With my 25 years experience in China, I believe Guides are one of the most important elements in visiting China. Guides must be certified by the government, usually go to Guide Schools at a University, and know their areas better than the people who live there. I often feel that clients think that guides and private cars with drivers are expensive but they are no more expensive than renting a car in the U.S.
Guides often receive a low salary and expect tips which are usually about $15 to $25 per day depending on the size of the city. Drivers about 1/2 that unless they are required to drive long distances each day. They are invaluable when learning about the culture. Above sitting in a tree is Wangdok, a Tibetan guide living in Shangrila who is a wealth of information on Tibetan history and culture. Ekbar above is Muslim and grew up in Kashgar. He is totally into Muslim history and knows the desert area around Kashgar inside and out. I have had countless guides over the years and could have not gathered the amount of information I have accumulated without them. Guides are the key to visiting China even though on rare occasions you might find a guide who does not measure up to your expectations. Silk Road Tours, Tours to Tibet and Tours to China other destinations is my only business…check us out at www.interlakechinatours.com