“ CiTS will help book flights, car rentals, find hotels and holiday packages to make your holiday in China more relaxing and easy. „
Upon reading the other two reviews, I think it may totally depend on the tour guide that you are assigned to. My tour guide was fantastic. Her name was Shuman Li. She and her driver did not ask for a tip. We gave them a good tip at the end of the tour even though they did not ask. They were worth every yuan.
Shuman made sure that we were safely walked through the streets. We did not feel hurried or rushed; a very good leisurely pace. We enjoyed all the sights and she clearly described where we were at and what we were looking at.
We have had experience with other tour guides and they do not compare at all. She is top notch and I would recommend her to anyone looking for a good tour. In fact, she was Nicolas Cage's tour guide when he visited Beijing.
I have had the pleasure of having her as my tour guide in 2008 and 2012 and each tour was magical. If possible, I would like her to be my tour guide to Shanghai, Xian, etc.
Yes, I was lucky. And it is not the agency, it is the guide, that makes the difference. And yes, you can make arrangements directly with CiTS.
We booked a private tour with CITS and I honestly think it was a theft. The guides we had were absolutely unprofessional and incapable to guide us. The one in Beijing asked us for her tip as soon as we were on the taxi from the airport for an amount of money that ( we discovered later) could feed up a family for 1 month. She was pretty nasty and she did not have any good and appreciable knowledge of the sites. She run so fast through the sites that we could barely walk behind her.
The guide in Shangai could not speak English and it was a pain to speak with him and repeat 10 times the same questions....when we visited the sites,he explained us just the ages of trees and nothing more.
We think a travel agency should be able to provide prepared guides and not cheat you, especially if they are one of the "most famous" agency in china. Never again!!!
[Review on CITS Tour via Virgin Holidays]
China International Travel Service Limited ("CITS") is the largest national travel agency in China. It has offices in all major cities in China including Beijing and Shanghai.
CITS was founded in 1954 and was the first travel agency in China to cater to international tourists. It is one of the earliest travel agencies in China franchised by the government to operate international as well as national domestic tours. Over the years, CITS has established good business relationships with over 1,000 international tour operators, including the UK based, Virgin Holidays.
We were told that Virgin Holidays themselves along with all other foreign travel agencies are not permitted by Chinese regulation to establish a branch in China and so all tours in China are operated by China-based travel agencies. All guides on the tour work freelance and are provided for by CITS.
For our honeymoon, we decided on the19 day "Splendours of China" tour, as advertised on Virgin Holidays. Virgin Holidays did all the work in terms of booking the actual holiday with CITS and so no contact was made with CITS until we were on the tour.
The tour consisted of visits to 7 different Chinese cities all accompanied by one national guide and a local guide at each destination.
Our national guide was absolutely lovely! We couldn't ask for a better guide to look after us throughout our 2.5 weeks on this tour. She was very experienced (over 5 years of doing the same tour) and her English, albeit not perfect, was perfectly acceptable - she even managed to pull a few jokes! When we needed to have our itinerary changed (we needed to extend our stay in Hong Kong), our national guide took all the details saving us the hassle of trying to communicate to CITS what needed to be done. All the changes were made and everything went smoothly with absolutely no problems. As a representative of CITS, her service was impeccable.
The local guides provided by CITS were just as good and whenever we hit a problem, they were on hand to provide local guidance (as well as speaking the local dialect) and to resolve the issues.
One downer was the way the guides collected their tips. After each destination, the national guide would request that we paid a certain amount as tips to both the local guide and driver of our mini-bus. All in all, that amounted to a grand total of £150+ per couple for out particular tour! We were later told that CITS encouraged this practice as a means of bulking up the guides' wages, which, personally, I find quite outrageous.
If we had known that Virgin Holidays was just acting as a intermediary for CITS, we would have booked the holiday directly with CITS. I suspect it would have been substantially cheaper if we had done this. Theres a wider selection of their China tours on their website (http://www.cits.net/china-travel/homePage_EN.htm) and you can make bookings online.
Overall, our experience was fantastic and every representative of CITS was courteous at all times and extremely helpful, always going out of their way to help us. Regarding the issue of tipping, I would say, don't let it put you off for booking a holiday with CITS but just be on your guard when it happens on the actual holiday.