Individual travel now common

China is on the wish list of many travelers, and the country has indeed become much more accessible in the past few years. But the thing that has kept many adventurous travelers from taking the plunge on a big trip east is the fact that a tour of China means a two or three-week guided tour. “On the bus, off the bus” ad nauseam is often just not the style of those who would venture to China, and individual travel was discouraged.

This has all changed, according to a recent article by Frederic Kaplan in Frommer’s travel guide. According to Kaplan, more than 70 percent of all tourists visiting China last year traveled independently, and for a very reasonable amount of money. Kaplan says that careful planning is the key (bring lots of toilet paper) along with a good attitude toward conditions that just simply aren’t the same as ours.

Of course, the advantage is that the costs just aren’t the same as ours either. A train ride from Guangzhou (Canton) to Beijing, a1,400 mile trip that takes you across the country from north to south, costs about $40. In Beijing, a decent hotel room can be had to as little as $35, a huge dinner (Chinese, of course) for about $6, and, for thoseho still like the odd tour, an escorted city bus tour for about $25. Of course, costs for organized tours of China will be much, much higher.