Sunday, November 8, 2009
The port of Xingang China is used to access Beijing. The distance from the port to Beijing is about 3 hours or more, depending on traffic. The drive from the port is mainly through countryside on a major highway, but depending on time of the day, it can be at a stand-still. The reason I am emphasizing this, is because sometimes people decide to hire a Taxi from the port to Bejing, which may not be so bad time wise. However, if you decide to take a Taxi back from Beijing, then you had better leave HOURS before you have to be back onboard. I have known people to be left in Beijing or Xingang because they underestimated the time and traffic.
I usually don't advertise things, but you should know that buying a package from the cruise company can be way overpriced. The last I checked, they were charging about $800 per person for two days (which includes hotels, some meals and tours. However, I would STRONGLY suggest that you check out this company "www.beijingservice.com". The reason being is that if you do what I did, then you can have the exact same package as the ship sells, but as low as $220 per person. Since I sometimes travel on cruise ships, I am a member of the www.CruiseCritic.com forums. It's free and easy to join. What I did, was post a note in the forum for that particular cruise (under the "Roll Call" section for the ship and date) and told everyone that I had started a group for the specific tour and wanted to know if anyone wanted to join. If you get up to 10 people in the group, then that's when the price drops to about $220 per person. You can have as few people as you'd like though, but pay a higher price. It was easy to get 10 people to join. In fact, "Tansy" who works at Beijing service will gladly start adding to your group (up to 10) if you ask her to. She usually picks someone to head the group and then emails the details to you when she adds people.
Everyone pays for their own, so you're not in an awkward situation, trying to diving money. We paid by credit card through email (which was very safe), or you can pay in cash when you get there. Our group was fantastic. We had a small van and a tour guide "Cindy" who was so much fun. The hotel was 5 star "The Gloria" and the lunches were decent. The funny thing is that we kept arriving to the tour spots before the ships tours did, and Cindy and the driver are flexible with their itinerary.
Keep in mind, you will have to visit a Silk Factory, etc... here and there, but the tour was two days and worth way more than what we paid. I liked this company so much, that I booked a day tour with a guide in Shanghai that I hired through them (but I joined another group to make it cheaper). They will work with you via the internet if you need to contact them while overseas.
Our guide in Beijing and the driver took great care to get us back to Xingang in plenty of time.