5 Travel Rewards Myths that You Should Stop Believing In

Myths You’ve Been Told about Travel Rewards

Many people fly a great deal, stay at hotels, and spend on their credit cards, but fail to take advantage of the miles and other travel rewards that they could get. They ignore frequent traveler programs or credit card travel rewards because they hold on to mistaken notions about these programs. What follows are 5 myths about these programs that many people believe in and the facts about them.

1. Travel Miles and Points Can Be Hard to Make Use of

If you tend to buy your airplane tickets only a few days in advance of your trips, you may find it hard to make use of your travel points. Travel points are easy to use, but you do need to make arrangements about 9 months in advance when such travel products are first put on the market.

It can be easier to use your travel rewards points to get hotel rooms than it is to get airline tickets because hotels tend to not have the kind of occupancy rates that flights do. For the greatest flexibility, you should use a general travel rewards card. With such a card product, you should be able to redeem your points to make hotel or flight reservations or move your points to different frequent traveler programs.

2. Travel Rewards Cards Are Expensive

Many people stay away from travel rewards cards. They believe that they charge excessive annual fees. While some cards do charge a few hundred dollars, however, it isn’t the case with every card. Most charge no more than $100 a year.

Whatever you may pay, you can usually offset those fees by making use of some of the perks available. If you have an airline card, for instance, you get to use the card’s free hotel nights or free checked bag allowance. As long as you use the airline or hotel that the card is co-branded with, travel rewards cards are rarely expensive.

3. Everyone Should Only Concentrate on One Frequent Traveler Program

It does make sense to focus on one frequent traveler program if you hope to put together a special trip that requires thousands of points. It doesn’t always make sense to go with just one program, however.

If you are a travel enthusiast, you will usually want to use more than just one hotel chain or airline. When you use multiple travel companies, you’ll be able to pick and choose the best promotions to take advantage of. Often, different frequent traveler programs offer different redemption values. You may find that your points with one hotel chain get you a basic room, but your points with another get you a luxury room.

Devaluation is a problem that you should prepare for, as well. Frequent traveler programs devalue their miles and points from time to time. If all your travel points are with one company, such devaluations can hit you hard. If you have multiple frequent traveler programs, you may be able to use only the program with the most valuable points at any given time.

4. You Need a Great Credit Score

In general, you can only apply for a travel rewards credit card if you have a credit score over 690. If your credit score isn’t as high, however, you still have options. You can apply for a cashback rewards card, and use it for travel.

5. Travel Rewards Require Too Much Effort

Travel rewards programs can be complicated sometimes, and some people invest considerable time in getting as much value as they can out of their points.

While being a rewards hacker allows you to make better use of your points than most people, you can get very rewarding benefits with only a minimal investment of effort. All you need to do is to sign up to a frequent traveler program and a rewards credit card, and look at a few frequent traveler program newsletters sometimes to catch redemption opportunities.

People make a big deal out of frequent traveler programs because they offer value. If taking advantage of these programs seems like too much effort, you only need to put in as much effort as you are comfortable with. You’ll make a decent return on your investment in time and effort.

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Drink Like a Chinese: Alcohol Etiquette in China

A Guide to China’s Alcohol Culture and Drinking Etiquette

The Chinese drinking scene is worth exploring, as it offers a glimpse of a unique culture that cannot always be so easily grasped at top tourist destinations. But while drinking can be a delight, it calls for far greater discernment than many visitors realize.

How you interact with alcohol — and with your drinking companions — will determine how you are perceived. The vital role of drinking etiquette extends to a variety of settings and situations, including not only bars, but also business events, fancy dinners, and even weddings.

Chinese drinking protocol may initially seem confusing. Once you grasp the basics, however, you’re bound to have a good time. Keep the following in mind as you prepare for alcohol-fueled outings:

Be Prepared to Feel Pressured

In China, it’s customary to join in the fun when your companions are drinking. Surprisingly, this pressure is significantly stronger in business settings, in which your refusal to match the pace of the host could actually cause offense.

If you do not plan to consume alcohol, you will want to make your intentions known from the start. This will prove far easier if your choice to abstain is prompted by pregnancy or medical concerns. Otherwise, don’t be surprised if you’re questioned extensively about your decision not to partake.

No matter your reasons, you’ll need to make your choice early on and communicate your intentions as clearly as possible.

Unfortunately, ‘just one’ drink isn’t a viable alternative to going all out. in China, it’s typically better to either keep pace with the host or not drink at all. Sporadic sips may be regarded as rude.

The same can be said of sitting out of some toasts and not others. If you’re worried about drinking too much, opt for beer instead of hard liquor. This will make it easier to pace yourself.

Don’t Drink Alone

In China, drinking is a highly social tradition. No matter how much you love your beverage, you’ll want to avoid the urge to take sips between toasts. No worries — you won’t have to wait long for the opportunity to drink again. In the meantime, refill your glass to ensure that you’re prepared for the next toast.

Learn How to Say Cheers

At some point during your drinking experience, you will likely encounter the phrase ‘ganbei.’ Pronounced ‘gone bay,’ this term translates directly to ‘dry cup.’ As this translation implies, you will be expected to empty your glass, regardless of whether it includes a light beer, wine, or the popular Chinese liquor baijiu.

Respect the First Toast

Typically, an event’s senior host is responsible for giving the initial toast. No matter how excited you are to toast your companions, it is critical that you avoid getting in the way of the preliminary toast. From there, you’re welcome to offer toasts to those seated on either side of you. Eventually, guests may move throughout the space and offer additional toasts as they mingle.

Toast Correctly

How you toast matters. When in doubt, hold your glass in your right hand. If you choose to toast somebody who is older than you or holds a higher status, be sure to hold your glass slightly lower than usual as you clink.

Give Face

Giving face is essential in China, where criticism is regarded as highly rude in social settings. No matter how obvious the flaw, resist the urge to comment on it. Your ability to give face will also be reflected in your response to compliments. Instead of accepting praise outright, deflect it to demonstrate humility — a prized trait throughout China.

Get Involved in Drinking Games

Drinking games are a big deal in China, where they provide easy entertainment during a variety of events. While dices are occasionally used, most games simply involve holding up a certain number of fingers and shouting guesses exuberantly.

Don’t Worry About Tipping

Tips are not typical when drinking in China. If you’re attending an event, you likely will not need to worry about paying at all. The host typically covers the cost — and chipping in is not expected.

Drinking in China can be a delight if you’re conscientious about showing respect — even when this means consuming more than you typically would back home. Embrace local drinking etiquette, and you will be highly regarded by natives and tourists alike.

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The Most Common Questions About Summer Palace and Answers

Having a question on Summer Palace? Look For an Answer Here

We have collected some of the most frequent questions from people who travel with us. Hopefully, this article of definitive answers will clear a few things up for those planning to visit the “imperial garden” in Beijing.

1. Is the Summer Palace Worth Visiting?

Located in northwest Beijing, the Summer Palace reportedly hosts the world’s best-preserved and most extensive imperial garden. In 1998, UNESCO placed the Summer Palace on the World Heritage List, calling it a “masterpiece of Chinese landscape garden design.” Top attractions include Kunming Lake, The Long Corridor, Longevity Hill, The Marble Boat, and the Garden of Virtue and Harmony. Visitors can take boat tours, see traditional Chinese performances, and bask in the gardens, among other pleasures. The short answer is: Yes

2. How Old is the Summer Palace, and When Was it Built?

The beginnings of the Summer Palace date back to 1153, making it more than 850 years old. Today’s completed Summer Palace was built in waves such as the creation of Kunming Lake in 1271.  During the mid-1700s, the Qianlong Emperor erected a palace on Jar Hill and the Western Lake.

3. Who Built the Summer Palace?

The palace was commissioned by Emperor Qianlong to honor his mother’s 60th birthday.

4. Why was the Summer Palace Built?

The imperial family used the Summer Garden as a retreat from the Forbidden City in Beijing.

5. How was the Summer Palace Built?

Emperor Qianlong invested vast sums in 1750 to create the palace, and various restoration projects have occurred due to war and damage.

6. How Big is the Summer Palace?

Including the gorgeous Kunming Lake, the Summer Garden covers approximately 1.1 miles or 742.8 acres.

7. When was the Summer Palace Destroyed and Why?

Anglo-French forces ravaged the Summer Palace during the Opium War of 1860 and rebuilt on its 1750 foundations in 1886.

8. What was the Summer Palace Used For?

The Summer Palace was used by the imperial family as a retreat to escape excessive heat of the walled Forbidden City located in central Beijing.

9. Why is the Summer Palace Important?

The Summer Palace remains a highly preserved testament to Chinese architecture, horticulture, and forward-thinking philosophy about harmonious natural immersion. It stands as an internationally-recognized symbol that earned a place on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

10. Is the Summer Palace Open on Mondays?

Yes. The Summer Palace is generally open on Mondays. In China, museums are closed on Mondays except for public holidays.

11. What Time Does the Summer Palace Open and Close?

From April 1 through Oct. 31, the Summer Palace opens at 6:30 am and closes at 6 pm. From Nov. 1 through March 31, the facility opens at 7 am and closes at 5 pm.

12. How Far is the Summer Palace from Beijing, and How to Get There?

The Summer Palace is about 9 miles from Beijing and under a 13.5-mile commute. Visitors can travel via Subway Line 4 or 10.

13. How Do You Get to the Summer Palace Via Subway?

Subway Line 4: Travel northwest and get off at Beigongmen Station. Take Exit D, walk west to the North Gate.

Subway Line 10: Travel to Bagou station at the end and secure a taxi to shuttle you to the South Gate.

14. How Do You Tour the Summer Palace?

Many visitors choose to stroll through the Summer Palace and enjoy the breath-taking sights. Boat tours are available, and much of the facility is wheelchair accessible.

15. What are the Top Things to do at the Summer Palace?

Leisurely enjoyment of the Summer Palace generally involves 2-3 hours of strolling through the lush gardens, touring historic architecture and picturesque lake views. There are art exhibits, tours of the Hall of Benevolence and Longevity, Hall of Jade Ripples, and boat excursions, among others. Many visitors choose to plan on a half-day experience.

16. Which Entrance is Used to Enter the Summer Palace?

There are three primary places visitors can enter the Summer Palace, the East Gate or “Main Gate,” North Gate or “Beigongmen,” and South Gate generally referred to as the “New Palace Gate.”

17. How Much Time Does it Take to Tour the Summer Palace?

Visitors can experience the Summer Palace in 2.5-3 hours. If you want to additionally experience the Old Summer Palace, planning a half-day trip may be prudent.

18. What is the Old Summer Palace?

Located to the east of today’s Summer Palace, the “Garden of Perfection and Light” was built in 1709 during the Qing Dynasty. Visitors often tour both locations with the Old Summer Palace blending traditional Chinese and Western architecture and scenery.

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Frequently Asked Questions about Visiting Forbidden City

Get Answers to Your Most Important Concerns About Forbidden City

Before you visit Forbidden City check out our FAQ for quick answers to your important travel concerns. From opening hours to entry to ticket booking and more, we’ve got the answers.

1. Is Forbidden City closed on Mondays?

Museums are almost universally closed on Mondays across China. Although the Forbidden City also delivers a wide range of attractions, it has observed the practice of closing on Mondays since 2014. There may be exceptions during some public holidays.

2. Is the Forbidden City a Must-See?

Chinese Emperors and their families resided in the Forbidden City beginning in the Ming Dynasty along with prominent government officials. It ranks among the most significant historical places in China and remains the largest museum in the world. Yes. It’s absolutely a must-see when visiting Beijing.

3. When did the Forbidden City First Open to the Public?

After the Qing Dynasty was overthrown in 1911, the Forbidden City no longer served as China’s government center. The sitting Emperor was allowed to remain there until 1924, and the facility was opened to the public as the Palace Museum in 1925.

4. How Did the Forbidden City Get its Name?

When Emperors ruled China, common people were banned from entering the palace without consent. That’s how it earned the moniker “forbidden city.”

5. How Do You Enter the Forbidden City?

There are three easily accessible ways to enter the Forbidden City at the Southern Gate. South by walking through Tiananmen Square under the iconic Mao portrait. West through Zhongshan Park. From the east through Donghuamen and the moat.

6. What Time Does the Forbidden City Open?

The hours of operation are 8:30 am until 5 pm (April–October) and 8:30 am until 4:30 pm (November-March) The Forbidden City is closed on Monday with the exception of some public holidays.

7. What Does the Forbidden City Symbolize?

The Forbidden City is located at the very center of Beijing, and the Palace was the symbol of political power for Chinese Empires for centuries.

8. Why Does the Forbidden City Face South?

The buildings that comprise the Forbidden City face south to embrace and absorb masculine yang energy consistent with traditional feng shui  principles.

9. Why Does the Forbidden City have 9999.5 Rooms?

The prevailing wisdom behind the Forbidden City having 9,999.5 rooms is that it makes it .5 less than the Jade Emperor’s heavenly palace. A survey conducted in the 1970s arrived at a lower number of total rooms, however.

10. Who Built the Forbidden City?

Ming Dynasty Emperor Chengzu ordered the construction after ascending to the throne in 1402. He intended to re-establish China’s capital from Nanjing to Beijing.

11. How was the Forbidden City Constructed?

The construction reportedly required upwards of 230,000 skilled artisans and more than a million workers to complete.

12. How Long Did it Take to Build the Forbidden City?

Emperor Chengzu commissioned the Forbidden City in 1402, and the project was completed in 1420.

13. How Big is the Forbidden City?

Located in Beijing, the Forbidden City reportedly covers 823 yards laterally and 1,051 yards from north to south. In total, the grounds include 178 acres.

14. How Old is the Forbidden City?

Given that the project was completed in only 14 years by 1420, the Forbidden City celebrates 600 years in 2020. However, fire and other damage have resulted in restoration projects over the centuries.

15. How to Buy Tickets to the Forbidden City?

Tickets to the Forbidden City can be purchased on mobile devices or at the main entrance “Passport Window.” Visitors are generally required to present valid identification, and most major credit cards are accepted.

16. How Do You Say “Forbidden City” in Chinese?

The Forbidden City is often referred to as the “Purple Forbidden City,” or “Zǐjìnchéng” in Chinese. Visitors refer to the “Palace Museum” in Chinese by saying “Gùgōng Bówùyuàn.” However, Beijing residents often call it simply the “Imperial Palace,” or  “Gùgōng.”

17. Is the Forbidden City Next to Tiananmen Square?

The Forbidden City is located within walking distance north of Tiananmen Square. It’s fair to say they are next to each other and visitors can easily enjoy both on a day trip.

18. Why is the Forbidden City Important?

The Forbidden City was the central location for government and housed the Emperor and his family for hundreds of years. It was also a primary location where Chinese rituals were held during the Ming and Qing dynasties. It’s a vast monument to Chinese culture and history.

19. What Was the Forbidden City Used for?

The Forbidden City was used as an elaborate imperial palace and held many of the most prominent Chinese ceremonies, including the proclamation of ascending Emperors.

20. Where to Eat Near the Forbidden City?

There are a number of highly-rated eateries within walking distance of the Forbidden City. According to online review resources, top-rated restaurants nearby include TRB Forbidden City, GuGong Restaurant, Siji Minfu Roast Duck, and Ming Fu Ju. All of these are reportedly located less than a half-mile from the historic site. It’s generally in visitors’ best interest to speak with tour guides, and locals about the best place dine.

21. Who Lived in the Forbidden City in China?

Chinese Emperors and their families lived in the Forbidden City for nearly 500 years, including Zhu Youjian, the last emperor of the Ming Dynasty in the mid-1600s. After a Manchurian army ousted rebels, the Forbidden City took on Manchu customs while still respecting the earlier Ming rituals. In total, 14 Ming Dynasty and 10 Qing Dynasty Emperors lived in the Forbidden City.

22. Why was the Forbidden City Built?

The dazzling architectural marvel was built to move the capital of China to Beijing. It served as the central locus of political power and ceremonial gatherings. It was also the primary residence of high-ranking government officials, Emperors, and their families.

23. Why is the Forbidden City Famous?

Along with its breath-taking architecture, a robust history that dates back to 1420, the Forbidden City’s Palace Museum was recognized as a World Cultural Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1987. It stands as the largest museum in the world and maintains the most magnificent wood preservation structures from the ancient world.

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Why A Post-Great Wall Hike Beer Can Actually Be Good For You

Take a Great Wall hike. Have a beer. Life is perfect!

 

If you are a beer lover, nothing feels as good as a cold beer after a Great Wall hike. An ice-cold beer delivers the thirst-quenching and nutritional qualities I want after an exhilarating day hike. And, that’s my beverage of choice after walking the Great Wall of China, bar none.

Beer Can Be a Healthy Option After Walking the Great Wall

Although fitness buffs may turn up their nose at my personal preference, let’s take a moment and dispel the myth that select malts and hops are not good for you. These are three reasons I like a cold one while stretching my legs back in Beijing.

  • Source of Energy: Many cold beers have about 13 grams of carbohydrates, and an accompanying local Beijing appetizer can replenish your bodily resources.
  • May Improve Bone Strength: Malts and hops are reportedly an excellent source of silicon which aids bone and connective tissue strength.
  • Heart Healthy: Moderate alcohol intake reportedly improves cardiovascular health and may lower the risk of a heart attack.

Those three items rank among the healthy reasons why having a relaxing beer after an amazing Great Wall hiking makes reasonable health sense. And for those who concern themselves with appropriate hydration, many beers have a high enough sodium content to aid fluid retention.

But it’s also important to recognize that not all beer is created equal. If you are going to top off your fantastic hike, select a beer worthy of a Great Wall excursion.

 

Top Beers to Consider After Hiking the Great Wall

There are two basic approaches to kicking back with friends and lightening the day with a beer that I’m inclined to undertake. The first is traveling back into Beijing or a neighboring village and experiencing authentic local flavor.

Beijing enjoys a robust craft beer community that includes popular  microbrews such as Slow Boat, Great Leap, Jing-A, and Arrow Factory Brewing, among others. There are also numerous taprooms where you may find select regional options such as the following

  • Devolution Brewing
  • Shangri-la-beer
  • Brewport
  • Dao Brew
  • DM Brewery
  • Heroes Beer Co.
  • Strong Ale Works
  • Young Master Brewery

Craft beer aficionados may be pleased to know that Beijing is a welcome opportunity to explore options you might not have available back home. When you first arrive in Beijing for that Great Wall experience of a lifetime, consider doing a little recon around the city and discover a brewpub that suits your post-hike expectations and craft beer needs.

 

End of Hike Beer Strategies

For those beer lovers who don’t want to wait until trekking back into Beijing before having a cold one, I feel you. But taking a day hike on the Great Wall can be quite different from packing a cooler for the average camping trip. Some of the terrains can be rugged and require both hands to negotiate. Getting bogged down with a heavy backpack full of beer may not be the best choice.

One option I find that allows me to carry an exquisite brew is utilizing a cold thermos or one of the extended cold cups that are trending. There are numerous brands that boast sealed tumblers that will keep a beverage cold up to 24 hours. That should more than suffice a day hike on the Great Wall and allow you to celebrate the end-of-wall experience with your beverage of choice. One last thing, please remember to drink responsibly.

 

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