Guides, China Hosts and Experts form the window through which you see and understand China, so in our role as cultural mediators, it’s vital we introduce you to the very best.On our Ultimate China tours, you will be assigned a China Host. This is a Chinese-speaking Westerner, who acts as a traveling concierge to provide real-time customization, flawless logistics and cultural insights.
In addition, at each destination, you will enjoy a local Guide, versed in history and culture but also prepared to talk frankly about whatever topic interests you. And then, depending on your itinerary, you will probably meet a range of Experts, who enable specialist talks and activities as diverse as Palace Bone Setting, Contemporary Architecture and Traditional Candy Blowing.
Our China Hosts are part of what makes us unique; they help explain our success for over twenty years. They have been hand selected and expertly trained to provide you with the most unforgettable journey. From seamlessly ensuring flawless logistics, to deepening your cultural immersion, to effecting last minute adjustments, in the words of a guest, they take a trip "from excellence to perfection". Before you travel with us, it's hard to imagine what a China Host brings to the party. After, it's hard to imagine traveling without one.
Apart from English and Chinese, many of our China Hosts speak multiple languages including German, Spanish, French and Italian. As long-term residents of China, each has been inspired with a passion for this magnificent country. It is this love for China, coupled with a deep knowledge of its culture, which enables our China Hosts to bridge the East West divide. The impact your China Host can have on your holiday is limitless - for more information on our China Hosts please visit Frequently Asked Questions.
There were many terrific aspects of the tour. In particular, the China Host – both as a concept and the specific individual – turned out to be much more important than we anticipated. We would have never gotten as much out of China on our own as we did with Imperial.
How they enhance your trip
Giving priceless tips for haggling at the local bazaar
Further customizing your menus based on dishes you've enjoyed.
Since arriving as a student in Guangdong Province in 2002, Garth has spent more than a decade in awe of China's cultural, linguistic and culinary diversity. Armed with degrees in both Government & International Relations and Chinese Studies from the University of Sydney, Garth moved to Beijing permanently in 2009 and since then has worked on a diverse range of government and private sector development projects. During this time, he was also working to uncover the city's best bars, restaurants and nightlife as a freelance writer and columnist for local publications, City Weekend and The Beijinger. When he isn't searching for Beijing's newest (or oldest) eateries, Garth also consults the local bar owners and restauranteurs as a menu, management and media collaborator.
Kate, originally from the east of England, qualified to practice law as a barrister in the UK. Her legal career took her frequently to the US, where she grew increasingly fond of the Mid-Western scenery, people and lifestyle. When she sought something new, she looked Eastwards however, traveling to fast-paced Shanghai to work in the award-winning UK Pavilion at the 2010 Expo. She has never left the mainland's most sophisticated city, and replaced the intellectual riggers of the bar with work in the more personable travel industry, relishing her role introducing visiting guests to Shanghai and China.
Lured by China’s unique dynamism and potential, Jaime, Mexican by nationality, combined Asian Studies with Economics in his degree at the University of British Columbia in beautiful Vancouver, Canada. Shortly after arriving in Beijing, over a five year period he founded, managed and sold a heritage courtyard hotel, this being a considerable first step into both practicing business in China (with its myriad complications) and the hospitality industry in general. A triathlete in his spare time, there’s no question that Jaime has the stamina, aptitude and linguistic skills to keep abreast of China’s future.
Our guides are over 27 years old, local to and knowledgeable of their destination, and prepared to discuss frankly whatever topics interest you. Bear in mind that like any other country, guides' opinions on social, political and historical issues will vary and may even contradict one another. We recommend asking all your guides the same one question to sample this diversity of opinion. China is addictive and learning why and how Chinese peoples' opinions might differ with age and geography is something to discuss with your China Host.
We understand that your guide is a window onto China. A fews years after your trip, you might well have forgotten which Emperor is interred with the Terracotta Warriors, but still remember that your Xi'an guide's parents were farmers educated in the Red Universities of the pre-liberation era, that she had recently turned to Buddhism for spiritual suppose but had become an avid consumer when it came to buying devices for her son. In this way, you will understand how and how much China has changed over the past thirty years.
Our guide helped us make sense of this almost overwhelming city. He was very well informed on a wide range of subjects and made sure everything worked out smoothly for us.
How they enhance your trip
Gives you a local perspective on anything you want to know about life in China
Handles varied requests from arranging a KFC stop for the kids to locating an urgent medicine you forgot to bring with you
Learn through the guide's life, from his family backstory to visiting an aunt to learn to make traditional "baba" or bread in Lijiang
Help with shopping while not taking any commission at all for the service.
Our Experts offer advanced knowledge in a narrow focus of interest. So, for example, we can suggest an art dealer to provide a contemporary art tour in Beijing, or specialist curator to introduce ceramics in Xi'an. During the itinerary design process, it's important you share your interest with us so that we can suggest activities or specialists that will resonate with you and provide greater texture to your travels through China. We don't want to send you a laundry list of experiences to choose from, but to learn about you and then suggest appropriate experiences.
Please don't think our Experts are limited to history and high culture. There's a massive range to explore from journalists to furniture makers, from bakers to musicians, from freedom fighters to dancers. All of them offer specialist knowledge and a different perspective on China. We try and provide experiences for every budget. For example, whilst some parents might want their kids to play table-tennis with an Olympic champion, others might wish for a table-tennis lesson at a local club. We want to create an itinerary that suits you.
To start in Beijing, and then go to Xi'an, Guilin, ending up in Shanghai was history put right in front of our eyes. Bravo on planning the trip to China we will never forget!
How they enhance your trip
Han Feng, is an international fashion designer with installations in major exhibitions at the Victoria & Albert museum, Neue Galerie and Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, among others. Han was born in Nanjing and trained at the China Academy of Fine Arts in Hangzhou. She moved to New York in 1985 to launch her first ready-to-wear collection in 1993. Han made her costume design debut in Anthony Minghella’s Madame Butterfly at the English National Opera and Met Opera. Finding inspiration from her exploration of highly refined textures, materials and craftsmanship, Han Feng is also an avid collector of contemporary Chinese art which you can view in her newly established Han Feng Art Space in Shanghai.