (Cantonese) and Share Share Neer (Mandarine). :)
Hi Lang :)

My wife is Cantonese.
But.... I'm not very good at "Anglicizing" Chinese :eek:

Which dialect do you speak ???
 
S

Sydney

I speak three conversational/basic Chinese dialects - Cantonese, Mandarine and Hubei. Most of the time, I never us them but they came in very handy when we went to Vietnam, Hong Kong and China.
I also speak Vietnamese as was born there.
I'd love to learn Spanish and French. Life's too short with too many distractions. :)
 

Cruiser Too

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Sydney said:
I also speak Vietnamese as was born there.
I'd love to learn Spanish and French. Life's too short with too many distractions. :)
Lang:

Vietnam is one of the countries on my short list, of places to visit !!!
What part of Vietnam and how long ago did you live there ?

I've studied (to varying degrees): Japanese, Cantonese, Russian, Spanish, German and French.

French was/is the most difficult language, for me !!! :(

But... we rented an apartment in Paris for a little over a week and got along wonderfully :)
 
S

Sydney

I was born in the South in Tay Ninh, and we snuck out in 1978 in a leaky boat.

The first and only time I've been back to Vietnam was the 2003 trip when I visited Hanoi in the North for 3 nts. I'd like to go back to South Vietnam sometime as well.
 
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