Friday, July 29, 2016

Flavors of China

Next time when you go to China, try the Peking Duck Banquet in Beijing, a Dumpling Banquet in Xian, some spicy Sichuan cuisine in Chongqing, and delicate Dim Sum in Hong Kong! Authentic Chinese food is an art. After trying these flavorous food in China, you will never go to Panda Express again!

Peking Duck Banquet: Beijing

Peking Duck Banquet is a meal one must experience while visiting Beijing. Prepared right in front of diners, the chef carefully cuts the cooked duck into thin slices. The duck is then wrapped in the pancake along with a few spring onions and hoison sauce and served to the table.

Dumpling Banquet: Xian
photo courtesy of: kaleidoscope.cultural-china

People know that visiting Terracotta Warriors is one of the must-do things in Xian. But do you know that Xian is also famous for its Dumpling Banquet? After a visit to the Terracotta Warriors, indulge in these delectable dumplings filled with various meats, seafood and vegetables.

Sichuan Cuisine: Chongqing

With the presence of garlic, chili peppers, peppercorn and ginger in almost every dish, it is no wonder that Chongqing is most famous for its fiery-hot Sichuan cuisine. Most popular is the Ma Po Tofu dish. Packed with flavor, the dish consists of tofu and minced meat in a spicy bean and chili sauce and is typically eaten with a bowl of rice.

Dim Sum: Hong Kong
photo courtesy of: kaleidoscope.cultural-china

More commonly known as "Dim Sum", this Chinese custom derived from the ancient tradition of "Yum Cha" which means "drink tea". Tea houses were originally built to provide travelers journeying the Silk Road with a place to relax and drink tea. Over time, small portions of a variety of foods were slowly introduced along with Yum Cha and evolved into the modern tradition of Dim Sum. Among the vast array of choices, most popular at Dim Sum is har gau (steamed dumpling - shrimp wrapped in clear rice flour), Shu Mai, Char Siu Baau (fluffy white bun filled with barbecued pork), Sticky rice (glutinous rice with eggs, mushrooms, dried scallops and Chinese sausage wrapped in a lotus leaf), lo bak go (turnip cakes) and Chicken Feet (for the adventurous). Dessert usually offers a choice of sweet egg tarts, mango pudding, almond flavor tofu, and much more.

First time travel to Shanghai

Know Before You Go: Shanghai

In the dynamic city of Shanghai, East and West don't just meet, they collide. A booming metropolis at the forefront of China's race for modernization, this port city is filled with stunning contrasts. Here, visitors can witness the glittering skyscrapers of Shanghai, visit a Ming Dynasty classical garden and enjoy luxury shopping on Nanjing Road, all in one day.

Here are a few notes to help you pack for your first trip to Shanghai:

Weather in Shanghai is comparable to the Gulf Coast states, though winter storms do not occur as often. Summer is hot and humid with frequent rain. Winter is shorter, cooler, and often overcast with drizzle. We suggest that you bring comfortable, casual clothing and good walking shoes for your trip.

Chinese currency is called Ren Min Bi (RMB) and is issued by the state bank, the People's Bank of China. We suggest you bring a combination of cash (some $1's, $5's and $20's) and travelers checks for your trip. It is not a good idea to bring only travelers checks, because only 50% of exchanged value can be converted back to U.S dollars. US dollars in cash form are accepted at many places while travelers' checks must be converted into RMB first.

Credit cards are not widely accepted in China but are becoming more popular in major cities. International hotels, department stores and shops frequented by foreign tourists generally accept them. Cash advance by credit card is not common and is only possible at a few assigned banks. As of July 2016, the following rates apply US $1=RMB 6.65.

I see London I see France - Europe's Hot Spots at a Glance

Art. History. Culture. Cuisine. With all that it has to offer, Europe is definitely one of the most fascinating places one must visit in a lifetime. However, with so many attractions, planning a vacation to Europe can become overwhelming and you may feel as though you don't know where to begin. That is why we have narrowed down a list of the main attractions you can put on top of your must-see-in-Europe list.

1. Stonehenge,Great Britain
Constructed nearly 5,000 years ago, this engineering feat has sparked numerous theories speculating its construction, creators and meaning. This mysterious site was added to UNESCO's list of World Heritage sites in 1986 and continues to amaze hundreds of thousands of visitors every year. While its original purpose remains uncertain, there is no doubt that Stonehenge should be on the top of your list.

2. Bath, Great Britain
Originally established as a spa resort by the Romans in AD 43, the city of Bath is a breathtakingly beautiful town adorned with elegant townhouses and a number of architectural wonders. Pictured above is one of the world's finest and best-preserved Roman Spas.

3. The Lake District
With scenery that rivals Tuscany's sweeping hills and the French Alps, it's easy to see why 19th century writers called the Lake District their poetic muse. Witness the breathtaking panoramas of jagged mountains, wooded valleys and some of England's largest and most spectacular lakes in person!

4. Buckingham Palace, London
Serving as the Royal Family's London residence since 1837, the Buckingham Palace is a sight to be seen. The extravagant Palace serves as an ideal backdrop for any picture!

5. The Eiffel Tower, Paris
Described by Ernest Hemingway as a "movable feast", this romantic city leaves an indelible mark on the soul of each visitor.

6. Venice, Italy
Already experienced the gondola ride at the Venetian, Las Vegas? Well, we assure you that although they did do a remarkable job of replicating the scenery, nothing compares to a gondola ride along the Grand Canal. Offering unforgettable views of the parades of palazzos, which date from the 12th-18th century, the experience will be a ride of a lifetime.

7. The Louvre Museum, Paris
Venture to the world famous Louvre Museum, admire a staggering collection of art, including the Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo!

8. The Leaning Tower of Pisa, Italy
An architectural project gone awry, the Leaning Tower of Pisa is one of the most remarkable pieces of work and Italy's most famous landmark.

9. The Colosseum, Rome
The "Eternal City" of Rome has been known for centuries as the capital of the world, housing an evolving blend of timeless monuments, ruins and ancient culture. No trip to Rome would be complete without a visit to the Colosseum, the iconic symbol of the city.

10. The Trevi Fountain, Rome
And last but not least, toss a coin into the legendary Trevi Fountain to ensure your return to this magical city.

Getting Over Culture Shock

Travelling should be a joyful experience. Whatever the reason for your travel is, business or pleasure purposes, it’s always better to make the most out of your trip. Though most people tend to travel to relax, there are some who experience culture shock. Culture shock is defined as getting anxious, confused, and disoriented from being in a new environment or surroundings.

Visiting the country you always wanna go, though enjoyable and exciting, may become stressful if we do not know what to expect. There are ways to overcome culture shock. The following are some helpful tips on getting over culture shock.

Research your destination. Visiting other countries entails meeting new people and experiencing cultures that are different from your own. For example, if you’re going on a China tour, Eastern cultures are entirely unlike from us. Get an idea on what to expect and how to possibly deal with culture differences.

A good sense of humor is a great defense against culture shock. Because you are out of your comfort zone, it’s easy to make mistakes. Laugh it off and people around you will certainly do the same, driving away the tension and awkwardness of the situation.

Keep a diary. Visiting tourist destinations, scenic spots or historical monuments helps de-stress and gives you a feeling of culture. Writing about these experiences your reactions to them can help you assess your emotions. Likewise, looking back at these entries can make you laugh someday.

Think positive. New experiences always bring about new knowledge and learning. Focus on the brighter side and think about the best things about your vacation or travel. Meeting the locals, dining on exotic cuisines, and touring fascinating sites are a few of the memories one should never forget.

How to Enjoy Vacations Without Spending Too Much

Don’t spend loads of cash and then regret it once you start to run out of cash. Travelling in style is possible, and you can enjoy exciting sites and fascinating China tour destinations without spending a lot.

It’s OK to say no. Street vendors often pressure tourists to buy their items. However, if you do not like it, don’t have enough cash, or simply have no one to buy the item for, respectfully decline the street vendors. Should you decide to buy from one, haggle for the cheapest price. You’d be surprised at how low they can offer the items (mostly souvenirs) they sell.

Don’t be embarrassed to ask for free upgrades. Hotels, car rentals, and plane seats often ask for additional fees should you request for an upgrade. However, it wouldn’t hurt to ask if they offer upgrades for free. If you ask politely enough, they just might grant you your request.

Your China tour need not be grand. The most important thing to consider in planning a vacation is that you get to relax and be worry-free. If out-of-the-country-trips are cost too much for your budget, try searching for travel deals that are affordable and all-inclusive.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Spend Less for 2014 Europe Vacations with Ritz Tours !

Vacation in Europe For Much Less!

In 2014, you can visit most of the key cities in Eastern Europe in 12 days for as low as $2,700 with round-trip international airfares from New York included!

Alternatively, visit United Kingdom, France and Italy for 12 days departing from New York, international airfares included, for a mere $2,900!

Departures from many other U.S. cities are also available for an additional $200 or $300 depending on the geographic regions.

Tours to Eastern Europe will include cities like Frankfurt, Munich, Salzburg, Budapest, Vienna, and Prague among others, and the Europe Delight vacation program covers London, Paris, Lucerne, Milan, Venice, Pisa, Florence and Rome. Both programs include quality hotel accommodations, select meals, daily breakfasts, and exciting sightseeing excursions.

For the intrepid travelers who arrange their own flights to Europe, hop on to the land portions of our vacation programs to Italy, and our Eastern Europe tour circuits from $1,695 and $1,918 per person respectively!

This is the time to book at these prices that are after early booking discounts. 2014 European vacation prices at this great value will not last. Promotion ends October 31, 2013. Call 1-888-345-7489 or visit to book and save!

Early booking discounts listed vary according to tours booked and apply to new 2014 tour bookings only. Discounts not applicable to private group arrangements. Ritz Tours with offices in Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong and London, is a company incorporated in California, U.S.A. and has been serving its customers since 1980. It is an active member of USTOA (United States Tour Operators Association), ASTA (American Association of Travel Agents), IATAN (International Airlines Travel Agent Network), and BBB (Better Business Bureau)

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Who Do You Think We Are? - Lessons in Marketing On the Receiving End

Let's not kid ourselves - although there have been cases whereby we actually do try to pretend or acted out in some situations as if we are in control, in-the-know, or totally au fait with everything surrounding us - we actually don't.

In life we may not know about everything that surrounds us, nor can we therefore assume that others don't. There could be things or situations that we thought could be beneficial for own self-interest that others may be in the dark about, but the flip side is that are we so sure?

Selling Widgets to the Widget Manufacturer
We are in the travel business. So who is better to know more about travel or travel marketing than us? I have always receive cold calls from highly enthusiastic sales persons, pitching anything from postcard printing, web SEOs, to some strange but cute giveaway items that our guests are "supposed" to be thrilled to receive - or maybe not... While I understand that everyone is trying their best to make a good living during tough times, the last straw to test the tolerance for basic conversational courtesy without sounding abrupt and ruthless is selling me the idea through a cold phone pitch that I can get a better travel deal from what I could find through my own resource. "We are the official travel hotel agent for the XYZ Travel Show that we understand that you are registered as an exhibitor!" The caller quipped, "And we have the best hotel rate for this hotel that every exhibitor now stays in..." -- Really (on two counts)? Couldn't be bothered to verify the first, but so-called "best rate" or "exclusive rate" happened to be about $15 more expensive than what I could have gotten from a popular consumer hotel booking web site, (and they couldn't tell me off hand whether hotel taxes were included in their price - whereas the cheaper web price was all-inclusive)..... Maybe they shouldn't be marketing hotel accommodation with such blatant puffery to a travel company like us huh?

"Does it Make Sense?" Sales Pitch
We will certainly enjoy learning something new and interesting in every conversation especially in a sales pitch. Many times it is hard to say no when the product or service is something that you are looking for in your line of work. Still the greatest turn-off is to hear condescending words that punctuate at the end of every sentence of presumed wisdom in any pitch. It is almost like saying, "The knife is sharp, and therefore it will cut the bread into two... Does it make sense?" Am I being coerced to agree with the speaker so that the speaker will gain victory with such concurrence on his side in order and then, I would then be cornered into buying idea at end of the pitch? I think not when "Does It Make Sense?" became a matter of verbal mannerism that results in a complete redundancy and stupidity for the listener. Does it make a sale? Definitely NOT for me. I would be tuned off and would just tell the speaker pitching for a sale to step down from his perceived know-it-all higher soap box during his exit.