With private tours you generally have a guide, driver and your own car or van. The cost is about the same as renting a car elsewhere except you get to just sit back and enjoy the ride. Drivers are professional and in 20 years I have never had a driver who spoke English. Guides of course speak English but up until a few years ago few guides were able to drive a car. It is best to leave the driving up to a professional driver in China. The car above is a four wheel drive suv that we used in the mountains otherwise cars are used in the city unless you have more than two people, a van is then used. The guide on the right above is a personal friend as well as a top official in his company. His English name is Frank. We worked a full week together developing an Ecological tour in the Sichuan mountains. The driver noticed I called my friend by his English name and after the first day asked through Frank if I would give him an English name. So I named him “Fred”. Fred and Frank, right? The next day he very shyly told Frank in Chinese of course that he didn’t think Fred was a “cool” name and would I give him another one. I asked him what he thought a cool name was. He smiled and said, “Risky”. I could only laugh and ask him where he got that name. He said from an American movie. I told him “Risky” was not a good name for a driver after I explained what it meant. He laughed and said, “Fred” it is then. Chinese people are friendly and engaging and I am sure you will find that is so too. I have a book entitled “Encountering the Chinese” A Guide for Americans. I use it all the time. Send us $25. and we will send you a copy post paid.
Interlake China Tours, Inc. P.O. Box 33652 Seattle, Wa. 98133