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Tour pricing question

Vermilion, Ohio
Level Contributor
53 posts
21 reviews
Tour pricing question

My college age daughter and I are visiting China for the first time this December. We have a few full days in Beijing. I have been searching threads to figure out the best way to get the most out of our Beijing trip.

From the forums I have been convinced that a 2 day private tour is the best option for us. We don't speak Chinese, I don't want to wander aimlessly, wait in long lines, or be shuttled between forced shopping stops. I have seen the recommendations to click on the "things to do" and find a tour company.

My question is- How does the pricing work? For example- I see a nice 2 day tour that says it is $142, but when you click on "check availability" it comes back at $376. Whats the deal? Is it a ripoff, or am I just not understanding part of the process?

16 replies to this topic
Level Contributor
5,809 posts
9 reviews
1. Re: Tour pricing question

With a tour, the advertised price is always per person, and in general it varies depending on the season. You don't give enough info to judge the offer.

With a private guide you only pay the guide, and all the costs (entrance tickets, transport) yourself.

Sherbrooke, Canada
Level Contributor
46,149 posts
842 reviews
2. Re: Tour pricing question

Do not book through TripAdvisor, contact the service provider directly.

Understand that you will still wait in line when there is a line.

Level Contributor
533 posts
65 reviews
3. Re: Tour pricing question

One of the hints I have picked up is if you want to visit the forbidden city . You will see people walking round with offical tour guide badges and they cost about £30-about $33 this can allow you to pay at the gate price and Q jump aswell as gwtting your own personal english speaking guide

Edited: 16 October 2018, 17:56
Colorado Springs...
Level Contributor
12 posts
78 reviews
4. Re: Tour pricing question


I go to China every couple of years to do some teaching, and I have been with a friend, brought my wife, and will be bringing my daughter (25 yrs old) in January. Each time that I'm in Beijing I use Alvin Benton (alvinbenton@hotmail.com). He is dependable, trust-worthy, and fair. Alvin will want to take you to a dumpling place and to some of the shopping, but simply tell him this is not in your agenda and stay firm (not aggressive) with this and he will accommodate. He is very excited about sharing his knowledge of China, the artwork, the history....you name. In fact, this guy could forget more information than you could ever retain. I very politely told him on the Great Wall that I wanted to just hear the birds sing for a bit, and he respected it. At the Summer Palace we spent probably a half hour just on a walk through bridge area where he described history through all of the paintings, in which let him know that I did not wanted to spend a little less time at each stop and try to get an overview of the complex. He again accommodated. I will use him again in January. Again, if you use him, just be clear and consistent in your needs. His mission really is to serve you, so I never felt a need to be aggressive or irritable with him, just purposeful and polite. P.S. I will be trusting him to tour my daughter alone for part of the time. Give him an email and see if it feels like a good fit for you and your needs. Happy travels!

Hong Kong, China
Level Contributor
3 posts
14 reviews
5. Re: Tour pricing question

HI there

If your time is short, doing a private tour is the best way to go. I used China Highlights - www.chinahighlight.com when I visited with my friends. I dealt with one of their travel consultants, who was efficient and gave great suggestions for each day. We did a personal private tour. They arranged a private car, and tour guide, who spoke very good English. The tour included lunch. Check out their websites for tours in Beijing.

Hope it will work out.

Level Contributor
185 posts
7 reviews
6. Re: Tour pricing question

When it shows $142 - that would be the price if there were 9 of you most likely. I went through that too.

I ended up booking directly with Catherine Lu - we go in 3 weeks. Seemed reasonable, highly rated and easy to deal with. I ended up paying about $540 for 2 of us - but that includes all entry fees and lunch each day. If you go with someone cheaper and then add in the other costs, it is a little cheaper I'd guess, but I was willing to pay a little extra for the ease and convenience.

Chicago, Illinois
Level Contributor
17,890 posts
118 reviews
7. Re: Tour pricing question

TripAdvisor booking engine is terrible. If that’s where your looking to get prices, they’re simply inaccurate.

Beijing really is pretty easy to visit on your own. It’s no harder than for example going to New York. A guide won’t be able to skip lines. You’ll have to be careful about shopping stops. And if you speak English then you can get around fine at the major spots. Where do you want to go in Beijing?

Edited: 19 October 2018, 04:50
Vermilion, Ohio
Level Contributor
53 posts
21 reviews
8. Re: Tour pricing question

Thank you everyone for your responses. Certainly a lot to consider.

I can understand that the price would be more per person if it is just a couple of people versus a larger group. Not that they are being dishonest, but I just don't feel that the links on the Trip Advisor "Things to do" page are clear enough. When you click on something that clearly says $142 per person, then find out it is actually more than double that price!

As to what we want to do

Day 1-Tiananmen Square, Forbidden City, Temple of Heaven

Day 2-Mutianyu Great Wall, Summer Palace.

As a rule, I am a DIY traveler. Planning the trip is half the fun. My 2 reasons for thinking about getting a tour on this trip are that we have zero Chinese language skills, and I figure we have to hire a car anyway to get to Mutianyu.

If I follow wes032's advice (which rings true with my style of traveling) how would I get to Mutianyu?

I have also stumbled across this website which looks kind of like a "Craigslist" for drivers. Anybody ever use these listing for drivers? www.thebeijinger.com/classifieds/cars-drivers

I am trying to be little more careful on this trip because it is just me and my college age daughter. I don't want to miss anything by being a cheapskate, but I also don't want to put us in any sketchy situations.

Houston, Texas
Level Contributor
1,227 posts
17 reviews
9. Re: Tour pricing question

Great to hear about alvin! I have just booked him for our trip in November. Question? What is the problem with the dumpling place? He has that listed on our day trip for lunch. Should we be requesting something different for lunch? Is the dumpling house a scam?

Colorado Springs...
Level Contributor
12 posts
78 reviews
10. Re: Tour pricing question

No, not at all. I just mentioned it because of there was a reference somewhere/someone's post about not wanting to be forced to go to touristy stuff (shopping, trinkets, etc)...can't remember where I saw that. It was more about stating what you want and his willingness to listen. He took me to a duck place one time that was great. Have a great trip!

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