Recently, self-employed guides get very popular among travelers due to the relatively low price. Some of them are even boasting themselves on Tripadvisor.com. However, with 16 years' experiences in tourism, TravelChinaGuide.com has some words to say.
First of all, it is illegal. According to the 'Tourism Law of the P.R.C.', a guide must get the appointment of a licensed travel agency to provide guiding services. Obviously, these self-employed guides, who usually called themselves 'private guides', are not appointed by any agency. Secondly, missing of appointment means they will not be supervised by any travel agency, not even tourism administration and the taxation departments. In the case, if the travelers are deceived by them or their cooperating business like shops, restaurants, drivers or hotels during the visit (this kind of news is frequently reported on media), travelers may have no way to complain because there is no official department or enterprise responsible for the loss besides the disappearing 'guide' and yourself. Thirdly, even if the traveler is lucky enough to meet nice 'private guides', the service cannot be guaranteed. Because many of them do not obtain a tour guide certificate issued by China National Tourism Administration or their certificates are fake. These are important reasons they get denied by licensed travel agencies.
Take the mentioned or unmentioned situations into consideration, we highly recommend you to choose legal, qualified and professional agencies, whose services are guaranteed and by which your safety, belongings and other rights as travelers are protected. At least, when something bad happens, you can find someone to pay for it. This is especially important for solo female travelers and travelers with children or infants.
If you insist on using a 'private guide', please do take the below suggestions: do not prepay; give the guide's contact information to your families or friends before departure; and keep in touch with families or friends during visit.