HOW BESPOKE WORKS
How Does Bespoke work?
We know you don’t want a package tour, and we know you don’t want to waste time fumbling around with a guidebook or spend hours on Google either. That’s why our business model sits between the two: we’ve taken the package tour and pulled it apart. Literally.
With teams based in the cities we serve you in, Bespoke offers everything you need for an incredible trip, but on an a–la–carte menu – giving you the ability to completely customize your vacation.
How? By keeping things super simple – offering just four services you can mix and match however you want: Local Tour Guides; Signature City Experiences; Vehicle Hire, and Trip Customization (aka Itinerary Design). What’s more, in a radical departure from the rest of the industry, we offer transparent pricing for every component, allowing you to see exactly where your money is going and make changes if necessary. Still need some itinerary inspiration? Check out some of the featured Bespoke Journeys (China only for now) on our homepage.
What’s this Trip Customization Service about?
We believe that to experience the world in a way that makes sense to you, you have to be the driving force behind your trip, not the tour company arranging it. So when we say we offer 100% customisation, we really mean that. We’ll never take short cuts or try to squeeze your trip into a template to reduce our workload. But creating trips from scratch is much more time consuming than you’d think. So rather than spend hours designing tailored trips people don’t end up using, we charge a transparent ‘Trip Customisation’ fee for the time it takes our on-the-ground teams to do this. If you’re planning a trip of more than 2 days, we’ll ask you to pay this fee before we get started. Only using us for a couple of days? We’ll give you an all-in quote so you can settle your bill in a jiffy
How much does a Bespoke tour cost?
We’re as transparent as possible with our pricing. You can find the cost of our guides, drivers, Trip Customisation Fee and Signature Experiences right here on this website. However, to give you a general idea – the cost of a full day of downtown touring with a Bespoke Local Tour Guide and a Car and Driver for 4 people costs around 3,900RMB (560USD), not including entrance tickets or meals.
Can I see a sample itinerary before I book?
Sure! It won’t be customised to you, but it should give you an idea of what we can offer. Just get in touch to ask for one.
What’s the difference between Local Tour Guides and Signature Experiences?
Bespoke Local Tour Guides are individuals born and raised in the country you’re visiting who hold an official tour guide license (that’s right, they’ve had to pass an exam), which means they’re total pros when it comes to helping you see practically anything – and expertly manage the logistics of it too. They are well versed in all aspects of their city and completely bilingual, making them the perfect companion to help you get a better understanding of the major sights and life in the country you’re visiting in general. You can hire them by the half or full day (4 or 8 hours).
Our Signature Experiences, on the other hand, are 1-4 hour-long tours/experiences cherry picked by our team that focus on a particular topic. The experts, historians and local personalities that lead our Signature Experiences are a mixture of locals and foreigners who all know their specialism (and only their specialism) inside out.
PLANNING YOUR TRIP
Can I make last minute bookings?
Of course you can! We pride ourselves on our flexibility and responsiveness, however we hope you understand that very last minute bookings and itinerary changes (those made on weekends or within 24 hours of a service commencing) take up a lot of our time and disrupt the planning of other’s tours, so for bookings/alterations of this nature, additional Trip Customization fees will be added to your bill.
Is it possible to book just a car and driver for sightseeing?
In theory, of course! However, it’s worth noting that in both China and Japan our drivers don’t speak English and the drop off and pick up points of many major sights are in different places, so in most cases it’s necessary for a tour guide to be with you to help you locate your driver after visiting each site/ having lunch etc. We’ll always be totally honest about whether or not you need one though.
Do I need a visa for China?
Yes sirree. Please, please, please don’t forget this. Unless you like being publicly humiliated at airport border controls.
Can we squeeze in a trip to the Great Wall on a 72-hour visa?
Yes, absolutely! There are a couple of sections of the Wall within 2 hours’ drive of Beijing city center, which means you can easily see the Wall (and more!) within one day.
Which injections should I be getting for my trip?
Since our area of expertise is travel (and not medicine), it’s best that you visit your local international travel clinic for advice, or read the Center for Disease Control’s advice, here. But don’t panic, there’s no scary weird diseases lurking in Beijing, just take precautions and you’ll be fine.
How hot is it going to be during the summer months? Will it rain?
By mid May both Beijing and Shanghai are very hot (24-40°C / 75-100°F). Located close to the Gobi Desert, Beijing has a very dry climate and no ‘rainy season’ as such, but heavy downpours are more likely in July. Shanghai, on the other hand, is a more humid city and rainfall is heavy and frequent (but by no means continuous!) in June – ‘known as Plum Rain’ season – and in July and August.
How cold is it going to be during the winter months? Does it snow?
By mid November both Beijing and Shanghai have cooled down considerably. Temperatures in Shanghai rarely drop below around 5°C / 41°F, though it can be overcast and chilly. Beijing on the other hand, gets extremely cold (around -10°C / 14°F), but stays mostly dry, meaning that snow is rare but beautiful when it does arrive! Don’t underestimate how cold -10°C is though. Dress as if you’re going skiing, not simply with a warmer coat – proper gloves, thermal underwear, ski socks, the lot. Walking tours especially can be ruined if you’ve been blasé with your wardrobe when packing for the capital. You have been warned!
ONCE YOU ARE HERE
Can I see/hug pandas in Beijing?
Sadly not! China maybe the home of the pandas, and Beijing the capital, but these black and white bamboo-munchers only reside in the reserves of Chengdu in the southwest of China. (The Beijing Zoo has a couple but we strongly recommend against a visit here, due to the dismal treatment of the animals).
What’s the deal with travel insurance or if something goes wrong?
You are expected to arrange your own travel insurance prior to arrival as Bespoke cannot do this for you. Make sure you have the right travel insurance to cover both medical emergencies and cancellation of your trip, and carry your insurance documents with you at all times.
All of Bespoke’s services are outsourced to third party suppliers and therefore we cannot be held responsible for any accidents that occur during your trip. Of course it goes without saying that if for whatever reason you are unhappy with an aspect of the service offered by either us or our suppliers, we’ll do our utmost to sort it out super fast so you can go back to having a great time.
How much should I be tipping?
This will vary from country to country (and is of course dependent on personal preference). But in general a tip of around USD 15 per day for your Tour Guide and the same again for your Driver would be appreciated. Bespoke’s international experts don’t expect (and will most likely refuse) a tip. Your positive feedback is reward enough, so feel free to let us know how well they did by email after the tour!
What if we have to cancel our tour due to bad pollution/weather etc.?
If you’re worried about pollution, please read this article first. However if the pollution truly is a deal breaker for you on the day of your tour, Bespoke’s cancellation or last minute change fees will apply. The same goes for bad weather, though in the case of thunderstorms etc, we will always try to find an alternative or rearrange your trip to accommodate a switch up in your itinerary