How To Find A Trusted Tour Agency In Beijing
Visiting China was a dream that I had nurtured for too long. While I was confident about visiting other Chinese cities without a guided tour, my packed travel schedule posed a challenge for me to explore Beijing on my own. Therefore, it was best for me to book my Beijing Holidays with a travel agency.
Planning a trip in a city you are less aware of, comes with a lot of apprehensions, skepticism and challenges. It is advisable to plan such trips well in advance.
- Start your research early. The more you read, the more you know, and the more you become familiar with.
- Google anything and everything you want to know. Use various search terms and combinations like “Beijing guided tour”, “Beijing tour agency”, “cheap Beijing tours”, “ 3 nights 4 days Beijing”, etc.
I bounced upon the following website during my planning phase →
Not An Affiliation Or Promotion
I am not promoting www.beijingtourguide.com in any way. Neither do the agency know that I am writing this post about them, nor will I receive any payment for my testimonial. This is an honest post that I thought I could share with my readers.
The first time, I came across this blingy, glittery website, the thought that came to my mind was “Can they be trusted?”
This particular tour agency did not a really have a proper company or agency name. Sometimes they called themselves Tour China @ China .com, while in the official mails they were BEIJINGTOURGUIDE.com
They did not ask for any payment for the tour beforehand. But they did ask for the amount that was required to buy the train tickets that I had asked them to get for me.
They were claiming that they could do the same tours at very low rates that other agencies online were charging at least 20% extra!
In fact, the rates at the time I did my booking were too good to be true, the very reason I doubted them. But my doubt was soon to be cleared after I landed there in Beijing.
Make all the negotiations during this phase. Tell them your place of arrival—-Railway Station or Airport. Inform your flight or train details. All the agencies that are genuine will have no issues with sending or receiving emails. So send them as much emails as you want to and steer clear all yours doubts. After all, they are there to do business and you are their client so don’t be ashamed of any of your stupid concerns.
You can very well find another genuine tour agency in Beijing that can be trusted with closed eyes. But for me, I just got obsessed with getting the lowest possible rates and immediately started a “year-long” email conversation with Beijing Tour Guide.com
I am really sorry that I cannot attach the screenshots of the email thread here because that would reveal some of my personal data. However, the first mail that I shot, was back in January 2013. Since then, I have sent and received a total of 33 emails until I finally visited Beijing in January 2014!
Yes, too much just for a few days trip 😀 but then I was getting my holidays at the cheapest rates available !!
Between January to April, I negotiated with them further and agreed upon an amount for a 3N4D Tour. I finally confirmed the tour in the third week of April. I still had 8 more months until the day of my travel!
It was decided by both parties that payments would be made only after reaching Beijing. But later on, I did send them “some” amount for a confirmed Beijing Hong Kong train booking, which I had asked them to make in addition.
In between, I kept them reminding about my booking with them and the price they agreed upon, as I did not want a last minute ditch. I still could not believe the rate I had been I asked to pay. Every time I sent an email, I got a reply within 12 to 48 hours.
In the emails, I interacted with a lady by the name of Clara. Every question I asked, and every request I made, was sweetly obliged by her. The reason why I was so concerned about this particular tour agency was that I read a lot of negative comments about them in Tripadvisor. Although the comments looked like they were written by rival agencies or independent tour guides, nonetheless I honestly doubted them to the last day.
By November, most of my planning was complete and China was just 2 months away 🙂 During this time, I made some date adjustments and planned another leg of my journey from Beijing, for which a train booking was required. So this time around, instead of sending an email regarding the changes, I called them up.
I also wanted to make sure whether the agency operated from a “proper” office or not. So I called the number that they had mentioned in the email signature and spoke to Clara.
By this time, Clara knew me by my name! I found that she was a lovely lady to talk to. She spoke Asian accented English but all her words were understandable. She assured me that I need not to be worried and that she would personally take care of my tour and make sure that I had a memorable stay in Beijing.
- Make yourself clear about the payment method. If you are to pay online then make sure whether you could use your debit card, instead of credit cards.
- If you have been asked by your tour agency to send money then tell them your preference, whether you would like to pay via money transfer agencies like Western Union or directly by your bank. In case, you are transferring the amount by bank, ask for your agency’s bank account where you can send the money.
- If you have to do none of the above and have been asked to pay the full amount on arrival in Beijing, then just keep your Dollars or Chinese Yuan ready, relax, and take the trip.
Take The Trip
If you have made your payments in advance, well and fine. If you haven’t, then you are required to pay the “full amount” as soon as the agency’s driver comes to pick you up at the airport or railway station.
Do not frown if the driver starts counting the money right at your face. He is just doing his job. This is what exactly happened to me. I doubted them all along and now it was their turn to doubt me 😀
So, once all the doubtful doubts were cleared, the smiling driver of my Volkswagen Passat car (yes, this is the car that they sent me), opened the door for me and finally asked me to get in (until then, I was standing for more than 15 minutes with all my baggages, while he did the counting and recounting and made a couple of phone calls to his boss). Thus, began my All Inclusive guided tour of Beijing 🙂
The 3N4D package usually includes:
- Hotel Stay with daily breakfast and lunch,
- Coach transfers to airport/railway station,
- Sightseeing of the Mutiyanyu OR Badaling Great Wall, Ming Tomb, any “one” night show with the options being the Chinese Acrobatic Show and the popular Kung Fu Show at Red Theatre,
- Tiananmen Square, Forbidden City, Summer Palace tour,
- Visits to Jade Factory, Chinese Medicine Shop and a Chinese Tea Party,
- Plus, optional drop-off at any shopping street of your choice (I chose Wangfujiang Street).