TRAVEL AND TOUR AROUND CHINA
China in the summer is smoggy and sweltering, and the humidity can be unbearable, but both Chinese and foreign tourists use their precious vacation days in the summer to swarm touristy highlights. Consider visiting China in the off-season, late October to March, for fewer crowds and cooler temperatures.
Tour groups are a good convenient way to see some outstanding things and get taken to tourist trinket stores. When you ditch the tour you probably see more on your own, but with more time spent planning about being a stranger in a foreign land. You cannot hope to get a pulse of the people on a typical tourism visit, as you will not be exposed to common worker Chinese, the hundreds of millions who form the majority in the country. You will see a lot of Chinese hospitality industry workers who speak some English, and maybe some Chinese tourists who also are enjoying the country. They are not at all representative of the country, 48% of which still live on the farm and do not speak one word of English, even if they allegedly learned it in school.