If you believe the media, there is never a good time to travel to China. We hear repeatedly about China's lack of political freedom but rarely about China lifting 680 million people out of poverty over the last 30 years. What about the very real economic liberty that brings? Every spring, we hear about various flu's from China killing a small number of people. This is often spun by the local WHO office and the media as a major risk to the world's health, but we rarely hear of medical breakthroughs from China, whether the latest malarial cure or the first ever children's vaccine for Japanese Encephalitis. We hear often about China's backwardness but rarely about its progressiveness, for example being the world's biggest investor in renewable energies, nanotechnology and other developing sciences.
The press is paid to be critical rather than representational and China is one of the biggest stories of our lives, as a result of which there is a lot of critical, rather than representational, information about it. If you believe the press, there is never a good time to travel to China because it is constantly plagued by epic problems, most of them life-threatening. To be misled by the hype is to miss one of the most positive developments of our lifetimes. Remember – not a single journalist, not one, foresaw the thirty-five year rise of China. Most of them have spent this period predicting its "inevitable" implosion, explosion, demise, hard-landing, collapse… the tiresome list goes on and on. And yet I, having lived in Beijing for nearly 20 years, have had the fortune to experience a good part of this incredible national transformation.
At the same time, over the past ten years, there has been a phenomenal investment in China's hotel industry. China now boasts some of the most spacious, luxurious and beautiful hotels in the world. The Shanghai Peninsula Hotel is often celebrated by magazines and travel agencies as one of their favorite hotels in the world. When you compare the rates of these hotels to what is available in other destinations, you will realize the incredible value that China offers at the high end, in some cases charging as little as a fifth of the price of comparable hotels elsewhere in the world. Unfortunately, this cannot last indefinitely. As the local Chinese market develops both economically and in terms of brand awareness, many of the five star hotels in China will increase their prices towards global norms. And by the time many overseas travelers realize how amazing China is and the availability of these magnificent properties, the window of opportunity will already be starting to close. I estimate that in five years, a luxury tour to China will cost double what it costs today for exactly the same inclusions. Hence, you will be saving yourself 50% of the total tour price by traveling now rather than waiting for the media to tell you a good time to go.