Posted April 29th, 2012, 07:59 PM
We were in Beijing in March 2012 following a cruise on the Diamond Princess.
I used a combination of looking on TripAdvisor.com and CruiseCritic to determine with whom I wanted to book tours. Since it was our first time to China and I was unsure as to what type of service to expect, I booked our two days of sightseeing with different companies as I didn't want to be stuck with someone for two day if they weren't any good.
We used the services of Catherine Lu (highly recommended on TripAdvisor.com) to arrange our pick up at the Tianjin port, transfer us to Beijing and give us a tour. I contacted Catherine in January, but I'm sure you could contact her a few weeks out and she would arrange something. She was not available and we had her colleague Maggie as our guide. We had to send $100USD by PayPal as a reservation and the rest was paid in USD on the day of the tour. We had arranged that all entrance fees and lunch be included in our price ahead of time. We visited the Forbidden City, Tienanmen Square, Temple of Heaven, and the Pearl Market. Our guide and driver were good and I would recommend them.
We used The China Guide www.thechinaguide.com
(recommended by someone on Cruise Critic) for attaining discount tickets to the Chaoyang Acrobat show and for our second day of touring Beijing. I contacted The China Guide in January to arrange our March visit. Again, I'm sure you could contact them a few weeks out and they would accommodate you. This company is owned/operated by an American living in China, which appealed to me. They offer unlimited bottled water all day and lunch and entrance fees were included the price. We did not have to put a deposit down and paid in Chinese Yuan the day of the tour and night of the acrobat show. (On a complete side note - the acrobat show is a MUST see while in Beijing!) On our full day tour we saw the Beijing Zoo, Summer Palace, Great Wall at Mutianyu, and Olympic Venues. We had a great guide and driver. If I were going to Beijing again today, I would book with The China Guide.
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