Is it possible to cut down the cost of your China trip?
Yes, you can!
But before jumping to book a budget tour, make sure you understand and are comfortable with this kind of touring. Here are ways to cut down on your cost.
Seat-in-coach (SIC) Tours
In big tourist cities like Beijing, Xi'an and Shanghai, there are daily seat-in-coach (SIC) tours that depart every morning. For example, a coach spends an hour picking up different clients from different hotels in the morning for a tour to the Great Wall. They head off to the Great Wall for the morning, and on the way back, the guide and driver will make a stop at a silk shop, a pearl shop and a Chinese medicine shop before returning to your hotel in the afternoon. On the coach, the guide will further sell you an optional tour for Beijing Opera or Kung Fu show at night. The next day, another coach will go through the same process and pick up different people from different hotels and do a tour to the Forbidden city, Temple of Heaven ... and so on. See testimonial from single traveller.
Our opinion is that if you are a single traveller, SIC tours are suitable for you as it becomes very expensive for private tours (no one will be sharing the cost of the private guide, driver and vehicle with you). However, if you are 2 clients or more, Join-in tours are still the best option as you can share the cost of a personal guide and driver to take you wherever you want to go - see below.
Trains between cities
Utilize trains between the cities. This is another way to save costs! Trains are obviously cheaper than flights between cities, furthermore, if you take an overnight train from .... say Beijing to Xi'an, you not only save on the airfare but you can also save on one night's accommodation! Great, but just a few things: first, be prepared to deal with crowded conditions - especially over Chinese holidays; second, train cabins accomodate four people per cabin - which means it's great if you're a family of four, but if you're a couple, you'll have to share with two other strangers; third, before you leave Beijing for example, you may not have showered showered ... and when you arrive at your destination the next morning, you might not be able to check-in to the Xi'an hotel early if the hotel was fully booked the night before.
If you enjoy the extra company on the train, willing to wait a few hours for a shower, or consider yourself an adventurous traveller, we're glad to help you book a train journey between the cities.
Take out all entertainment
Some travel arrangements are made without evening entertainment to cut costs. It is then sold to you as an extra when you arrive, this is called optional tours ... On our tours, we've included a Kung Fu Show in Beijing, Tang Dynasty special Dinner and Show in Xi'an and the ERA - acrobatic show in Shanghai for a full experience. We feel that these are must-do experiences at these cities. However, if you insist, we are able to exclude them to bring down costs. Remember to keep this in mind when comparing prices.
Our Join-in tours are different to the above Seat-in-coach (SIC) tours explained above. Join-in tours are sometimes called coach tours, guaranteed departure tours or organized group tours. The tour is advertised in South Africa, the UK, United States and Australia and on the internet (all english speaking). Your date of arrival in Beijing may be different and everyone will be transferred to his/her hotel individually. When a tour starts, everyone on the tour will be at the same hotel and the guide and driver will service the group as a bunch of friends travelling together for the next 8 to 15 days depending on which tour you choose. You save by joining in with a group of others to share the cost of the guide and driver and vehicle. Unlike SIC tours, where there is a different guide and you travel with different people each day, on Join-in tours, your guide in each city remains the same and the people you travel with stays the same until the end of the tour. This is a great way of meeting new people and making great friends.