China Trip Planning—Is this trip right for you?

Most westerners travel to China only once in their lifetimes. 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 who need wheelchairs, walkers, or other mobility aids. You must be able to participate in 4-6 hours of physical activities each day, including walking approximately two to three miles unassisted, and tolerate three full days at altitudes of 12,000 feet (3,700 meters). Check with your doctor to determine your tolerance for high altitudes. Moderate hiking at the Dragon Spine Rice Terraces outside of Guilin requires agility and balance on steep inclines with narrow paths.

High Altitude
Our trip includes a three-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, difficulty sleeping, and lethargy. 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 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. If you are not reasonably fit, or have knee, heart, or breathing problems, you should not take this trip.

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. Depending on conditions such as weather and temperature, the hike can be fairly strenuous as we walk at a comfortable pace up a stone between rice terraces on the mountainside. We also may walk over narrow trails and down very old stone steps that do not have handrails. If you are not reasonably fit, or have knee, heart, or breathing problems, you should not take this trip segment. If you need assistance, villagers stand by to carry tour participants up the hill in sedan chairs for about $45, at 2014 rates. However, the choice to do so is entirely up to you, and China Spree does not recommend it.

If you like, you may skip this portion, and enjoy a relaxing day exploring Guilin on your own. The Sheraton Guilin fronts a lovely park by the Li River, and features an outdoor swimming pool and free internet access. You might treasure some relaxing time on your own at this half-way point of our trip.

Consider a slow walk along the river, and admire one of China's most favorite natural wonderland. Perhaps you can detect the sweet fragrance of the osmanthus trees, or notice locals fishing, vendors setting up exotic food stalls, or scooter and bicycle riders zooming to work. Don't worry about missing our lunch — we will provide you with credit so you can eat whatever you'd like on your free day.

Travel Insurance
Due to Lhasa's high altitude, and the potential complexities of health and safety concerns you are required to buy sufficient travel medical insurance if your tour includes Tibet. For your protection, your China Spree tour guide reserves the right to modify travelers’ 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
Please Note: While in Tibet, please move at a very slow pace. This tour itinerary includes a three-night stay in Tibet at an altitude of 12,000 feet. Ask your doctor about 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, sleep difficulty, and lethargy. Find out from your doctor if the trip to Tibet is advisable for you and if you should obtain a prescription for preventative medication.

Catching a cold or cough in Tibet may lead to very serious consequences, including death. If you catch a cold or cough prior to Tibet, you must notify your tour guide or our China representatives (see the "Contact Information" page of your booklet) to cancel the Tibet portion of your trip. If you catch a cold or cough while in Tibet, you also need to notify your guide in case we need to evacuate you out of Tibet in a timely manner. This evacuation will be at your own cost and may require claims related to your travel insurance.

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

Tibet Permit:

Along with a visa to China, foreigners must also obtain a Tibet permit prior to entering Tibet. If you book this China and Tibet tour, China Spree will take care of your Tibet permit via our Tibetan agency after approval of your China visa.

Please Note: Because of the controversial and sensitive nature of Tibet geopolitical issues, the Chinese and Tibetan authorities may occasionally restrict foreigners from entering Tibet without prior notice. Restrictions historically occurred during the months of March and June during major Tibetan holidays, but China can extend those restrictions for longer periods of time. Should this occur during your trip, China Spree will make alternative arrangements for your group to travel to historic Lijiang, in China's Yunnan province instead. The Chinese government may also impose limits on what travelers can and cannot visit within Tibet, so we may need to make last-minute changes to the program during your trip. 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 obtain a visa prior to entering the country. Please read the Passport & China Visa page for complete information about acquiring your visa to China. Download China Visa Instructions.

Flight Schedule:

This China and Tibet tour program includes 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 the Flight Schedule, and make sure to read the All About Flights section for further information on baggage allowance, mileage, and seating and dietary requests, etc. Also read more about Air Travel and Frequently Asked Questions.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Q: Why did you remove some of the meals from the tours?

Our priority is to ensure you receive the best value for your dollar without sacrificing service or convenience. Most of the meals that we removed from the itineraries were "in-flight" meals. We found that many of the airlines, in an effort to save money, no longer offer meals and offer only a snack. To include more meals for clients would require us to eliminate time reserved for touring. We give clients the opportunity to decide their dining choices on those days for more flexibility and less time away from touring. Also, we received feedback from past clients who preferred to eat on their own, and that choice remains.. When we have no meals on the program, the guide will suggest a place to eat that hopefully meets our guests’ needs for that day.

Q: Why doesn’t this tour overnight in Yangshuo anymore? Do we miss anything?

While many tour companies include an overnight in Yangshuo because of convenience and inexpensive hotel prices, we abandoned that program after our 2013 season due to customer feedback. Instead of an overnight stay in Yangshuo on Day 9, we feature a three-night stay at the Sheraton in Guilin. So, after you finish the Li River cruise and disembark at Yangshuo, you will have some free time for exploration and shopping in the town’s colorful stalls. Soon after that, we bring you back to overnight at the deluxe Guilin Sheraton Hotel. The next morning you will have free time or you can join our walking tour along the riverfront. Seasoned travelers who like to explore independently will most appreciate this option.

Since the tour does not overnight in Yangshuo, the option to see the Liu San Jie light show no longer exists.

We made these changes because:

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

A booming but rural town surrounded by mountains and farmland 40 miles from Guilin, Yangshuo does not have any hotels that meet our standards, and not only because all of them have local management and very basic facilities. The hotel management does not train their service staff and do not usually follow best practices of the hospitality industry in terms of food preparation, room cleaning, facility maintenance, and service standards. These hotels may also have poor if any air conditioning, and may experience periodic power outages in summer.

We have had complaints about dirty floors in hotel rooms, soiled cups, bugs in the bed, moldy bathrooms, and more, so we finally decided to skip the Yangshuo overnight.

We realize that some small Yangshuo hotels have favorable online customer reviews. However, they cater to backpackers and budget travelers, have very limited room capacity, and a no amenities. They do NOT meet our standards for discerning travelers.

2) Yangshuo is no longer an idyllic village, but a transformed river town marketplace.

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.

We visit Guilin and its surroundings to behold and learn to appreciate some of China's most beloved natural scenery. You will see the magnificent karst spires with exotic bamboo groves, photogenic fishermen hard at work, and animals grazing on the shore, especially during the Li River cruise. At the Dragon Spine Rice Terraces, you can immerse yourself in an ethnic minority village and walk the fabled terraced rice paddies — to make your time in Guilin a complete and rewarding experience.

Document Delivery:

We will send your final travel documents about two weeks prior to departure. The package will require a signature on delivery if passports are included. 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 hotels and emergency contacts, 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. Please Note: we will send all documents for multiple travelers registered in the same reservation form to the address on the reservation form unless you notify us with other instructions. You can change your mailing address in the Member Area up to 30 days prior to your tour departure. Once we send the documents we cannot reroute them to a different address. Prior to delivery, you will receive an email notice with shipment tracking information. We charge an additional $40 for documents we send by courier service to addresses outside the continental U.S. (including Alaska and Hawaii).