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11 Reasons Your China Tour Should Be Private… Not a Group Tour

11 Reasons Your China Tour Should Be Private… Not a Group Tour

Written by Candice SongUpdated Aug. 14, 2023

We are about to offer you a valuable insight into China tourism.

Dear reader, you may be at this critical juncture planning your China trip…

Such a different country is both extremely appealing and a daunting prospect for many travelers. If you don't have much time to plan, you may be tempted to go the low-value group tour road — after all, the milling crowds can't be wrong, can they?...

Don't be unaware of the reality. For best value and no regrets, go private… and tailor-made. See why below:

11 Reasons Your China Tour Should Be Private

1. Your Own Itinerary

LongshengTravel with your own itinerary to explore local life and culture.
  • What if the advertised itinerary isn't exactly what you want to do?
  • Why go to a temple or museum or opera just because a bus load of other people are?

With a group tour you will just have to find the best product you can, then endure the boring, second-rate, and downright objectionable inclusions along with the things that you actually signed up to see.

But with a private tour you can choose each item you want and leave out all the rest. That means a tour that you can really look forward to and look back upon as time and money well spent.

2. Your Own Pace

Great Wall HikingHike on the Great Wall of China at your own pace.

If you're fit and active or just walk faster than average, or get bored easily with long tour guide narrations, you may find yourself chafing at the bit to get a move on with a group tour. However going faster just isn't possible unless you go private.

On the other hand, if you have a disability, develop a blister, walk slower, eat slower, sleep later, or are just not feeling well, keeping up with a group can feel like an ordeal. You may also want to linger by a beautiful waterfall, take more photos, or find out more about a particular sight. Tough luck on a group tour! The fixed schedule is all there is.

On a private tour you can go at your own pace. The time is your own and your guide is there to respond to your requests and adapt to your interests and needs.

3. Discover More of What You Want

Cooking Class Learn to Cook Chinese Dishes.

A package tour is only ever a compromise for the sake of the group.

For example, even if the package promises to be a kungfu tour, it will only ever supply just enough martial arts experiences for the average person. If you're more interested that the average person, or want to see and learn particular styles and aspects of kungfu, choose a private tour.

The same goes for if you want more experiences and in-depth discovery of Chinese food, the Forbidden City, tea culture, ethnic minority life, natural wonders like Zhangjiajie's "Avatar pillars", and so on. To fully realize your China wish list tailor-make a private tour.

Some of the unique experiences was visiting some of the small villages and seeing the daily life of the farmers and meeting kids that are excited to see a foreigner. Or a woman sharing her lunch with us, as we were the first westerners she and her mother had met.

— Victor and Mary Ann Cognato, China Highlights customers

4. Personalized Service

We are all different, so no two China tours should ever be the same.

Our guide help customers to order foodOur guides help our customers to order the food they want.

Your interests might be in natural sights, to the exclusion of historic ones. Or you might be interested in trying more Chinese food… but not the over-spicy types. You may want help with your luggage, extra toilet stops, softer beds, or a guide who will keep up with you on a hike and describe the wildlife in detailed, clear English.

Whatever you're looking for, you are bound to come up short with a group tour, and should turn to an expert in private tours like China Highlights for real personalized service in China.

5. Flexibility

Cycling in the Yangshuo CountrysideCycling in Yangshuo

What if you're not feeling well and want an easier day and plainer food, or the weather doesn't suit the planned activities on the day, or you'd like to stay longer for more photos at a view point?

On a group tour you must just plough on ahead, or get left behind and miss out on what you paid for.

On a private tour with a flexible and experienced local guide, you can adjust your schedule to suit your circumstances and needs, so you make the best of your time and enjoy your China experience more.

"In China, if we saw an open air market and wanted to make that our lunch stop, no problem. I remember seeing a bunch of food stalls looking down from our bike ride on the city wall in Xian. We looked it up on Google Maps (yes it works, more on that later) and found it was called Yongxingfang. We asked our guide, Jacob, about it and he asked if we wanted to go there for lunch. Since it's the kind of place we would normally go, we said yes. It was a great experience, better than another restaurant."

— Victor and Mary Ann Cognato, China Highlights customers

6. No Shopping Detours

Commission-earning shop stops are the bane of China group tours. If you want to avoid yet another factory outlet and pressure-sale souvenir aisle, take a private tour.

China Highlights was the first company in China to fully-eliminate this practice. See our 'No shopping, No factories, No detours' policy.

7. No Time Wasting on Third-Rate Scheduled "Attractions"

Water Pass Location mapSome Badaling Great Wall group tours actually go to the lesser-known Shuiguan section instead!

With a group tour you just have to take what is in the package. Often third-rate sites are included because the tour organizer gets a commission, or they are just more convenient and easy to make a profit from.

For example you may book a "Great Wall (with Ming Tombs) 10-hour Group Tour" and end up spending only an hour on the Great Wall (maybe not even on the section you wanted) and two hours in the tombs. The rest of the time having been spent waiting around, lining up, visiting two or three "forced shopping" locations, and sitting couped in a bus for far longer than necessary.

With a private tour, none of your precious time is wasted. Just see China's highlights, not the "lowlights".

8. Authentic Chinese Food and Special Dietary Requirements

Shanghai FoodSteamed Bun

For real Chinese food instead of the samey offerings of "tourist restaurants", and restaurant/service choices that cater to your particular allergies and tastes you had better take a private tour.

Group tours only cater to the average person's food needs. See The Differences Between Tourist Restaurants and Local Restaurants.

9. Traditional China Group Tours Are (Still) "Cattle Drives"!

Jingshanling Great Wall Enjoy some unhurried peace and quiet in China with a private tour.

The reason private China tour companies like ours were founded was the limitations and sad state of group tours in China.

After seeing the groups of Chinese and overseas tourists herded around the tourist sites like cattle to the timeworn repeats of a loud hailer, it was clear something better was needed. And the situation hasn't changed two decades later!

Offering private custom-made tours to show travelers the real China was the way forward. The dawn of the Internet marketing age in China offered just that opportunity, as global communication, marketing, and customer choice mushroomed overnight.

A private China tour will give you the golden opportunity to avoid the noisy jostling crowds of Chinese and foreign group tours, and enjoy a beautiful tailored China experience that is nothing like a "cattle drive". See how a private tour helps you avoid 8 Mistakes That Will Put You in a Sea of Chinese Tourists.

"David in Zhangjiajie was great in showing us places that were off the usual tourist routes. Having the bus driver stop along the way, so we could experience a walk to a vista without any crowds."

— Victor and Mary Ann Cognato, China Highlights customers

10. Best Value

After reading all the above it should be clear that you get better value for money with a private tour. After spending a large amount of time and money on flights to China, why would you hold back on what you have come all this way to see and experience?

While the price of a group tour is significantly cheaper than a private one at face value, it is clear that you only get what you pay for — and sometimes you don't even seem to get that!

11. You Don't See VIPs on Regular Group Tours!

The Clintons in China in 1998We escorted President Bill Clinton and his family during their visit to Guilin in 1998.

When VIPs come to China their tours are customized to their requirements. They are not on someone else's schedule.

The VIPs we have hosted include presidents, billionaires, sports stars and movie stars.

You may not be famous, but you can still be treated as very important. If you are a distinguished (or distinguishing) person looking for distinguished service, all the more reason to take a private tour.

Private Tour Vs. Group Tour Summary Table

Benefits of Traveling with China Highlights' Private Tour Service Compared to Fixed Group Tour Packages

  China Highlights Private Tour Service Regular Chinese Group Tour
— Our focus is on You — Tour China like a nobody
Dates At your schedule, depart and return on any day you wish, staying as long as you want where you want. Fixed dates. Comply or don't go.
Destinations Tailor it to your interests. You could add a small fishing village with amazing scenery you once saw in a photo book, etc. No time-wasting stops. Fixed destinations. No changes. No deviation, even if you'd rather not make another time-wasting "shop stop".
Hotels Choose accommodation to suit you. Maybe you only can sleep well on the "My Bed" of Sofitel Hotels, and we fully understand this; so the hotel arrangements will be as close to your personal style as possible. Sleep on the hard beds Chinese people typically use, and endure other run-of-the-mill arrangements.
Discovery Learn more about China. Indulge your interests. For example… Your girl will become the superstar among her classmates as she has learned to write Chinese characters — the photo is the best proof! The shallow experience will be what everyone else sees and does.
Quality Enjoy quality moments crafted just for you. As you've taken e.g. an 11-hour flight to be here, you should not miss the best sights. For example... See an amazing sunset from a tranquil section of the Great Wall. Suffer the noise and fuss of groups jockeying for position to see an average view. See the "Great People Wall" crowds.
Efficiency You will 100% control the pace and timings, no time-wasting waiting for someone else. Move on when you're ready. Catch more beauty sleep in your private transport with awesome air con. Your time will be wasted waiting around, or being pushed to hurry up before you're ready to move on. You'll struggle to rest on a crowded coach.
Chinese Food Your impression of Chinese food is probably from your local Chinese restaurants. "Travel your taste buds" too! — You will be surprised by the exotic variety of Chinese cuisine and discover its role in Chinese society. Eat what you want. Tolerate the same menu from day 1 to departure — no difference. This is especially bad news if you don't like it on day 1! "Group tour restaurants all serve the same food."
Traveler Type Middle-to-high budget, quality-seeking, particular, exacting, ambitious travelers: If you have any of the above traits, or require anything that group tours don't provide, or just don't like traveling in a "herd", then you should take a private tour. Low-budget, short-on-time, hardy, compliant, and easily-pleased travelers: You will need to be tolerant, patient, able to put up with Chinese-style food, hotels, etc., and like touring as a big group.

Tour China with China Highlights' Private Tour Service

Travel with China HighlightsTravel with China Highlights for expert private tour service.

Since 1998 we have been creating private tailor-made tours for our clients, who go home having really discovered China their way. Our tens of thousands of satisfied customers attest to the benefits of choosing a private China tour.

Our focus is on you. With us you won't be a nameless person in a crowd.

All our most-popular tour designs can be cropped, lengthened, adjusted, augmented, and otherwise tailored to your requirements:

  • THE GOLDEN TRIANGLE — Visit the must-see sights of Beijing, Xi'an, and Shanghai your way (8 days).
  • CLASSIC WONDERS — Appreciate the wonders of Beijing, Xi'an, Guilin, and Shanghai more deeply with us (11 days).
  • See our china private tours page for more itineraries.

You can also start afresh, selecting your destinations and travel style, and telling us your interests. For a free bespoke itinerary and quote, use our Create My Trip service.

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The China Highlights Experience

1-to-1 Expert Planning

1-to-1 Expert Planning

Your tour will be tailor-made by your personal travel advisor — a destination expert. Every reply will be within 24 hours.

Personal Journeys

Personal Journeys

Enjoy your personal local guide and ride. Explore destinations at your own pace. Have unparalleled flexibility, which is impossible on a group tour.

Authentic Experiences

Authentic Experiences

Discover the hidden gems. Experience local culture by practicing it. Try new and exciting activities, and unveil the stories behind the sights and people.

Well-Selected Local Guides

Well-Selected Local Guides

Knowledgeable, enthusiastic, and attentive — your personal local guides will share interesting stories, insider information, and even create unexpected highlights!

China Highlights tailor-makes China tours to help travelers discover China their way. We're a passionate team of one hundred avid travelers who love to share our knowledge of China with those looking for a more authentic travel experience, more ...
China Highlights International Travel Service Co., LTD
Corporate Number: 914503003486045699
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