China Trip Planning—Is this Trip Right for You?

Most westerners travel to China only once in their lifetime. China Spree wants to ensure that you have all the resources to plan your dream vacation. Please read the following information regarding the level of activity you can expect, your physical requirements, trip destination information, tour pacing and meal arrangements specific to this China trip.

Physical Requirements:

This adventure is only for physically fit and healthy travelers and is not appropriate for travelers using wheelchairs, walkers, or other mobility aids. You must be able to walk approximately 2-3 miles unassisted, to participate in 4-6 hours of physical activities each day, and to tolerate 3 full days at altitudes of 12,000 feet (3,700 meter). Check with your doctor to determine your tolerance for high altitudes. Agility and balance are suggested for the hiking tour to the Dragon Spine Terraces.

High Altitude
Our trip includes 3-night stay in Tibet at an altitude of 12,000 feet (3,700 meter). At this altitude, almost everyone feels some of the symptoms of Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS). These symptoms include headache, nausea, loss of appetite, trouble with sleep, and lack of energy. Talk with your doctor about any medical condition you have, particularly cardiac or respiratory disease or diabetes, and discuss the potential risk for your travel to that high altitude. Your doctor may recommend medication which can help prevent or treat AMS, especially if you are prone to altitude sickness or have not previously been to high altitudes.

Hiking Tour
This journey includes an exclusive hiking tour to the Dragon Spine Terraces in the Guilin and Longsheng area. It's not like climbing a mountain, but it's not just a simple hike either. The hike is fairly strenuous—we travel up a stone path, and walk over narrow trails that do not have handrails—and should not be undertaken by anyone who is not reasonably fit or who has knee, heart, or breathing problems. If you need assistance, villagers stand by to carry tour participants up the hill in sedan chairs for about $45. However, this option is at your discretion and is not recommended by China Spree.

If you like, you may skip this hiking tour, and enjoy a relaxing day exploring Guilin on your own. The Sheraton Guilin is ideally located along the Li River, and this hotel features an outdoor swimming pool and free internet access. Some down time on your own at this half way point of your trip is usually greatly appreciated.

Use your free time to take a leisure walk along the Li River, admiring one of China's most renowned areas of natural beauty. Enjoy the sweet fragrance of the Osmanthus trees while being captivated by the cultural life as it gently surrounds you; fishing on the Li River, vendors setting up exotic foods, people bicycling on their way to work and so much more. This is an excellent opportunity for you to have a free day of doing nothing but enjoying everything around you and can be a very relaxing and satisfying experience. Don't worry about lunch as we will provide you with lunch credit so that you can eat whatever you'd like on this free day.

Travel Insurance
Due to the high altitude level of Lhasa, and the potential complexities of health and safety concern—for your protection—you are required to buy sufficient travel medical insurance if your tour includes Tibet. Your China Spree tour guide reserves the right to modify your participation, or in some circumstances send travelers home, if their condition could adversely affect the health, safety, and enjoyment of themselves or of other travelers.

High Altitude of Tibet and possible mountain sickness:

1) High Altitude of Tibet
This tour itinerary includes a 3-night stay in Tibet at an altitude of 12,000 feet. Discuss with your doctor medication to alleviate altitude sickness, especially if you are prone to altitude sickness or have not previously been to high altitudes. At this altitude, almost everyone feels some of the symptoms of Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS). These symptoms include headache, dizziness, nausea, loss of appetite, trouble with sleep, and lack of energy. Talk to your doctor about whether the trip to Tibet is advisable for you and if you should obtain a prescription medication, which can help prevent or treat AMS. Medication to reduce mountain sickness may be advised by your physician and is strongly recommended for a Tibet tour. While you are in Tibet, you must move at a very slow pace.

Catching a cold or cough in Tibet may cause very serious consequences, or even lead to death. If you catch a cold or cough prior to Tibet, you must notify your tour guide or our China representatives (see "Contact Information" page of your booklet) to cancel the Tibet portion of your trip because of these very serious consequences. If you catch a cold or cough while in Tibet, you also need to notify your guide so we can evacuate you out of Tibet in a timely manner, at your own cost.

2) Medical Checkup
We strongly recommend that you have a medical checkup before you take the tour to Tibet (or other destinations with high altitude). This is a must if you have any medical conditions or physical limitations. Let your doctor know about any medical condition you have, particularly cardiac or respiratory disease or diabetes, and discuss the potential risk for travel to that high altitude (12,000 feet). The hospitals and medical facilities in Tibet are relatively primitive and may not be able to handle your medical condition.

Tibet Permit:

Besides a visa to China, foreigners are required to obtain a Tibet Permit prior to enter Tibet. If you book this China and Tibet tour, China Spree will take care of your Tibet Permit via our Tibetan agency after your China visa is approved.

Please note: Because of the controversial and sensitive nature of Tibet issue, the Chinese and Tibetan authorities may occasionally restrict foreigners to enter Tibet without prior notice. The record shows that the restrictions mostly happened in the months of March and June when there are major Tibetan holidays, but may be extended to longer period of time. Should this occur during your trip, China Spree will make alternative arrangements for your group to travel to the historic Lijiang, in China's Yunnan Province instead. Over 80% of travelers who have taken this adventure with the Lijiang itinerary have rated their trip excellent. The Chinese government may also impose limits on what can and cannot be accessed within Tibet, so there may be need for last-minute changes to the planned activities during your trip. In these cases we ask that you bring an open mind and a sense of humor.

Climate & Terrain:

Read more about the climate of cities on this China tour.

China Visa Required:

U.S. and Canadian citizens traveling to China must have a valid passport and a visa obtained prior to entering the country. Please read Passport & China Visa for the complete information including answers to ALL your questions about VISA to China. Download China Visa Instructions.

Flight Schedule:

This China and Tibet tour package comprises of air travel segments using commercial flights with airlines, such as Air China. This is NOT a chartered flight and therefore the passage contract and your air tickets, once issued, shall constitute the sole agreements between you and the airline(s), and are subject to terms and conditions specified by the airlines.

Please download Flight Schedule, and make sure to read All About Flights section for further information of baggage allowance, mileage, and seating & dietary request, etc. Also read more about Air Travel and Frequently Asked Questions.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Q: Why have some of the meals been taken out of tours?

It is very important to us to ensure that you get the best value for your dollar without sacrificing service or convenience. Most of the meals that were taken out of the itineraries were "in-flight" meals. We have found that recently many of the airlines, in an effort to save money, no longer offer meals and are only offering a snack. In order for us to maintain the included meals for clients, we are required to give up precious time out of touring to ensure the group has a meal. The best answer to that was to give clients the opportunity to decide what they would like to eat on those days, giving you flexibility without taking time away from your touring. Also, we received feedback from past clients who said that after many days eating with the group some people would prefer to eat on their own. Clients now have a choice on those days as to where and what to eat and whether they would like to eat alone or with fellow travelers. We have ensured that when meals are not offered, the guide will suggest a place to eat that will satisfy the individual client's needs for that day. This also allows us to put your money toward improved included meals, ensuring you get the best experience for your money.

Q: Why does this tour not overnight in Yangshuo anymore? Do we miss anything?

While many tour companies include an overnight in Yangshuo because hotel prices there are so cheap, based on feedback from tour participants China Spree has changed this itinerary for our 2013 season. Instead of an overnight stay in Yangshuo on Day 9, we now have a 3-night stay at the Sheraton in Guilin. This means that after you finish the Li River cruise and disembark at Yanghuo, you will have some free time for exploration and shopping in Yangshuo's colorful stalls. Later you will travel back to the deluxe Guilin Sheraton Hotel--and its prime location on the Li River--to overnight. The next morning you will have free time either to enjoy some downtime on your own or to join our included walking tour along the beautiful Li River to see the local life. Seasoned travelers who like to explore independently will appreciate this downtime.

Since the tour does not overnight in Yanghuo, clients will not have the opportunity to see the optional lighting show of Liu San Jie. Though many clients enjoyed it, the fact that the show is outdoors means it is totally dependent on the subtropical weather. The theater can be hot and buggy and if it rains, the show is simply cancelled, which leads to great disappointment.

The change was made based on the following reasons:

1) The hotel accommodations in Yangshuo do not meet China Spree standards.

A rural town surrounded by mountains and farmland, 40 miles from Guilin, Yangshuo does not have any hotels that are acceptable to Western clients. The hotels are all locally-managed and have very basic facilities. Their service staffs are not professionally trained and do not usually follow the strict procedures of the hospitality industry in terms of food preparation, room cleaning, facility maintenance, and standard of service. The hotels in Yangshou generally have a problem with air conditioning and may experience periodic power outages in summer time.

Over the years we have had complaints about dirty room floors, soiled cups, bugs in the bed, poor air conditioning, moldy bathrooms, etc, so we finally decided to skip the Yangshuo overnight.

The problem in Yangshuo is not the small size and simple facilities of the hotels, but their lack of sanitation, service and maintenance. Until this general problem is properly addressed, China Spree tours will not overnight in Yangshuo.

We note that couple of small hotels in Yangshuo do have favorable online customer reviews. However, they cater to backpackers and budget travelers, and have very limited room capacity and a total lack of amenities. They are NOT suitable for discerning travelers.

2) Yangshuo is no longer an idyllic village.

Due to the booming China domestic tourism market, Yangshuo has become a commercialized marketplace and tourist trap, filled with tens of thousands of Chinese tourists and backpackers.

The reason for visiting Guilin and its surroundings is to marvel at some of China's most famous natural scenery. Especially while cruising on the picturesque Li River you will see the most magnificent Karst scenery with exotic mountains, bamboo groves and photogenic fishermen. Along with the exciting hiking tour to the Dragon Spine Terraces, where you will see ethnic minority villages and fabulous terraced rice paddies, our tour arrangements will make your time in Guilin a complete and rewarding experience.

Recent feedback tells us that our customers like this change and recognize China Spree's efforts to always offer the best quality travel experience.

Document Delivery:

Your final travel documents will be sent to you about 2 weeks prior to departure. If passports are included, then a signature will be required upon delivery. In the packet, you will find your air itinerary with your electronic air ticket number (e-ticket), the final tour itinerary, Know Before You Go, China hotel and emergency contact, and other important information for your China tour. If your address is a PO Box, then we must send your package via the US Postal Service. Note: the documents for all travelers registered in the same reservation form will be sent to that address unless we are notified otherwise. You can change your mailing address in the Member Area up to 30 days prior to your tour departure. Once the documents are sent it is impossible for China Spree to reroute them to a different address. Prior to delivery, you will receive an email notice with shipment tracking information. Documents delivered to an address outside the continental U.S. (including Alaska and Hawaii) will incur an additional delivery charge of $40 if sent by courier service.